Commentariat, Fat, Fillyjonk, Media

All right, ‘fess up…

Which one of you is Hannah Lobel?

The woman HAS to be a Shapeling. If she’s not, we absolutely must find and recruit her.

Edited to add: Wow, the whole Utne Reader is like something out of an alternate universe this month. Also check out Love Your Fat Self, by Feministing contributor Courtney E. Martin, and this skeptical book review that expertly skewers the smug superiority of diet writing. The cognoscenti are catching on, guys.

Edited again to add: I went ahead and emailed my adulations to Hannah. My love was just too strong to resist.

65 thoughts on “All right, ‘fess up…”

  1. Oh, that article deserves a plug too (though I felt like the “maybe fat isn’t that unhealthy” part was mostly lip service and quickly negated), but I know who wrote that — it’s Courtney Martin of Feministing. There was a post there about it, and it only took four comments for someone to say “well loving yourself is all well and good but obesity is a REAL PROBLEM.”

    And yes, I do think that’s FatGrrl!

  2. I love the pic of the scale accompanying the article, too — moving from WOW, This is Me to This Can’t Be Me to What’s Wrong With Me. Sounds like the thoughts I had (pre-FA) as I moved up the scale.

  3. Wow, so much fat positive stuff in one issue!

    Speaking of fat positive stuff, I’m at a movie review website and there’s a discussion going on about fat suits in movies and everyone is agreeing that they’re horrible and offensive… yay! Including one person who had a brilliant (very angry) rant about the issue, here’s some of it:

    Fuck every person who even once in their life has laughed at the concept of an actor in a fat suit as humor. Fuck everyone who has ever gigled at a heavy person. Fuck everyone who tells a fat joke. Fuck Eddie Murphy. Fuck Martin Lawrence. Maybe they should spend some time with a heavy set person at the mall around xmas when suddenly from 50 feet behind them someone yells ‘Fatass!!’ and you have to see the look on his or her face. Or go to a restaurant and not be able to sit in a booth. Or not be able to go to the fucking movies with them because the seats are tight and it causes pain in the hips. Not every fat person eats greesy food, 14 lbs of cake, and milkshakes every day….

    It’s just always thrilling to see fat acceptance type stuff pop up outside the fatosphere and occasionally the feminists sites.

  4. Becky, that’s a great rant!

    Also, is it weird that “14 lbs of cake” sounds really appealing right now? I don’t want to eat it, I kind of just want to sleep in it.

  5. The news has some story about a bride who had a life-size replica of herself done in cake as her wedding cake. Mmmmmm, cake. LOL

  6. Wow, there must be thousands of Shapelings and they’re ALL accessing Utne at the same time! Viva the Fat-a-loution!

    In other words, nothing will load for me. I will have to check back later! :)

  7. I am not really fond of repeating all the lies about how unhealthy & dangerous it is to be fat, & how we “Should” be worrying about how many of us are fat & how fat we are. I guess I have been around fat acceptance long enough & been working it enough & have also learned enough of the truth that I am no longer grateful for crumbs. And I am particularly not fond of the part where she says that fat people who have worked on their ‘psychological’ issues are better at losing weight & keeping it off than dieters are (more of the old “fat people are emotionally ill & overeating to ease their psychic pain drivel.” It is certainly better than much of what is written out there, but definitely written by someone who has a LOT to learn.

  8. Patsy, are you referring to the Courtney Martin bits? (I confess I haven’t read those yet — and although I’m a big fan of Feministing and much of what Courtney writes, I’m disappointed in what I’m hearing about that, too.) The Hannah Lobel piece is 100% terrific, as far as I’m concerned.

  9. I just read the Lobel piece, Kate, & it is very good, I agree…though I have to say that I don’t share her amusement at the ‘public service announcements’ showing people coming upon missing body parts.
    And, yes, it was Ms. Martin’s article to which I was referring. She is holding on to a lot of the mainstream beliefs about fat & fat people, which, considering that science has repeatedly shown that over 80% of body size is genetic, that we generally eat no more or differently than thin people, & that fat people often live even longer than thin people (ie…a 350-pound woman has a good chance of outliving a 175-pound man by 3 to 4 years), it is far from right or helpful to keep repeating the crap we are fed by the Big Money interests all the time.

