Fat, Food, Health at Every Size

Final Thoughts on the Dieting Matter (This Round, Anyway)

1. Every dieter (including the me of yesteryear) who hears the “95% of diets don’t work” statistic,* thinks, “Well, I’ll just have to be in the 5%, then!”

And what they really mean by that is, “I will be in the 100% of people who take it seriously and try hard and never give up.” Because they assume 95% of dieters were not also in that category, were not that dedicated and vigilant, did not try hard enough.

That’s a bad assumption.

2. Bodies change as they age. They become creakier, achier, and less tolerant of our whims. I can already see it happening at 32; my 46-year-old sister assures me I have no idea; and our 72-year-old father would love for his body to work as well as either of ours. All three of us are healthy, but bodies change as they age.

The older you get as a fat person, the more you might think you’d feel better if you weren’t so fat. You also might think you’d feel better if you weren’t so old. But you can’t wish either one away. Permanent weight loss does not magically become possible because your priorities shift from being conventionally attractive to feeling better. Your body is not just biding its time until you have a really good reason to lose weight. Your body is just fat. The real you is fat. Fat can come to seem like a frustrating limitation as you age, but that doesn’t make it a skin you can decide to shed because you’d really prefer to live without it, thanks. It’s still you. And dieting still doesn’t work.

Look for an upcoming post by Sweet Machine to explore that topic with more nuance.

3. There are exceptions to every rule. A lot of the arguments against my blanket anti-dieting stance have amounted to, “But I have a really good reason for dieting and still want to be a fat acceptance activist!” Generally, my response to that is A) see point 2, and B) go right ahead; I have no authority to stop you. But I still don’t personally think dieting and fat acceptance are philosophically compatible — and if I’m going to be involved in any organized fat acceptance movement, I’m going to push for that group to have an official anti-dieting statement and No Diet Talk policy. Nobody has to join that particular branch of the movement if they believe their right to lose weight must be validated by anyone they work with.

But there have been a couple of stories I’ve found really compelling, even if they don’t change my general position on dieting. A general position is just that: it covers a lot of territory, but not every square inch of the whole world. I don’t believe exceptions necessarily disprove rules; I believe they are exceptional situations. But some of them are worth taking a closer look at.

I’ve received a lot of criticism over the last few days, but the majority of it has been based on false premises (most often, that permanent weight loss is a choice) and/or on personal experiences that may or may not be genuine exceptions to the rule, but in any case, do not disprove it. Since I said in my very first post that I was not talking about my personal reaction to individuals who are dieting, and since I believe there is currently no compelling evidence whatsoever that deliberate long-term weight loss is possible for most people, that kind of criticism didn’t bother me much.

The criticism that got under my skin, because it was accurate and meaningful, is that this discussion — among others on my blog — excludes the extremely fat. As in, those who have serious health problems and physical limitations directly related to their fat (and without wanting to diminish the seriousness of chronic pain, I’m not just talking about aching joints here).

When I specifically mention extremely fat people in my writing, it’s most often in passing and as a counterpoint to the majority of fat people, whose fat does not preclude the possibility of being healthy and active. This is the consequence of my having two primary agendas when writing about fat acceptance: 1) to spread the word that fat does not automatically equal unhealthy, and 2) to advocate for the rights of ALL fat people, regardless of size, age, health, disability, etc. The two overlap substantially, but sometimes, a focus on one can eclipse the other. One of the most frequent arguments against “Fat does not automatically equal unhealthy” is “BUT WHAT ABOUT PEOPLE WHO WEIGH 500/700/900/ELEVENTY BILLION POUNDS?” To which I usually respond by pointing out that people whose fat constitutes an actual disability are a very small percentage of the population, and once again, exceptions do not disprove the general rule.

But there is a difference between acknowledging that a certain group of people is too small to change what I say about a larger group of people, and actively marginalizing that smaller group. And I’m not sure I work hard enough to keep those two things distinct. I am not only interested in the rights of smaller fat people, healthy fat people, or fat people who eat their veggies and work out. I am interested in the rights of ALL fat people. And that means I can’t continually keep some fat people in a box called “exceptions to the rule,” while giving lipservice to fully including them in the conversation.

So I want to be more inclusive of extremely fat people, without muddying the point that they are a small percentage of the population — a fact that goes overlooked in too many discussions of fat and health. That’s an awfully tricky tightrope to walk, but there’s really no alternative to working harder on my balance here, because the last fucking thing I want to do as a fat acceptance advocate is exclude people for being too fat.

Someday soon, you’ll see at least one guest post on Shapely Prose from a woman who weighs over 500 lbs., has severe physical limitations because of it, and has made the agonizing decision to have weight loss surgery. As a rule, I still hate the whole concept of WLS. (So does she, as I understand it.) But this woman’s story is frustrating, maddening, heartbreaking; I can’t say the rule applies to her, because I’ve heard that story, and what it comes down to is, fuck if I’ve got a better idea. Fuck if anyone does.

I think it’s incredibly important to hear stories like that. For one thing, no matter how small a percentage of the population the extremely fat may be, that’s still a whole lot of individuals struggling with fat-related issues many of us rarely think about. A whole lot of people who are more than an easily ignored statistic; people I’d like to see participating more in the conversations at this blog, other blogs, and in the movement in general.

For another thing, the extremes do often have much to teach us about the middle. But that still doesn’t mean they disprove general rules that apply to the middle. I haven’t relaxed my general position on WLS — much less WLD — because of this woman’s story, or any similar ones. But it’s one reason why I made a distinction between my political stance and my personal response to individuals in the original anti-dieting screed. Individuals are always more complicated and interesting than general rules; but I think general rules are absolutely necessary when you’re thinking about getting out a basic message that contradicts the one coming from a zillion other sources.

My blogging has always dealt with both individual experiences and more general stuff. I’m a big fan of extrapolating larger truths from relatively narrow experiences. But sometimes, that’s a trap. Sometimes, an anecdote is just an anecdote. And sometimes, the larger truths that can be extrapolated from an anecdote are not the ones the person telling it thinks they are.

And there’s no general rule for figuring out what’s what, except to think critically and do your best.

Yesterday, a person I really respect accused me of being “cagey.” I guess I can see how one could arrive at that conclusion, but it’s certainly not as if I’m deliberately trying to obfuscate my own message. Quite the opposite, in fact. It’s just that the message I’m trying to get out here is complicated, manifold, thorny. It deals with individuals and it deals with faceless statistics. It deals with facts and feelings. It deals with political activism and self-acceptance. It deals with people.

I’m thinking critically and doing my best. And I’m still anti-dieting, as a rule. That’s all I can tell you.

*Some dispute the 95% statistic, but no one has yet shown that anything less than the vast majority of diets result in regain of all weight lost within five years.

127 thoughts on “Final Thoughts on the Dieting Matter (This Round, Anyway)”

  1. Oops – just posted in the last thread 30 seconds before this post came out.

    Let me start by saying “EEEEEEK – not the super fat thread again!!!” This comes up every so often on every FA blog, and there is never any good answer arrived at. We always wind up with something along the lines of we don’t have an answer and we shouldn’t think about it.

    Yes, I firmly believe that weighing 600lbs is inherently unhealthy. I think most of us would accept that. Even though it’s a tiny tiny minority of us, it automatically invalidates “Health at EVERY size”. What we really mean is “Health at all the sizes we want to consider”.

    Maybe the solution is just to come up with a better name than HAES?

    Kate as “cagey”?? WTF?! I don’t get that. If anything you go out of your way to answer all questions without ducking any.

  2. I don’t believe it invalidates HAES because HAES is not dependent on one single definition of health. It is a highly individual approach to health and that is what is so useful about it.

    It isn’t HAES’s fault that you don’t believe a 600 pound person can be healthy – it seems what you really mean is healthy by your standards, rather than what is best for them as individuals.

  3. Also, and I know you didn’t invent the term, Rakshasa, so I’m not slamming you here, but ZOMG, “super fat” is alternately hysterical (as I picture Team Fat in capes and super hero outifts) and really a very offensive term.

  4. Kate as “cagey”?? WTF?! I don’t get that. If anything you go out of your way to answer all questions without ducking any.

    Thanks, Rakshasa. And I just answered your question on the other thread.

    And HAES is a practice based on working with your body where it is, and trying to improve your health regardless of whether it results in weight loss. It’s not a state of being. This means people who weigh 600 lbs., people with disabilities, etc., can certainly practice HAES, though both the specific measures they take and the ultimate result may not be the same as those of someone smaller and/or who doesn’t have disabilities.

    Like anything else, HAES is not a panacea for every single person in the whole wide world. Some people have pressing reasons to take more drastic measures. But once again, exceptions do not invalidate the rule. I think I might have said that, you know, a million billion times in this post.

  5. The Rotund, yes I was using “super fat” sarcastically – they are always considered some sort of weird anomaly of the universe in these discussions, as Kate was pointing out, instead of just being at a different point in a continuous scale that includes all of us.

    Redefining “healthy” really has a bad vibe to it though. Well, by my definition healthy=alive so my heroin habit is perfectly healthy. Everyone will be healthy if you bend the definition far enough to accomodate them. That’s like Clinton redefining “sex” – all it did is make him a laughingstock, it didn’t help him win any arguments.

  6. Good sum up.
    Both extremes are definitely more unhealthy in comparison. There’s definitely risks, but I think it has more to do with the fact that HAES is much harder at those extremes. I’m sure it’s possible (And you’ve already outlined exceptions exceptions excepcionessss!!!!! :P), but it’s defnitely not on average the easiest thing to do I would say. I’ve seen some people get by, but not everyone can.
    I will say, however, that I did like your idea about muscle building. I remember Paul Campos brought that up in some information I read about his book. I think that most can benefit from putting on some/having some, as it can help with joints that weaken due to age, getting more in tune with the body (Defintely throw that in for HAES), et cetera.

    I’m having joint problems already at 20 (Gee…Thanks Martial Arts and shitty job… I love you too…): I really don’t have a choice in the matter, because if I don’t do something, it doesn’t matter if I stay thin or not: I’m going to be fucked in my old age if this crap continues. :P
    And I thought running would help. Its probably made it worse. Pfft…

    I’ll be sure to write about my position in a few blogs (I have three I have to do). This is a very controversial topic.

  7. I just don’t think, though, Rakshasa, that you can say there is one healthy kind of, well, health for everyone any more than you can say there is one healthy weight for everyone.

