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Where do we go…

May 8, 2008

Wow, I have a blog! Neato.

I’ve finally finished my last final and turned in my last project for the semester and now feel like I have the mental capacity to actually post. Well, to actually post what’s on my mind instead of random drivel or news stories that make me mad (which are both fine things to post, just not what’s been squatting in the ‘post’ part of my brain.)

So…. hmmm.

You see, I’ve planned this post out in my head dozens of times. I’ve collected links. I’ve typed excerpts. I’ve lain down the gauntlet and I’ve retreated into vagueness. In the end, it’s just easier to lay it all out, right?

I’ve been questioning my place in fat acceptance. I’ve been gazing at my navel (which is no easy feat as it’s generally tucked away in my belly folds) and trying to find my place, trying to decide if there is a place for me.

Why?

Oh, lots of reasons, really. I get stuck on the science a lot. The more I researched, the wider I cast my net ย – looking, I should clarify, for more fat positive information – the more itchy I got. I don’t want to open this post up to that debate since, honestly, neither I nor most of my readers are qualified to do much more than rely on other researcher’s interpretations of their conclusions. But it was the first crack, I guess you could say. Finding out that a seemingly supportive quote was taken almost completely out of context, or forwarding an interpretation of a study to a stastitician acquaintance and getting a completely different take on the numbers…it bothered me. And as so often happens, when we allow doubt to creep over one area, all the other stuff we might have been repressing comes out.

Like the intersection of nutrition, health, fat and class. What does it mean for me to be a fat activist who believes that making healthy foods cheap and available is an important and worthy goal? Well, in a shallow sense it means nothing, lots of other FA people would agree with me..but..what’s healthy? Oh, that’s a bit of a touchy subject, I think. And if, as I said above, I have some doubts about some of the science – then what does that mean when taking into account that fat is more prevalent in poorer communities? What does it mean to be an advocate for fat people while trying to stay open about the best ways to advocate for increased access to health for all people?

Then there’s the food stuff. The vegan stuff. The nutrition and health stuff. I’ve always felt uncomfortable around it. Again, some of it goes back to science. A lot of it is about my trying to respect other’s opinions, histories, struggles with ED etc… ย And well, without invoking the spirit of the drama llama on my blog, let’s just say there are some feelingsย out there on how to talk about these things.

It all seemed way too complicated. What had been part of my personal journey to self-acceptance and learning how to live joyously in my body was suddenly stressful. Should I post around my issues? That seemed dishonest. And really I wasn’t ashamed or anything. I just didn’t want to deal with the reaction I might get. Especially since I don’t really have a lot of concrete things to say. There was also some vanity at stake to be honest. To be relegated as one of those middling fat bloggers, you know, the kind who aren’t really committed or radical, who exist just to be the ‘gateway’ for true fat acceptance, no way. I wanna be cool too!

All of this went round in my head while I was busy with school and I could never come to a conclusion about where I was as a fat activist. Honestly, it seemed easiest to just let this blog go. It’s not like it was so important or so widely read or anything. And I could go back to where I’d been for years, hanging on the periphery of the FA movement. Problem solved.

But then something happened, I woke up every morning and was still a fat activist. I still found myself espousing HAES philosophy when talking to people. I still spouted facts about the utter failure that is dieting when friends asked what I thought about {insert popular diet here}. I still felt furious when a group of people who spend a huge amount of time detailing every little thing they eat, started talking about how sad it was when people convinced themselves that being fat was ok.

And I realized that I don’t want to stop being a fat activist. I don’t think there is any safe and/or truly effective way to make a fat person into a thin person. I think we need a helluva lot more studies done on the effect of improved nutrition and exercise on fat people’s health regardless of weight change. And I think our society needs to seriously let go of the moral judgement of fat. I want to be a part of that change too. I feel compelled to do it in my daily life.

So where does that put me? Who the fuck knows. But I think that my voice is needed in the FA movement. And so is the most radical FAist’s voice and so are all those people out there who find so much acceptance and love in the movement, but who have their own concerns and so stay silent. The only way a movement can move forward is through honest representation, not unity for the sake of appearance.

The downside is that we won’t always agree and that does suck. It sucks to think some people will read this and think “I could always tell she was someone who really believed in the ‘good fatty’ stuff.”* It sucks that people fight and act shitty towards each other or use the movement as a club to bully others (that, by the way, is totally general, but if it hasn’t happened, it will.) But a movement in total agreement isn’t really a movement at all.

So hi.

I’m attrice. I’m almost positive that diets are useless. I’m fairly certain about the benefits of good nutrition and exercise regardless of weight. I’m totally uncertain about the negative effects of ‘excess’ fat on the body. I think you should start your own blog, zine, podcast, cable access show or weekly megaphone shout fest and put your opinion out there. I think fat people are human and deserving of respect, equal treatment and sunshine-farting unicorns just like everyone else.

And I’m back. ๐Ÿ™‚

ย 

* I feel certain that at least one person will think this since I’ve had several comments on my blog to that effect already.

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12 Comments
  1. May 9, 2008 12:58 am

    Thank you for this post.

    “The only way a movement can move forward is through honest representation, not unity for the sake of appearance.”