    My sons’ father, btw, who is 64 & working fulltime at a demanding physical job, is currently being chased on the phone by some damn nurse who works for his employer’s health insurance company wanting to tell him that he (5;11″, around 200 pounds for at least 35 years) could “reduce his risks of diabetes & heart disease by losing ‘just 5%’ of his body weight (a pronouncement repeatedly proven to be wrong & weight loss for people over 60 is especially deadly) & exercising more (this man has never had a car or a license, nor have I, & walks nearly 4 miles every day going to work & back, then walks about another 4 or 5 miles around the hospital where he works, walks on his days off, lives in a second floor apartment, does not smoke & quit drinking some time ago). We are being nagged & nannied by people who refuse to see & understand the truth & it bugs the shit out of me to keep reading articles reaffirming that being fat is some kind of life-threatening disease & losing weight is always a good thing. It is not, & especially not for people my age & older.

    I also loved the weight loss links & particularly the one about reducing your fat child to his proper size that are beside the articles, too. But Lobel did some good writing, I agree.

  10. Yeah, I’m not fully behind Martin’s article… or rather, Martin’s article doesn’t read as though it were written by a fat activist. In the spirit of nuns I am trying to realize that that’s okay, though not ideal. Her intentions are in the right place, but she’s still laboring under some pervasive and difficult to shake misconceptions, and she herself acknowledges that she burdens herself and others with a lot of judgment.

    Hannah Lobel, though, has GOT to be one of us (and there are actually thousands, I think… between us and Feministing, maybe we could have broken Utne?). She is in spirit if not in fact. I have literally never read a sorta-mainstream (i.e. non-blog, non-Fat!So?) article that got it so right.

    Which means she’s going to get a lot of emails from assholes.

  11. though I have to say that I don’t share her amusement at the ‘public service announcements’ showing people coming upon missing body parts.

    Me neither — I find those ads incredibly offensive, not least because the idea that exercise will make you automatically drop pounds is patently false. So her article was only 98% terrific. :)

    I also loved the weight loss links & particularly the one about reducing your fat child to his proper size that are beside the articles, too.

    To be fair, I don’t think they had much control over that, since they’re keyword-based ads that come up automatically. Which is the main reason I’ve never signed up for ads like that.

  12. Patsy, I disagreed with Lobel on the fat PSAs too – in fact, I know of no one who actually likes them.

    Kate: “Which is the main reason I’ve never signed up for ads like that.”

    BFB had keyword ads for about 3 days, once, and those were canned for that very reason. Waaaayyyy too many weight loss ads, and the filters didn’t really help.

  13. Which means she’s going to get a lot of emails from assholes.

    Oh, sweet mother of Pete, is she ever. I can almost feel the flaming vitriol traveling over the tubes as I type.

  14. I want to print that article out on expensive paper and put it in a frame. Then I will love it and hug it and call it George. Also, I want to adopt Hannah.

  15. I am no longer grateful for crumbs

    This is kinda where I am. I think this series of articles is a helluva lot better than nothing (or the usual lambasting), and it’s exciting to see it in a “mainstream” venue…but still, it’s not what it ought to be, and only further pushes me to want to get out there and do something to push the issue.

  16. I’m glad I’m not alone in not loving Courtney Martin’s article.

    Martin demonstrates some slippery thinking when she writes, “prolonged weight loss is more often the result of psychological work…behavior change and self-acceptance were far more effective in achieving long-term health improvements in obese women than America’s most lucrative scam: dieting.” The move from “prolonged weight loss” to “long-term health improvements” equates the two and I was left wondering if the studies looked at fatness or fitness, and this blurring is in keeping with Martin’s acceptance that fat=unhealthy (even if dieting is worse, “There is only one rational reason to fear fatness: health risks.”).

    And, despite the fact that she claims to be friends with Gareth, I found her musings on Gareth’s inner life (“the pain of a woman like Gareth’s internal world”) and her adoption of the “I know what she’s thinking and why she’s fat” (“Gareth is fat because”) really disturbing.

    The article is titled, “Love Your Fat Self,” but nowhere in the article does Martin identify herself and her own body with respect to the advice in the title. Is she a thin woman? Is she fat? Is she speaking from the outside or the inside? I was left presuming she was thin, especially when she got to describing her internal criticisms of fat women, who seemed to remain “other” to her.

