Ok, this title of the post might be needlessly inflammatory but something that has concerned me for a while and is one of the reasons for my abandoning the FA community in the past is how many of our allies, hell, our sources are also part of what I might consider a neo-liberal/libertarian corporatist movement.
Now I don’t think that Fat Acceptance belongs to any one political stance. Just like I’ve marched with people carrying “Republicans for Choice” signs, I will welcome anyone who believes that fat people are human who deserve to be treated well into this movement. But when you start to move beyond the basic fat people = human of the movement and into the details it becomes more complicated. What government intervention into food and health is appropriate? What science and scientists do we trust? Does it matter what other viewpoints our allies espouse? Who do we make alliances with?
I don’t actually have answers for the movement. I’m curious to whether or not this bothers other people.
For me, since I don’t take a hardline stance on the science of obesity, I’m not convinced that government intervention into food supply and availability with an eye to improved health is “nanny state” politics as I’ve seen it called elsewhere. Not to mention, of course, that the gov’t already plays a big part in the way we eat. Without all those ginormous subsidies for the meat and dairy industry, that stuff would be a helluva lot more expensive and therefore be less of a centerpiece in American diets.
I’m less certain about how I feel in terms of allying myself with people and groups who otherwise advocate positions that I vehemently disagree with. Like I said, I’ll march with pro-choice republicans so why should I feel uneasy about accepting the work that someone who works for pro-corporate organizations does on the obesity hype? Well, honestly, because at this point I’m putting a lot of trust in other people’s interpretation of the science that’s out there (which is why I’m not sold on fat being health-neutral or mostly genetic, I read lots of scientists take on it) and when someone advocates one position that seems to be skirting the edges of scientific interpretation and seems to be more about serving a particular ideal than an unbiased* look at the facts…well, it makes me question all the information they give. Reason magazine may say things I agree with about the obesity epidemic, but if I think their presentation on the evidence for Global Warming is contrarianism, then do I put that out of my mind and assume their treatment of obesity is any better?
Now I know that there exist people who are doing great work on these issues who don’t have the pro-corporate ties that bother me about groups like the Center for Consumer Freedom and, for now, I pretty much rely on the former and take anything the latter says with a grain of salt, but I do worry that groups and people who are more prepared to play a bit loose with the facts will appeal to the movement a lot more than scrupulous people who really just want to get at the truth of things.
* I don’t pretend that perfectly unbiased people and/or research exists. My skepticism goes both ways and I treat information put out by anti-fat scientists and pro-diet corporations with just as much distrust as I do something on the CFCF website.