    And that’s for clarifying the sarcasm!

  8. Redefining “healthy” really has a bad vibe to it though.

    I don’t think it’s a matter of redefining “healthy” in general, but a matter of defining “healthy” according to an individual’s own body and its limitations. At least, in terms of what The Rotund is talking about. A person with diabetes, for instance, is intrinsically less healthy than one without, by conventional standards. But both can work to be as healthy as possible for them.

    And really, “HAES” is an imperfect term for a great concept. Thing is, that’s what it’s called, and I can’t think of a better term for it, so I’m not too fussed about that.

  9. This is something I’ve been thinking about so I’ll just write it here before it falls out of my head:

    Just like there are people who are thin, people who are very thin, and people who are so thin that their bodies are shutting down there are people who are fat, people who are very fat, and people who are so fat that their bodies are shutting down. There are extremes on either side.

    I believe the point of fat acceptance should be to broaden the perception of “normal.” We’re told that THIN is what’s normal and therefore healthy. But we know that someone who is NOT thin can be both normal and healthy.

    So we have to care for and include those who are very fat* and recognize how they’re discriminated against and mistreated, while working to broaden the idea of “normal” so that it includes people who are PERCEIVED to be abnormally fat.

    Being very fat might have direct health consequences. Rather than ignoring that and glossing over it, let’s recognize this and say “What can we do to make life better for people who are considered to be very fat?”

    I’m sure someone else has said this somewhere but I wanted to get my thoughts about it out.

    * At somewhere around 280 pounds, this might include me. I don’t know anymore! I don’t know how to define “very fat” any better than I know how to define “normal.”

  10. * At somewhere around 280 pounds, this might include me. I don’t know anymore! I don’t know how to define “very fat” any better than I know how to define “normal.”

    I don’t know, either, Colleen. And these are all great thoughts.

  11. You know, there are some sumo wrestlers out there who would highly dispute the idea that being 600 pounds automatically renders you incapacitated. In fact, they’d kick your ass for even suggesting it, if you happen to be fluent in Japanese.

  12. (This is why (some) people hate me…)

    I think it is perfectly legitimate for people who are fat by current standards, but who are functioning normally — i.e. not disabled by their fatness in any way — to advocate for ourselves. This includes pointing out that there is very little difference overall in the health, functioning, and lifestyle of someone who weighs 120 pounds versus 300 pounds. Or 400 pounds. Whatever.

    Just as someone who is 4’10”, but has normal bone density and mobility, is different from a Little Person with movement-related disabilities and/or a tendancy to have fragile bones, so is a person who weighs more than average, but is not disabled, different from someone for whom the fat-retention mechanism is obviously disordered, and who is disabled as a result. (I would not be surprised if there is some obvious genetic or chemical marker that distinguishes the “super fat” not only from the average-size person, but from the “normal” endomorph who happens to be fatter than average. We just don’t have enough information.) It is reasonable to consider the various forms of dwarfism an abnomal state, and to simultaneously acknowledge the 4’10 & functional person as “normal.” This doesn’t mean little people don’t have the same rights, or that disability issues aren’t important. It just means, in one case, we’re talking about the needs of stigmatized people who otherwise function normally, and in the other we’re talking both about discrimination and the medical and access needs of someone who is disabled.

    As I’m defining the adnormal/disabled-fat, we’re probably talking about fewer than 500 people on the entire planet. Perhaps, fewer than 100. These people, such as Manuel Uribe for instance, are obviously dealing with some ailment we simply do not understand. His health and welfare are obviously important, but his concerns are not the same as those of a fully-functional 200 or 300 or 400 pound person. As I’ve said elsewhere, I think some people are labelling themselves “fat & disabled”, when, in fact, their health problems are due far more to inactivity, poor nutrition or simple aging than they are to any particular number on a scale. Their expecting the fat acceptance movement to “acknowlege” that they are “too fat” even though they weigh only 300 or even 400 pounds is simply the old bigotry coming at us from another angle.

    We — all fat people — have few political resources, almost no support, and an array of issues that are already fuzzy and ill-defined. People who are disabled due to fatness are exceptions. Just as there can be disorders related to growth hormone that result in some people being tall enough to have related health and social problems, so there are a small number of people in whom the normally neutral or beneficial genetic tendancy to be fat (or to become fat after periods of starvation/WLDing) is not functioning normally. Just as it’s legitimate for people who are normal-but-unusually-tall to advocate for themselves, it is legitimate for we who are normal-but-unusually (or usually, in this culture)-fat to advocate for ourselves.

    I don’t think it’s possible to address the needs of both groups simultaneously. (I think it’s also a mistake to try to address the needs of people with eating disorders at the same time as the normal-fat, either, for similar reasons.) Not only do many of the concerns of the abnormal/disabled-fat population not apply to the normal-fat, trying to address them could serve to turn the entire organization back into just one big diet group. And, since in many cases, we are working to get mainsteam people to acknowledge the overall healthfulness of the normal-fat condition, talking about the abnormal/disabled-fat simultaneously confuses the issue, and provides fuel for adversaries who will use that confusion to portray all non-thin people as abnormal.

    In addition, those areas where our concerns do overlap — equal employment and educational opportunity, fighting stigma, etc. — do not require dealing with the specific medical or therapeutic needs of the abnormal/disabled-fat group. Those issues would be best dealt with in groups made up exclusively of people with the same issues, and their associated physicians, care-givers, and researchers.

    Again, it comes down to a need to focus on specific goals. In some cases, we (my group — the “normal-fat”) will have concerns that overlap with people with eating disorders, or WLDers, or the abnormal/disabled-fat, but frequently we won’t.

    I personally suffer from a rare disorder — hyperekplexia. The only support group I know of is only for parents of kids with the disorder, not adult sufferers, and they’re in England to boot. I wish I had more people around who even knew what the disorder is, but I’m not going to expect the American Epilepsy Foundation, say, to change their mission statement, funding and meeting agendas to add “hyperekplexia” as one of their main concerns, even though medically there may be some overlap in our conditions. Certainly, it looks like there’s a need for a parallel movement or system of support for what I’m calling, awkwardly, the abnormal/disabled-fat population, but that will have to be built by people who consider themselves part of that group — we can’t do it, and should not presume to do it, for them.

    OK. Done.

  13. “Health” is a pretty inexact concept as well as “fat”, “normal”, and “size”. Even the people who weigh in at the most upper limit have degrees of health; it’s not like they are dead. Respiratory and joint problems seem to be the main problems, although I’m sure some have skin problems in certain areas. When you think about all of the systems that are working, it’s hard to really say they don’t have “health”. It’s true that most who do well in that confined situation are dependent on the care of others to maintain it; I can’t dispute that. They definitely don’t have what you might think of as “fitness”, but you can say that about anyone in a nursing home, too. Even some of those residents have plenty of health, as evidenced by their amazing longevity.

    As far as what might work besides WLS for some very overweight people, the only thing I can think of is voluntary imprisonment in an environment committed to enforcing diet and exercise…not unlike an old movie with Bette Midler in which she was kidnapped for ransom and lost a lot of weight in captivity. I know, it’s just a movie, but it makes you think. As awful as the experience would be, I think WLS would be comparable. JMHO.

  14. Great post, Kate. I appreciate all the thought you put into the question of not marginalizing those on the higher end of the “fat” range.

    And Rakshasa, I feel like if you have a person who weighs (x) pounds and it is demonstrably true that that person is experiencing health problems that are directly related to their weight/fat, then certainly in an ideal world it would be better for that person’s health if they weighed less or were less fat. And that would be great if they wanted to accomplish that and could therefore follow steps 1 through 5 and become permanently thinner, bam, health problems go away and we all live happily ever after. Unfortunately, all the evidence indicates that you basically can’t deliberately diet and permanently lose weight, regardless of whether you weigh 120 or 700 pounds (can’t=nobody ever manages to achieve it except a vanishingly tiny number of people). So as Kate said, in the case of the woman who is considering WLS, that might be the “right” choice for her because maybe it is her best shot at permanently losing weight based on the technology and understanding that we have available to us right now. But that does not make it a “good” choice or even all that likely to succeed, necessarily, just perhaps the best out of several imperfect options. I assume the woman has already concluded that dieting would not be the best choice because I’m sure she’s tried it before, and it probably wouldn’t work this time either, or else maybe she just knows that diets don’t work. Mainly the whole story just makes me incredibly frustrated and sad that there is not a better option for this woman.

    I absolutely think health is individual. If I have a congenital heart problem or if I have had cancer and chemotherapy, my baseline level of health is going to be lower than many other people’s through no fault of my own. Since there is no proven way for most people who are experiencing truly weight-related health problems to take off the weight permanently, I think HAES allows them to work with the hand they have been dealt and achieve the best health they can in their own individual situation. If you had a heroin habit, your odds of kicking it are probably much better than your odds of keeping weight off via dieting, so I would consider that to be an aspect of your health that you could potentially tackle and improve with some hope of success. And then there’s the fact that many people’s “weight-related” health problems will actually be improved through improved activity and healthier eating, not weight loss.

  15. Celeste – the movie was Ruthless People and it has been a long time favorite of mine. She lost 20 pounds in captivity because she started exercising – though, unfortunately, she is also portrayed as eating very little food, in a more traditional approach to losing weight.

    One of the scenes I really like in the movie is when she weighs herself and realizes how much weight she has lost – and is still the absolutely rotten woman that she was before. *laugh* Her weight loss did not redeem her character so much as having a common enemy.

  16. Kell, I definitely don’t hate you for that, and I think you make some really excellent points. In fact, you’ve clarified my thinking on the matter somewhat. Thanks.

    Here’s where I… not so much disagree as see it a little differently.

    1) In terms of people who categorize themselves as disabled by fat when their health problems are more directly related to inactivity/food/aging, I actually suspect you’re right … to an extent. But if people are indeed categorizing themselves as disabled when they don’t necessarily have to be, they might need exactly the kind of fat acceptance movement we’re talking about (or at least, I’m talking about) more than anyone. One that says fat is not a health problem in and of itself. One that says most “fat-related” health problems can be attributed to factors other than fat. One that says blaming every health problem on fat is a result of bigotry and bad science. One that says it is very, very possible to be fat — even really fucking fat — and healthy. So I don’t want to say, “Hey, go get your own movement” to people who might actually be perfectly suited to ours, if the message actually got through.

