New NAAFA Website

Check it out. 

As Paul said, they’ve addressed a lot of the stuff we’ve been bitching about. Well done.

Update: after reading comments from people who checked it out more thoroughly than I did, I’m reserving that “Well done.” Points for improvement, but as Sniper said in comments, with regard to an article Perpetua and A Sarah pointed out:

More than age-ism, and at least as much as racism, fatism has been running amok…”

Well, to quote Margaret Cho, “AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!”

Because fat people are… white only? Because there’s no overlap between sexism and fatism? No link between age and weight gain?

I’m sure that was a reference to the recent study that compared fatphobia and racism, but come on. I was just saying in comments yesterday that A) I don’t feel like there is a cohesive “movement” right now, and B) Every time I see someone say “fat is the last acceptable prejudice” or whatever, I also see them smacked down right away, which I think is hopeful. But NAAFA is a very visible representation of what movement there is, and having an article like that on their website really does scream “Fat acceptance is for white people.” Deeply uncool.

64 thoughts on “New NAAFA Website”

  1. Wait, it took them 4 years to put *that* together?

    Good on them for trying. But…………….meh. Their new website is still 1997 in disguise. Static HTML pages, some standalone project they jobbed out to an old school designer.

    They ought to can the whole thing, set up a Blogger site instead, and spend the money and effort on creating ongoing content.

    Man, I’m sorry, but that site is still way old school, and not in a positive way.

  2. I think it’s pretty good, actually. I’ve done non-profit work and the IT departments are usually small and often self-taught folk or volunteers. I think this looks good and has a relatively intuitive interface – the tech side really isn’t as important.
    IMO, looks way more professional than Blogger.

  3. Still reads like an apologetic “fat is a disability that must be protected as such” site for the most part to me. And worse yet, some parts are unintelligable.

    I mean, what on earth does this subsection mean?

    Why Do People Partcipate in Size Discrimination?

    * Stigma and shame motivate dieting and other attempts at weight loss
    * People fail to lose weight because of poor self-discipline and willpower

    So what is being said here?

    Q: Why do people discrimnate against fatties?
    A: Because doing so motivates dieting. And because people don’t lose weight because they’re lazy.

    This makes discrimination sound like a good thing: it will motivate dieting, which those damn lazy fatties need.


  4. And… why does the naafanews widget point me to an article called “Is fat the new black?”?

  5. :winces: Oooh, Perpetua, yeah… that’s bad. Good call. Did you happen see the article it linked to? There’s a line to the effect of, “More than age-ism, and at least as much as racism, fatism has been running amok…” Hmm, glad to know it’s a competition for worst oppression. Always helpful. What do we get if we win? Rrrrg.

    As far as the look of the site, though, it does seem intuitive to me, and doesn’t look amateurish. But I’m easy to impress, interwubs-wise. :)

  6. “More than age-ism, and at least as much as racism, fatism has been running amok…”

    Well, to quote Margaret Cho, “AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!”

    Because fat people are… white only? Because there’s no overlap between sexism and fatism? No link between age and weight gain?

    This kind of thing makes me nuts. When Racialicious published a post about fat acceptance, there was one commenter who kept downplaying it as a bunch of lazy white women trying to make other people find them attractive. Yes, he was a total ass, but that perception is definitely out there.

  7. Yeah, I checked the site out right after reading sweetmachine’s article on the Ditto shot. And this is why I could not manage any further comments on this. Ow.

    I like their logo, though. Kinda simple and elegant.

    (A Sarah: Nope, typeface/calligraphy geek here, sorry. And my first name means “everlasting”, so this went together nicely.)

  8. Pretty. But after what I’m used to on here, it all seems kind of bland. Tame. More sedentaryism than activism.

  9. I do sincerely hope, though, that all of us can admit that the new site is about 8000 times better than the old one. Static HTML or no.

  10. I just updated the post to reflect that they still have a long way to go, especially with regard to Sniper’s comment. (Elusis’s also gives me stabby pains.)

    Paul, I do think we can all admit that — and I put up this post at first because I’m a believer in positive reinforcement — but 8000 times better than “They shouldn’t even have a website, if it’s going to be like this” still means there’s room for improvement. I don’t give a rat’s ass about static HTML pages (that’s my geek boyfriend complaining), but I do care that the site comes perilously close to “the last acceptable prejudice” rhetoric and, as Elusis points out, wording that seems to reinforce fat stereotypes instead of debunking them. And there’s no reason why we shouldn’t call attention to big problems like that.

