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Big Fat Carnival #3 is up

Big Fat Carnival #3 is up here:

There were some good posts (especially from body impolitic).

I'm glad that there IS such a thing as a Big Fat Carnival, never mind a 3d one (and the 4th is already scheduled). I sure as hell wish I'd had access to ANY critical thought about fat and body size when I was younger. And overall there was a lot of good thought and a lot of good sharing of personal experience.

However, I should not have gone in to read the posts in an emotionally vulnerable mood. I kept getting upset at subtle hatred discomfort/ambivalence about (some kinds of) fat in the posts and less subtle healthism and fat hatred/discomfort/ambivalence in some of the comments.

Things I need to remember before the next time I read a roundup of such posts:
  • The concept of "fat acceptance" covers a lot of ground, some of which I find, well, not accepting enough. But everyone has to start somewhere.
  • Discussions of fat, body size, body image, eating, and so forth, even when they are presented in a context of acceptance, are not always comfortable for me and don't always conform to my fairly extreme politics on the subject.
  • Not all bloggers moderate the contents of their posts and fat acceptance posts sometimes attract fat-hating and healthist comments.
Last night, I started a post discussing the specific parts I found uncomfortable, but I deleted it because I thought it was unfair of me to focus on the negative. I'm still mulling over whether I should make a post along those lines.


( 26 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 8th, 2006 07:17 pm (UTC)
I often feel like I'm too fat to be a part of the fat acceptance movement. I'm a long-time member and reader of Big Fat Blog, and even there, even though I know Paul is committed to the site being for absolutely everyone, I get the sense that my short, 300+ pound self just isn't welcome, because I'm a bad fat person who doesn't exercise 3 hours a day and who often eats foods that aren't the epitome of good nutrition. And people like me just aren't welcome--we feed into the stereotype, and we can't have that. And it's upsetting to me that I can't even fully belong to the fat acceptance community, because if I can't belong there, where can I belong?

I like the idea of the Big Fat Carnival, but I haven't written anything for any of them and I'm not likely to.
Jun. 8th, 2006 07:26 pm (UTC)
I know what you mean. (Another short, 300+ pound self here.) Big Fat Blog doesn't seem as "healthist" as some, but it does creep in.

OTOH, have you ever been to a fat-acceptance gathering like NAAFA or Fat Fest? It is very healing to me to be around other people who really are my size, and going to such gatherings convinced me that yes I am part of some part of the movement.
Jun. 8th, 2006 07:43 pm (UTC)
It's unintentional creep, but it's still there.

I haven't had a chance to go to any sort of fat acceptance gathering--the stars haven't aligned properly for that to happen, but one of these days I'm going to get to NOLOSE. I have friends who have gone and they say it's fabulous.
Jun. 8th, 2006 07:32 pm (UTC)
Ironically, I get a very different feeling from the fat acceptance movement - that I'm not fat enough. I weigh maybe 200 pounds (and am also short), and I get the message that it's not enough "my" fight since I can fit into chairs and have more access to clothes & other sized things.

We're probably both right. I think those who face more obvious daily discrimination and those of us who don't have different stake in the movement - but are ultimately after the same thing. And if you want to base fat activist arguments on the idea that fat isn't unhealthy (I think that's a very shortsighted idea, and one I'm glad to see losing favor), active fat people serve your argument better.