    Again, despite my anti-dieting screed, I remember very well what it was like to start believing in fat acceptance before I’d fully internalized the message that dieting is useless. A lot of cognitive dissonance. A lot of difficulty in getting on board, mixed with a real desire to be the kind of person who could get on board. A lot of, “God, it’s so true that fat people don’t deserve this shit” along with “God, I still hate my own fat.” So I’m really much more empathetic toward people who feel that way than I might have sounded, and I think this might be a similar thing; people like that see themselves as disabled because so few people in this culture offer a framework for seeing themselves any other way. I want to offer that framework and invite them to consider it, even if I don’t want to spend time discussing why they REALLY, REALLY NEED to diet, and I just DON’T UNDERSTAND, because I’m thinner.

    That’s why I’m more interested in banging the HAES drum and shutting down diet talk than I am in taking on individuals who diet. I don’t want to run off people who are just not quite there yet — but I also don’t have any fucking patience for discussing the various scenarios in which dieting might be acceptable. I want to create a space where people who are not fully on board are welcome to keep learning about this different framework for viewing and understanding their own fat bodies — without letting them derail the work of those who are already fully on board.

    Is that possible? Dunno.

    2) Ditto people with compulsive/binge-eating disorders. I do think they need a separate movement, if only because there is so fucking little known about those disorders, and they need more focused self-advocacy. But I don’t think that excludes those people from the one I envision.

    3) I think there are a lot of people who fall in neither the Manuel Uribe category nor the “Normal Fat” category. (Still not a lot percentage-wise, but individually, a lot.) And I’m not ready to say I only want to be involved in a Normal Fat Acceptance Movement, I guess. I totally see what you’re saying, and it’s possible that I’m being sentimental. But that doesn’t sit right with me.

    It also doesn’t mean I’m willing to take a soft position on WLS or Dieting, mind you. And I can TOTALLY see how things have gotten derailed in the past by people saying, “I want to include people who are so fat they believe they need to do X, but absolutely not accept the X they believe they need to do as something this movement supports.” So quite honestly, I’m not sure how to negotiate that. I’m just not ready to give up trying.

    4) In terms of the upcoming guest post, that’s a matter of my finding a lot of different fat experiences interesting and valuable to discuss — and wanting to include experiences FAR different from mine on this blog. This doesn’t mean (and I’ve made this clear to the writer) that I support WLS. It means I support her as an individual who feels totally fucking desperate right now, and is pretty much choosing the best of a poor lot of options. And I’m curious about what she has to say. And I think it belongs here, on my blog, which is hardly the face of the fat acceptance movement.

    Do I think such discussions belong in more organized Movement contexts? Honestly, I’m not sure yet. Right now, I pretty much just think I like this woman, and I love her writing, and her story breaks my heart. And I really don’t want her, or people like her, to feel left out on my blog. That’s as far as I’ve gotten right now.

    You’ve been at this a lot longer than I have. My current vision of an organized movement might be a pipe dream. But those are my thoughts right now.

  17. Yes, and she was put on a vegetarian diet as well. She wasn’t made to exercise, it was just the only diversion she had. You make a point I’ve always believed–weight loss only changes the amount of space you take up and the size of clothing that you wear. You’re still THE SAME PERSON.

  18. Here’s the thing.

    The “extremely fat” people have physical difficulties that make a lot of us in the movement excuse their attempts to lose weight.

    But somehow, people suffering emotional difficulties don’t get the same “get out of jail” card.

    We’re a long way from Fat Acceptance being the rule of the land. So why is someone who says “you know what? I’m tired of the teasing and mocking and rejection and I’d like to take steps to ease my emotional pain” labeled a traitor to the movement?

    It would be nice if we were all pillars of strength who can take the abuse. But we’re not.

    And someone who is tired of the emotional suffering and takes those steps could very well be the best friend Fat Activism has – they pine for a world where they don’t have to go through the heartache of trying to lose weight. They’d love not to “pass.”

    So attacking and alienating those people will turn them against us, when all they want to do is see us succeed.

  19. I don’t buy it, Betty. I just don’t.

    As I said above (and several other places), I’m totally empathetic to those who would rather lose weight than accept their fat. I get that. I get it A LOT.

    But it’s still the opposite of fat acceptance.

    We’re a long way from Fat Acceptance being the rule of the land. So why is someone who says “you know what? I’m tired of the teasing and mocking and rejection and I’d like to take steps to ease my emotional pain” labeled a traitor to the movement?

    Um, because:

    A) We’re ALL tired of it, but dieting as a solution to it is the expected, socially mandated response, to which fat acceptance is trying to offer an alternative;

    B) Attempting a project that’s virtually guaranteed to fail is not a very good plan for easing emotional pain.

  20. The eagerness to kick people out of this movement when they show a moment of weakness, or when they dare belong to a group that doesn’t help our case (like Ms. Brigan with the extremely fat) is just a bad instinct, IMO.

    Why is the following belief so dangerous to the movement:

    “Although I personally don’t have the strength be comfortable in my own skin, I will fight to the death your right to be. I will picket Southwest with you and write letters to networks that air fat hostile shows and never encourage the people around me to diet or feel bad about themselves. If someone makes a fat joke, I’ll let them know it’s as unacceptable as a racist joke. Someday, maybe my struggle at your side will make a world where I can make different choices for myself.”

    Yet it seems that most of the leaders of the FA movement would tell this person to shut up and get out.

    Seems like a shortsighted position to me, destined to marginalize and fracture the movement.

  21. One last thought – what’s going on here seems like saying “closeted gays can’t help the cause.” It’s one thing to be closeted and fight AGAINST gay rights, but there are a lot of gay people who vote and make donations and do everything they can to end homophobia, so they’ll feel free to come out of the closet.

    Should they be discouraged from helping? Again, seems shortsighted and extreme.

  22. And, Betty, attacking? Seriously? Kate isn’t sitting there calling people who decide to diet bad bad fatties who ought to die in a fire. That’s an attack. She’s saying they have goals that are different from the goal of a political Fat Acceptance movement. That is pretty much the direct opposite of an attack – it’s a value-neutral statement based on definitions and logic!

  23. I am a former see-saw dieter, with a long history of “successful” diets where I lost large amounts of weight and kept it off for relatively long periods of time (usually 3 years). One day I knew that every diet would always result in a net gain, and would be accompanied by increased shame. And I learned about the health risks associated with rollercoaster weight changes. So I stopped.

    As a result of my history, I have an enormous amount of anxiety around the topic of weight loss, whenever I’m in a space where it is suggested to me, even obliquely, that I diet, I become agitated and upset. Even the conversations around here about weight loss due to HAES upset me. I click away when the conversation starts, because I feel…

    Huh. I guess I have quickly come to feel like this blog is safe space for me and my body, and it feels a little violating. And I guess what I’m saying is that there should be places for women to know they will be free of the burdens of conversations about dieting, and a FA blog should be one such space.

    Of course I can always vote with my feet. Or…mouse.

  24. It’s one thing to be closeted and fight AGAINST gay rights, but there are a lot of gay people who vote and make donations and do everything they can to end homophobia, so they’ll feel free to come out of the closet.

    Should they be discouraged from helping?

    No. But they should be discouraged from showing up in the gay PRIDE community to talk about how the personal choice of being in the closet is just right for them, and they see no fundamental disconnect between the closet and gay pride.

    And I guess what I’m saying is that there should be places for women to know they will be free of the burdens of conversations about dieting, and a FA blog should be one such space.

    Deborah, what you’re talking about is actually what I’m trying to establish here, so I hope we don’t lose you.

  25. “…I want to create a space where people who are not fully on board are welcome to keep learning about this different framework for viewing and understanding their own fat bodies — without letting them derail the work of those who are already fully on board.

    Is that possible? Dunno.”

    I suppose where I’m coming from on this is that I see in all sorts of circumstances women (and men, but not so much) being rewarded for contributing to their own destruction, for doing dirt-stupid things, for, ultimately, suppressing even their survival instinct just to get people to accept them.

    Into this scenario, where fat women are among the lowest of the low, come women pursuing weight loss/hating their fat, who, perhaps subconsciously, see themselves as superior to the women who’ve “given up.” So, of course, they get to call ALL the shots and dominate all the conversations, including demanding that fat acceptance not be about fat acceptance. After all, we’re the only people they “get” to feel superior to. (And, keep in my, in this situation, the “superiority” goes to the woman who shows she hates herself the most.)

    I want space where we reward each other for taking good care of ourselves, and doing interesting things, and not whining, and not being too scared to go outside or go swimming or go for the job/guy/gold. I’m just so sick and tired of the self-abusing women getting all the attention, and all the rewards.

    So, I guess what I’m saying is I don’t mind having fence-sitters around so long as they don’t nag, or pout, or get their feelings all hurt because we’re not apologizing for not being failures.

    This is radical stuff. The same dynamic shows up in feminism generally, in recovery movements, in offices where the one who whines the most is the only one who gets recognized as a “hard worker”, etc. etc. For many, many women, it’s far more acceptable to be afraid to go swimming, or go outside wearing shorts or a sleeveless shirt than it is to go swimming without a qualm, or outside wearing whatever you damn well please. It’s like being on a chain, and having the fearful women continually try to yank back those of us who are functioning at a higher level of personal power.

    Along with Fat Acceptance 101, we also need to have Fat Acceptance 102. I want a different dynamic. I want women, and especially fat women, to start concentrating on success stories, and setting BIG FAT GOALS, and start talking about moving and living in the world when we’re breaking the rules and running our own lives. I want the conflict to be with the bigots or the System or bad laws, not with ourselves, even if self-sabotage is so terribly chic right now.

  26. Kell, excellent points once again. (Also, although you’re absolutely welcome to keep talking about this here, I’d also love it if you e-mailed me to talk even more. Contact info is on the “About” page.)

    Oh, and Spacdcowgirl, you got lost in other responses, but I loved your comment, too.

  27. Deborah, what you’re talking about is actually what I’m trying to establish here, so I hope we don’t lose you.

    I absolutely will stick around. You are probably my favorite new blogger. I didn’t mean my comment to be critical of you. In fact, I meant it to be an illustration of why I was supportive of your position. I hope that was clear.