    Having said that, I’d rather this thread be focused on constructive criticism than NAAFA-bashing.

  11. Actually, A Sarah and Perpetua were the ones who pointed it out first. I was just ranting, like I do.

  12. Checked it out. It feels very much like “Hey, we know fatties are killing themselves and everything, but nobody should be treated like shit.” Nice.

    But, yeah, it’s better than what was up before, and it does have really concise, easy-to-navigate (if un-flashy) information. Quibbles over content aside, it’s a big fucking improvement, that’s for sure.

  13. Well, it certainly looks less like a mid-1990s AOL member page…if you ignore the fact that is comes up as “Untitled Document” in tabs and at the top of the window.

    I haven’t looked that thoroughly at the content, so I don’t doubt that what anyone else has pointed out is true.

    And I understand that non-profits can’t afford to pay the really high end IT people, but I’m sure they could have found a volunteer proofreader that could catch “principal” vs “principle.” Hell, I think Microsoft Word catches that one.

  14. I think grammar check does get it. But I could be wrong.

    I know it catches “effect” vs “affect” because that’s the one I fuck up the most.

  15. The principal is your PAL, people. (And guiding beliefs are your PLES.)

    Gah!! I haven’t heard that since copyreader orientation waaaaay back in the day!

  16. It is a lot more effective than the old site and has more links. I think the semi-apologetic tone is what you get when you’re creating something with a committee and you’re afraid of alienating potential allies. I think NAAFA is trying to be very “reasonable” and accommodating – We’re nice people! We’re not going to snatch the food from your plate! We have children and jobs!

    A blog like SP doesn’t have to worry about that… thank dog.

  17. I know it catches “effect” vs “affect” because that’s the one I fuck up the most.

    IME, it doesn’t tell you which one is *right* — it just tells you that these are easily confused words. Drives me fucking nuts, because what with being an ex-copyeditor and all, I know these are easily confused words, and I also know I’m using the right one. Thanks for wasting 10 seconds of my life, Microsoft! Without providing any guidance for people who are *actually* confused about these words!

  18. A blog like SP doesn’t have to worry about that… thank dog.

    Heh, yeah. Accommodating people who annoy us is definitely not part of the mission statement. :)

  19. It does look better, but the content is tough to follow. I’m all for bullet points, but it’s like they didn’t check to make sure said points match up with the lead in bit. Plus, I would like links to the studies they quote. And some diversity, for fuck’s sake!

  20. Not good.

    There’s no substantive information, nor links to better resources. No information on what I might get for my subscription should I join. A section titled ‘Get Involved!’ that mentions their advocacy and programs, but provides no descriptions nor directions. Under ‘Legislation’ there’s mention of a pending anti-discrimination bill in Massachusetts, but nada on what residents might do to speed it along. ‘Events and Conventions’ only mentions the annual convention in conjunction with ASDA, and the link to ASDA — whatever the heck that might be — is 404.

    So. Basically, there’s no there there.

  21. @ Sniper
    I think the semi-apologetic tone is what you get when you’re creating something with a committee and you’re afraid of alienating potential allies. I think NAAFA is trying to be very “reasonable” and accommodating

    Yeah there definitely is that issue. Then again, they also have decided to rock out with “fat is last acceptable prejudice” thing so they’re doing a pretty poor job at making allies. *stabinates*

  22. Okay, so….I just want to point out that my understanding of NAAFA is that it is a member run organization. I do not think that any of the board members are paid for their participation, but I may be wrong on that. I do know that the board is from many different parts of the country and that most of them have other full time jobs that actually pay their bills.

    That said, if NAAFA is not to your liking it may be well worth your time to join and make changes from the inside. If nothing else, there is a comment form on the site…make constructive comments about what you see and they might revise.

    In terms of diversity, it seems (from my limited perspective of one convention) to be suffering from a similar problem as that of other predominantly-white-but-trying-to-embrace-diversity organizations in that they want to do the right thing and have to struggle with how to do it. So speak up! Make your voices heard!

  23. again, they also have decided to rock out with “fat is last acceptable prejudice” thing so they’re doing a pretty poor job at making allies.

    But aren’t the best allies thin, white men? I mean, if you can get them on-side, everything will be fine!! Can’t we just work on right for fat white people first, then get around to fat POC at a more appropriate time… say in 200 years?

    (And yes, I’m being a sarcastic jerk. This doesn’t always come through on the ‘tubes.)

  24. I’m with Sweet Machine. It needs not just a proofreader, though that would definitely help, but a copy editor to do an overhaul. The “Issues” section in particular, as has been noted, makes very little sense.

