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fattypatties speaks for me

Others posted it while she was in the middle of writing it. Now it's finished, and it's fucking brilliant. Start at the bottom of the page and read up.

Top 10 Things I am Tired of Discussing in the fat-acceptance community

I'll have more to say about this later; I'm still taking it all in.

Comments

( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
firecat
Mar. 12th, 2006 07:14 am (UTC)
Ugh, yeah. :-(
laurenhat
Mar. 12th, 2006 07:01 am (UTC)
Thank you for posting that. It made me think about a lot of important stuff. and entry #7 is the most brilliant advice on citing studies & other information sources I've ever seen (I just sigged it).
starcat_jewel
Mar. 12th, 2006 07:53 am (UTC)
This section really jumped out at me:

The way to fight stigma is to confront those who practice bigotry, not by justifying or mitigating any characteristics of anyone who is being stigmatized.

Instead of saying "we are not lazy" -- we need to say "stop putting people in groups and declaring that some people are lazy by the way they look."

Instead of saying "we are healthy" -- we need to say "stop deciding who is healthy and who is not healthy by setting up arbitrary criteria and then declaring that some people are unhealthy by the way they look."

Instead of saying "we are beautiful" -- we need to say "stop creating such narrow standards of beauty that most people feel ugly."

Instead of saying "we are good" -- we need to say "stop deciding the morality of others on the basis of how they look."

We have nothing to justify. It is bigotry that must change and trying to prove ourselves to that bigotry is a lost cause.


I tend to be sensitive to linguistic issues, because I've seen more deconstruction of them than most people have. The minute you attempt justification in a situation like the above, you've lost -- because you have tacitly acknowledged the other person's basic assumption to be correct. You must look for the hidden assumption beneath the overt argument, bring it into the open, and confront it directly.

A classic example: Someone asks you, possibly in the course of a discussion about fat-hostility issues, "Why are you always so disagreeable?" Responding with "I'm not disagreeable" is playground-level, of the "Am not!" "Are too!" variety, and does no good at all. Any response that starts with "Because..." has already tacitly accepted the label "disagreeable". A much better option is to ask, "What makes you feel that I'm being disagreeable?" You're attempting to elicit specific responses, not a general label which can never be disproven.

If you're not already reading ozarque's journal, I highly recommend it. She is a professional linguist who has made a lifelong study of hostile language in interpersonal discourse and written several excellent books about it. Knowing how to defend against common linguistic traps makes you a much better proponent for your position -- whatever that position may be.
firecat
Mar. 12th, 2006 08:00 am (UTC)
Yes, yes, yes. It seems that so few people get this, and even fewer know how to articulate it clearly. I get it, but I don't always articulate it very well, which is one reason I think Patty's list is brilliant.

I know ozarque teaches this stuff (I'm not reading her journal right now, but I have in the past)...I wonder if it would be worthwhile to get her to speak at a fat-activist conference.
the_maenad
Mar. 12th, 2006 10:46 am (UTC)
"You don't have permission to access."
(Deleted comment)
(Deleted comment)
firecat
Mar. 12th, 2006 06:40 pm (UTC)
I'm glad your knees are better and you're happier.

It is troublesome that some fat-acceptance circles reject people who have had WLS. I understand why people have it, but my problem with it (apart from the high risk, which I'm glad hasn't affected you) is that I perceive it as a zero-sum game - I feel like the more people have it, the more medical institutions will treat it as the only option, and not bother to develop other treatments and instruments that work with fat people.

Of course, that's not the fault of people who have it, it's the fault of medical institutions.
syzygy
Mar. 12th, 2006 06:49 pm (UTC)
*smacks forehead against hand*

Coming from the angle of food politics, when she says "Promoting or discussing health as a matter of lifestyle is not just personal experience. It is political and cultural fodder for those who hate fat people." ...!

I see her point. It can be used against fat people, absolutely. It is used against fat people, yes.

But, frankly, the politics of food is an urgent issue in the US today, for everyone. I mean, she's throwing the baby out with the bathwater in a major way here. And it kind of makes my head spin to think about the enormity of the picture she wants to overlook.

US citizens (and many others) are in between a rock and a hard place. On one hand we have food suppliers that want to sell us the largest amount of the worst quality food for the highest price they can get, which impacts our health. On the other hand we have health "providers" who don't want to cover those who actually have health problems. Both in the interest of making as much money as possible while giving as little to the customer for it. Yes, if fat is one of the symptoms of this health breakdown, it is unfortunately the most visible. It's harder to make a connection from bad food quality to cancer, senility, depression, and so on. And we're not going to get any help from the food suppliers or their allies, either--quite the opposite, they work hard to repress information. So I agree that there is a danger in uncritically, passively accepting the link between fat and low food quality. And I'm sure that as an activist, there's value in staying focused.