  28. [quote]For many, many women, it’s far more acceptable to be afraid to go swimming, or go outside wearing shorts or a sleeveless shirt than it is to go swimming without a qualm, or outside wearing whatever you damn well please. It’s like being on a chain, and having the fearful women continually try to yank back those of us who are functioning at a higher level of personal power.[/quote]

    Yes!! You see this in all of those stupid celebrity blog posts where they show some young actress in a swimsuit and everybody whines about how fat she is for about 300 comments’ worth. The fact that this person (who in every instance has a body that is far more socially acceptable than mine) is out, wearing whatever she likes and having a good time, ENRAGES the commenters. You can see it in how impassioned and cruel the comments are. Of course I would argue that this type of attack consists mostly of men’s attitudes, and the fearful women have simply bought into those attitudes or are trying to “keep a low profile” lest the attack be turned on them, but it really is a radical act to go around like you don’t hate yourself.

  29. Kell, I’ve already got a Fat Acceptance 101 page up at The Rotund – it’s really just a placeholder until we can all put together something more stand-alone and extensive. I think a Fat Acceptance 102 absolutely needs to happen along with that!

    Would you be willing to coordinate something?

  30. I think it’s pretty vital to distinguish “belonging to a movement” from being a “public face of a movement.” Hell, I want everyone who even believes in SA a little bit to help us out. I don’t want help only from the “ideologically pure,” especially because I’m not exactly smug about my own ideological purity.

    But I sure as hell want people who are representing us to the media, who are out to convert the unconverted, to be at least publicly on the side of “every body is OK, including mine,” even if they occasionally have doubts about feeling that way, even if they skip the chocolate cake to help alleviate their PCOS, even if they think it would be a fine thing for their arteries if they only ate the steamed dumplings instead of the fried stuff on the dim sum table. I don’t mind any of that.

    But like I said here, a woman who is completely submissive to her husband in every way isn’t going to have a lot of cred with me as a public feminist spokesperson, because there is a big disconnect between the talk and the walk. However, if she wants to use her pin money to make a big-ass donation to Feministing, in the hopes that one day fewer women will be under their husbands’ thumbs, her money’s as good as anyone else’s.

  31. This all reminds me of a comment I once saw on a feminism site when the inevitable discussion of personal grooming habits came up: “You may be feminist, but your lipstick is not”. Your diet cannot be part of the fat acceptance movement. That doesn’t mean you can’t be (at least in my opinion) but it does mean people in fat acceptance circles are not going to validate your choice to diet.

  32. Kate, something I’ve been wondering for a while.
    Why do you have “The Amazing adventures of Dietgirl” in your blogroll? Isn’t that all about weight loss? She may now be measuring her progress in terms of fitness or in terms of new personal challenges, but her initial goal was weight loss, she has before & after pics, stats on the home page, and talks about issues pertinent to weightloss specifically.
    When I first looked at it, it made me really uneasy, because I was so excited about enjoying my body more and more the way it was. Her blog has prompted me to think about losing weight again – admittedly one of a handful of things that has. Not her fault, I know, but it’s like a parent or sibling that knows exactly what to do or say to hurt you and make all your resistance and faith in yourself crumble, and I suspect that’s why so many people want a clearly demarcated anti-diet talk space in their lives and on the net.

  33. [Currently wearing Cover Girl Extended Wear Candy Apple Red, and still feminist as hell, but that’s a whole nuther discussion…]

    “Kell, I’ve already got a Fat Acceptance 101 page up at The Rotund… I think a Fat Acceptance 102 absolutely needs to happen along with that!

    “Would you be willing to coordinate something?”

    Ohmigawd, I’m getting chills… Let me brood (as in put it in the nest and sit on it) on this for a bit and see what a first draft might look like.

  34. It is another discussion, and probably not one we need to get into at this time. I just think it’s analagous in that you can believe that wearing lipstick is an unfeminist action without believing that anybody who wears lipstick is not a feminist. In the same way, you can believe dieting is an anti-fat-acceptance action without believing that anybody who diets can’t be part of the fat acceptance movement. 4

  35. Why do you have “The Amazing adventures of Dietgirl” in your blogroll?

    Dolia, a totally fair question. The honest answer is, because I met her at BlogHer and liked her. And because in person, she seemed to be moving in an HAES direction.

    Another honest answer is, I also have sites like Big Fat Deal and Elastic Waist on my blogroll, which also have some diet talk that drives me mental, but once again, I love the personalities behind them, and a lot of what they say. I agonized about whether to include them and decided to go for it, since people are free not to click the links — though maybe I should put them in some sort of Diet Talk Warning category.

    But the really honest answer is, I haven’t read her blog in a long time. And maybe you’re right, and I should take it off the roll, though I still think Shauna’s a perfectly lovely person.

  36. I think having Shauna on the blogroll is an excellent illustration of what you’ve been saying over and over, which is that this is not about people. It’s about activism, and what can and can’t coexist with activism. (Friendships yes; antithetical behavior no, at least not at this stage.)

    If that section said “fat activism blogs” I’d suggest moving her to “friends.” But it doesn’t; it says “fat blogs.”

  37. This is not a gay pride parade. Blogs are not the public face of the movement. Keeping them ideologically pure and stifling POVs just keeps them small, IMO.

    Or we can just keep refing our message internally ad infinitum. So much of FA is talking to ourselves, not acting in the world.

    Maybe in ten years we’ll have worked out exactly who is and isn’t welcome and what they’re allowed to say.

  38. Thanks, guys. Nest construction in progress…

    To Betty,

    Having a “no diet talk” rule is not that unusual. It even happens off-line at some fat-friendly events or conventions. There are many reasons why most HAES/FA proponents prefer it that way — it keeps time from being tied up in ritualized, standard-issue “I just hate my thighs” discussions that can be had a million other places. It keeps those of us who are just plain fed up with talking about weight loss and good or bad foods and what is or isn’t healthy from banging our heads against the wall. It also makes the space friendlier for people for whom such talk can trigger eating disorder relapses.

    For the most part, I’m not sure what you’re looking for. If someone were to post here or on similar blogs that they’re-not-talking-about-anyone-else-just-themselves-but-they-really-wish-they-could-lose-fifty-pounds, the only responses they’re likely to receive would be to that losing fifty pounds is well nigh on to impossible, or be questioned about why their assuming losing 50 pounds would solve XYZ. They’re not going to be encouraged or agreed with or receive the standard break-room-with-the-girls ritualized sympathy and approval. The conversation would probably end in one of those agree-to-disagreee stalmates, or with the person pursing weight loss getting mad and leaving forever. How is that better than just having a “no diet talk” rule?

  39. To Kell,

    I guess you’re right. I guess it’s such a nothing topic that all the blogs in the fatosphere wouldn’t generate hundreds of posts for a week about it.

    I think the best idea is to make a new FAQ.

  40. I don’t understand what is so awful and wrong about the No Dieting Talk rule in a space like this, regardless of one’s physical size. Whether or not anyone’s choice to try to lose weight is “right” or “wrong” is, honestly, not up to anyone else – if we are feminists, then respecting other women’s rights to make informed choices is paramount to social justice. But that doesn’t mean we have to engage in or support conversations about dieting in spaces like these.

    I do like the lipstick analogy, as someone who worked in a feminist org. Makeup-wearing does not nulify one’s feminism or make one’s opinions on women’s oppression any less valid. (I’m speaking as someone who has often been the lone feminist in the room wearing any makeup whatsoever, and yet still thought capable of managing to run an organization AND lead an entire coalition of similar organizations.) However, trying to put forward make-up tips in a discussion about women’s oppression = not appropriate. Expecting other feminists to validate your choice to wear makeup = not appropriate. Expecting other feminists to talk about how the expectation that women should wear makeup is, in fact, oppression = appropriate.

    Deborah’s thoughts on safe spaces are similar to mine. I’ve only been hanging around the fat acceptance/activist blogosphere for a few weeks, but one of the things that has drawn me out to post is that I LOVE how safe I feel here in these discussions. In fact, with all the hate out there in the universe, these blogs are among the very rare spaces on teh internets where I’ve actually felt safe enough to even REVEAL that I am a fat person. I know I am not the only person around here who has experienced a half a lifetime or more of disordered eating, and no matter how far along any of us are in our recovery, we can still be triggered by weight loss talk.

    There are a zillion places out there in cyber space where people can talk about their weight loss efforts. More than a zillion. It seems disrespectful, AT BEST, to the rest of us, to insist on bringing that talk into these spaces. More, knowing the disordered history of so many others who are trying to develop body respect, it is an act of oppression to bring it here, whatever your reasons are for deliberate weight loss attempts. I do not understand WHY, with the entire rest of the universe at their disposal to discuss this stuff, WHY a few people would refuse to RESPECT a space that says NO, you can’t talk about it here, and you can’t expect anyone to validate your decision to do so?

  41. “Blogs are not the public face of the movement.”

    I, uh, disagree with this statement.

    Ditto. (I did say above that MY blog is not the face of the movement, but I do think blogs in general are, and BFB specifically.) Although I’d like to see the movement get another public face, which is half (or more) the point of this discussion.

  42. Paul, I’m glad you showed up, because I read that and thought “but… didn’t Paul’s survey show very much otherwise?”

  43. (Yet another tangent by Alix…)

    Someone said something to me once that just caught me and, once I’d sat and thought about it, really made me rethink my own opinion of myself. That thing goes through my head every time I read another discussion about body issues.

    “You would not be here if you did not basically work.”

    That started ringing through my head again when I read this post and these comments, and I’m not entirely sure why. I guess it’s because that’s the cornerstone on which I’ve built my own body acceptance.

    I don’t know. It’s another tangent, and another thing I felt I needed to say. I don’t know why. Sorry!

  44. Wow. The denial, the innacuracies, and above all the immense amount of JUDGEMENT and self-righteousness in this post and the rest of the posts on this subject in this blog are astounding. (“the real you is fat”… speak for yourself, you don’t know my genetics or my health situation!). Now I am reminded why I no longer call myself “fat-positive.”

  45. Daily Kos does not change policy because they publish an article. It’s because that article causes people to call, write letters, march, contact journalists…

    Daily Kos would be a failure if all they did was decide who was welcome to post in comments, and what blogs to link to.

    Daily Kos has a mission – elect dems.

    Fat blogs should emulate that.