    The design is not great, but it’s a lot better, and I don’t mind static pages if the content is there. But the content definitely needs work, both mechanical and substantive.

  25. n terms of diversity, it seems (from my limited perspective of one convention) to be suffering from a similar problem as that of other predominantly-white-but-trying-to-embrace-diversity organizations in that they want to do the right thing and have to struggle with how to do it. So speak up! Make your voices heard!

    There are tons (hah!) of resources for organizations that want to work on their racism. Books, articles, movies, videos, and workshops. It is not my job to try to get NAAFA to cut it out with their racism (and other -isms). If it was really a priority, they would already be engaging with it, and would know not to engage in oppression olympics.

    None of these issues are new. I was recently re-reading “This Bridge Called my Back” and it’s depressing how the complaints of WOC about racism in progressive movements are still relevant. If white people care about fighting racism, they need to stop pushing the responsibility for dealing with it onto POC.

    Check Lourde’s essay on “Hierachy of Oppression” from 1979.


  26. That said, if NAAFA is not to your liking it may be well worth your time to join and make changes from the inside.

    We’ve been around on that before here, and while that might be the route some Shapelings choose to go, many of us don’t feel that we want to be a part of NAAFA and would much rather turn our energies elsewhere.

  27. It’s such an utter cop out for somebody to tell you “you ought to join and make things better from the inside instead of just complaining.” I just don’t buy it as the recommended solution to “NAAFA is not to my liking.” But, anyway.

    My point about the static HTML pages is that their website doesn’t appear to be a living, breathing thing. It’s a one off that somebody made for them like they were making a flier. It doesn’t bode well. It’ll age pretty quickly. Think of more successful sites….like this one. They’re newsy or blog-like, with ongoing periodic content added and grown organically over time. I don’t see any suggestion or likelihood of that happening with their new site.

  28. Point well taken, Al — I didn’t mean to dismiss your earlier point, I was just saying that, as someone who doesn’t design websites or know much about it, that doesn’t bother me nearly as much as content that muddies the message. But yes, absolutely, keeping content fresh is a huge part of attracting people to a site, and if they’re not doing that, the site’s just going to get old fast again.

    To their credit, they do have a news feed on the front page. But I can’t find a link to their MySpace page, which has a blog. Hmm.

  29. IME, it doesn’t tell you which one is *right* — it just tells you that these are easily confused words.

    Maybe it depends on what edition or your settings?

    Or maybe that’s what it’s really telling me, and here I’ve been thinking it’s correcting me all along (because I usually happen to use the wrong one?).

    I should have the proper usage tattooed on my arm or something. For the day Bill Gates decides to be completely sadistic and take away all of our grammar help.

    Or get a wrist strap and leash for my AP handbook, so it can go everywhere with me. As long as it doesn’t get its leash tangled with my dog’s.

  30. And to turn back away from the Word discussion…

    I’m afraid if I read too much of the content, my computer screen will be covered in red ink. Think NAAFA would reimburse me for a new one? lol

    And I also take issue with the fat as a disability thing because, fuck you, I’m not disabled. Not saying that there’s something bad about being disabled if you genuinely are, and if that’s the case obviously you should get whatever help and legal backing you need, but it’s offensive to me to lump together such a large (hehe!) and diverse group of people and label us all one thing. If we must group fat, I think it should be more aligned with race or sexuality in that it’s something that on its own doesn’t directly alter or impede how you live without someone on the outside discriminating or enforcing a stereotype.

    And their FAQ page isn’t actually questions, it’s myths debunked. Also, the closest thing the site has to an interactive page.

    How about a NAAFA blog? Message board (I know it would have to be heavily regulated to keep away the trolls)? LINKS?! Tips on HAES living?

    It’s too clinical looking. Needs some personality. And how about showing more of the fat people than just their faces? Yes, they all have pretty eyes. But where’s the rest of them?

  31. Yeah, the whole “you should join and fix it” thing…. I am concentrating my energies elsewhere. Sometimes, when your car reaches a certain point, you just need a new(er) car. The time/energy/passion that trying to get anything done in NAAFA would vastly outweigh any good I was able to accomplish. And I’m already engaged in an uphill battle – fat acceptance in general, fighting against the weight (ha!) of every cultural message that is out there every day. And, frankly, I don’t feel comfortable being associated with an organization that does put forward the whole “fat is the last acceptable prejudice” thing.