    It would have been a very different article if she’d accounted for her own body (fat or thin) in the same way she’d “explained” Gareth’s body, rather than simply displacing and projecting onto Gareth, who (despite a very cute picture), never really achieves subjectivity, despite the inclusion of her “voice” in her performance (and Martin admits being unable to look her in the eye, focusing instead on her silhouette). And at the end of the performance, Martin sums up by saying that Gareth looked beautiful (privileging beauty over everything else–even over what Gareth had to say).

    And at the end, after admitting to her own internal voices, Martin concludes that the danger of those voices is that she starts to worry about what people are thinking of *her*, which strangely enough makes Gareth’s “gift” to her one where she feels she’s being “generous” in not maligning fat women everywhere.

    I know–this is a hard criticism of an article that might seem to be on our side, but I don’t want to settle for someone who thinks they’re being generous in tolerating me and my fat.

  17. I actually agree with you, Miriam. I think Martin means well, but she really doesn’t seem to have done any research on fat health beyond the usual “ZOMG BUT WHAT ABOUT DIABEEETUS” hype put out by the paid-media Wurlitzer. KH, was it you who said here once, “When the media discovers genetics it’s going to be a great day”?

    And I did like Hannah Lobel’s story for the most part, but I don’t see how those Ad Council spots are anything close to “enlightened.” All they do is reinforce “fat=lazy.”

    My favorite was actually Julie Guthman’s story, “The Food Police – Why Michael Pollan Makes Me Want to Eat Cheetos.” I really hate these “I’m so much better than you because I, unlike the rest of you reptile-brain fat slobbos, I can resist the siren call of convenience food” type of writers. Even if they make some good points otherwise, I always find myself praying for anyone that smug to grow a 100-pound inoperable tumor.

  18. I know–this is a hard criticism of an article that might seem to be on our side, but I don’t want to settle for someone who thinks they’re being generous in tolerating me and my fat.

    No, I think your criticisms are right on, Miriam. Thank you.

    KH, was it you who said here once, “When the media discovers genetics it’s going to be a great day”?

    Heh. I’m not sure if it was me, but I’ll happily take credit for it.

  19. I guess I hate those ads a lot less than everyone else does. I mean, it’s pure fantasy that you could lose significant weight by making tiny changes like that — I mean, it’s pure fantasy that you could lose significant weight for very long, period. But a) they ads aren’t particularly realistic (love handles turned in to the Lost and Found?), b) they’re not hawking diets or any huge image overhauls, but just habit changes that actually are healthy for people not suffering from disabilities, c) they’re not really saying that fat people don’t do these things, just that doing them will make you lose some amount of weight (which is probably true for some people, to the tune of a couple of pounds). I’m not grateful for them or anything, and I’d rather have them off TV, but compared to most of the shit we get from the media, they just don’t bother me that much.

    The only pro-activity ads I’ve ever seen that don’t mention weight were on the cartoon channel. I’m gratified that the kids get the good ones, but I also wish they could allow adults the same message. But most adults are primed to respond to an “exercise so you can lose weight you fat fatty” message instead.

  20. I find those missing body parts ads offensive because the message that I get is, “fat people don’t take the stairs”, “fat people don’t play with their kids”, “fat people drink soda and baby donuts all day while screaming for refills from their well-dented couches.”

    Okay, maybe not the last one.

  21. I guess the reason I’m not offended is that I don’t think of them as being about fat people at all. I think they’re about non-fat people who have a little pudge — I mean, the one I’ve seen involves love handles, and maybe my fat guy is atypical, but he’s too busy having a big squeezy belly and sides to have such a men’s-magazine-problem-area thing as love handles. I feel like love handles are a “guy with some fat” phenomenon rather than a “fat guy” phenomenon.

    Now, that said, I am NOT in favor of an ad campaign whose main goal is to make people with some fat think that they can and should lose that fat, whether they want them to do it through small actually-healthy habits or big horrible eating plans. But first, I’d prefer the former if I had to choose, and second, I don’t tend to think it’s passing a judgment on fat people per se.

    Although it should scale that way, shouldn’t it? If being slightly more active makes you lose your love handles, then being slightly less active gives you love handles, so being a LOT less active is what makes you fat? I don’t know, the interpretation makes sense and they’re certainly simplistic and feeding into a whole poisonous culture but I don’t find them personally offensive, in the context of ads out there to be offended at.