But. Again I'm getting the head-spinning thing... the picture is very large. It's a network of, essentially, a disordered culture. We call them lifestyle choices, but are they really choices, when one has to swim against a nearly overwhelming tide just to do something *different*? How valuable is it really to be accepted in a culture that subsidizes untested (or tested but not published) and highly suspect new lab-produced foods on a massive scale, where even foods that are known to be extremely unhealthy (hydrogenated fats for example) are nearly omnipresent, where marketing will exploit every leftover prejudice and insecurity one pretends not to have, where the only way to get exercise is to engage in elaborate rituals with silly costumes and possibly a lot of money spent because exercise has been removed from the fabric of our daily lives? Among many other problems.

It takes so much ingenuity and determination to live in this culture without being exploited, without having the system eat away at one for profit--and one's health of mind, integrity of body, independence, and social vitality. The self determination of individuals and communities alike is radically undermined by this system. To erase all this and say "I just want to be accepted into this system as a fat person, and that's all" is--well--you get the idea.
firecat
Mar. 12th, 2006 08:17 pm (UTC)
Yes, if fat is one of the symptoms of this health breakdown, it is unfortunately the most visible.

Only fat isn't a "symptom of health breakdown." That's pretty much the number one tenet of the fat-acceptance movement.

To erase all this and say "I just want to be accepted into this system as a fat person, and that's all" is--well--you get the idea.

No, I don't get the idea at all. I don't think that demanding acceptance is tantamount to "erasing" any of the negative things about my society other than the part of my society that rejects people like me.
liveavatar
Mar. 12th, 2006 11:36 pm (UTC)
I honestly don't know why you're having a cognitive dissonance moment. None of the problems you list here, which are quite real (except for your calling fat a symptom of health breakdown), mean that fat people shouldn't be accepted as full human beings, without stigmatization.

Well, there is this one -- where marketing will exploit every leftover prejudice and insecurity one pretends not to have. I'm betting that this problem is your Big Dissonator. It's valuable to be accepted, for everyone. The whole point of that series of essays was to talk about how to sidestep the prejudices that affect whether we're accepted. That includes food politics.

Other than that, the politics of food affects people of all sizes. Fat acceptance isn't an enemy or a distraction, it's part of the coalition you're looking for.
(Anonymous)
Mar. 13th, 2006 12:00 am (UTC)
"the politics of food affects people of all sizes"

There are a myriad of issues about food that are more important than what foods are "good" and what foods are "bad": Who picks food, how animals used for food get treated, how much food is wasted in this country, who gets a good selection of food at their local market and who doesn't, who moves food from one place to another, how soils are depleted by poor farming, the waste of water in farming practices, starvation, famine, exploitation and inequities.

I said this another forum, but we are the wealthiest country in the world when it comes to food and we spend all our time discussing our diet. It is as if Marie Antoinette was saying "let them debate cake."

Diet foods are part of the problem. They add to packaging and landfills, they create demand in the market place that is not natural and they distract the public from all these issues.

People who don't diet are subversive in this economy and they should be seen as allies to those who fight for fair trade and better systems of distribution. They do NOT deserve to be the poster child for "over-consumption." If people stopped trying to control their weight, over=consumption would be reduced.

--Pattie (http://fattypatties.blogspot.com (http://fattypatties.blogspot.com))
liveavatar
Mar. 13th, 2006 06:20 am (UTC)
Agreed from start to finish. (In case that wasn't obvious.)

Well of course we're spending all this time discussing our diet. It's because we can.

My personal opinion is that one of the reasons this country is so harsh on fat people is guilt. To many people, on some level fat people symbolize prosperity and the *ability* to eat freely when others can't. Not only that, to a subset of that group fat people symbolize the political mistakes of America."
syzygy
Mar. 13th, 2006 08:46 pm (UTC)
First a couple things: I didn't say that fat is a sign of health breakdown, I said if it was. One of those things where you criticize an argument by saying "Even if it's true." You guys would probably have said "Even if it were true," being of a more distinct view than I am. Second thing, I certainly don't think the problems listed above mean that fat people shouldn't be free of stigmatization, and I'm surprised that anyone would interpret it that way. And a third thing as well would just be that I don't think I was having cognitive dissonance... the head spinning came when I thought about the importance and complexity of the baby that was being disposed of with the bathwater.