    YES, YES, YES!

    We, as a movement, need to spend more time really appreciating the spectrum of opinions and experiences and not playing “shun the non-believer”. Group identity is wonderful. Group-think is dangerous. Seriously, there is room for everyone.

  2. librarychair permalink
    May 9, 2008 7:40 am

    I’m glad you’re back, your blog was one of my favorites, and not just because of the happy tofu!

    also:

    I think our society needs to seriously let go of the moral judgement of fat.

    โ€œI could always tell she was someone who really believed in the โ€˜good fattyโ€™ stuff.โ€

    Hopefully your readers will actually read your posts?

  3. May 9, 2008 7:47 am

    I’m glad you’re back because I also liked your blog a lot ๐Ÿ™‚

    I’m torn sometimes. I don’t think the world is as black and white as *anyone* says. But like you said, I also no longer buy the myth that there is a safe, easy, effective way to make fat people thin. I’m not convinced they need to be thin either, but even if they do – even if someone 100% convinces me that thin *is* always healthier – there’s still no way to do that in a healthy manner.

    I also 100% believe that fat people should be treated as people, no matter how fat we are. So yeah, I’ll still be a fat acceptance rooftop shouter.

    Anyway, welcome back ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. May 9, 2008 7:49 am

    Besides . . . . sunshine farting unicorns. :::giggle::: I want one ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Piffle permalink
    May 9, 2008 8:43 am

    I believe in diversity, of opinions as well as race, cultures, genders and so on. Diverse is good, otherwise we stagnate.

  6. Laura permalink
    May 9, 2008 8:48 am

    I guess I’m pretty new to the movement, but I don’t think you have to believe in the science to believe in Fat Acceptance. You just have to believe that us fatties don’t deserve to be hated and demonized and told that we’re responsible for all of society’s ills.

    You definately don’t have to agree with everything that is said on all the FA blogs either. It sounds like you don’t and I’m glad you didn’t name names because another blog did that the other day and now there is arguing going on. I’d rather fight fat hate than fight shades of radicality (is that a word?) within our own movement.

    Thank you for the call to arms (or pens?) as well! I’m trying to start my own blog and just feel stuck. Thanks for giving me a little nudge. I also think I’m going to start putting my journalism degree to work and shop around an FA story to a few social justice magazines and see if they’ll pick it up. Chaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarge!

  7. May 9, 2008 10:43 am

    Thanks, everyone.

    One thing I want to make clear though is that the pressure to just keep quiet was totally internal. Yes, part of me was concerned with the reaction of other people, but most of it was my feeling that ambiguity/questioning would be bad for the movement. Especially since I don’t feel like I have any great answers either.

  8. May 9, 2008 11:20 am

    Attrice, I’m glad you’re going to keep fighting the good fight on your own terms. FA is not a monolith. It shouldn’t be any more than any other human rights movement should be.

    For every statistic, there’s an opposite statistic. For every study, there’s another study. Sometimes we have to just break it down to the most basic level and say FA is right simply because fat doesn’t make us less human.

    I firmly believe that the civil rights movement needed Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr and Malcolm X equally. So it is with FA. We need the people who argue the science, the people who argue that our lifestyles aren’t so different from those of thin people, we need the ones who are incensed at the inherent racism and classism directed at fat people, and we need those who have the courage to say that when all that goes away, it’s all about the fact that we’re people, too and that’s why we deserve to be treated with dignity.

    Keep talking. The more voices we have, the more likely that someone will hear. That, after all, is what it’s all about.

  9. thoughtracer permalink
    May 9, 2008 11:39 am

    This is one of the more meaningful blog posts I have read in the fat o sphere lately. I have grown really tired of all the infighting and debating and rampant militancy. It makes me not even want to bother anymore. Thanks for this post.

  10. pennylane permalink
    May 9, 2008 12:12 pm

    I’d like to join the chorus that is happy that you’re back! I think that food is a justice issue in the ways that you’ve outlined–that it is an obligation to ensure that people have adequate sources of food, that people have information available (and not just from diet companies or food producers!), and that people have meaningful choices regardless of socio-economic status or location or whatever. The recent global food shortage indicates this. What food is not is a moral issue on the individual level. This means that the choices that people make are, frankly, none of our business. And, of course, we have to recognize that people make choices within a variety of constraints that are not within their control. I feel this way about my veganism, too. I am critical of the way that foods are produced, the way that profit dictates certain practices, etc. But I don’t judge any individual for the choices they make for themselves. I tend to be on the side of uncertainty, though I do believe that the smiling tofu is an unquestionably good thing. ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. squid permalink
    May 9, 2008 1:42 pm

    This definitely has more to do with health in general than fat activism. People need to stop fooling themselves that it’s okay to eat Taco Bell every day because they are still thin. Eating “well” and excercising is a universal concept like you say.

    P.S. Please stop using acronyms. THX

  12. May 9, 2008 3:35 pm

    I think that every blog adds to the FA “movement” and helps people realize that it’s OK to be angry about how fat people are treated in our society. Welcome back! Please check out my blog too, I’m new! ๐Ÿ™‚

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