Saturday, August 1, 2009

Response to Comment

From Carmen's comment on yesterday's post:

Dear Unapologetically Fat:

I like you and have been watching your blog for a while. I consider it insightful and intelligent. I enjoy reading your personal perspectives, but think you are a little duplicitous. Certainly, you have the right to be militant about embracing your size and empowering others to embrace theirs, but in your zeal (defensiveness?) you seemingly ostracize all others. In my observation, you hold the position that if a person is not fat or secure in their fat, then they need to shut the hell up.

I think that is definitely a prejudice of a different nature. Why is it okay to be accepting of only yourself and others who tilt the scales and not those who think it's responsible to salvage their health by reducing? Not all heavy people are healthy, by the way. Does that mean that everyone who does not align their perspectives with your fat acceptance is evil? Just askin'.

PS: I fully expect you to either 1) delete this comment or 2) throw rotten verbal eggs at it.

I had too much to say to restrict it to a responding comment, so I decided to take the opportunity of having nothing else to write about today.

What I'm reading here is a classic response to any civil rights stand, in short: By asserting your right to be a human being, aren't you trying to limit my rights in the process?

It's very common when questioning the status quo of any form of prejudice to be accused of "reverse prejudice" in the process. It's why feminists are stereotyped as hating men, or civil rights leaders are accused of such nonsense as "reverse racism" or playing "race cards". (note, once again, I'm NOT playing the "my oppression is worse than your's!" game.) I've frequently seen accusations thrown at the FA community that we are somehow resentful towards thin people, or think they don't have a voice in body acceptance. The fact is that my asserting that I am a human being is a reflection of EVERYONE being a human being. I don't have to resent you in order to respect myself. That would actually be pretty counter-productive.

There's a reason why I generally don't specifically address body acceptance in terms thin people; it's because I have no experience whatsoever AS a thin person. This blog is all about my personal experience and perspective, and to try and fake the perspective of a thin person WOULD be duplicitous. I'm sorry if you personally feel left out, but (and this is important):

There is a big difference between expressing my personal voice and experience, and oppressing the voice and experience of others.

I cannot be all inclusive on this blog. I'm not a man, for instance. I regret that there aren't more men offering up their voices in FA, but there's nothing I can do about it. I'm currently abled and Cis-gendered, which means I can't speak from those experiences either, despite also hoping that those who can speak up.

Another point is that a lot of what I say DOES apply to anyone, regardless of weight. Body-image oppression against fat people IS body image oppression against thin people, young people, old people, male people, female people, etc. The hatred directed against fat affects or has potential to affect the confidence, health and body image of everyone exposed to it in any way. The very nature of Fat Acceptance is all inclusive.

I believe that everyone should be secure in their body...period. That means being secure and accepting of your weight no matter what that weight is. If your body is not inclined towards being fat, no amount of body confidence in the world will make you fat. If your body is not inclined towards being thin, no amount of body confidence (or, to that matter, dieting, surgery or willpower) will make you permanently thin.

The only people who I think need to shut the fuck up on this issue are people who want to force their ideas of healthy, fit, thin, pretty, etc. onto ME. The ones who think their opinion should have anything to do with how my body looks. That's the line between respecting your right to your opinion and adopting that opinion for my own.

Now while the first paragraph of your comment invites reasonable debate, the second is pretty trollish. I'm not going to spend nearly the time on it. Deliberately reducing your weight is NOT being responsible for your health; in fact more and more studies are showing that it is outright harmful to your health. Read the 101 section for more info, as I've gone over this many times. There are healthy and unhealthy fat people, healthy and unhealthy thin people. trying to become artificially thin is not "salvaging" anything, nor inversely is accepting your body somehow giving up on your health. Fat and Thin are not indicators of health, and only the pharmaceutical companies and Jenny Craig would have you think otherwise. This blog is about body acceptance. You cannot accept and respect your current body while seeking to change it. They are mutually exclusive states of mind. I blog about body acceptance because that is the path I'm on.

