Life, 100 Calories at a Time.

Those 100 Calorie packs seem to be breeding at a fast pace. They have them out for everything, it seems. I saw one for candy bars, today. Diet-size candy bars? Stop the insanity, already.

The pre-portioned diet fad is obviously all the rage right now. The idea, of course, being that since fat people keep being fat that we must be too stupid to diet and need to pay Kraft Foods to diet for them. The mark-up is often over 100%, too. Dieters are eager, of course. After all, they ARE still fat so they obviously think they need help. Its never questioned whether the trying is really necessary or useful in the first place.

They've struck on this 100 calorie mark. Because it's scientifically justified? Nah, probably because it looks good with product branding. Nice round number, you know. So they've encouraged a massive fad of people living 100 calories at a time. There is something dispiriting about that. The thought of these modern day Prufrocks measuring their lives in pre-portioned snack packages seems sad to me. Making life and joy into a packaged experience to the whims of a big corporation. Count me as quite happy my life is more than 100 calories at a time, and I hope it is for you, as well.


Mikey still doesn't like it

I don't think a lot of the new gen fat bloggers have been aware of Mikey Fumento, yet. His a long-time fat-acceptance attacker. He's also a brazen self-promoter who will not allow himself to be mentioned anywhere online with popping in to berate and mock his critic. Trust me, he'll post here as soon as it shows up on Google.

Fat hate is actually a hobby of his as he's usually a right-wing pseudo-scientist who denies global warming, denies the AIDs epidemic, denies Iraq... well, you get the picture. Still, he's come back to it with regularity for about a decade now and he's back at it in the American Spectator where he accuses "fatophiles" (he means fat acceptance advocates) of preying on fat people. Its part of his long-term "Believe more or die" approach to promoting his band of fat hate. He's fallen back on this not at all vailed threat with Marilyn Wann, Paul Campos, Sandy Szwarc, you name it. In this article, though, he renews his efforts to fued with Campos and Szwarc as he accuses them of catering to "delusional" fat people. Evidently, we're a "lucrative" market which I'm sure is news to Campos and Szwarc.

He's especially belittling of Szwarc, but that's nothing new. He calls her a "nurse and cookbook author" which ignores her extensive journalism and nutritionist background, of course. It also doesn't address Mikey's own background as a photographer and lawyer. I mean, Sandy actually has a background in medicine. His long-standing obsession with labeling her as a recipe writer is dripping with sexism.

I'd like to refute Mikey's article, but in truth there is nothing to refute. He keeps asserting his rightness but never really backs it up. Campos calls the supposed benefit of weight loss surgery "very, very modest" and Fumento response is about as meaningful as "Na-uh". He states the statistics, but doesn't address the context that Campos was referring to when he conclude the benefit to be quite small. Sandy makes a point and al he does is laugh at it without offering any contradiction.

Overall, he's just proudly declaring the results of the WLS studies I mentioned here a few days ago and asserting that these two studies showing small differences are "overwhelming" proof of Mikey's eternal rightness. He barely even mentions any statistics and when he does he withholds any meaningful context. It was a response I noticed from others, but has yet to be as childishly advanced as with Mikey's efforts. A lot of anti-fat "experts" were crowing about how at long-last there was overwhelming proof that weight loss improves health. Which first gives away that there was never *any* proof before (trust me, not for lack of trying), and secondly overstates their point by declaring the debate over with two studies showing small differences at most. (And maybe not even that depending on what they corrected for; do not that Mikey himself mentions the anti-fat obsession with "correcting" for any evidence that doesn't support their view like the Flegal study). It reminds me of the kid who tries to declare a game over the moment he's winning. Except here they aren't even winning. They, at best, have proof of a very, very modest benefit which entirely doesn't square with the claims the anti-fat crowd have long made.

I'm sure others will have more patience than I in dealing with Fumento's latest barage and giving it the thrashing it deserves and inspiring a full-fledged Fumento hissy-fit. Prepare to be told that you'll die if you don't believe him, that you're a fool for disagreeing with such a big important person, and to be shamed for denying the enduring brilliance that evidently is Mikey Fumento.


The fat that is not your fault

That was the headline of some pre-paid advertising/pretend article in the "health suppliment" of the Boston Metro this morning. "The fat that is not your fault". Is that loaded or what? Its designed to preserve the feeling of superiority over fat people while still tapping into feelings of shame about body imperfections among thin people. Evidently, the "fat" that you're absolved of responsibility for is cellulite. So don't feel bad! Well, feel a little bad, anyway, because they've got something to sell you.

This actually reminded me of the long history in the diet industry of co-opting fat acceptance. Whenever I get discouraged about the progress (or lack thereof) of fat acceptance, I just need to look at how aggressively the diet industry was tried to subver it. If they think we're this much of a threat, we must be doing something right, you know? Still, its frustrating to see the language and vocabulary of fat activists constantly redefined by those opposed to fat acceptance to suit their contrary needs.