*shrugs* I knew from the beginning that my comment was bordering on semantics, but perhaps it's to a far greater extent than I had thought. If fat acceptance communities are not supposed to talk about anything other than fat acceptance, and more specifically are not supposed to talk about subjects which can ever be manipulated for the uses of fat stigma even if they are otherwise important, then there's no objection to raise. Since fat does not make people immune to most of the issues in food politics, I would then hope that fat acceptance people are members of other communities as well where the subject of food politics is not taboo because of its potential for manipulation. I was sort operating under the assumption that fat acceptance communities were first and foremost communities, where people learn about life from each other and form relationships and hold conversations that sometimes branch off of the original topic to varying degrees.

"Well, there is this one -- where marketing will exploit every leftover
prejudice and insecurity one pretends not to have. I'm betting that this
problem is your Big Dissonator."

See, I read this one carefully and cleverly deduced that you were suggesting that I have a secret prejudice against fat people. *wry grin* Particularly coming from a stranger, I think it's perfectly fair to raise the possibility, but one should be cautious about oversimplifying people's thoughts and ending up with a "if you don't see it exactly the way I see it you're against me" situation or somesuch. First, I would say that the relationship between fat and health isn't something I've specifically explored very much, so I'm mostly agnostic on the issue. My operating guess, however, is that body size plays different roles in the health of different people. I'd guess that some people at their healthiest are naturally skinny, or medium, or fat. For other people, their body size may be a side effect of their state of poor health--that is certainly the case for me. Meanwhile some people may be unhealthy, but their body size is independent of that. However, body size would a poor indicator to use because it could mean, or not mean, so many different things. Do body sizes cause health problems? That's way over my head, so I am even more agnostic on that one. I certainly respect the view you seem to hold, that body size is simply unrelated to health, because I figure you're probably better informed than I am. But I'm not going to drop my view and adopt yours uncritically, of course. And I think my reasoning likewise should not just simply be dismissed as prejudice, though of course you didn't know what I thought to begin with.
syzygy
Mar. 13th, 2006 08:47 pm (UTC)
"Fat acceptance isn't an enemy or a distraction, it's part of the coalition
you're looking for."

Absolutely--and I didn't ever suggest fat acceptance was an enemy or distraction, so I don't know why that came up--the useful application of food politics is seriously held back when nutritional health is equated with low weight, and all the more so when an emotional fat stigma is involved too, turning good intentions for nutritional health into subtle or overt fat bashing. Fat stigma reinforces denial and lack of information, whether it's from less fat people ignoring their own self responsibility because it's easier to try to control others, or from fat people being so worn out and turned off by the stigma that potentially useful information on food politics and health becomes inaccessible to them. All the more so if they aren't even supposed to talk about the subject in their own acceptance communities.

I'm quite sorry but I always spend too much time when I get caught up in internet discussions and I may not be able to respond fully after this--because yes for me a meaningful response is usually this wordy and overthought =P
firecat
Mar. 14th, 2006 01:31 am (UTC)
and I didn't ever suggest fat acceptance was an enemy or distraction, so I don't know why that came up

It was the "you're throwing out the baby with the bathwater" line that suggested it to me, FWIW.
firecat
Mar. 14th, 2006 01:29 am (UTC)
If fat acceptance communities are not supposed to talk about anything other than fat acceptance, and more specifically are not supposed to talk about subjects which can ever be manipulated for the uses of fat stigma even if they are otherwise important, then there's no objection to raise.

I belive that Patty's original post, which I can't access right at the mo', mentioned "forums" rather than "the fat acceptance community," which was my phrase and I probably should have stuck with forums. Most of the people I know who are aware around fat politics are also critical of excessive corporate growth, but that's not really on-topic for fat-acceptance forums.

The problem is that on fat-acceptance forums, discussions about actually accepting everybody CONSTANTLY get redirected into discussions about 'good' and 'bad' food. If you aren't on these forums it might be hard to understand what that's like. It might be like, on a food politics forum where you are discussing how to promote less processed / less corporatized food, someone constantly comes along and says "But Burger King isn't as bad as McDonalds. You guys don't want to put Burger King out of business, do you? I'm really healthy but I do like to eat Burger King fries once a year."
eve_l_incarnata
Mar. 13th, 2006 09:49 pm (UTC)
I'm looking forward to what you have to say.
( 18 comments — Leave a comment )

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