Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Sooo Interesting

Lindsey told me about an article in Bitch Magazine about the Fat Acceptance Movement. I thought it was so interesting, I wanted to bring it to all of your attention.


What do you think? I think it's a great article and something that really bothers me about the Fat Acceptance Movement. It's also super taboo to bring up. I often feel like a hater against my own kind, but now I feel like there are more people out there that feel the same way as the people described in this article.

Please discuss...I'm so curious as to what other people have to say about this!


Rachel said...

Well, as someone who writes a blog dedicated to both the discussion of eating disorders AND fat acceptance, I take issue with the writer.

She deliberately, willfully and intentionally distorted Deb Burgard, even after being advised by Deb that her statements were being distorted. She quotes anonymous sources and won't identify any of the so-called FA groups she references. As a reporter myself, I find it to be shoddy journalism, frankly. Her work would never make it past the copy editor's desk at my publication, let alone a fact checker's desk.

Meowser did a much better job than I deconstructing the piece here.

i i eee said...

I think I agree with parts of the article. And I worry that using, "being fat is better than being anorexic," as an argument for fat acceptance, defeats the movement.

I wish fat acceptance was not so centered around health. I know that's the main defense because that's the first strike any fatty hater will use against fat people, but I don't think it holds a lot of water. I know plenty of fat people who are healthy; I know some fat people who are not healthy. It's so individual, that claiming the health issue to be so black and white (on either side) is problematic.

I think fat acceptance should stay pure in fighting against discrimination in social arenas, not medical. I was reading a recent post over at The F-word.org, about how the blogger overheard some fellow students talking about, "sending fat people over to Iraq." THAT should be what the fight is about. I think that's more important than trying to prove the health issue. The movement shouldn't be so fearful towards accepting that yes, obesity could be a result of an underlying problem, like an eating disorder, or that it might lead to other health problems, like diabetes. The key word being MIGHT.

No one has any right to judge someone's lifestyle, health, and overall well-being, solely due to their weight. And I see that a lot of fighters for fat acceptance are trying to get that point across, but I don't think they'll accomplish much by trying to establish the idea that fat can do no wrong.

vesta44 said...

i i eee - so if we don't fight the medical issues about fat, does that mean that every time I go to the doctor for something that is not related to my being fat, I have to put up with being told that if I would just lose weight, I wouldn't have whatever? I'm sorry, but I'm sick and tired of being told that fat caused my arthritis (it didn't, arthritis runs on both sides of my family, and I've had a lot of injuries to my knees, before I became as fat as I now am). I'm tired of being told that if I wasn't so fat, I wouldn't have fibromyalgia. I'm tired of being told that if I wasn't fat, I wouldn't have chronic bronchitis or sinus infections or colds or any other ailment. Thin people have these same ailments, and they aren't told that being thin caused them, so why do I have to hear that being fat caused them when it's patently not true? Doctors look at fat people and see ugly, disgusting, stupid, lazy slobs and refuse to think that we could actually have anything wrong with us other than being fat. If you want to live that way, fine, but don't tell me that I should fight fat hatred on a social stage only. I'm going to fight it on every stage there is, health, social, political, civil, etc.
Fat does not always create health problems, just like thin is not a guarantee that you will be healthy forever.

i i eee said...

Vesta44, you make a good point.

And it's probably impossible to separate the social from everything else.

I just don't think medically it's a fight that's going to win...but of course that doesn't mean it's not worth fighting for.

Meowser said...

Thanks, Rachel. I am really concerned that a story like this is being used to smear our movement and that this was absolutely the author's intent -- I have come to believe she has something personal against certain members of it and would rather see the entire movement go under than address this issue in any constructive way. If all of us have to radical-diet our brains out forever in order to avoid persecution, that is fine with her, apparently.