    And Kate – when my point is that kicking people out isn’t the way to start a broad movement, I don’t know if telling me to start my own blog is the *best* rebuttal. ;)

  46. Troll up at #49: I doubt you were ever “fat positive,” if all it takes to make you “fat negative” is a declaration that diets don’t produce the intended results for the vast majority of people who try them. For most “fat positive” people, that’s what’s known as a “big duh.”

    One more time: Nobody is going to be monitoring your calorie count or your maximum heart rate or the amount of time you spend in the gym. I guarantee you Kate Harding doesn’t wake up every day and go, “Gee, I hope Meowser ate her 2000 calories today and took the elevator, I’d better call her and make sure.” Nope. Doesn’t happen, not ever.

    If after all we’ve told you you still want to keep trying, well…we did what we could. Dieting is practically the national frigging pastime, and if you have your heart set on it, if you are still rock certain that your life will irretrievably suck without serious weight loss, what do you care what we think? We don’t know you anyway. There are a million diet-positive blogs and forums and message boards and articles out there to egg you on, so knock yourself out.

    Me, I prefer baseball.

  47. Betty, nobody is saying people who diet can’t comment here. We’re just asking you not to talk about your diet in what fat people consider a safe place… is that really so damn much to ask?

    And #49, nowhere have Kate or the Rotund been judgemental of people who diet. Give me a break.

  48. Love love love the feminism/lipstick analogy. You can wear all the makeup you want and still be feminist, but a feminist blog is totally the wrong place to ask about a bright pink lipstick that doesn’t look clownish on pale skin. Even if some of the people there might be able to help you, it just isn’t appropriate, and there are tons of other places where you can discuss that sort of thing.

    Likewise, calling a fat acceptance blog a No Diet Talk Zone doesn’t necessarily mean we think you’re a ZOMG BAD FATTY for dieting, just that we don’t think it’s appropriate to discuss that stuff here and would prefer that you take that particular conversation somewhere else.

  49. Just to intervene a little: Meowser is right! Manny Yarborogh is friggin’ 6’8, and 750: It didn’t stop him from being a dominant force in the sport. I hope he comes back, as it will put him in good health again. ^_^
    There’s always going to be exceptions: I’m sure he has a lot of muscle on his frame.

  50. And Kate – when my point is that kicking people out isn’t the way to start a broad movement, I don’t know if telling me to start my own blog is the *best* rebuttal.

    Betty, I’m not sure I ever agreed with your point.

    And I don’t want to be Daily Kos. I want to be Shapely Prose. So far, that’s going pretty well.

  51. One final thought about safe space.

    As I read all this and ask myself what it’s about, what my anxiety is, I realize that when I listen to diet talk, I’m afraid I’ll diet. I’m actually terrified I’ll diet. And “succeed.” And then deal with the aftermath of that. As I think about the trigger, it’s the thought of succumbing to how good it all sounds that really gets me emotional.

    And I want to be clear about that. It’s not “Shut the fuck up about your fucking diet, I hate diets, Diets Don’t Work™.” It’s more like I’m trying to stay sober and I come here about my sobriety and you’re coming in here talking about how the new flavored Grey Goose is the best vodka ever.

  52. I’m finally coming to the no diet talk zone in these wonderous lands, it makes things so much easier. I will deal with my eating disorder in my own way, outside of the movement, and then put my $.02 in when I feel able to contribute in a meaningful way to FA. I definitely think I can do both and feel good about myself!! Yippee!!

  53. I also totally disagree with the idea that movements can’t set limits on participation, and I think the question of whether someone’s voice belongs on their own blog instead of, say, this one, is a good question indeed.

    There are many, many, many different feminist movements out there, all doing and embracing different things. Often, we come together to support one another on various issues, but most of the time, we all focus on what we consider our most important area of work. It is not even impossible to have every feminist or every feminist group dealing with every single issue of oppression affecting women – that’s a surefire recipe for burnout and discord.

    Regardless of what issues are being dealt with at anyone time – and this is the real point – feminist movements are not all about supporting every single thing women do, or being on side with every single individual woman no matter what. Rather, the entire point is about ending the oppression of women as a group.

    A woman going into a feminist discussion should absolutely not expect to be welcomed when discussing how patriarchy and the Promise Keepers are the most wonderful thing that ever happened to her – at least, she shouldn’t expect to do so without facing some heavy criticism and perhaps a request or demand to leave.

    I don’t believe the fat activist movement is about blindly supporting everything a fat person does either. We ALL have different facets to our lives. Not everything I do as a woman is a feminist action. Not everything I do as a queer woman is a queer rights action. Not everything I do as a fat person is a fat activist action. Not everything I do as a cat owner is a cat activist action!

    Just because something is a part of your life – say, dieting – does not mean it belongs in a fat activist space. I REALLY don’t understand why this is hard for some people to get.

  54. Sorry, in the 2nd paragraph above, “It is not even impossible to have every…” should read “It is not even POSSIBLE…”

    Burn out feminist, what can I say?

  55. Betty, I read your calls to ‘change the policy’ an hour or so back, and have been mulling over it ever since to decide why I disagree so strongly.

    Now I come back, I find Deborah has provided exactly the explanation I was after. To me, being allowed to discuss diets here is parallel to this scenario; if I consider myself an environmentalist, and frequent an environmentalists’ message board, it is understood, even expected, that some of us might fall short of being perfect environmentalists in some ways, some of the time. Even with that understanding, it doesn’t make it ok to have a discussion about which particular brand of toxic cleaner is better, or how well said toxic cleaner works, within the context of the environmentalist board, because it is fundamentally at odds with the philosophy of discussion in that space, and we should not be encouraging other posters to use Toxic Cleaner X. That remains the case, even if it’s made explicit that being a perfect environmentalist in our society is hard, and sometimes we will fail.

    Why should this blog be any different? My own hunch is it’s because fat and fear of fat have become so fundamentally tied up in ideas of ‘self’ in a way that environmentalism, for example, is not. In that case, it may feel that not being able to discuss weight-loss diets here seems like yet another rejection of self. It’s not. This website exists not to judge WL dieters, but to a) point out the societal pressures that lead us to diet b) discuss a viable alternative (HAES) to WLDs and c) provide a space for discussion of those topics by people who are learning that WLDs are not their only option.

    You’re at liberty to read this blog, struggle with some of the ideas and discuss them. It’s just not the place where you discuss the diet you’re on [i]because[/i] you struggle to come to terms with fat-acceptance ideas. We all know that we fall short of accepting our bodies as they are at times, and falling back on the ‘toxic cleaner’ might be the result. That doesn’t make the ‘toxic cleaner’ any more in line with the aims of this website.

  56. Just because something is a part of your life – say, dieting – does not mean it belongs in a fat activist space. I REALLY don’t understand why this is hard for some people to get.

    You and me both.

  57. Yanno – gynecological exams are a regular part of my life, but i don’t talk about them at the dinner table.

    There’s a time and place for everything. Some things are not appropriate in some locations. While i personally disagree with the whole dieting concept, i believe that a person has a right to diet just as much as they have a right to drink as much salt water as they want. But i don’t think they have a right to talk about it wherever they want. I do believe in personal empowerment, i do not believe in entitlement.

  58. Love love love the feminism/lipstick analogy.

    I think it’s of limited value. The way people have been talking about it here, it works for me. But as I pointed out at Zuzu’s the other day, it doesn’t completely hold, because dieting is not as simple as putting on lipstick, and losing weight is not an option open to everyone with $5.

    If getting shiny red lips involved going hungry, I don’t think feminists would be as blase about it.

    And if women were going hungry and paying thousands of dollars to get shiny red lips, and 95% of us ended up with the same old lips anyway? I think we might be even less blase.

    I also think a lot more of us might start talking to other women, and saying, “Hey, seriously, don’t put yourself through that.” And then some of us who are specifically working to get the message out that the pursuit of shiny red lips is both dangerous and futile might even say, “You know what? I don’t want to hear about shiny red lips anymore. I support your right to do what you want with your body, but in my little corner of the feminist sandbox, I don’t want to hear about shiny red lips. And as a rule, I don’t think trying to get them is a good idea for anyone, frankly.”

    I mean, some feminists already say that. But if getting shiny red lips involved going hungry, spending loads of money, becoming obsessed, being unable to accept your lips as they are, possibly developing a psychological disorder, possibly messing up your body for life, feeling like you’re not allowed to do things you want to do until you get shiny red lips, and ALMOST CERTAINLY FAILING TO GET THEM ANYWAY? I don’t think it would just be the radfems taking that position anymore.

  59. I don’t understand why this is so hard to understand either. Eh. People hurt and they lash out. I guess that’s the only explanation.

  60. Man, fat lot of good those puppies did!

    Anyway… feminism/plastic surgery analogy, perhaps? It’s still not perfect, but it’s better, since surgery saps your energy and resources while still potentially backfiring, and since people will try to derail discussions of plastic surgery and feminism with “well what if you really need a chin implant to feel normal.”

  61. These comparisons between FA and feminism are giving me a REAL scary feeling…

    You would think feminism would be an easy sell considering that women are a majority. But it got totally hijacked by the ideologues and now when most people think feminism they think Andrea Dworkin and unshaved legs. Of all the women I know IRL, I don’t think a single one would answer yes if asked if they consider themselves a feminist. My girlfriend detests “them”, and she’s well to the left of center politically.

    From my naive viewpoint as an outsider – who in the f#!* CARES if you wear lipstick or not?! I would think feminist groups would be more interested in the bigger issues than whether gals are getting boob jobs. When some of them make snide comments like “your lipstick isn’t feminist”, they just alienate millions who would otherwise be part of their movement. It’s a great way to lose a war so that your principles can win a battle.

    Is dieting becoming to us what lipstick is to the feminists? If I gained 5 pounds over Thanksgiving and casually mention that I need to lose that, am I branded a traitor to the cause and sternly admonished for my thoughtcrime? It’s very worrisome that after making all these rules and policy statements, we won’t have a whole lot of people interested in being around to follow them.

  62. Kate on the lipstick thing: **clapclapwhistle**

    Only maybe you wouldn’t wind up with the same old lips. Maybe you’d wind up with really dried-out and shriveled ones.

    But…but…red lips are ASSOCIATED WITH BETTER HEALTH! No, really, they are!

  63. Rakshasa, your anecdotal take on the state of contemporary feminism is, uh… naive, as you said. That’s me being nice.