    I wouldn’t call them “enlightened,” but I would call them “better than most of what we’ve got.”

  22. In the Martin article she writes:

    “Fatness is linked to an increased risk for heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and some forms of cancer. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), health care costs for treating diseases associated with obesity are estimated at more than $100 billion a year and rising, just within the United States (inexplicably, the NIH spends just 2 percent of its annual budget on obesity research). The physical, psychological, and economic implications of widespread obesity are undeniably frightening.”

    Although the article is good in some ways, just this little section does so much damage. People will read this and instead of realizing it’s untrue and unfair to link ALL heart attack and stroke care costs etc. to overweight/obese people, they will file it away to use later in some attack on fat people. Or worse they will just KNOW that fat is bad and think anyone who contends that you can be healthy at a wide range of sizes is just ignorant of the “real” facts. ug.

  23. RHC, yeah, that bothered me — as I say in my comment above, she does pay some lip service to the idea that all those “associations” are just associations and that the threat may be way overblown, but she seems to ignore that point thereafter. And I do agree with Miriam that I found the judgments and assumptions about Gareth more than a little uncomfortable (though she may well have interviewed Gareth closely for the story).

  24. On Michael Pollen:

    I just read Barry Glassner’s “The Gospel of Food,” and Glassner’s done a LOT of research on the processed food rants. In a particularly great chapter, he explains how strawberry flavoring for ice cream is considered artificial. It is, in a way. See, strawberries are mostly water, and when processed to make ice cream, real strawberries lose flavor and water down the vanilla ice cream. Big food companies use a starwberry flavoring agent made entirely from wood pulp.

    Glassner talks to an expert who says — “you don’t get much more organic than wood.”

    On, a huge free weight loss & fitness site (it’s awesome in a lot of ways) people are always railing against processed food. Well, milk is processed. Yyogurt is processed. Hummus is processed. Peanut butter is processed. All of those foods are nutrient dense. Also, sparkers continually label high fructose corn syrup as lethal.

    We’re living longer and more healthfully than ever before. And, sure, there might be more healthful options than edibles containing high fructose corn syrup. But lethal? Really? I’d bet both hands that more people die every year in car accidents than — how shall I say this? — complications caused by high friggin’ fructose corn syrup.

    And with that, I return to my 32 oz. diet coke. Which contains high fructose corn syrup.

  25. I am really glad that I was not the only one who was extremely agitated by Martin’s very condescending & patronizing attitude toward her ‘friend’. If I were Gareth, I believe I would be inclined to tell Ms. Martin where she could go & what she could do once she got there. And I am also glad to see that the rest of you picked up on her firm belief in how ‘deadly’ being fat is & also that we must all have emotional/psychological issues, etc., &, if we resolve all those (gee, have we ever heard THAT one before?), we will not need to use food as a crutch with which to comfort ourselves & the pounds will magically MELT away!!

  26. Yeah, I had pretty mixed feelings, reading the excerpt from Courtney Martin’s book. I really dig her feminist take on a lot of the issues we talk about regularly: eating disorders, prejudice, internalized oppression, the whole weight loss/diet culture, etc. But I found it pretty hard to reconcile that with the stuff she wrote about the OMGObesityEpidemic, and how it’s causing so many diseases, how obesity is caused by overeating/western diet/emotional issues (oh those goddamned emotional issues!!!!!! because nobody else has emotional issues but teh fatties), and also, the assumption that weight loss is still possible, if only you do it in the “right” way.

    Part of me wants to give Martin points for effort, but part of me feels like an oppressed woman who desperately wants to call a privileged woman on her privilege: it is her basic blindness to our oppression that allows her to keep embracing the general ignorance around health and fat.

    It’s got a whiff of…I don’t know….de facto privilege, I want to say. It reminds me a lot of white people giving anti-oppression workshops, and trying so hard to really get it and prove how well they understand the deep roots of oppression – and they do get it on some level – but in other ways, they really don’t, because they haven’t lived it, and they haven’t worked hard enough yet to understand all the nuances of it. Yet while their ignorance can’t necessarily be seen by themselves and other members of their own privileged group, members of the oppressed groups can see it/hear it/feel it from a mile off. And to me, it’s like, “Ok, I can see you’re trying, but you’re not there yet, sister.