I for one do not want to see anyone have to continue suffering from an ED so they can "stay fat for the movement." And I have never met anyone who has, although I am sure such people exist. At the same time it really is a pernicious meme, this idea that all of us stuff our faces 24/7 and lie about it, and many fat women eventually become convinced they are "binge eaters" when all they are doing is satisfying their hunger the exact same way thinner people do. We FA people have to fight it every day. That's NOT the same thing -- by a country mile -- as saying, "If you lose weight while learning better eating habits for you, fuck you sideways with a phone book." And I suspect the author bloody well knows this, but could not resist stirring up shit in order to earn a paycheck.

i i eee said...

I personally didn't read the article as saying that all fat people are stuffing their faces 24/7. But I'm certainly new to learning about fat acceptance, so I'm glad to read what perhaps, professional fat acceptance doers and thinkers have to say.

Meowser said...

No, I don't think the article is saying that we stuff our faces 24/7. I do, however, think she's saying that we are willing to throw people with BEDs under the bus in order to put up a public front that no fat person ever has one, and that's a gross oversimplification on her part.

Anonymous said...

There is a lot of misinformation, from a medical and scientific point, in this article and sadly, among the fat community. The numbers of people with actual mental disorders behind EDs is exceedingly rare. Most dysfunctional eating is a natural physiological and psychological response to food restrictions and trying to maintain a weight below what is genetic and natural for each body. A lot of people deny they are dieting, but are using all manner of tricks to restrict their eating, eat "healthy" and "manage" their weights and, in doing so, worsen the dysfunctional eating -- most tragically, actually believe they are diseased when it isn't them but natural hunger responses and fears about being fat. Those original tenets of fat acceptance are needed today more than ever, but are very much misunderstood it appears.

peggynature said...

I actually think that the fat acceptance and eating disorder recovery movements have a lot of common ground, and share much of the same philosophy (to wit, HAES.) In fact, I would consider myself to have arrived at fat acceptance through my interest in/experience with disordered eating.

And while people in fat acceptance do, indeed, question knee-jerk self-diagnosis of things like binge-eating disorder, it is not because we think fat people with eating disorders ruin our street-cred -- it's because there has been a long-standing, self-perpetuating myth in our culture that if you're fat, and if you eat in any amount, it is automatically defined as overeating or binge-eating, period.

I have never discounted or dismissed the experience of people experiencing eating disorders, no matter if they're fat or thin. That is dangerous and cruel, and just plain not necessary or beneficial to fat acceptance.

One interesting thing about this article, is that it describes the shame and reluctance of people with eating disorders to share their problem with their peers -- but I don't think that sort of shame and reluctance is unique to eating-disordered people involved in fat acceptance. It's one of the hallmarks of having an eating disorder, period. It's not a slam-dunk condemnation of fat acceptance.

I do wish people in general, including people in fat acceptance, would show more compassion and empathy toward people who have eating disorders. I have noticed, in a few individuals involved in fat acceptance, a reluctance to be associated with things they, personally, can't relate to and find threatening -- like the disability movement and eating disorders. But I think that is more a personal weakness, not a systematic one in the fat acceptance movement. No individual is perfect, and it takes us all time to synthesize and become comfortable with the different facets of society that tie into our cause.

The article itself struck me as a bit sensationalist, an attempt to stir up controversy where none really exists. She mentions Deb Burgard as though she's a new voice in fat acceptance. That's blatantly false, and many of the founding voices of fat acceptance and HAES (including Deb Burgard, Frances Berg, Hirschmann and Munter, etc.) have espoused a philosophy that specifically addresses eating disorders at the same time as size prejudice. It is disingenuous to pretend that size acceptance has been trying to shove eating disorders under the carpet, when we've essentially been talking about them since day one.

Like everything in life, the myriad issues touching fat acceptance are complex, and we have an ongoing discourse and debates and arguments about what is what in order to keep developing. There's no one big conspiracy to "silence" people with eating disorders, or to deny something in particular. All we really want is for fat people to be treated right, and to treat themselves right.