    Feminism is a vibrant movement with a whole lot of people involved. It’s not the ghost of Andrea Dworkin that keeps women from signing up; for the most part, it’s all the internalized patriarchal messages. Including, uh, the one that says feminism = hairy-legged, man-hating navel-gazing. THAT’S what makes it a hard sell, to the extent that it is.

    And lots of things are important feminist issues — far too many for any one group to take on all of them — including the pressure women feel to wear make-up. But not every issue is up for discussion in every space, at every time.

    It’s very worrisome that after making all these rules and policy statements, we won’t have a whole lot of people interested in being around to follow them.

    Not to me.

  64. Is dieting becoming to us what lipstick is to the feminists? If I gained 5 pounds over Thanksgiving and casually mention that I need to lose that, am I branded a traitor to the cause and sternly admonished for my thoughtcrime? It’s very worrisome that after making all these rules and policy statements, we won’t have a whole lot of people interested in being around to follow them.

    What people do is a whole different deal from what they talk about in a certain setting, Rakshasa. I think it’s fair to assume, unless stated otherwise, that if you are on a SA blog, you leave the “ZOMG I was such a pig at Thanksgiving and my thighs look like hams” talk for a more appropriate venue. That does NOT mean you’re not allowed to think it. It also does not mean you can’t spend some time on the treadmill the next day if you want. We can’t stop you, y’know?

    But SA is not a monolith any more than feminism is. There might well be some positive discussions of lipstick at Feministing, say, but certainly not at I Blame the Patriarchy.

  65. From my naive viewpoint as an outsider

    Hey, at least you admit that you don’t know what you’re talking about. And yet you keep talking.

    Your assumptions about feminism are as ill-founded as your assumptions about fat activism. Do some serious reading. I have no problem with people being ignorant about social justice movements, or even making parodic assumptions about them; it’s generally encouraged by the dominant culture, as a way to silence those movements, and I understand that not everyone has the resources to resist. But once enough people tell you that you’re misinformed, you have to either make use of those resources that are available to you (and there are many; for feminism, start here) or you will out yourself as a champion of your own ignorance. I can respect not knowing something; I can’t respect doggedly protecting your right not to know.

  66. Rakshasa, you are seizing on the somewhat beside-the-point lipstick issue and trying to force the discussion in the “feminists are radical hairy-legged man-haters… somehow this therefore means that fat acceptance activists are crazy, lazy blobs who want to control others’ thoughts and actions” direction. IMO unless we are discussing lipstick in terms of the analogy that Kate constructed, which gives a better idea of the seriousness and high stakes of the diet-talk vs. no diet-talk debate in the size acceptance community, it is an interesting side note/illustrative example but is not the point of the main discussion.

    A lot of people have put a lot of thought into some detailed comments here that respond to your incorrect assertion that the FA community as it stands now would like to label you a “traitor to the movement” because you want to take off 5 Thanksgiving pounds. (Not that it would be at all likely for someone to gain 5 pounds at Thanksgiving, so I actually kind of think this is an example of exaggerated fat scaremongering and buying into fat stereotypes, whether you meant it that way or not, but I digress). You appear not to have read–or to have read and ignored–all of these responses. This pisses me off personally because I was one of the people who wrote a response that I put a lot of thought into, but in the abstract sense it also leads me to suspect that you are actually a shit-stirring troll and are trying to derail the discussion. Whether you agree with it or not, I don’t see how ANYONE could fail to understand Kate and others’ position (my understanding of it: dieting is a personal choice, so diet to your heart’s content since it’s a free country, even though most fat acceptance activists believe that it will do you no good whatsoever and may actively harm you, since diets don’t work; but diet-talk and promotion of diets do not have a place in the larger political discussion of fat acceptance) at this point. And made-up lipstick-hating, hairy-legged straw feminists are not even remotely relevant.

    Anyway, I am sure you are not arguing that a civil rights-type movement like feminism or fat acceptance–which would believe that dieting, plastic surgery, etc. are actively dangerous and damaging to the group of people for whose rights it is fighting–should simply “go with the flow” of mainstream society on these issues so that the majority/patriarchy is no longer made uncomfortable by the movement. That would not make a whole lot of sense. If everyone was comfortable with the idea that diets don’t work and are dangerous–and that even if they did work for weight loss, feeling that it is an imperative to starve and doing harm to yourself to meet an ideal that has been developed by the majority, is not something any woman (or man) should have to do–no movement would be needed in the first place. Therefore, a lot of people are gonna be made uncomfortable as a result of this discussion (I mean, the larger discussion of dieting’s place in the fat acceptance movement) and for my money that’s a good thing. IMO people, and women in particular, SHOULD question their ingrained belief that dieting is effective, healthy, and worthwhile, and their belief that they have a responsibility to meet others’/society’s expectations for (and mitigate others’ disapproval of) their bodies.

  67. And after all this amazing blog material that’s flooded the joint over, what, only the past week? _This_ is what inspires me to delurk…

    #67 and 69 re: the notion that

    feminist=unshaved legs

    You say “unshaved legs” like it’s a bad thing, out on the extremes. As a fattie-mcfat, feminist, femme dancer who hasn’t shaved anything except her PCOS-powered beard since 1988, I just want to, you know, stand up and be counted.

    Anyway, Kate and fillyjonk and sweet machine, I am now officially addicted to the blog. Thank you for your articulateness about fat and fat activism, and size acceptance, and well, everything that’s been swirling around. You have a lot more patience than I do.

    As a fat-activist and “fat arts/culture” proponent, and a busy director of Big Moves, I generally haven’t had the time to get into discussions with people, I’m just, like, “f*$% that s*^&, I have a show to choreograph”. But increasingly I’m seeing that I may need to be more explicit in my response to fat-phobia and all-around body bashing. Your blogs, and those of other activists, are really helping me find the words and the logic to support Big Moves’ HAES, size-accepting stance in public.


  68. kate and fillyjonk, I have no interest in feminism, and that’s my point. You have to be a member of the inner circle to see modern feminism as remotely useful. To the rest of us unwashed masses, all it is is unshaved legs and hatred of men. I KNOW that’s a misperception, but I really don’t care to do any serious reading to find out otherwise. The movement has utterly failed to articulate what it stands for. Consider that the majority of college aged women reject the feminist label. If you can’t reach them, how are you going to reach middle America?

    My point is that you need to reach people who are NOT aware of what you do. I am clueless about feminism as I admitted. It should be me that the organizations are trying to reach, instead of wasting their time trying to convince people already aligned with them not to wear lipstick.

    Compare that to groups advocating for the handicapped. They have a simple message, and I totally understand what they are saying. I understand what they want. I don’t have to do any serious reading – they have done a good job putting it into simple words that I can understand.

    I’m not the most well read guy out there. Someone tells me restaurants should be accessible to wheelchairs, that’s cool. I can understand that and get on the bandwagon. But when you start talking about “internalized patriarchal messages”, you might as well be talking Greek…

  69. Before the feminist movement, the concept that women should be able to make their own career and financial choices would have been “inaccessible to the masses” too. Change will occur without people having to waste their time making you comfortable and catering to your unwillingness to learn. Eventually I hope these ideas (that dieting is ineffective and bad for you, and nobody should be made to feel like they have to change their body to satisfy a norm) will be mainstream and then I guess they will be easier to swallow.

    And I think what you really mean is that you agree with the relatively uncontroversial (at least these days) message that handicapped people should be able to move about in the world without facing insurmountable obstacles, but disagree with (or are made uncomfortable by) the idea that men and the patriarchy have any responsibility for the current status of women in our society, or any relationship to fat issues. You know, because if you don’t notice your privilege, that means it doesn’t exist.

    Kind of like how, if I were your girlfriend (if she does feel as you describe) I might feel pretty tempted to feel that feminism had no relevance to me, even though the “weird radicals” who fought for equal rights back in the day are probably largely responsible for the ease with which I was able to get into college, get an engineering degree, and follow whatever career path I desired. It is much easier to pull yourself up by your bootstraps (or think you did) when those who went before you did all of the actual heavy lifting.

  70. kate, hopefully you can help. here’s where i’m having a problem:

    “And what they really mean by that is, “I will be in the 100% of people who take it seriously and try hard and never give up.” Because they assume 95% of dieters were not also in that category, were not that dedicated and vigilant, did not try hard enough.

    That’s a bad assumption.”

    the only assumption i see being made is the one by you; the one that presumes to know what dieters think about non-dieters and diets in general, and that presumption makes me a little uneasy.

    maybe some dieters think and do mean that. maybe they don’t. if someone is fat positive and dieting, i could see that as being a huge turnoff of a statement, though. it paints dieters – even ones who are fat positive and working towards fat acceptance – as judgemental of others, regardless of their individual thoughts or needs.

    you have been clear on the whole anti-dieting vs. anti-dieter individuality standpoint, but that above statement seems very anti-dieter to me. maybe i’m reading it wrong.

  71. I KNOW that’s a misperception, but I really don’t care to do any serious reading to find out otherwise. … It should be me that the organizations are trying to reach, instead of wasting their time trying to convince people already aligned with them not to wear lipstick.

    Shorter Rakshasa: I actively reject being educated, so you should rewrite your agenda to focus on educating me.

    Thanks for playing.

    mizerychik, what other interpretation of “almost no diets work, but I will diet anyway because I really, really want to lose weight so it will work for me” do you recommend? Keep in mind that Kate said “every dieter who hears the 95% statistic [and keeps dieting].” I know I didn’t think “it’ll work for me because I’m dedicated and special,” but that’s because I thought dieting was effective for all normal people and I was only fat because I sucked. I wasn’t aware of the massive failure rate until later.

    Hell, a regular (I think) reader of this blog came in on a previous post and said “well, but since 95% of diets don’t work because people don’t stick to them,” something something. We’re so used to diet culture that we assume that when diets fail, it’s actually dieters failing. If you KNOW weight-loss diets don’t work, and you go on a weight-loss diet anyway, I can’t think of any way to read that besides “diets don’t work because people don’t stick to them, but I really mean it, so it will work for me.”

  72. fillyjonk, I’m not here to offend people, but you’re the embodiment of everything wrong in feminism.

    I honestly stated that I knew very little about feminism, wasn’t well read, and didn’t have any interest in doing serious reading.

    Instead of taking the opportunity to give me a 50 word message that would help change my perception, you dismissed me as unwilling to educate myself and not worthy of your time.