    For the record – Office 2007 is supposed to have a vastly improved spelling/grammar check that will use context to determine if you are using the correct term when it comes to stuff like principle/principal.

  32. I certainly don’t have a problem with people complaining about NAAFA, and I don’t think the only solution to that problem is then to join NAAFA and fix it, but I don’t see the debates moving much beyond that. Yes, point out all that could be improved at NAAFA, and yes, point out the ways you think the fat rights movement could get better, but please, do more than that. If you don’t want to expend your energies much beyond complaining about it in the comments section of a blog (which does have value), then I do begin to tire of the complaints.

    If you don’t want to do something different, and you don’t want to join NAAFA, then there isn’t the kind of focused and forceful pressure out there that will actaully make NAAFA and the current state of fat social justice better. As long as no one challenges the fat status quo, that fat status quo doesn’t change, and that goes for any visible fat positive presence in the world. I welcome having my own ideas about fat challenged, and in my own brand of fat activism, I do try to create what I find is lacking, particuarly in terms of intersectionality.

    I know there’s COFRA, and I hope that fills a void that meets a lot of people’s needs. I hope others will come up with more ideas about what can be done, and share them here, or at BigFatBlog, or other places in the fatosphere. I know I can only take so much NAAFA bashing without substantial real world applications of said criticism before I get a sinking feeling in my chest that until we truly embrace the neccesity of a multi-pronged, de-centered approach to fat rights activism, we’ll continue to waste too much valubale time debating among ourselves about what is good, what is bad, and not come up with enough real action that is the next wave of fat activism-the transformation of an internet based new wave fat activism to a sustained ‘real world’ activist pressence through letter writing campaings, boycotts, and so forth.

    And lest I not follow my own advice, one thing that might be a useful addition to our work would be a list of ‘anti-fat’ companies, so we know who we might not want to give our money to. I was thinking about this when watching that recent lapband commercial, and noticing that Johnson & Johnson is the company that markets this particular lapband. Now I know not to purchase products from Johnson & Johnson.

    Any ideas as to the feasability of this, and how one might put this together in a useful fashion?

  33. Maybe it depends on what edition or your settings?

    I bet it does — I’m using Word 2004 for Mac, so if there have been improvements since then, I haven’t seen them firsthand. I just get so mad at the thing: fuck off, Paperclip Man! I’m using the right words!

    If we must group fat, I think it should be more aligned with race or sexuality in that it’s something that on its own doesn’t directly alter or impede how you live without someone on the outside discriminating or enforcing a stereotype.

    Liza (and others), you might be interested in reading about theories of the social model of disability for a different perspective on how disabilities come to be known as such.

  34. sgabto, I think bloggers ARE doing something – and they are doing something that NAAFA has totally dismissed, which is creating dynamic content regarding fat acceptance.

    And I think offering an informed criticism of the existing Big Org is also valuable – because whether NAAFA likes it or not, this is what people are thinking. I don’t have to create another Big Org (though I support COFRA’s efforts) to be doing something important – and even if I weren’t, I would still be entitled to an opinion.

    One of the big problems with the new website is, as observed, the continued insistence on talking about fat as though it were a disability. Here, and on blogs all over the Fatosphere, we most emphatically don’t talk about fat as though it is a disability. That right there is walking the walk that we wish NAAFA would talk. For example.

  35. Okay, so I might be blasted again, but it seems entirely strange to me to throw the baby out with the bathwater. I didn’t at the time pay much attention to the earlier critiques of NAAFA, and I would like to hear more….(because as a member now I do have an investment in helping an organization that is clearly not moving in the way that people would like to be more dynamic). So, please, anyone feel free to bring me up to speed with that earlier discussion.

  36. I think it looks a lot better than it used to.

    I think the “new” NAAFA site was done by volunteers. I remember a couple of years ago they asked for help in re-creating the site.

    Perhaps if those here with site experience joined NAAFA and offered to do a site make over?

  37. spinsterwitch, I don’t think anyone wants to throw NAAFA away – I mean, it isn’t like we are calling for it to be dismantled or anything.

    cynth – the last time this came up, there were plenty of stories about people who have signed up, volunteered, and then not been allowed to actually do anything. Just being a volunteer doesn’t mean anything is actually going to happen, unfortunately.