Frankly, its made a lot of long-time activists very skeptical. Talking the talk isn't enough, because our harshest detractors keep stealing our copy points. Its profoundly frustrating to see all of the messages of fat acceptances perverted with the addition of "but not our diet" at the end of all of our messages.

"Diets don't work! That's why we're not a diet, but a whole new way of eating."

"Weight and food obsessions overwhelm your identity, but not with our handy diet aid."

"Fat is genetic. Your only option is to amputate your digestive organs."

"The thin ideal is unattainable for nearly everyone. Our weight loss plan encourages you to find attainable ideals to redefine what kind of a failure you are."

"Being fat isn't your fault. Its still horrible and unacceptable, though."

This places constant challenges on communicating about fat acceptance. That challenges for which there are no easy answers. The radical power of fat acceptance has become diluted by our language being misused like this, which in turn makes what statements remain undamaged all the more extremist to a casual observer even if the aren't remotely extreme. Our message is really quite sedate, but its been radicalized by is opposition. Mainstream fat acceptance is treated like extremism. Its something activists either embrace or resent, and I admit I'm in the resentful camp primarily because this redefinition has allowed a lot of diet promoters to now also subvert the term "size acceptance" and they try to position diet promotion as the moderate face of the movement. Its the ultimate subversion of the diet industry. While it may prove we are doing something right, I'm still not saying I'm happy with it.

We need to take back the language of fat acceptance. The fat that's not your fault? That's all your fat. And its okay, too. Diets don't work, even if you call them something else. Allowing big food companies to charge you to pre-package food into diet friendly portions isn't giving up food obsessions. Giving up food obsessions is giving up food obsessions. If you accept your body, you'll have already attained an ideal. Surgery, pills, dieting are not the only options for dealing with a genetic tendency towards fatness. Acceptance is always an option, always attainable


Big Fat Toy Chest

The Rotund recently meditated on the lack of fat dolls in the Asian BJD (Ball jointed doll) community. Ball joints actually have a different meaning for me, as I happen to collect action figures myself. Although its probably not that much different. Looking at the construction of these dolls, I'd probably have more readily identified them as a style of action figure. I'm not surprised that there are no fat ones available, but just as disappointed as TR. As fat people are underrepresented in popular culture, its no shock that fat characters are underrepresented in the toy market which draws so much from popular culture. Even a boutique line of toys like those TR describes would still be a symptom of the wider issues in our society.

All the same, I actually do have a number of fat action figures. Most notably, a wide variety of wrestling figures of various shapes and sizes. These WWE action figures are what is known as "mass market" toys. Mass market toys frequently reuse parts between characters and generally have less detailing than specialty market toys or the high-end dolls mentioned at "The Rotund". With the wrestlers, two different characters can have the same exact body, for instance, with only a different head and paint decoration. Initially, they only drew upon a small handful of parts which predictably showcased an unrealistic male physique. Unrealistic, even, for some of the wrestlers they figures represented. But the same torsos were used again and again.

An interesting thing, though, sprung up with toy collectors. They clamored actively for more realistic bodies. These toys were representational, after all. There were real people behind the toys and collectors wanted them to more closely match. So the company started introducing torsos beyond "muscular" and "more muscular". First a barrel-chested torso (though which still featured overly defined muscles), but followed there by a quite fat torso originally designed for the 600 lb. wrestler "Yokozuna".

They seemed content, though, to use a torso designed for a 600 lb. man for anyone 300lbs an up thereafter, but again collectors demanded more. They didn't just want a catch-all "fat" torso. They wanted the parts to represent a wide variety of physiques. They wanted a smaller "fat" sculpt used for big but not superfat wrestlers. They wanted a shirt and tie for larger wrestlers. They even wanted torsos of a more average size without the exaggerated definition that marked so many of the wrestling figures. The company responding with all of this and its been very warmly received by the collecting community.

I don't kid myself into thinking these collectors were pro-fat in any meaningful way. Yet, they wanted the toys to accurately represented the people portrayed. An idealized image wasn't desired. Rather, the collectors kept asking for accuracy and honesty. I found that interesting in its own right, that so many people wanted these toys to be fat if that's what the person was. They wanted reality, not fantasy. Though hardly a victory for fat acceptance, I still think incidents like that tell us a lot about how big businesses underestimate pop culture consumers by thinking we want an idealized reality and not simply reality.


More fun with trolls

Something that amuses me about my own personal troll is their willingness to adopt completely different and contradictory tactics to berate me. For a while they claimed to be a feminist, for instance, but at other times were aggressively mysgonistic.

