Thursday, October 28, 2010

Wow, this Marie Claire thing...

Ok, so by now you've prolly heard about the Marie Claire thing. If you haven't, I'm sure you can Google "marie claire fatties" and learn more than you ever wanted to know. Other fatosphere bloggers have already posted tons about it, so I won't rehash. But that's the context if you need it for what comes next...

One cool thing that came out of the MC thing is that someone I've never connected with about Fat Acceptance/HAES posted about it on FB, with a link to a blog railing against the MC article. So I commented on the post:
I invite you to blame the horrible author instead of blaming yourself/your body. I am part of the Health at Every Size and Fat Acceptance movements and I would love for all my beautiful friends to love themselves just as they are. ...

If you ever are interested in books or blogs or other resources to learn more about these movements I would love to share them.
She posted back that she thanked me, that she had a long way to go on self-acceptance, and that while she hated what the original article writer had to say, said writer had a right to her opinion.  I replied:
She may be entitled to her opinion, but that doesn't make it ok. Just think if someone had written an article about how disgusting they find it when gay people, or Asian people, or disabled people kiss. We'd be absolutely morally outraged. Why is fat different? (I would argue it shouldn't be!)
And very soon after, I received this letter by FB Message (NOT on the comment string, but to me alone):

I just wanted to comment and didn't want to seem like I was starting a flame war or anything...

I would argue that being fat is different. I do not agree with Ms. Kelly's sentiment at all, please believe this. But I do, as an overweight person, feel that being fat is different from being different ethnically or sexually, I know, cause I'm Hispanic, too. All I need is to be gay and I would hit the social outcast trifecta!

I am not at all saying we actively make this choice (though, arguably, there are those who do). There are a myriad of issues at hand. Things that we, as individuals have to work through. Things we, as individuals, have to take accountability for. Is it easy? Not at all. That's why it's called work when we seek a healthier life style. But, in my opinion, to compare our fat-ness to say, our ethnic-ness is not a just comparison. At the end of the day, I can diet, but cannot change the color of my skin....

Please don't think me insensitive, because I know well the trials of being overweight in an overly skinny centric culture. What Ms. Kelly wrote was simply wrong, and completely unfair. And made worse by her admission of having been anorexic in her apology.

It is horrible and dichotomous, this society we live in....we make each other feel bad for how we look, yet try to convince ourselves it doesn't matter.

I think people in general are beautiful in and of themselves...regardless of what they look like.

I hope this made some sort of sense....

And again, I'm not looking for a fight, just offering perspective...

I hope you are having a great day.

I felt weird about getting this message privately/individually. It was from someone I've seen around, but don't know personally. If he feels strongly about this matter, he should post it in reply to mine so that I could then refute it openly. What's the point of sending just to me, unless he's either a) afraid to look mean/afraid more people will agree with me (gawd, I wish!) or b) ambiguous about his feelings on some level, and subconsciously hoping I'll say something that will allow him to accept his own fatness. Now, my knee-jerk reaction was to say, "yes you're insensitive. And weird and a jerk for sending this privately. Never contact me again." Seriously, I typed that. But then I deleted it, took a deep breath, and after some false starts, sent this:
I don't think you're particularly insensitive, however I do think you are (as most Americans are) uneducated on the failure rate of diets. You have bought into the prevailing misconception that we do, in fact, have control over the size of our bodies. And that biodiversity in body shape and size is "different" than other kinds of diversity. Not too long ago, homosexuality was considered completely controllable and an illness, and prior to that, doctors prescribed skin lighteners to enable African Americans to pass as white. These things were seen at the time as controllable, but more education has shown they are in fact genetic and part of human diversity.

I don't want a fight either but I do invite you to get educated on the Health at Every Size movement and the absolutely abysmal success percentages of each and every supposed "diet" or "lifestyle change" out there. Once we acknowledge that the promise of safe and effective long-term weight loss is a false promise and a myth, it is a much shorter step to accepting the diversity of bodies in human society and ending blame and shame. 
Now, if he writes back with more fat hate, he gets blocked. I don't have enough Sanity Points to deal with that any further. But maybe, just maybe, he'll do some reading.

And that, my friends, is my Activism Deed of the Day. I couldn't stand to stay hidden in the closet of FB Private Message Land. So I am sharing it with you.

EDIT: His response, received within minutes of my message, after the jump. I will _not_ be responding. I've spent enough spoons on him. On a positive note, I got a chuckle from the amusing image of people "loosing" weight. "I will loose my weight upon the world..." watch out - it's like a tiger "loosed" from the cage!

Oh, make no mistake, I haven't 'bought' into anything. I am aware, through study & personal experience, of the failure rate of diets. I am fully aware of biodiversity and its impact on the human animal. And I am also aware of genetic predisposition towards larger size. I am also aware of the fact that a great deal of people can be healthy at any size. I'm proof of it. My doctors have always stated that I am healthy, without the caveat "for a fat guy." My blood pressure is normal, I have normal cholesterol levels, good healthy heart rate, and normal blood sugars. Not one doctor I've been too has ever said I 'need' to loose weight.

But I am also keenly aware that despite all the factors above, it is possible to loose weight, and be healthier. It is as simple as change routine, eating less, but more often, etc. There is a way.

Personally, I'm just lazy! :D I have come to adore my sedentary lifestyle.

Furthermore, individuals are different. That's why I'm not a proponent of the whole everyone needs to be skinny thing, cause it's simply not a possibility.

People just need to be healthier, which I think it's safe to say, we agree on.


  1. If only this guy's "perspective" wasn't the same old trope marched out by the media at large. On the surface, I have to say I agree with him...that you CAN change your weight. Anyone can...FOR A TIME. So yea, starve yourself and exercise the hell out of that treadmill. In the end, your body's natural instincts and drives will take over. If you are meant to be naturally/genetically fat, your body will do everything it can to get there. It may take a few years to regain, but it happens to pretty much all of us who have dieted (and often BECAUSE we dieted).

    But to deny the stark reality that fat bashing is nothing like gay or racial slurs is like living with your head in the sand. It's true, NO ONE wants to play oppression olympics. But to say it's not the same thing because it's about fat is ludicrous. The hate speech is the same: "I don't like you because you look and act a certain way and thus I'm going to insult you, deny you employment and proper health care, and basically call you any name I can think of in the most hateful way possible (or even smugly disguised as concern for your health (TM))". That? Is hate speech my friend. Because we can't change our bodies instantly, nor can we change them permanently. What we CAN do is really none of anyone's business because you have no right to police my body.

  2. How it is the same as racism, sexism, homophobia etc...? It is full of assumptions and the out right view that fat is in the wrong period. How it is different....scroll down and check your ads...all of mine are diet and weight loss centric. Have you ever read a blog about racism or sexism or homophobia (maybe) where at the bottom or along the side were ads on how to stop being Black or Jewish or a Woman or Gay. TRUST ME when they say they are here to fix you, YOU are the perceived problem for what ever collection of excuses. God save me from ever being someone elses cause....

  3. LOL @the other guy's final response, when he said "I totally know what you are talking about" he actually meant "I am convinced I know what you are talking about even though I am completely clueless."