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[icon] Things that drive me crazy about fat activists - Patti
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Subject:Things that drive me crazy about fat activists
Time:12:04 am
Last year I posted a rant about size-acceptance activists. In doing so, I pissed of at least one friend. Still, I feel like I have to rant again because over the last few weeks I've run into several flavors of idiocy. Not all size acceptance activists display these particular behaviors, but I've seen all of these behaviors from some fat activists recently.

The one that drives me truly batshit is a negative reaction to anyone who says that they want to lose weight, takes steps to lose weight, or actually loses weight. I've seen this behavior in lots of fat activists, and it seems truly hypocritical to me. They have effectively inverted the dominant paradigm and shifted to size acceptance only for fat people. They don't see being less-fat as an acceptable choice, and they think that anyone who makes that choice is either a traitor to the cause or an idiot who doesn't know that fat is wonderful. These activists are fighting against society's one-true-wayisms with a different flavor of one-true-wayism.

A sub-behavior is questioning the motivations of anyone who chooses to lose weight. As I see it, there are plenty of valid reasons to want to lose weight, and any reason that someone chooses should be perfectly acceptable-- only that person gets to make decisions about their body. I've seen many fat activists assert, however, that the real reason is that they're caving to social pressure or they don't know better.

I'm also annoyed when people assert that weight is not a choice, and that there is nothing that one can do to change their weight. I count among my friends several examples of people who have made choices that either caused them to lose or gain a great deal of weight. Anyone who asserts that weight is completely predetermined, and that nobody can make choices about their weight, is an idiot.

I've covered this one before, but it still irks me when people assert that there are no possible negative health consequences of being overweight. This assertion clearly flies in the face of medical evidence, logic, and the laws of physics, and yet some people continue to repeat it. However, I've given up on caring about people who say, "Well I'm fat, and I don't have health problems because of it, so obviously being fat can't cause health problems." They're just people who are bad at both math and logic.

The one that I've encountered a few times recently is preaching fat acceptance in inappropriate venues. I saw two examples of this in the last week-- someone who wanted to use her (not-fat-activist-related) job as a platform for preaching fat activism to people she did business with. Another was someone who was bothered by a weight loss support group on a discussion forum, and wanted to drop in and share fat activist information. Both of these seemed completely out-of-line to me. I'd be irked if my UPS delivery guy used his position try to sway me about dieting, and it would be inappropriate for me to go to a synagogue to tell people that Jesus Christ is their personal savior. Activism has its place, and there are also places where it is wildly inappropriate.

There's a sub-behavior of this one too. "Well, obviously if they knew about size acceptance, they would let go of their ridiculous desire to lose weight. Clearly they've never heard the gospel, so I must share it with them." Umm, no. It's entirely possible that they've heard your arguments, read your literature, and don't agree with all of your conclusions.


OK, I've ranted. D, I hope I haven't pissed you off too much this time-- I tried to focus on specific behaviors, rather than screaming about the whole FA community.
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schmengie
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-10-21 11:02 am (UTC)
i have never met, seen or known a fat activist and have only read about them on your blog. Is this really a movement?
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dmorr
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-10-21 03:37 pm (UTC)
Hater.
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schmengie
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-10-21 03:43 pm (UTC)
maybe I am self loathing? and please refer to me in the formal Mr Hater aka Mr Racist
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jpmassar
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-10-21 04:25 pm (UTC)
Well, there's a movement to promote voluntary human extinction.

Your incredulity is amusingly naive.

(-:

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jpmassar
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-10-21 04:25 pm (UTC)
Well, there's a movement to promote voluntary human extinction.

Your incredulity is amusingly naive.

(-:



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jpmassar
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-10-21 04:26 pm (UTC)
Wrong REPLY link.
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timprov
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-10-21 04:29 pm (UTC)
If they weren't such damned pacifists, I might consider joining.
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schmengie
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-10-21 04:33 pm (UTC)
is that an Onion Site? if now..lol and wow
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schmengie
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-10-21 05:05 pm (UTC)
not sure what to say about that. I have been fat just about all my life. I cannot think of a single thing that is better because i am fat then it would be if I was less fat. I struggle all the time with an internal mental acceptance. Part of me just wants to stop worrying about it. Another part views that as failure and cannot accept it so easily. I guess I will just struggle on...
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whipartist
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-10-21 05:24 pm (UTC)
I see it as a mixed bag. There are some good messages in there and some bad messages.

"Love yourself no matter what size you are" is a perfectly fine attitude, I think-- self-loathing is never healthy. The Health at any Size message of getting reasonable exercise and eating sanely is certainly a very good one, and one that it's hard to disagree with. I'm also in favor of most of the anti-discrimination stuff from the movement. (Not all... I can explain why if anyone cares.) I think current medical guidelines and obsession with BMI are too extreme.