  27. I agree completely with the criticisms of the Martin article, but I just want to point out that it is an excerpt from her book on eating disorders and body hatred Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters. She refers to Gareth prior to that particular chapter as a friend, and did (I think) discuss her childhood (with the father etc). I’m not saying her comments about “why” Gareth is fat are correct at all, but that she had tried to delve…the wrong way, yes, but anyway…

    I read it recently and felt the same discomfort you have all mentioned. The chapter felt tacked on. She made a few comments in the book, or gave a few examples of the “when I stopped dieting I lost weight and now I love my body” variety, which were counterproductive and really NOT THE POINT!

    I don’t think the article should have been called “Love Your Fat Self”, and the book, while it had some good points, really only addressed those who are of a “socially acceptable” BMI, but consider themselves fat because they are not “perfect”. It was kind of like that post the other day, “normal women are entitled to self esteem but it will only further damage the fat ones” and played along the stereotype that if you are fat there is actually something wrong with you. Once you sort out that emotional problem, the weight will just drop off and you won’t even notice.

    I think I’ve probably exaggerated how much the book was like that, but it really bothered me. There were some insightful comments in there, but they got lost on me when she tacked the obesity chapter on the end.

  28. Patsy Nevins, I hear you loud and clear about the ridiculous standards perpetuated by the health care industry. My boyfriend, who is 5″11 and 200 lbs, is constantly finger waggled about his weight (despite the fact that he works a physically demanding job with full time hours.) He went vegan and lost 20 lbs; he was always sleeping, looked gaunt and had trouble getting out of bed. It was pretty sad, but despite the issues he faced, He still gets shit sometimes.

    Its pretty shitty when I, 5″7 and 210 lbs, gets the doctor bullshit, but for him to get the same is kind of disgusting and really makes me think that most of the anti fat hysteria is just a very devious, underhanded diet industry marketing tactic.

    And thats pretty terrifying.

  29. It’s got a whiff of…I don’t know….de facto privilege

    Oh, yeah. The tone was if the author was thanking god with every breath that she wasn’t afflicted with The Fat, but at the same time calling for everyone to be as compassionate and enlightened… as she is.

    Gareth sounds cool, though.

  30. Courtney’s article is an excerpt from her book. Long story short, she is

    1) a good writer painting word pictures of the problems she sees
    2) an upper middle class married skinny white girl with all the privileges that implies.

    She’s ambivalent. It comes out in her writing. It’ll be interesting to see if/how she evolves.

  31. Y’all need to save me from myself! I’ve been sucked into the “Love Your Fat Self” comment thread at Feministing, and it’s eating my brains.

    I’ve been going back and forth with a (well-meaning?) guy who came onto the thread about loving your fat body to say that, in a nutshell, self-acceptance is the key to (wait for it) weight loss!

    I need a Sanity Watchers meeting–STAT!

  32. SingOut, I was watching that. That guy struck me as very phony almost immediately. I’m sure he’s selling something, but he won’t come right out and say so…

  33. Why did I go to feministing? Why?

    I sleep with a member of the medical profession.

    Obesity is a CONDITION, not a DISEASE.

    There is a CORRELATION between weight and some diseases (diabetes, hyperlipidemia and heart disease. CORRELATION is NOT the same thing as CAUSE.

    God. This is making me crazy.

  34. This just came over the Associated Press wire today:

    To get an extra 14 years of life, don’t smoke, eat lots of fruits and vegetables, exercise regularly and drink alcohol in moderation.

    That’s the finding of a study that tracked about 20,000 people in the United Kingdom.

    Kay-Tee Khaw of the University of Cambridge and colleagues calculated that people who adopted these four healthy habits lived an average of 14 years longer than those who didn’t.

    “Just doing one of these behaviors helps, but every step you make to improve your health seems to have an added benefit,” said Susan Jebb, head of Nutrition and Health at Britain’s Medical Research Council, which helped pay for the study. Jebb was not involved in the study.

    The benefits were also seen regardless of whether or not people were fat and what social class they came from. The findings were published online Monday in the Public Library of Science Medicine journal.