That would include getting appropriate treatment for an eating disorder, not covering one up.

Twistie said...

I haven't been active in the FA movement for long, but this author's description bears little - if any - resemblence to my experience.

Multiple FA blogs have allowed me to discuss my own experiences with discovering IE that happened - in my case - to lead to losing something in the neighborhood of sixty pounds...so long as I didn't sit there telling everyone 'it's easy, because I did it and so should you.' I've read the stories of anorexics, bulimics, and other people with disordered eating as well as full blown eating disorders. I've seen these difficult stories treated with respect and great generosity.

I've seen mods smack down people whose comments came across as trivializing EDs, or spread nasty stereotypes about thin people. I've seen people of all sizes, shapes, ethnicities, levels of physical ability, and socioeconomic levels welcomed, so long as they embraced a culture of acceptance and were willing to speak out for the rights of all people, regardless of BMI.

I'm not saying there's nobody in the movement who oversimplifies EDs or wishes they would just disappear. I'm not saying there's nobody who harbors or even encourages prejudice against those with EDs.

But I'll damn well stand up and say I haven't met them anywhere I've been in the FA movement so far.

Anonymous said...

In fact, Deb Burgard had a response about her involvement with the article, which you can read in comments here:


Becky said...

I know there is a great site is for plus size friends and big people: plusmingle.com
It's catering specifically to fat people.

liz said...

so, let me get this straight: some seriously overweight people, who are invariably overweight because they eat massively excessive amounts of food, don't think they have an eating disorder?
what's the definition of an eating disorder, then?

Anonymous said...


liz said...

hubris? i think it's called denial, which people with addictions of all sorts, including food, are particularly good at. in fact it's a way of life for most.

Nina said...

Well of course everyone in the FA 'movement' is going to pick the article apart. Even if the author is right, it isn't in their best interest to admit that, now is it? Not that they could, since they're all in denial...

Anyway, a lot of papers (even the respectable ones) don't name the people they're interviewing/their sources...and if she's telling the truth, then I think she has every reason not to. The article clearly states the people she was interviewing were afraid to reveal their names, and of course, everyone in the FA movement was rabid to get their names.

If you really think she's such a hack, then why make such a big deal out of this? I think all of the FAers see some truth in what she's said, and they're afraid of it. Otherwise, they'd ignore it.

Becky-BBW said...

People shouldn't have the prejudice of fat folks. I once joined a big people dating site plusmingle.com, Here, size acceptance is the norm; very friendly, kind, warm and loving people gather together because they truly love and admirer plus-size folks or are plus-size themselves! We are fat, but proud!

FattyFoz said...

I'm not convinced that an organized social movement will have any ability to affect change. There were a million people involved in the civil rights movement and even after 50 years of laws, regulations and cultural climate change this place is brimming with nasty, dirty racists. So unless you get some personal benefit from being involved in one of these groups, it all seems a little pointless.
Instead, I've opted to take the issue on myself, as I reclaim and redefine fatty as my own. Fatty means I no longer bow down to societal pressure. I will no longer crash diet to fit into clothes. I will not try to suck my gut in on first dates. I will not be ashamed to order what I want to eat, even when I'm the only one to get dessert. Whether I choose to eat an entire bucket of fried chicken or decide to work out 4 days a week, I'm proud to be a fatty everyday.

Anonymous said...

I've been both eating disordered AND involved with the fat acceptance movement. I was even planning to go to this year's convention in LA.....and now I am having second thoughts....

Anonymous said...

I finally read this article this morning (May 2). It was bathroom reading and then I was like, hey they are talking about this on fattymcblog.


It's like the FA movement ppl are against healthy eating and exercise because those things are like betrayals to the movement and giving in to "the man" ("the man" being anyone who believes being height/weight proportional is ok, or like being in your correct BMI is ok). And the FA movement ppl don't acknowledge the eating disordered among them. OK. It is good to be ok with yourself. It is also good to be healthy.