This was on display in the last couple of days when they made one post condemning me for not doing enough for fat acceptance. Then they turned around yesterday and mocked me for being fat and ugly. I can't say this enough, people. Don't let trolls get to you. They will say whatever they feel is necessary to hurt you. They'll test drive lots of different attacks to see which one works. See through it and understand that they are just sad, spiteful people whose lives are obviously very unfulfilling and probably quite pathetic. They earn our pity, not our


More to Love: Fat Semantics

On MySpace I'm "More to Love". Chemistry.com and Match.com men offer "stocky," "heavyset," "curvy," or "big and beautiful". eHarmony only permits "overweight". Everyone seems to have their own strategy for how to talk around the fat people in the room. "Big," "Heavy," "Thick" and others are trotted out to soften the "blow" of our bodies. Overweight or Obese are suggested as polite ways to refer to us. Simply calling us fat is entirely out of the question. Fat is a bad thing, you see, so it wouldn't be nice to call us that. So they come up with other words to use to call us fat while emphasizing how awful our physical state is. The body shape which dare not speak its name, if you will.

First you've got the genuine euphemisms. I don't mind a lot of this, though I get mileage may vary. The big issue is when they are used as substitutes because fat shouldn't be used. I don't mind rubenesque of zaftig on their own, but used in avoidance of "fat" troubles me. Even when used positively, if used a substitution it works to reaffirm the unacceptability of fatness.

See, I don't have a problem with fat. Not merely as a concept, but the word itself, too. At its heart, fat is really just an adjective. A description. Its neutral on its own. Negative connotations are introduced to the word rather than being inherent in it. Fat is just fat and its a word we have to reclaim. As long as "fat" is unspeakable, then fat people will be dehumanized and stigmatized. We need to make the word neutral again. We need to win it back from those who'd rather use the word as a club to beat us with than a word to describe us.

Worst of all, though, are the "polite" alternatives. These words are imagined to be non-judgmental but are anything but. Learning not to use these words should be Fat Acceptance 101. I'm talking, of course, about "overweight" and "obese".

Overweight is a no-brainer, really, except that the word has been so sanitized by its cultural dominance that the inherent hostility in the word has become background noise in our cultural fat hatred. Its there, but its become hard to notice. But like the magic clue revealed by red cellophane, there is an easy way to expose the word for what it is.

Over whose weight? I'm not over my own weight, after all. So what weight am I over? A standard I'm expected to live up to? A standard which I'm not defined by my failure to attain? "Overweight" defines us not by what we are, but by what we have failed to be. This simply cannot be tolerated in pursuit of fat acceptance and asking that question, "Over whose weight?" is important in driving the word out of our cultural vocabulary.

Obese is trickier because it has an air of authority behind it. Why its Latin. How can we argue with Latin? Obese is what we "officially" are. I'll get to the etymology of the word in a second, but don't think for a second that being the "scientific" word for our bodies is any reason we should accept the word. Obese medicalizes our bodies. It defines us as diseased. It has a powerfully dehumanizing effect. Consider Little People, for instance. As a community, they have rejected medicalized words to describe them. Even if it is the technical term, dwarfism won't get a warm reception. "Little People" on the other hand , emphasizes their humanity, their sameness with others. It doesn't compartmentalize their lives the way defining them by a medical condition. While "dwarf" may not be taken as much as an insult as, say, "midget", many little people see the benefit in looking past technical language to define them.

(For anyone who doesn't know, while the etymology of "dwarf" goes back to around the year 700, "midget" didn't originate until late in the 19th century and was coined to describe "publicly exhibited" little people. Essentially, its association is with freak shows. While I'm all about reclaiming fat, the phrase "fat lady" would garner a similar response given its close cultural association with circus side shows. "Midget" is also derived from "midge" which is a small fly which really reinforces the hostility of the word.)

A similar dynamic is found in the gay community where the technical term "homosexual" is often seen being used as a means of medicalizing their lifestyle with the technical, Latin word being used instead of the popular words "gay" or "lesbian". Again, we see a concern over the dehumanizing use of language. Like fat, "gay" is often used as an insult but that doesn't mean the word should be abandoned. Also, while "homosexual" may seem descriptive, albeit in Latin, its origin was an effort to define what was seen as a mental disorder. Just another reason to avoid medical or technical language when referring to people.

That does bring us to the issue of whether "obese" is even neutral or descriptive at its origin. While this is essentially true of "dwarf" or "homosexual", its not the case with "obese". The Latin root is the word for the past participle of "To Eat" and the prefix "ob" would mean "on account of". Obese defines someone as a glutton, essentially, and that is a negative connotation if ever there was one. Obese isn't simply a word made hostile by doctors attaching modifiers such as "morbid" or "malignant" to "obesity". The word is very much judgmental to its core and we need to look past it to define ourselves.