  35. I was also uncomfortable reading Martin’s article, especially the whole “undeniably frightening” shit. However, I have two thoughts about what some people have said:

    First, okay, so, yeah, she says that prolonged weight loss is associated more with psychological work than commercial weight loss programs. What I didn’t get from that statement is “fatties need therapy OMG!” but that *if* you’re one of the people whose bodies will allow and/or actually desire weight loss *then* you’re likely to be struggling with circumstances that might be ameliorated through careful introspection and a therapeutic relationship with someone familiar with eating disorders of all types. She definitely should be more specific, but I don’t think the statement in and of itself is an announcement that fat people are crazy.

    Second, I did appreciate that, at the end of her article/book excerpt, she admitted a realization that “but some of my best friends are fat” is not sufficient to clear out her own silent prejudices. She heard the judgments in her head, and called herself on them publicly. So while I don’t think that entirely exonerates her, it’s evidence that, like most of us here, being in the process of realizing disordered thinking is just that: a process. Hopefully she’ll move along at a brisk pace, for her friend’s sake as well as her own.

    In other news, it would so not surprise me if the MSM assumed (and therefore disseminated) that, by “eat lots of fruits and vegetables [and] exercise regularly,” of course PLOS means “lose your scary scary fat!” Silly scientists. So many words when all you have to say is “GET THIN!” :eyeroll:

  36. “This is going to sound remarkably unfeminist, but I just found her bio and she’s so CUTE, too!”

    wait, how is saying attractive women are attractive unfeminist?

    I compliment girls I like on their looks all the time.

  37. SingOut – oh yeah, I’ve been watching over at Feministing, too! That poster’s skill for circular arguments is so great, s/he reminds me of a politician. Good work! (And all the other great posters challenging the b.s. – and I noticed how MANY posters linked THIS blog!) But yeah, sometimes you have to step away from the crazy pot. ;)

  38. A politician or an evangelical, I should say. (“The bible is right because the bible says so!”)

    Weight loss evangelicals.

  39. Yeah, I’m not sure where we get “but we want normal-sized women to feel good about their bodies, when we panic about obeeeeesity only the real fatties should ever feel bad because they’re so unhealtheeee” from. That’s a little like saying that people who are “just slightly bisexual” shouldn’t be negatively affected by gay-baiting, only the people who are really butch or flaming.

    Of course “obesity panic” is going to affect the “nonobese.” I was unbelievably freaked out over my fat as a size 10 or 12 fifteen years ago, and back then people weren’t even as hysterical about fat as they are now. Almost every woman that size has been brainwashed to believe she’s only a few bites of a favorite treat away from permanent residence in the Lane Bryant ghetto, and thus attaining sufficient cause for self-defenestration since her pancreas and the rest of her internal organs will then be set for autodestruct anyway.

    That said, I think Courtney Martin has a much better chance of getting a handle on these concepts eventually than most lipophobes, because at least she cops to her shit. One thing I’ve learned from dealing with Aspie issues is to differentiate the people who will never like me and will always discount my reality from the people who just aren’t quite “there” yet and are willing to be helped along. I want to concentrate the bulk of my efforts on the latter, and not give the former any more attention than necessary.

  40. There was indeed a feeling of superficiality to Martin’s article, but I think the admission of judgmental voices in her head rings true…. I grew up with a fat mom, and she would always — and I mean always — point out other fat women and ask me and my brothers, “I’m not as fat as her, am I?!?” Being the good little girl that I was, I always told her “No, you’re thinner.”

    Growing up to be the fat woman that I am today, I find it difficult to turn off my inner monologue of compare and contrast that I learned growing up. I may not say it to people’s faces, but if you walk past me with your belly hanging over the top of your jeans or thighs that touch together, you can bet the farm that I will be looking you up and down and mentally comparing your body with mine. Am I a traitor to other fat women? Does that make me worse than the thin women who look at me up and down and secretly feel relieved that they don’t look like “that” yet? I don’t know, but I think that I will never be able to truly love myself and others if I don’t learn to turn that voice off.

    At least I don’t say it out loud.

  41. wait, how is saying attractive women are attractive unfeminist?

    Joking. I mean, the idea was that I was diminishing her by reducing her to her looks, but since the post was actually about how smart she was, it was just a joke.

  42. Raisin’Cookies,
    I totally do that, like all the time. Not always to say “i’m not that fat am I” but because I don’t think I have a realistic mental picture of what I look like.