What is best:
- healthy eating
- some fun exercise
- being healthy
- being able to do the things you want; having energy and ability
- not having an obese body that will kill you
- making small, healthy changes
- getting help for eating disorders

Please no haters. Thx.

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Anonymous said...

Do you think this is offensive or something that promotes fat acceptance or simply honest? Is being fat taboo, accepting fat taboo, or just the word itself?

Amanda said...

This use to be my favourite blog, but sadly I will have to remove it. How they can fail to make one post a week really surprises me.

You suck Lindsey and Emily.

Suddenly slimmer said...

I'd better to encourage people to be active and healthy. Have campaign to encourage people become more active by exercise and eat the right food.
Have campaign about the real definition of diet.

Anonymous said...

Born Fat, still fat, & I always tell people I'm "livin the dream".... come see what I've done to help the fat community!


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skinnyjoe said...

FAT ppl are lazy, unmotivated, uninspired, unambitious, no-self esteem losers.
you do NOT have a disease you fat f*ck, get off the couch, turn off the tv, shut down your computer, put away the bag of chips and ice cream, put on your sneakers and FUCKING EXCERSIZE you tub of lard.

stop sucking up all our oxygen, devour all our food, take up all our space just cause you dont feel good about yourself.

you fat lazy bums expect us to foot the bill for your impending heart attacks, diabetes, cancers. yes we foot the bill by having to pay higher taxes and higher insurance rates in general.

it costs more to transport you fat farts around, cause the heavier you are the more gasoline the vehicle will have to consume, that includes airplanes. they have should and will have a fat tax.

and no, fat people are NOT beautiful in any which way , shape or form. its not NATURAL, thats why fat people die earlier, thats why most people are not attracted to fat people, you will never be considered the mould of the human race, you will never be what God intended cause you suffer the SIN of gluttony! yes you OVERINDULGE, have no will power, are WEAK minded, and suicidal.

but, unlike people with REAL diseases, you can reverse your situation. and its pretty damn easy in theory, just STOP fucking eating and start burning more fat/calories then you consume. so simple, just do it, now, today, right fucking now!
good luck, hope to see you on the healthy side!

Anonymous said...

Shouldn't someone who wants to lose weight for WHATEVER reason be supported as much as someone who doesn't? I agree that there should be no discrimination in any way no matter what weight someone is but i don't understand why people who want to lose weight for health, and yes even beauty reasons are villified by the movement. When did fat acceptance become fat is the only way?

Luscious Lars Anderson said...

Yo, dawg! Ya'll got me straight trippin', Boo!

FatCat said...

skinnyjoe, your post cracked me up! A great laugh. You tear into fat people with Grand Canyon-sized hatred while foaming at the mouth with puritanical rage, and then wrap up with some lame good luck wishing.

Motivation: yer doin it rong.

Tamanna said...

Where are you guys? I have just managed to read your whole blog in one sitting.. and I think am in LOVE... start writing again girls.. you are great!

goooooood girl said...

your blog is good good good......

Transdimensional said...

Sweet blog!

I just wish they'd go around and get this fat acceptance done.

In class, the professors always warn students before discussing different sexual preferences, politics, religion, and then go off and say terrible things about heavier people. (And there's always someone in the front row that fits the ticket) I just can't stand it! Grr. Anyways, thanx for putting this up.

Herbalife Las vegas said...

Interesting. I like the blog, good job.

Tara said...

Noooo! I've run out of archives to read!

Why aren't you guys writing anymore?! You're so funny and just what I need when I try to make myself think that I like to eat salad!

d said...

haha, this is a great blog. yeah, some people need to just get over themselves and stop being so hypocritical...if you want to be an ass...then don't just favor the fat folks..but show your jerkhole side about everything. either way, this article is great for a boost...it just shows you how much better it is to be squishy:

Herbalife Las Vegas said...

Great info!!