I think you should write for the carnival, and that I probably should, too - the fat community ought to be at least one place that has room for both of us.
Jun. 8th, 2006 08:23 pm (UTC)
I don't know. It's an emotionally fraught subject for me, for a lot of reasons. I just know that right now, I don't feel particularly welcome in a community that I thought I'd always be welcome in. But as the social pressure has ramped up over the last few years, so has the pressure in the fat acceptance movement to make fat people be "good" fat people. At least that's what it feels like to me.
Jun. 8th, 2006 08:34 pm (UTC)
Yes, this, exactly. Worse for me, as I am choosing to aim to be a smaller pants size, which makes me a traitor. Fuck that. If it's about acceptance and choice, I get to choose to lose weight for my reasons. I'm not going to transform overnight into a sylph. I'm not likely to stop being on the low end of what the fashion industry calls plus size. And I have a memory that won't be wiped out when I'm a size 14 of what it's like to be a 24 in a society that idolizes a size 4. But because I'm not that large and want to be smaller, I'm a criminal to too many of the fat acceptance types.
Jun. 8th, 2006 09:27 pm (UTC)
See reply to keryx on "not that large." On "choosing to aim to be a smaller pants size," while I know plenty of people who consider themselves part of the fat acceptance movement do deliberately lose weight, I disapprove and don't feel very supported when someone comes into a fat-acceptance space and talks about choosing to lose weight. I feel like "I want one place where losing weight isn't brought up as a positive thing, and now I have none."

I'm not criticizing your comment here, since I don't expect a post in my journal to be a fat-acceptance space unless I explicitly say so, and I have never seen you talk about deliberate weight loss in a fat-acceptance space.
Jun. 9th, 2006 12:04 am (UTC)
And I wouldn't dream of doing so. I know from politeness and proper timing. It's more the gestalt of, "Nobody who's into fat acceptance should ever want to stop being fat" that I pick up from somebunall FA circles that grates is all.
Jun. 8th, 2006 09:20 pm (UTC)
I've heard a lot of people say what you are saying. Personally, I make a distinction in my head between people your size and people my size. I definitely think both kinds of people belong in the movement, but I also feel like there are two different camps. There's a large overlap in the issues between the two camps, but there are also issues that are individual to one or the other camp.

Although I like to believe I care about the issues of the "smaller fat people" camp, I'm surprised when other people cross over and care about the issues of the other camp. I think it's too bad that I am surprised. It's probably too bad that I make the distinction at all.
Jun. 9th, 2006 12:15 am (UTC)
I agree about the overlapping issues comment. I have less of a problem fitting into airline seats on most plane types (I think there's one out there that only a short size zero could love) and can actually shop at some department stores these days, but there are common points, like who gets used as an example of "too fat to love" where I've seen women in my range and yours used to that effect, sometimes in the same TV show.
Jun. 9th, 2006 12:36 am (UTC)
i make distinctions too, though it's mostly for myself (but i can extend it when i think about what problems other people might encounter). it's about how many actual hurdles i have to handle at one size versus another, and how much those limitations bother me. so there's a short scale, and it's a bit vague (because fitness and weight tie into it as well). i don't know that i can see two distinct camps, but maybe i haven't been fat enough yet. i can easily believe that the issues are harder to handle when one no longer fits into the seats on public transportation; i've not yet been that fat. umm. or have i? i've not yet been too fat for airplane seats, but on city buses it's a damn squeeze, and i have trouble breathing comfortably. i have been (am) so fat that i can't shop for clothes in regular stores, and that's definitely on a different place on my scale.

the mainstream who thinks hollywood beauty standards are it, considers the lot of us fat no matter what, and in so far public perception affects all of us. but it might be that there's a category where "fat" becomes "freak", and the shabby treatment takes on a whole different face. i admit to not having been particularly observant of the mainstream in the last few years; it annoys me so much that i put imaginary blinders on and completely ignore it.

so where is that line between smaller fat people and bigger ones, if you don't mind talking about it?
Jun. 9th, 2006 06:01 am (UTC)
so where is that line between smaller fat people and bigger ones, if you don't mind talking about it?

People draw it in different places. When I made a post in fatshionista asking about the dividing line between midsize and supersize (to use two terms that have been in common use...a lot of people don't like the terms), a few people drew it between US women's size 10 and 12, some drew it at around 200 pounds (for women), a lot drew it at US women's size 28, and some drew it at around 300 pounds.