    So the message that I am carrying away from this is that feminists are elitist and angry, and completely disconnected from the reality that the rest of us live in. You want to know why Rush Limbaugh can come on and talk about “FemNazis” and a large chunk of America believes him? It’s because of you.

    Thank YOU for playing… you don’t need to bother replying as I won’t check this thread any further. I know a pretentious ass when I see one, and there are plenty outside the feminist community, thank you very much…

  73. I KNOW that’s a misperception, but I really don’t care to do any serious reading to find out otherwise. The movement has utterly failed to articulate what it stands for.

    Rakshasa, you’ve acknowledged repeatedly that you’re not the brightest guy, and I’m not gonna argue that point. But read those two sentences together. You don’t want to read about it, but we’ve failed to articulate our message.

    Or, you know, maybe you just didn’t read the message?

    Other people have given you more of a response than you deserve on this point. (Thanks, Spacedcowgirl, you rock.) We’ve already linked you to Finally, a Feminism 101 blog, so you can get the For Dummies version. And at the end of the day, no, I don’t feel any responsibility to make it clearer, ’cause guess what, it’s not all about you.

    You’re a shit-disturber, which has been clear from the get-go, but your logical fallacies and simplistic arguments have given me the opportunity to clarify my thoughts for other readers, so I’ve gone with it. I’m done with that now. Fuck off.

    Hell, a regular (I think) reader of this blog came in on a previous post and said “well, but since 95% of diets don’t work because people don’t stick to them,” something something.

    Um, yeah, that was Rakshasa. Imagine that.

  74. it’s where it gets into the assumption that all dieters are making negative, rude assumptions about non-dieters that bothers me, and i think could be a potential turnoff for people. in the same way that it’s rude to assume that fat people are lazy, it’s also rude to assume that dieters think that non-dieters are lazy or don’t work hard enough.

    of course some people think that – i said as much in my post. i’m sure some of them also think that they have different metabolisms or they’re not at their real body set points or even more simply that individuals are not statistics or whatever. i just don’t think every dieter thinks that failed dieters* failed because they weren’t fill-in-the-blank-with-rude-assumption enough.

    do i think it’s the obligation of this blog to allow diet talk? hell no. am i saying that maybe some of the blanket statements about dieters (not dieting) could be alienating to fat acceptance individuals who are dieting? yes.

    *i really dislike the “failed dieter” term, but i can’t come up with a more clear one right now. former dieter? ugh, i hope you know what i mean even though using the word failed in that manner implies something negative which it’s not.

  75. Mizerychik, this is exactly the discussion I don’t want to have here.

    Whether I am being fair or unfair to individual dieters is beside the point and beyond the scope of this site.


  76. Hahaha I ruined feminism.

    mizerychik, no, I see where you’re coming from, but I do think it’s kind of a misreading… what Kate was saying, or at least how I see it (and maybe I should let Kate speak for herself!) is not that dieters assume everyone else fucked up, but that they assume that they won’t fuck up. Yes, the latter assumption requires the first, but it’s not really a conscious thought — it’s not that people are going around all up themselves, like “you couldn’t handle a weight-loss diet but I can,” although as you say, certainly some people are! But to see the miserable statistics and still embark on a weight-loss plan means that you’re engaging in some kind of rationalization, some form of “I’ll be different” or “it’ll be different for me this time.” I guess it’s true, though, that for some people (though not, I suspect, the majority) the assumption is not “it’ll be different because I’m going to work real hard,” but maybe something like “I’m in a different space now” or “I’m talking to you on my new Nokia” or something.

    i really dislike the “failed dieter” term, but i can’t come up with a more clear one right now. former dieter?

    Person whom dieting has failed? Is that too clunky? :)

  77. on an additional note, i’m trying to be as clear as possible with my words here and may be getting into semantics. i’ve been following these threads just about everywhere for the past week and this blog has been particularly clear with words and intent in regards to dieters, dieting, weight loss dieting and HAES, which i’ve appreciated immensely. thanks for that.

  78. As a fat-activist and “fat arts/culture” proponent, and a busy director of Big Moves, I generally haven’t had the time to get into discussions with people, I’m just, like, “f*$% that s*^&, I have a show to choreograph”.

    You are doing so much. A great example, in fact, of how activism can go forward without getting bogged down in words — as much as getting bogged down in words is my stock in trade and something I wholly support. :)

    I’ve read some amazing discussion on being a bearded lady, and I wonder if we could nab someone who’s happily hirsute to write a guest post about different ways of resisting cultural aesthetics. But then, I’m totally what’s wrong with feminism, so maybe y’all don’t want to listen to my ideas.

  79. Mizerychik, you’re welcome, and sorry if I was harsh. But I am seriously just really, really done explaining myself on this issue. Fillyjonk’s answers are in line with what I would tell you if I were willing to keep engaging questions about whether I’m judging/trashing dieters. But I’m not.

    And Big Moves Babe, Fillyjonk can also speak for me with regard to you!

  80. What does she win? Something that major should at least carry with it an honorific, or an embroidered cape, or something.

    I give that flounce very high marks in the general drama category and also a special achievement award for designating someone the EMBODIMENT OF EVERYTHING WRONG IN FEMINISM. Most flouncers don’t have the level of commitment required to take their dudgeon to quite that level of, um… high-ness, and for that, sir, I salute you.

    Kate, thank you for your kind words but you are just enabling my ongoing habit of generating comment kudzu. :)

  81. thanks fillyjonk, that’s clearer.

    Person whom dieting has failed?

    perfect :)

    thanks kate. i’m not trying to pee in the swimming pool or anything, just trying to understand a little better.

  82. But…but…Rakshasa has never even SEEN your legs!

    I’m gonna come out right now and say that they’re pretty hairy at the moment! AND I’m not wearing lipstick!

    I have at least five lipsticks in my bag, though.


    Must…have…t-shirt… : ~

    How about this? she said, giving the now zombie hamburger horse another Bian Tui (Kung Fu roundhouse kick)…

    People who wish/hope/believe that WLD can/just-has-to work are engaging in magical thinking. In other words, the logic applied to other people isn’t maintained when applied to oneself. In other other words, they might (sort of) acknowledge that dieting failed others, but, magically hope/need-to-believe/assume that *their* experience will be differenct because, because…it just *must* be. In other words, they’re not thinking clearly. Hence the resentment. Nothing we can say will ever be good enough *unless* it is a statement that dieting might/will work for them. One of those “Don’t confuse me with the facts” situations.* And, hence, my statement that dieting is an irrational act.

    Stuff y’all probably already know \/ \/ \/

    *My understanding is that most of the “successful” dieters are male, and people who have never tried to lose weight before — i.e. men in their 30s or 40s who’ve been thin most of their lives, and who then decide to drop a few pounds. Diets fail people (great phrase) when their metabolism adjusts so that they have to eat less and less food not only to maintain the weight loss that’s already occurred, but also to continue losing weight. And, even if the WLDer does not give into refeeding (an unlikely situation, unless they’re also using mind-altering drugs <==not a joke), they still will start to regain as their metabolism eventually grinds to a near halt. The “record” I read (in Bennett & Gurin’s Dieter’s Dilemma) was of a man who, while hospitalized and on a strictly controlled liquid diet, maintained a weight of over 400 pounds on 900 calories a day. The calorie theory, aka. bunk, predicts that, even if you take his extreme lack of mobility into account, he still would have to take in 4,400 calories just to sustain his base metabolism, and that, on 900 calories a day, he should be losing about a pound a day. Yeah, right.

    (Still packing the candy apple red lipstick, and a couple glosses.)

  84. Nothing we can say will ever be good enough *unless* it is a statement that dieting might/will work for them. One of those “Don’t confuse me with the facts” situations.* And, hence, my statement that dieting is an irrational act.

    You know, I couldn’t get my head around why I was being asked again and again, by many different people, to define “dieting” — when I was pretty sure I already had. And that I hadn’t used big words.

    Then it dawned on me that if you define dieting as “The deliberate pursuit of weight loss,” that leaves people absolutely no wiggle room to say, “But what I’M doing to lose weight is NOT A DIET!”

    Ahhhhhh. Lightbulb.

  85. Hiya, sorry to spoil all the fun, but you womyn are getting played like cheap violins by someone who is obviously a master troll.

    Look up the word Rakshasa in wikipedia. Here’s some of it:

    “…rakshasas are a frequently encountered and populous race of supernatural humanoids who tend generally toward evil. … As shapechangers, they can assume various physical forms, and it is not always clear whether they have a true or natural form. As illusionists, they are capable of creating appearances which are real to those who believe in them or who fail to dispel them. Rakshasas are cannibals, and frequently make their gleeful appearance when the slaughter on the battlefield is at its worst.”

    Remember, Google is your friend!

  86. Oh no. The shame. We’ve been CRUELLY TRICKED into showing ourselves to have integrity, intelligent ideas, the willingness to give the benefit of the doubt, and limited tolerance for nonsense. Oh how will we ever live this down. PLAYED LIKE CHEAP VIOLINS I TELL YOU.

    Incidentally, anonymous, a fillyjonk is a neurotic rodent-like creature with Scandinavian overtones. I wouldn’t use that to interpret my blog behavior, though. But thanks so much for stopping by.

  87. you womyn are getting played like cheap violins by someone who is obviously a master troll.

    Uh, considering we only answered questions worth answering, made it clear to any reasonable person that he had his head up his ass from the get-go, and told him to fuck off when we were done with him — which didn’t even matter, since he had already FUH-LOUNCED by then… I’m thinking “master troll” might be overstating it just a touch.


  88. Also? WE SAID FUCK OFF.

    But but but… I have to tell you why my nom de blog is so frightfully clever! How will you know how bad I totally won unless I do my patented sock-puppet move?

  89. Damn, I said “nom de troll” before and that was much funnier. I AM THE EMBODIMENT OF EVERYTHING WRONG WITH HUMOR

  90. You lose at witty retorts, Fillyjonk!

    Also, did you know that if you Google the name “Kate Harding,” you’ll find http://www.kateharding.net, where, if you click on “Comments Policy,” you’ll find this:

    Second rule: Good-natured and delightful people don’t have to ignore the trolls; you’re more than welcome to tell them to get bent, question their logic, trump them with your brilliance, and make fun of their spelling. I will be doing the same when I don’t choose to delete and ban the little fuckers.

  91. “Rakshasa” is such a spiffy bit of folk lore info, I’d say we’re coming out ahead. Kinda like shekinas, only a little meaner sometimes?