Having said that, if you feel like your body is unacceptable and you need to change it, that's your decision. Your body is none of my business. But the reverse of that is true as well. My body is none of your's. Or the CDC's. Or the Washington Post's. Or the random asshat driving by in a rusted pickup truck. The moment we go from copacetic and someone's opinion is their own is when they try to enforce THEIR opinion on MY body. Their right to an opinion ends where my body begins.

As far as thinking everyone whose opinion is different than mine is evil, that's a helluva stretch. I have strong opinions. I have a blog to express those opinions. You aren't forced to read them :-)


Anonymous said...

very well answered indeed!
you get your ponits over really well.

Carmen said...

Fair response. And in reality, I WAS asking. Call me trollish if you want, but it wasn't my intention. And I have no desire to try to match wits with you... I'd lose and I know it.

I just thought I would engage you on the subject of fat vs non-fat acceptance because I think you have a lot to offer everyone. And though I do applaud the fact that your blog is a "safe haven," I wish I didn't get the feeling it was so exclusive.

And just to be crystal clear... I realize not all thin people are healthy nor all fat people, unhealthy. But there are real risks that can be associated with excess weight (and smoking, and drinking, and banging your head against a brick wall, etc,.) and those who choose to reduce should not be held in any kind of contempt for it.


Anonymous said...

Just speaking for myself, having my body type equated with a list of unhealthy behaviors is pretty offensive. My body is not a behavior. Fat people have a variety of different lifestyles. Some are health nuts and have textbook healthy habits. I've been there myself. I control my habits (to a large extent), but I can't control how my body reacts to them. Since men have shorter life expectancies and more health problems than women, why not equate being male with "smoking, and drinking, and banging your head against a brick wall," too? Maybe all the men should get sex change operations to lower their risks?

Anonymous said...

Carmen, those who "choose to reduce" in light of plentiful research that shows that it WILL. NOT. WORK. are in fact choosing to beat their heads against a brick wall. I may not hold them in "contempt" but I certainly can't respect that choice.

Not all choices are equivalent.

Anonymous said...

Carmen, the last line of your comment, expressing that you expect a rude or angry response (or to be ignored or censored), is pretty trollish behavior--or at least passive aggressive. People who are sincerely "just asking" don't set up the respondent like that.

Carmen said...

C'mon ya'll. I am not attacking anyone. I am not the enemy. I have been thin and I have been fat. I know what it is like to live both ways. I understand the challenges and the prejudices and the triumphs.

I also am trying desperately to choose non-offensive words, but I realize that is impossible since I seem to be pegged as an enemy because I straddle some sort of "invisible line."

I will happily move along now. There is no room for me on this blog, and that has been made abundantly clear. Too bad really. I thought I would be welcome and enjoy the community.

It's such a shame that personal body size creates such divided sides and contentions. I came in friendship but realize there is no room for me here.

Live well and enjoy.

See ya.

Sarah said...

It should also be noted that weight loss is "risky" too, and can lead to many more health problems than being fat. Calorie reduction was used as a torture method by the CIA for a reason.

shyvixen said...

There are real risks to being a human being living on Planet Earth. No one escapes dying even those living a "healthy lifestyle".

I don't hold those who choose to reduce in contempt. What they choose to do with their bodies is their business. I also don't think I should be held in contempt for choosing NOT to reduce. But I'm not afforded that privledge in this society.

sadchubbie said...

Way to go, coming on a fat acceptance blog and getting huffy because people don't love your decision to diet.

Saying that there are health risks associated with being fat is implying that all of us who are happy and healthy and fat are risking our health, which is about as bad as us saying that you're risking your health by dieting. Except that we have the science on our side (the unbiased science, the stuff not funded by people whose livelihood comes from trying to make people skinnier).

Meowser said...

Why is it okay to be accepting of only yourself and others who tilt the scales and not those who think it's responsible to salvage their health by reducing?

The bolded language constitutes hate speech. Nobody is under any obligation to allow that on their blogs. I sure don't.