  38. As someone who has been working on fat activism for nearly 30 years & who did belong to NAAFA at one time, I can tell you that if you do join, do give them your money, do speak up, & do not follow the party line you are made to feel distinctly unwelcome. Those impressions have been reinforced by what I learned from a close friend & long time fat activist (she was part of the Fat Underground) who was around NAAFA at the beginning & it is as some of you have said; they persist in seeing fat as a disability (I was born with cerebral palsy, so I personally am both fat & disabled, but they are unrelated), they reinforce most of the stereotypes about fat people (other friends of mine have left because they were told that NAAFA did not want to be seen as ‘condoning’ fat & they were also told that the official position seems to be a rather condescending belief that MOST fat people don’t know how to live & need to be TOLD how to eat & exercise because we are fat because we eat too much or the ‘wrong’ foods & do not move enough & NAAFA cannot gain any ‘credibility’ in the world by seeming to endorse & improve of such things & that they must point out just how dangerous being fat is, etc.)

    When I joined, I was not exactly welcomed with open arms for being too ‘small’ to be part of fat acceptance & also being too outspoken & believing that we should fight for civil rights & not just try to get along, fit in, & beg people to be ‘nicer’ to us. That as much as anything else has always irritated me about NAAFA, the need to ‘play nice’, not make waves, to try to gently convince people not to discriminate against fat people, all while, at least on the part of some who are in powerful positions, reinforcing the belief that the things fat bigots say about us are really true, but that, s at least one person has been quoted as saying, people shouldn’t be abusive toward us just because we don’t fix ourselves ‘because it isn’t nice.’ Somehow I seriously doubt that any of the African American civil rights activists were arguing that they should not be abused & marginalized ‘because it isn’t nice.’ In order to change anything, a large number of fat people will have to be willing & able to work together & speak up & to understand that fat rights is not some insignificant little special interest social club, but a genuine human rights issue.

    Obviously, NAAFA will continue to exist as long as there are people who support it, if only for the pool parties & fashion shows. However, I do not feel that NAAFA speaks for me & I also do not feel that the organization doesn’t have much to show for 39 years. However, I am a radical…I believe in complete freedom & total access & equality for all people of all sizes, shapes, ages, races, genders, abilities, or whatever, with no conditions put on it, such as needing to prove that we are ‘good’, eat ‘right’, exercise ‘enough’, & generally try hard enough to be thin people so that we can prove it is not our ‘fault’. I believe our bodies & lives belong to us & that each of us should have an equal right to live as we wish without being discriminated against & sometimes actually attacked & turned into a pariah by our culture. In 39 years, not only have things not improved in Western culture for fat people, they have gotten much worse & we see more evidence every day that they continue to get worse.

    For me, it would take a lot more than a new website to change my mind. The fact that NAAFA has not properly maintained or updated the website over the years is just the tip of the iceberg.

  39. Patsy – thank you for sharing your experience, and perhaps that still exists to some extent. But I have to say that what I heard (at least at the convention) was push back against the medicalization of fat. A reinforcement that fat people are vital and, at the same time, that equal protections need to be afforded under the law so that fat folks aren’t discriminated against (there was a great lunch presentation by an attorney here in Oakland who takes on fat discrimination cases, and by Paul Campos). I actually changed my flight so I could hear a speaker from the APA who works on getting language changed in government documents and encourages a less stigmatizing position in law and policy.

    Of course, I didn’t participate in the board meetings because that wasn’t my thing. But I’ve never been there before and they let me give 2 workshops. So I really could have said or done anything.

    I guess that I’m one of those who does have the interest and the energy to try to change things (for instance, I wondered why there weren’t more big men there & why there wasn’t a strong blog o’sphere presence).

    I, actually, had been told to expect that I might be confronted for being too “small,” but that never ended up happening. I felt welcome by most women (although there did seem to be a segment of folks there who were looking to hook-up with the fat admirers who were there, and they seemed to be suspicious of anyone who might seem like competition), and the guys were nice and really respectful.

    Okay, and now I’m just rambling. It is good to hear the historical experience and to try to think about what could make it different.


  40. I too commend Patsy for sharing her experiences because that clarifies things for me too.

    My first reaction to reading the site was to wonder who they’d been taken over by! Now I realise that’s how they are, I’ve heard these things before, but it didn’t quite sink in, probably because NAAFA has been going for so long.