    I read once that fat people are the only marginalized group that don’t like other members of their group. As much as I don’t want to say that that is true, I certainly don’t feel instant solidarity with people I meet because they are fat. Being fat isn’t an “instant in” like it is with other marginalized groups. Where, even though they might not like you as a person they still see you as a member of the ir group and support you on your journey and stuff. Fat people don’t have that, at least not in my experience, we’re all alone, struggling against ourselves.

    (And I totally think this blog and the fatosphere has changed that for me! YAY!! Because here we learn to love ourselves and through doing that we can begin to support eachother.)

  43. I’m new and learning, so be patient?

    Is there nothing inbetween “fat is all choice” and “fat is no choice”? Not everyone who is fat is fat due to eating 14 pounds of cake. I’ve been learning (and learning in the way that is really BELIEVING) after regularly reading this blog that this is true. I get that and I’m with it and I’m standing up and applauding Kate and Fillyjonk and sweet machine almost every time I read this blog.

    But aren’t there people out there who ARE eating 14 pounds of cake, so to speak? Aren’t there people (a minority) who medicate with food the way others medicate with alcohol or cutting or other detrimental behavior? Our bodies can and often do reflect our inner lives, right? I’m not saying this should be the assumption with every fat person, but it could be true for some.

    And maybe it’s true for Martin’s friend?

    I mean, it’s been said a million times on this blog that the human body is about a million times more complex than “less calories in than out = thin”, so maybe the inner emotional state of Martin’s friend is a valid reason for her weight- at least in the sense that it’s a factor.

    I feel like, in many ways, I’m at the same place as Martin, in learning about FA and calling out the critical voice in my head. Like Meoweser said, I’m trying to “cop to my shit” and ask the questions I have.

  44. msita, are you asking if compulsive eaters exist? Because of course they do. Kate has addressed a couple of times the difficulty of walking the line between being all HAES all the time and acknowledging people with eating disorders, and we tend to focus on the former, but certainly people have eating disorders and it would be silly to say otherwise. There’s more on this elsewhere on the blog, so I’d poke around. (Actually, just read this post.)

    Important point, though: not all compulsive eaters are fat. Quite possibly they’re all (or mostly) fatter than they would be if they weren’t compulsive eaters, but the notion that you can eat 50 or 100 or 200 pounds onto an otherwise naturally slim frame is frankly ludicrous. We don’t know how to make thin people permanently fat.

    I think it’s entirely possible that Martin is talking about why Gareth is fat in Gareth’s own words. But what people are reacting to is that she doesn’t present it that way — she doesn’t give Gareth a voice in talking about her own body. It’s presented as her authoritative judgment, not as an interview.

  45. I read the Feministing link to this first, as well as the comments section.

    It does get tiring to hear the same old obesity is unhealthy arguement. And when this particular commentor was called on it, eventually it dwindles down to the fatty who can’t wash themselves without a rag and a stick must surely be unhealthy. I swear to GOD I am a fat woman and I know other fat people, I know some people who are considered obese, but not one of use needs a rag on a stick to take a fucking bath.

    This stereotype seems so prevelant and probably exists so these idiots can argue the OBESITY IS GOBBLING UP OUR NATION!!! mentality. It’s old, turn off TLC’s “I Eat 14,000 Calories A Day” get off your couch and look and talk to real fat people before you go claiming moral health and superiority to fatties.

  46. Um, Buffy, I really support the spirit in which I think you intend your comment. But some larger people do have legitimate reach issues, such that they do need to make adjustments for bathing and other types of personal care. It’s very likely that some readers here have those kinds of issues. And I’m sure that you didn’t mean to aim your comments at them, but they could be read that way.

    Just as the Utne authors’ perspectives are not universal, neither are the perspectives we’ve got, as readers.

    (Please know that this is sooooo not intended as a personal attack. Just a comment.)

  47. (I did wonder why it’s always a “rag” on a stick. How many people (who don’t have reach issues) bathe with a dirty old rag? Why not a washcloth on a stick or a sponge on a stick? It’s just that extra little bit of revulsion in the phrasing. And I doubt the person who used it even thought about that.)

  48. I doubt the person who used it even thought about that

    Well then you’re a less judgemental person than I am. I think the phrase is used deliberately to induce revulsion. It was actually that line that convinced me for sure that the person was trolling, rather than just ignorant.