And frankly, I don't give a flying rip if someone reading my blog wants to diet. If -- after everything we've told you about how losing 50 or 75 or 100 or 200 pounds safely and permanently happens rarely enough that the few people who manage it should be considered outliers rather than role models -- you still think you can beat the odds and you have your heart set on trying (again?), what am I going to do, find you and tie you down and force-feed you? How am I going to know, if I've never seen you in my life and you don't TELL me you're dieting? No diet talk =/= we want to ratchet up your intake against your will.


miffy said...

My story.

I enjoy reading and participating in fat acceptance blogs. I enjoy it because I like the positive view on fat, weight, and accepting oneself as is.

I was diagnosed 5 years ago with binge eating disorder. My treatment was practicing HAES and intuitive treatment as well as counseling and social therapy. I was able to escape the crippling mental black hole and severe depression that was leading me towards ending my own life.

I also went from 270 pounds to around 148 pounds. I didn't "diet" to "lose weight". I escaped the mental illness that was crushing my mind and soul. I know in the fatosphere book it has 2 sentences on BED. It is real and it exists for some people. I often feel outcasted and rarely comment because I feel afraid of being attacked because I did, in the end, lose weight and kept it off even though that was never my goal. My goal was to escape the all encompassing mental nightmare crushing me like a semi-truck.

One thing keeping me from relapsing is the knowledge that if I gain all my weight back that's okay. I can still be healthy physically and emotionally at any size. This thought helps keep my relationship with food healthy which keeps my weight stable.

Carmen: If you feel "unhealthy" then focus on being healthy, not the number and size of your fat cells. Find activity you enjoy. Be socially healthy by interacting in-person with supportive friends and family. Try new veggies. But focusing on fat and weight as a benchmark for your health isn't likely to get you where you want to be health wise.

(sorry for the books....please don't flame me)

wriggles said...

Although Carmen's gone, I think it's fair to say that s/he, doesn't begin to realise how deep their fat hatred goes.

If you believe that the fat cell is intrinsically evil, that limits your capacity for understanding FA. You just won't be able to, even if you think you do.

You don't and only you can change that.

wriggles said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Caitlin said...

Carmen is a concern troll, plain and simple. S/he wants us to justify our existence to her. Fuck that noise.

One thing keeping me from relapsing is the knowledge that if I gain all my weight back that's okay. I can still be healthy physically and emotionally at any size. This thought helps keep my relationship with food healthy which keeps my weight stable.

Miffy, I'm so glad you found this here.

Alix said...

Wow. Fireworks.

Several months ago I followed a link to this blog from another blog and was instantly smitten because I think JoGeek has a very keen insight, sensitivity and is phenomenally articulate. I also "get" what she's doing with this blog and have come to respect her platform and parameters. I had a comment deleted early on because I didn't follow her rules, but I wasn't offended. Her message is clear and although I don't agree with everything she says verbatim (for example, I don't believe that everybody who diets is "changing their body to please others"), I DO applaud her efforts to provide a place of total acceptance for the fat community. I wish society didn't make it necessary, but unfortunately, this isn't a perfect world yet.

I have to admit that when I first started reading Unapologetically Fat the notion of reverse discrimination also crossed my mind, but it didn't turn me off. Just the opposite... It is JoGeek's perspective that I find so interesting and if there are hints of built-in defense mechanisms, they are not arbitrary ones.

I read Carmen's comments objectively a couple of times and didn't see anything vicious, malicious, or hate inspired in them. To me it was just the opening of a dialog. She challenged JoGeek, but I don't think she committed a sin or deliberately slung mud at anyone. There is no arguing that the very topic of fat acceptance is a highly charged and emotional one and does require a bit of finesse to present opposing view points. In my opinion, that's all Carmen was attempting to do. Regardless of whether she passed or failed I did not interpret her comments as an attack.

Finally, I just want to say that to love yourself is a gift. Big, small, blue, green... everyone has beauty and worth. Size is immaterial. Being healthy and happy is the only thing that matters.