  41. Thank you for your perspective too, Spinsterwitch. I am very worried about the tone of NAAFA’s website & how it seems that they actually become more antifat & seem to swallow all the crap the media feeds us about fat being bad & unhealthy, fat people eating poorly, too much, not exercising enough, etc., & also the widespread cultural belief that how a person lives/eats/exercises is anyone’s business but that individual. (My good friend emailed me back & reminded me, as one who was there at the beginning, that NAAFA has always actually been more about promoting NAAFA than about making things better for fat people.) What really bothers me is that it appears that the site reinforces the belief that “obesity is a problem” & that NAAFA exists to help & encourage people to live ‘healthier lifestyles’ & lose weight, but that discrimination is still wrong even though people should not be fat. To me personally, that is NOT about fat liberation or acceptance & I cannot in good conscience support or recommend an organization which is not committed to rights for all & acceptance & celebration of our natural bodies as they are, etc.

    Spinsterwitch, I am glad you had a good experience. I have been told by many that the competition among the fat women for the attention of the available men at NAAFA functions is INTENSE, up to & including pushing, shoving, stepping on another woman’s feet, etc. And some people to whom I have spoken have also experienced hostility from women who were bigger than they were, so it does happen.

  42. I have been trying to find more information on NAAFA for awhile, and I’m glad to hear everyone’s feedback in this thread. Though I don’t really understand the static HTML thing, but as long as it’s easy on the eyes I don’t mind.

    I am curious though, why so many people are upset about fat being associated with disability. I mean, I understand that fat /isn’t/ a disability, but I think in the current situation that’s where we’re going to gain a lot of ground. For instance, there was an Aunt Fattie Post published here in which a person was directed to talk to the school’s disability services office to get bigger chairs for her classes. Am I hindering the fat acceptance movement if I follow this advice? Should I be rallying troops and go after the School Board for bigger seats? (I admit that seems like an awful big feat)

    I admit I’m new to the whole FA movement (2 months or so) and I still have a lot to learn, realize, and get riled up about but this one is definitely a puzzler for me.

  43. I think what conflates the problems with fat=disability is that the medical establishment thinks of and promotes overweight and obesity as a disorder. Since most places do not have laws that restrict against discrimination based on weight or size, sometimes the only way to go after equal access to things is through the disability laws. It sucketh greatly. Yes, it does.

    Patsy – I did get a sense of that intensity, but since that was just so not my focus for the weekend, I was able to probably avoide most of the jealous maneuvering. I guess that I’m still missing how NAAFA is equating obesity as wrong (well, except for the use of the term which many found offensive), but maybe I’ll get a better sense of that once I read the position statements (I haven’t gotten to that). I do know that there is a huge movement and connection to HAES, but that seemed like an attempt to get professionals to focus less on dieting and more on movement and being in touch with your own body. That’s at least how I work with HAES in my own practice. But I never, never believe (and hopefully others don’t either) that living a life based on HAES is a moral choice.

  44. Sweet Machine – I’m on a PC, and I think my version of office might be even older, like 2000 or something. And I don’t use paperclip man.

    Anyhoo, I realize after rereading that my paragraph about fat as disability might have come off differently than how i meant it.

    I meant that if you do have a disability, by all means seek the assistance you need on any platform (actual physical help, legal counsel, etc). With a disability, physical or mental, there are things that impact your life before you even get to discrimination (and I realize the impact is vastly different for different people). With fat, as with race and sexuality, you can essentially live the same life you could if your race or preference were different. The differences are generally contained within how others perceive and treat you. This is all very general of course, and I realize there are details and a lot of instances that don’t fit into my theory, plus there are fat people who are truly impacted physically by their weight, but I meant that if we have to classify it, I think it should be aligned differently.

    It came off wrong. I get kind of sensitive with disability stuff, one of my best friends in high school had a younger brother with Down’s Syndrome (among other disabilities that I can’t name right now), and I find it sort of offensive toward the disabled to lump in something that for the most part isn’t.

  45. I am sure I am putting my hand into the hornet’s nest with this but …

    I don’t understand why you feel that NAAFA linking to an article (not from NAAFA) that mentions NAAFA is “deeply uncool”. I think NAAFA is attempting to keep its community informed as to what is being said and by whom.

    Fatism is a prejudice that is running amok (thanks at least in part to our government created hysteria with the “war on obesity”). And to say that people are oppressed by fatism, does not mean they are not also oppressed because of gender, age, race, sexual orientation, etc. discrimination. Like everyone, fat people are not JUST fat people – they are people – varied and diverse.

    I am sorry that so many people are disappointed with the NAAFA website. NAAFA is an all-volunteer organization – that means nobody is paid for the work that went into creating the new website (and the newsletter, and the convention, etc.).

    And like most people, we are just trying to do the best we can. Sorry so many don’t approve.

    As Rita Mae Brown says, “If you don’t like my book, write your own”.