In my own head I tend to distinguish between people who seem regular sized to me, even though society thinks they're fat, and people who seem fat to me. That dividing line seems to be around 200 pounds / size 18 for women. And I make another distinction for people who pretty much can't buy clothing in retail stores at all, even plus-size stores. That's also the point at which people start to have problems with too-small chairs and such, although it depends on body shape of course. (My clothing retailers list, on my LJ links list, is for those people, I am one at the moment.)
Jun. 11th, 2006 11:01 pm (UTC)
Hmm... yes, I can definitely see that. I figure the abject discrimination issues (i.e. seating, airlines, some of the employment stuff) are also smaller fat people's issues because all of those things could have "acceptable" size ranges narrowed if we allow the idea of "acceptable" size in the first place. But there are other things I'm sure I'm not as aware of that are important for folk who are larger.

What do you think are the differences? I believe you often see deeper into the movement than I do, and while I see different camps, I am not clear on the differences in agenda between them.

As a complete sidebar, you just incidentally pointed out that I have zero sense of the size of my body, since I read this like "what do you mean 'your size' and 'my size'? are we different sizes?"
Jun. 12th, 2006 01:49 am (UTC)
I figure the abject discrimination issues (i.e. seating, airlines, some of the employment stuff) are also smaller fat people's issues because all of those things could have "acceptable" size ranges narrowed if we allow the idea of "acceptable" size in the first place.

I agree. Also, for me, there is an emotional difference between dealing with something that could become an issue and dealing with something that is an issue. Seating and public bathrooms are often troublesome for me now and when I was smaller I was aware that they could become troublesome, or they were occasionally troublesome, but they weren't something I had to deal with frequently. Likewise, the bigger I get, the more aggressive doctors get about my weight and about pushing WLS...when I was smaller I knew that was a problem for a lot of fat people and I cared, but it wasn't personal.

I'm not sure I see the camps as having different agendas per se. It's more that individual members of each camp tend to be directly concerned about different things.

I think people in the "bigger fat people camp" are more directly concerned about getting adequate health care, finding ways to move without pain, and dealing with situations where we don't fit into the available space.

I think people in the "smaller fat people camp" are more directly concerned with people making wrong assumptions about them based on their size, and with trying to find ways to express their sense of style at their size.

I might be conflating things like age and size, though, or relying too much on fatshionista as representative of the "smaller fat people camp" and fat-accepting health lists that I'm on as representative of the "bigger fat people camp."

I would be surprised if you don't have a good sense of the size of your body, since you're a dancer. But maybe you don't have a good sense of the size of other people's bodies in comparison?
Jun. 12th, 2006 08:58 pm (UTC)
I'm sure there's a different emotional experience being reminded multiple times a day that the culture considers you to not-fit. I think smaller fat people (ironically, that includes in my mind any woman who wears larger than a size 6 dress) contend with that more conceptually - that there's not fat culture. None of us get to see ourselves in the images that surround us and subtly enforce what's "normal size", but not all of us have the visceral experience of that being reinforced by chairs. I think that the fatshionista crowd represents that in part, because it's a trend-oriented group trying to make fat culture through clothing.

And yes, we probably do get different attacks from the medical profession. It's actually a lot easier for me to defend my weight from that crowd as someone who weighs 200lbs and is mostly healthy than it was when I weighed 30-40lbs less and wasn't exercising. I suspect that mid-fat folk who follow some form of approved "healthy" lifestyle get less slack than both larger folk and those who aren't deemed "healthy". I know I end up using myself as an example often, and then feel like I'm kinda selling out the movement - if you feed the "fat people are unhealthy" folk the "but I'M not" argument, they just exclude you from the list of Officially Fat People. It doesn't make things better for anyone.
Jun. 12th, 2006 09:10 pm (UTC)
I don't think you're selling out the movement. It's important for people to understand that all fit healthy people are NOT thin.

It's also important that when this point is made, it also gets emphasized that it's not OK to attack people who aren't meeting some culturally determined standard for fitness and health. FWIW, I've always felt you do a fabulous job of emphasizing that when you talk about your own experience.