On the flip side, there are clearly limits. Someone who is, oh, 20-50 pounds overweight can probably be reasonably healthy. Someone who is 200 pounds overweight is probably not going to do nearly as well, and preaching a don't-worry-be-happy message to them seems a bit wrong-headed to me.

I've also seen people pound the Health at any Size drum and hide behind it, without actually following the principles of it.
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jpmassar
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-10-21 05:41 pm (UTC)
I cannot think of a single thing that is better because i am fat then it would be if I was less fat.

All else being equal, I'm guessing that people are less likely to sit in the middle seat on an airplane if you are occupying one of the adjacent seats.
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schmengie
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-10-21 05:51 pm (UTC)
very true....
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jpmassar
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-10-21 06:13 pm (UTC)
You may have a lower probability of drowning too. Physics would suggest it, but Google doesn't provide much material to support the hypothesis.
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schmengie
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-10-21 06:27 pm (UTC)
I consulted a higher authority on flotation then Google
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yp_l5ntikaU
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wild_irises
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-10-21 08:20 pm (UTC)
Well, there are certainly some very specific health benefits to being fat, although more for women than for men. If (knock wood) you should get cancer, you will do much much better on the chemotherapy regimen than a thin person will.
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evwhore
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-10-21 10:56 pm (UTC)
I cannot think of a single thing that is better because i am fat then it would be if I was less fat.

Alcohol tolerance? :-)
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schmengie
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-10-21 11:36 pm (UTC)
thats silly...you are just a pussy :-)
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(Deleted comment)

whipartist
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-10-21 05:25 pm (UTC)
I gotcher pie right here, bud.
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rightkindofme
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-10-21 10:02 pm (UTC)
Pie! I want pie! Mmmmm pie....
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(Deleted comment)

rightkindofme
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-10-21 11:07 pm (UTC)
Hmmmm... I finished the apple cake last night. I could do cookies. Or brownies, I make great brownies. Uhm... I could offer up some Haagen-Dazs vanilla for a la mode. (insert accents where appropriate) Or alcohol! I have some good alcohol. :) I doubt the homemade jam is as good of a trade. I also have really good homemade pasta sauce...
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(Deleted comment)

wild_irises
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-10-21 08:22 pm (UTC)
There's a difference between disagreeing with me and pissing me off. You didn't piss me off.

Here's (some of) what I think.

I think worthyadvisor is right that this kind of behavior shows up in all kinds of activism, and that it can be problematic. There are also damned good reasons why it shows up in activists.

More to the point, I've heard you talk about the ways you are a queer activist in the workplace. I'm curious about what's different between using one's workplace for queer activism and for fat activism.

Finally (and I recognize you are trying to do this), I think it's a mistake to tar an activist movement with the brush of its worst behaviors. It's not like the people who are telling you all the time that you have to be thin are behaving well.

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whipartist
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-10-21 08:30 pm (UTC)
There's a difference between a coworker relationship and a customer relationship. I think it's reasonable to defend the workplace against hostile-environment type behavior. I don't think it's reasonable to push my agenda on a customer who is essentially being forced to do business with me.

The person I was specifically speaking of was a newspaper photographer being sent out to take pictures of people for the paper.
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wild_irises
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-10-21 08:37 pm (UTC)
I probably agree with you on that at least 90% of the time.
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whipartist
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-10-21 09:21 pm (UTC)
And mostly, I just like pointing out hypocrisy. The idea of advocating for support of people of all sizes while at the same time condemning people who choose to be smaller pushes those buttons really hard for me.
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wild_irises
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-10-22 05:38 am (UTC)
I get that part too. The part I don't get (and I feel like I keep asking and you don't answer) is why focus on fat activists. The world is full of queer activists who think they should have rights that straight people shouldn't have, feminists who want men to have less rights, labor union organizers who want to take freedom away from managers, etc., etc., etc., ad nauseam. Why is this the one that gets up your nose? (It's a serious question.)
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whipartist
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-10-22 05:45 am (UTC)
I generally go off on rants like that because some particular bit of idiocy has passed through my consciousness recently. More commonly, it's multiple similar bits within a short period of time.

It's no surprise that the fatshionista community on LJ regularly contains things that irk me. I just don't seem to stumble across other flavors of it as often.
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whitebird
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-10-22 04:03 am (UTC)
Yeah, the ultimate hypocrisy of a lot of adherents to movements is what usually gets me.

Fat acceptance folks.
Kinky folks.
Republican folks.
Democratic folks.

They're all flying blind and most do not really enact what they espouse.
(I am in no way excluding me or my particular blind spots.)
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[icon] Things that drive me crazy about fat activists - Patti
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