  49. I’ve heard the whole “rag on a stick” gag from my husband’s mouth with a quasi-Southern, throes-of-puberty inflection that leads me to believe it’s some specific comedian’s work. I have, since beginning to understand fat acceptance, called him on it–but he insisted that he meant no harm, and I believe him because he doesn’t use the phrase anymore. So I lean a little with jaed and JS.

  50. I thought I remembered Anthony Bourdain saying it in a Salon interview about a year or so ago. But I wouldn’t put it past him to have stolen it from someone else. And it’s true, “sponge on a stick” doesn’t sound half as bad as “rag on a stick,” which implies that you’re washing something…not human.

  51. Amen about the sponge on a handle thing. Many people…some fat, some not, some old, some arthritic…do use bath brushes/sponges of some type, which are actually MADE so that we can buy them in stores, in order to be able to reach all parts of their bodies more comfortably when they bathe. And we ALL deserve dignity & respect & as much comfort in our lives as we can have, & the means & the right to care for our bodies…ALL of us, not just some who may be more ‘acceptably fat’ & seen as better for the image of fat acceptance. If we marginalize ANYONE, we fail us all.

    And I am SOOO tired of the idea that fat people are any dirtier, smellier, more ungroomed, or less intelligent, etc. than thin people. I grew up in some degree of poverty & even WE had real washcloths, not some old torn up rag, & I never recall any of my relatives going out to cut a branch off a tree to use for bathing. My father, an alcoholic, became very resistant to the entire idea of personal hygiene in his later years, but HE was a thin person.

    Also, I am not a regular viewer of “The Simpsons”, but I find it interesting that the writers believe that, if one weighs 300 pounds, one has to work from home, & even more interesting that they apparently believe that anyone can CHOOSE to weigh 300 pounds. Ah, yes, ignorance abounds in this culture, & much of it calls itself humor.

  52. Meowser mentioned the Guthman article in the Utne Reader way back up the thread. It was my favorite, too. This is kind of a long set up, so bear with me…

    I’m trying to make a habit of reading and collecting all cholarly publications backing fat acceptance, so I looked up the full version of the article. Noticed a reference to a book by Michael Gard called “The Obesity Epidemic: Science, Morality, and Ideology”. Sounded fascinating, so I looked it up on Amazon ( Read the reviews the bottom.

    The first one was great and complimentary. I was buoyed.
    The second…. Well, the second repeated the crap I’m used to seeing in reviews about FA books (“what about fatties’ joints?!?”), but then spent a long time arguing that the book is an attack not on obesity, but on science. This made me nervous. I mean, science is my solace. It’s the only thing keeping me from willfully developing an eating disorder to get my fat ass down to a socially acceptable size.

    Then the lone commenter on the page came to my rescue. S. Jennison, whoever you are, you are an honorary Shapeling (if you’re not here already). He/she pointed out that the reviewer was the executive director of a group sponsored by an unholy coalition of bariatric surgery promoters and Weight Watchers.

    And then I realized what was going on. I had learned the term a couple of hours previously (from a podcast on political operatives “dirty” tricks during elections). The reviewer was creating “cross-pressure.” Tying something positive (FA) which would make me buy the book, to something negative (attacking science, my lifeboat) which would make me less likely to buy the book. And maybe start me back down the road to more dieting or worse, back into handing handfuls of cash to the reviewer’s sponsors. I was amazed at how subtle and nasty the whole thing was.

    So, I’m ordering the book and recommending that my library buy a copy. :)

  53. Oh, someone who doesn’t naturally weigh 300 pounds could probably use “sumo wrestler methodology” (starve-binge-starve-binge-starve-binge) to get there eventually, although it probably wouldn’t stay on someone who was naturally meant to be thinner. But Homer Simpson is likely not that far from that weight anyway, and he’s not exactly a restrained eater to begin with. I’ve not seen this episode but I’m sure the assumptions by naturally skinny, privileged writers of what the Real Fatties do to Pack on the Pounds would just piss me off.

  54. Yeah, Meowser, you probably should avoid that episode. I think it’s in this one where Homer takes great pleasure in discovering there’s such a thing as “tube feeding.” (“All this time I’ve been chewing my food like a sucker!”) He’s not exactly the best voice to be saying this:

    “I’m sick of all your stereotypes and cheap jokes! The overweight individuals in this country are just as smart and talented and hard working as everybody else. And they’re going to make their voices heard! All they need is a leader.”

    (Can you believe that was on a Simpsons episode?)

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