    Also, I wish to be clear that my comments are my own and personal to me. I am not saying any of this for or on behalf of NAAFA.

  46. Terri said:
    NAAFA is an all-volunteer organization – that means nobody is paid for the work that went into creating the new website (and the newsletter, and the convention, etc.).
    There’s a newsletter? The 2 years I belonged to NAAFA all I got was the initial letter welcoming me and had the membership card, and then a few ads for the conventions.

    Someone above asked about message boards on the web site. There *is* a message board (Well, there was when I belonged) but it was for NAAFA members only, and the specialty boards, like the Supersize one, was only for members of NAAFA AND the sub-group for super-sized people (meaning you paid out even *more* money).

    That’s it. They didn’t even tell me where there was a local NAAFA group that had meetings. Nothing.

    I saw no reason to renew when the time came.

  47. NAAFA is not my main activity in fat activism. I have a lot of criticisms of NAAFA, unrelated to the organization’s website. Several years ago, I read a post by Paul McAleer listing his criticisms of NAAFA. I agreed with his analysis. I also saw that NAAFA was making huge changes: closing its rented office space, letting employees go, focusing more on social justice. I thought all of these changes made room for some new input. I joined the NAAFA board with the stated goal of “making NAAFA suck less.” My other stated goal, in my interview with their board, was to get NAAFA to adopt a policy against feederism. To their credit, they welcomed my highly critical ass.

    I stayed on the NAAFA board for several years. Right away, I got the anti-feederism policy adopted. Over the years, I responded to dozens of e-mails and calls from distraught people who had been hit by horrific fat discrimination and prejudice. I did my best to refer, support, and respond to these people. I’m also proud of NAAFA’s role in getting major experts to Massachusetts last March to testify on behalf of height/weight anti-discrimination legislation in that state. NAAFA is currently working with perfectly positioned people in another state, to launch a similar effort.

    I left the NAAFA board last month because I felt I’d done all I could using my style and my energy, to “make NAAFA suck less.” I encourage other people who feel like bothering with NAAFA to join the organization. After one year’s membership, you can apply to join the board. I have found the leadership incredibly welcoming to new approaches, although it can be deeply daunting to try and shift NAAFA’s culture.

    I hope that people who are accustomed to the fatosphere can understand that NAAFA isn’t primarily a website. In my experience of NAAFA, it’s primarily this small handful of board members and a few additional key volunteers who keep the organization afloat and who take on some work on outreach. This group of people is not white-only or hetero-only or able-bodied only or any particular weight-only. NAAFA is also an annual gathering that has tremendous value as a kind of family reunion. (The icky-guy behavior and the competitive/desperate fat woman phenomenon is so reduced, in my experience of it, as to be inconsequential, at this point.) The NAAFA newsletter is, in my opinion, totally fabulous. Bill Weitze is a key volunteer who ongoingly does a brilliant job. If you’re a member and not receiving a newsletter (which is sent electronically), then e-mail Bill or any of the official e-mail addresses from the NAAFA website to get that corrected. Bill is always looking for good material to put in the newsletter; perhaps people here will have some comments or criticisms to submit!

    It is my strong preference that fat pride community be super diverse. I prefer grass roots to one monolithic tree. I prefer dissent and argument over unity and conformity. (That’s probably why I’m a fat rebel to begin with, huh?) I only hope that we all remember that in-fighting should not take the place of fighting The (fat-hating) Man.

    I don’t expect NAAFA to be everything to everyone in our community. I have argued with NAAFA leadership that the organization should not try to be everything to everyone because that leads to the kind of watering-down of angry message that people here have criticized. For too long, in its early years, NAAFA was the only resource. I’m so very glad that various waves of body lib promoters are creating new and different resources for all of us to check out! But I still value the first, oldest, still-existing, membership organization that functions on our issues. And that’s NAAFA. So I pay my dues and anything I get for my paltry $15/year is gravy, because mainly I want to be able to point to those few dollars and say that, during the “war on ‘obesity,'” I did my bit to make sure the oldest, first civil rights group on fat issues did not go under. So I appreciate the newsletter. I’m glad there’s a website that functions as a kind of placeholder so people can find NAAFA. I’m glad that NAAFA volunteers respond to media inquiries and to the outraged calls for help from individuals. I agree that NAAFA could be sooooooo much more. I did my bit to enhance NAAFA. Other people can do likewise, or not.

    I don’t like zero-sum thinking or assumptions of scarcity. I think there’s more than enough fat-hate for all of us to fight and still have room for millions more of us to fight fat hate in all sorts of new and ingenious ways. I also think NAAFA occupies a place and serves a need.