Marilyn Wann is in the same position. She exercises and eats according to what society considers healthy, and she demands rights for all fat peple, but sometimes her detractors dismiss her with "Yes, YOU'RE healthy, but OTHER fat people aren't." I guess the fat movement needs an anti-poster-child who is unabashedly not doing those things and is also demanding to be treated as a human being. I am so not volunteering.

In my longer post about Fat Carnival #3 I criticized a comment that went out of its way to say "This sort of big is OK because it's muscular, but that sort of big is bad because it's OMGunhealthy." That's the kind of line-drawing that doesn't get us anywhere.
Jun. 8th, 2006 07:20 pm (UTC)
Last night, I started a post discussing the specific parts I found uncomfortable, but I deleted it because I thought it was unfair of me to focus on the negative. I'm still mulling over whether I should make a post along those lines.

I think it would be useful, really. I had a very similar reaction to some of the comments, and to some of the assumptions buried in s few of the posts.

Don't get me wrong, there's some very good, meaty stuff there. I read everything linked in each BFC, and I get a lot of good information and thoughtful 'huh' moments. But I still find myself flinching at least once, either at 'oh god, how can they think that?' or 'oh, god, I do that, ick!'. And either one of those places can lead to useful discussion.
Jun. 8th, 2006 07:20 pm (UTC)
I'm still mulling over whether I should make a post along those lines.

I don't know if you should, but I would certainly appreciate it if you did.
Jun. 8th, 2006 07:33 pm (UTC)
I'd like to hear more about the specifics. It's not unfair to acknowledge the usefulness of the carnival in the first place but to also examine it.
Jun. 8th, 2006 09:18 pm (UTC)
If you write about your discomfort, I think it would be appropriate to post it. I'd like to read it. Even when people say hurtful things without malicious intent, they can still be hurtful, and it can be useful to recognize how damaging such statements are to those affected/excluded. I don't think it's "too negative" to write honestly and openly about how you feel, even when you feel hurt or other kinds of negative reactions.

I'm interested in how different people feel implicitly excluded by size acceptance activism, because they think they are the "wrong" size. I feel this way, myself. Even when I decide it's ridiculous, I still feel that way. I want to emphasize that weight loss is something that happened to me as a result of illness, not something I did, not something I wanted...it still makes me uncomfortable how differently people treat me at this weight. Being this size seems to give me a completely spurious credibility when I'm talking about health and weight loss. At the same time, it makes it harder for me to speak credibly about the experience of being fat, because I don't look like I know what I'm talking about.
Jun. 8th, 2006 09:23 pm (UTC)
I'm still mulling over whether I should make a post along those lines.

would it help you in getting to grips with your discomfort? then go for it. it's not like an LJ is required to be fair and balanced in all posts.

i don't have anything to say about the fat carnival itself (i might go later and read it, but i am still worn out from lactivism and not quite ready for a dose of fativism :). just that i live in nomansland in regard to my fat, and while i am deeply in favour of not discriminating against people for their size, i am not fat enough, not good enough, and not activist enough to be part of the fat acceptance movement. *wry grin*.
Jun. 9th, 2006 06:46 pm (UTC)
i've read it now. and wow, nothing against the lineup, but there is some stuff there that should have warning labels attached! especially in hugo schwyzer's comments, and they were there pre-carnival. i wanted to rip several people new assholes, but they already had such big ones.
Jun. 9th, 2006 10:11 pm (UTC)
i'm glad to know it's not just me who had that reaction.
Jun. 8th, 2006 09:29 pm (UTC)
Vagina fat? What the heck is that? Do they mean the fat pad on the mons veneris? That ain't the vagina!
Jun. 9th, 2006 12:56 am (UTC)
just curious
what's "healthist"?

Jun. 9th, 2006 05:52 am (UTC)
Re: just curious
I think of "healthist" as the notion that people who engage in certain behaviors deemed "healthy" by society or who happen to meet certain culturally determined measures of "health" are morally superior to people who don't, as well as better in other ways.
( 26 comments — Leave a comment )

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