    “Kell” is from the same roots as Kildare, Killarney, etc. and refers to the O’Kells, or the caste of priest/esses of the Goddess Brigid. Ditto Brigan(d), which refers to followers of same, aka. rowdy upstart heathens who gave the Romans a real hard time. (Fear not; my powers can only be used for good.) (And it’s about dang time Dublin College gave my cool book back.)

  92. “Lindsay” is an old name that means “from the linden tree by the sea”. So um, y’all have been talking with um, a wet tree.

    Or something. ;)

  93. I know people are trying to take this off into a humourous direction, so forgive me for whapping that dead horse again… ;)

    kate, totally see your point on the flaws in the lipstick analogy. I think I picked it up only to illustrate the point that feminists aren’t actually telling you what to do (i.e. wear or not wear makeup, shave/not shave, diet/not diet, etc.), but that people can certainly expect feminists to question why women do those certain things, and to discuss why oppression may be at the root.

    As to the feminism discussion….*sigh*….to paraphrase Gloria Steinem, people have been pronouncing feminism dead for so long that “feminism-is-dead” seems to have become a single key on the keyboard.

    Whether or not feminist organizations can and should go out into the world and knock on every woman’s door to educate them about feminism is a whole other ball of wax. Feminist organizations are almost invariably the most woefully underfunded and understaffed in the world, around the world (with the possible exception of anti-poverty organizations). Why? Because oppressed people are the usually the ones without a whole bunch of money. Where there is feminist money (I note the death of Anita Roddick with sadness), there isn’t a whole lot to go around. In Canada, The Body Shop Foundation, as a prime example, gives out a maximum of 10 small grants to feminist organizations across the entire country per year. Governments do not support feminist organizations the way they do faith-based organizations, not by a longshot. And most women – even feminists – still earn far less money than men, and often need that money to support their families. Women still do two-thirds of the world’s paid and unpaid work, earn ten percent of the world’s income, and own one percent of the world’s wealth. (That’s a United Nations stat, btw.)

    My feminist organization closed down this year due to a lack of funding. I fought tooth and nail for years to save it. I gave up everything to do it – my ability to sustain a relationship, my personal interests, my time, my energy, my money. I nearly gave up my life – first to a right-wing “christian” stalker, and then to utter collapse and hospitalization. I was the last employee standing during the last three years of our organization’s life, after we had laid off everyone else, and I wound up taking on a lot of their extra work, which still had to be done by someone. I was earning the same wage I had earned for the previous six years – and working fewer paid hours to try to save the organization some money – while my car broke down, my rent went up, my bills kept coming in, and my ability to put food on the table dwindled. When we were open, we had to fight to get any media time, we had to fight to get anyone to read the myriad of publications we produced, we had to fight to get any attention at all from governments, and we had to fight to be heard at almost every table where we went to talk about women’s rights. I even taught myself how to build websites so that others might have greater access to what we had to say. So please forgive me, everyone, if I did not have time to visit you and spend endless hours discussing feminism with you.

    Bitter? You bet. Hard not to be when someone says they can’t be bothered to read anything, but prefer to base their opinions on their continued assumptions and misinterpretations of what feminism is about.

    And once again, there is no ONE feminist movement. There are MANY feminist movements, all working on dozens of projects at any one time, based usually on the priority issues facing women in their communities: usually violence, poverty, discrimination, and other human rights offences. And btw, there are lots of young feminists out there doing this work – I don’t know what I would have done all those years without the energy of the many young women who volunteered their time to help out my organization.

    Sorry if I am responsible for derailing threads, but I am so frustrated with this kind of bullshit. And it is bullshit.

  94. Oh and…er…Dorianne…means…er…is a name my mother thought she made up, till she heard about other people with the same name. (Her mom’s name was Doreen, and her own middle name is Anne.)

  95. Forgive the third post, but an important point I missed is that most feminist organizations do not qualify for charitable tax status (or whatever you call it in the U.S.) because of their work lobbying governments for equality. (This is considered political work – ironically, most faith-based organizations that lobby government DO have charitable tax status.) This means that they cannot give out tax receipts. In turn, this means that donations are scarce and feminist organizations do not qualify for almost all of the private foundation grants out there.

  96. I love this discussion. I always love when dudes wander into feminist-leaning websites and whine. I never ever post, as my skin is ridiculously thin, but I do so relish reading the take-downs.

    I am benefiting immensely from all the FA blogs I’ve been reading, and someday soon I might be able to actually contribute something of note.

    And *waves* at Dorianne, if she is who I think she is, in not at all a stalkerish way, I promise!

  97. Forgive me if this is an ignorant question, but the guest-poster-to-be who plans to have WLS — would adopting a HAES approach not improve her health at all?

    I love coming here to read every day, but I stopped reading another blog that linked to a woman’s WLS journey. It just makes me feel like a loser in comparison…

  98. Lucy, the woman in question has exhausted other options and feels this is the only thing she can do, let’s put it that way.

    In theory, my answer to your question would be yes. In practice, I trust that this woman is making the best decision for herself. Which is exactly why I’ve been distinguishing between my political stance and my personal response to individuals all along.

    She won’t be a regular contributor, btw. I’ve asked her for a guest post (or a few) on any aspect of living in a 500-lb. body, and told her that her WLS decision is not off-limits as a topic, though it doesn’t mean I’m relaxing my general stance on WLS. I don’t know what she intends to write about at this point. But I know she’s a good writer with a perspective very different from my own.

  99. “Forgive me if this is an ignorant question, but the guest-poster-to-be who plans to have WLS — would adopting a HAES approach not improve her health at all?”

    I’m steeling myself to not go into Geek Answer Mode, which I’m sure this perfectly intelligent woman does not need in her life *at all*. I am frustrated to no end, however, that obviously beneficial options like physical therapy, water exercise, etc., are rarely covered by insurance, but the frequently iffy procedures that have strong lobby money behind them do. In my next life, I’m going to be independently wealthy so I can go around giving free PT coaching sessions. Maybe I’ll even wear a mask. Yeah, and have a cape. And ride around on a horse. And be dating that guy… (Sorry. A bit of fantasy scope creep, there.)

  100. For what is health?

    I say (and of late years I am astonished that the World Health Organization agrees with me) that health is when nothing hurts very much; but the popular idea is of health as a norm to which we must all seek to conform. Not to be healthy, not to be in “top form” is one of the few sins that modern society is willing to recognize and condemn. But are there not as many healths as there are bodies?

    – – Robertson Davies, The Cunning Man, 1994

  101. No no, kate, don’t feel sorry. Thank you instead for providing a space for me to get that out! ;) Didn’t know I needed it…

    iiii, that sounds very gracious! Thank you for looking it up!

    Lucizoe!! *bounces up and down, waves excitedly* Whatever gave me away? :D You just prompted me to go over there and post! Boobalicious vibes to you!!!

  102. Dude, who knew Robertson Davies rocked so much?

    Well, okay, I did, but I hadn’t read that particular quote. Thanks iiii.

  103. Of course I’m coming in late to this, due to being completely out of it the past few days.

    Dieters = closeted gays? I would say that, if one is to make that analogy, dieters are to fat acceptance as gays going through counseling to become straight are to gay pride. In other words, if you view the status which is the focus of the movement as something to be purged from you, then it’s hard to accept that you are supportive of the movement, especially when the methods of changing that status are suspect at best, and well-known to eventually reverse themselves if they even seem to work in the first place.

    And, er, the Rio Iriri is a river in Brazil where a lot of really cool plecostomus (suckermouth catfish) species are found. It’s part of the Amazon watershed; it flows into the Rio Xingu, which flows into the Amazon. So, yo, talking river here.

  104. Hi there Kate, i found this thread today while doing a search for my blog (vanity ahoy!), i must have not kept up with the comments thread at the time once i’d read the entry. i had been wondering, in that quivering angsty high school way, what i’d done wrong to be nixed from the blogroll but i completely understand why so no worries.

    My blog DID start out as a hardcore weight loss blog with that all-or-nothing, dieters mentality. But that was almost seven years ago and the process lead me to an epiphany that dieting was fucked up. I don’t think I’m alone in taking a long time to change me thinking and reach this conclusion… except in my case it’s been a very public process.

    People come to my site looking for a weight loss success story, but when they actually read my gobs of archives they come to see that my “journey” *gag* was not about weight loss so much as coming to a place of peace and acceptance and celebration of the body and it makes them think about dieting and what the fuck all that means. YES I lost a shitload of weight but like I said – it took me awhile to find a life beyond dieting.

    But I’m trying to change my message now. I wrote a piece for Elastic Waist recently about how I became Not On A Diet Girl, for example… and I’ve just finished writing a book – yes it has the Dietgirl title, but the message is not about weight loss. And I still talk about exercise, and healthy food en blog, but because it’s part of my life now… I enjoy it, it’s essential for my general sense of wellbeing and not about lard busting anymore.

    I just don’t think I will ever be an acceptable part of the FA movement but I can’t keep feeling apologetic for losing a lot of weight. My eating was extremely disordered, it’s just not healthy to eat two pounds of chocolate in a day and never leave the house because I was too exhausted to walk down the street. I did have to re-learn how to eat sensibly again. And it took me awhile to find a non-diet-y balanced way of doing that.

    These days I am trying to make my blog a reflection of the peace i’ve found with my body. I’ve got a very receptive audience of some very hardcore dieters and/or folk who feel extremely poorly of themselves… and by sharing my story and the changes in my thinking, I am getting so much positive feedback from people saying I helped them rethink their dieting mentality and the way they feel their bodies. It’s not FA but it’s a nice feeling when someone tells you, you made them ditch the Slim fast forever.

  105. Oh, Shauna, I’m sorry you went all that time thinking I was upset with you!

    I completely understand everything you’re saying, and since it’s similar to what we talked about when we met, that’s exactly why you were on the blogroll in the first place. :) But since I do believe the no diet talk rule is important on this blog, when someone questioned your place on the blogroll, I had to admit that pointing people to your blog — including the archives — was a bit hypocritical of me.

    It’s not FA but it’s a nice feeling when someone tells you, you made them ditch the Slim fast forever.

    Totally — and I LOVE that people are getting that from your blog. I do think blogs like yours and others where weight loss IS discussed can be awesome for people who are at different stages on their own “journeys.”

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