    I’ve alerted NAAFA board members to this thread and encouraged them to take in the valid and important criticisms here and make positive changes.

  48. It’s true that the “Is fat the new black?” piece was published initially in the LA Times, and was written not by NAAFA itself but by an editorial writer (Patt Morrison) mentioning them. But you have to do some digging to find that out, the site itself does not say that. And at the very least they ought to be aware that if this is how size acceptance is being portrayed in the popular press, it’s going to highly problematic for POC to want to join our movement. (And with a headline like that, black people especially.)

    I know it’s hard to resist a mention in the LA Freakin’ Times, and one supposes we ought to be grateful they take us seriously at all, that they acknowledge us (fat acceptance in general, not just NAAFA) as something other than a bunch of pervs who want to put all the kids on intravenous Pepsi until they all gain 900 pounds and can’t fit through the doors of their kindergartens. And as others have said, the “at least as much as racism” comment does reference a specific Yale study on employment that was referenced in the article and has been reported elsewhere. But boy, what a difference sentence construction makes.

    I know NAAFA didn’t have any say over how this article was written, but promoting it on the front page without any of these problems being acknowledged mars what was otherwise a very nice job of redesign. (I didn’t find any material on this version of the site suggesting that they consider fat a disability; the only thing I found about that issue was a rejection of that notion. Did I miss something?)

    I’m more troubled by them trying to play nice with the likes of Kelly Brownell, with statements (in the last line of the FAQ) like, “Proactive health policies towards weight reduction do not remove the need to protect people from discrimination. There exist precedents for addressing a problem and associated stigma,” and then going on to compare anti-obesity policies to those attempting to reduce cancer, AIDS, and alcoholism. Excuse me, but the rest of the FAQ just got done telling us that “weight reduction” ain’t gonna happen for most people, at least not permanently, and that fat in and of itself does not constitute a “problem.” So then you jump to comparing fat to AIDS? Cancer? Alcoholism? WTF???

  49. Oh, and I also want to thank Marilyn for her inside view of NAAFA. Don’t get me wrong, I have all the respect in the world for people who are carrying the fight to beyond the online world, working to change legislation, etc.

    Yeah, it’s tempting to think, “Well, NAAFA has existed since 1969 and size discrimination has gotten worse, so therefore they’re the ones fucking it up,” but I don’t see it that way. The very idea that fat people should have equal rights and respect was such a radical notion in 1969 that almost nobody bothered raising a finger to resist it, since so few people were signing on. More pushback from fat people (and yes, there is MUCH more now than there used to be, although still not nearly enough) means more resistance and more resentment from the outside.

  50. I appreciate your comment, Meowser.

    The thing that’s still heartbreaking to me is that NAAFA probably has fewer members nationally than my Dad’s Orange County, California, woodworking club has. Now, don’t get me wrong. Each year, a bunch of mostly retired guys gets together every couple of weeks to make parts for hand-crafted wooden toys. And then, in December, they give boxes packed full of awesome toys to the foster care system and other charity groups that serve children who aren’t in any sort of family or home setting. Every time I go with my Dad to drop off boxes are out local Y, I get all teary-eyed. It’s a wonderful project.

    I’m just wondering why there are more people signed up for the Orange County, California, woodworkers club than are signed up for any Fat Lib group that I know of?

  51. I’m just wondering why there are more people signed up for the Orange County, California, woodworkers club than are signed up for any Fat Lib group that I know of?

    Marilyn, around here we get an average of 11,000 hits a day. I know you generally prefer to ignore the fatosphere, but if you’re spending energy despairing over how few people are invested in fat acceptance, it might do you some emotional good to stop.

  52. I agree, by the way, that the language on that FAQ thingy from the NAAFA website is — at best — written so poorly as to imply that NAAFA endorses the notion that fatness is a disease in need of a cure, and other icky concepts. It took me a moment for my head to figurateively explode. I’ve e-mailed the NAAFA board members, whose e-mail addresses are evidently no longer on the NAAFA website.

    For anyone else who cares to bother sending along critiques of the NAAFA website directly:
    Jason Docherty: webmaster@naafa.org
    Frances White: frances_white@naafa.org
    Peggy Howell: naafa_pr@yahoo.com
    Lisa Tealer: lisa_tealer@naafa.org
    Carole Cullum: carole_cullum@naafa.org
    Phyllis Warr: phyllis_warr@naafa.org

Comments are closed.