I like fat. While twisted by cultural use, its etymology is comparatively pure next to the alternatives. It comes from the old English word for "to cram" which isn't great, but that word also meant "to adorn". Yeah, its a rationalization, but one not available with "overweight" or "obese". My body is simply adorned, and that I'll take.


Numbers Game

MSNBC is reporting on a pair of studies proclaiming the safety of weight loss surgery. It doesn't take long to see through the games being played with the studies, though.

First up, these "long-term" studies only extended for 7 to 10 years. If similiar procedures down without the intention of weight loss hadn't been shown to severely reduce life expectancy, this might be significant. Alternately, if we assume fat people only have a decade to live, this would be significant. If the study didn't also show that 94% of the fat people were likely to make it through that decade.

Which brings us to the second issue. About 94% of fatties didn't die. 95% of surgery patients didn't die. Wow. What a difference. I did round up from 93.67% for the fat people, though, so I maybe I minimized the difference. So, for every 100 people, the difference was slightly more than 1 person.

If they were honest, of course. See, the article doesn't mention whether or not the study controlled for inconvenient data. Like, deaths FROM the surgery. Its the kind of thing that could very easily have been quietly "controlled for" and thus the physical risks of the surgery may be completely disregarded. "If you only count the people who lived, the results are quite good," style reasoning.

The study also only mentions percentages in terms of relative risk. Meaning, the risk for surgery relative to the risk without surgery which they pronounce as decreased by 30-40%. They don't mention that the risk without the surgery wasn't high to begin with. Otherwise, it relies on "this many people died!" reporting which is basically meaningless in context. It mentioned a second study, for instance, only with the raw data. No doubt because it would show that in this study a 96% of fat people didn't die. Again, the difference was about 1%, with a little more than 97% of surgery patients living. If they didn't control, of course. They then quickly slid into pronouncing relative risks for specific diseases without any context to understand what the risks really were. When it's time to note that surgery patients had increased risks of death from accident, suicides (!), and other causes no relative risk is mention. Though they do note how this "puzzled" the scientists.

Which brings us to yet another problem with all this. See, data that didn't serve the preordained purpose was "puzzling". No conclusions or pronouncements that WLS drives people to kill themselves. No, it just puzzles. But if the same kind of data falls in favor of WLS, then it means something. No puzzlement at all, why such conclusive data should justify MORE weight loss surgery. Its this kind of selective interpretation that plagues fat science and is why fat activists are right to be very skeptical whenever the news wire mentions some horrible new thing blamed on fatness. There really is no reason to think we're getting the whole story. These studies report the numbers they want and the conclusions they were looking for. If it doesn't fit, it gets controlled for or it dismissed as puzzling. To steal from a fellow fat blog, one is reminded of the saying attributed to Des


Beware the robots!

So, the usually brilliant folks at MIT's Personal Robot Groups have come up with a brilliant way to get funding... er, I mean "help the world". See, of all the ways they could have studied robot/human interaction, they came up with creating a robotic weight loss coach.

Again, robotic weight loss coach.

Really, MIT? This is how you want to help the world? By seeing if having a robot to shame people about their eating will make them lose weight. This is the sort of "real world problem" that we need robots for. One gathers that the hope is that people will be more likely to adhere to a robot's wishes than a computer program telling them how to lose weight. After all, the robot can SEE YOU. Beware its fat-hating stare!

Honestly, its not like any of this even surprises me anymore, but its sad all the same. Fat hating robots is probably the natural progression of the dehumanizing way fat people are treated. The official project name actually uses the term "weight maintenance" which sort of makes fat people sound like machinery themselves. You get maintenance for your car or consumer electronics and apparently also a fat body.

Maybe we can thus find common cause with the the robots and lead a fatty/cybertronic rebellion. Well, we can hope, anyway. Until then, the robot is watching you and it doesn't like your body.


Fat Puppets and Surgical Photo-ops

Perhaps you've seen the heart-breaking and disgusting story about a 13-year old girl, Brooke Bates in Texas who has gotten Weight Loss Surgery after 10 years of diets AND liposuction and a tummy tuck. It's all over the news right now.

Was in November, too.

See, it wasn't a story about Lap-Band back then. It was a story about the success of the lipo which ended up being so unsuccessful that she was carted off the Mexico for lap-band.

Complete with an extended photo essay, even.

Its bad enough that this young girl was used as media puppet once, but now again? In the first story, the parents insist that they were initially uncomfortable, but realized if they didn't get their not even that fat daughter lipo she'd end up weighing 400 LBS! Oh, and they also ruled out WLS. See, they know someone who died from it and simply couldn't risk their daughter's life. They had a hard time finding a surgeon, too. But finally they found someone willing to do it after he found out that her dad had terminal cancer. "I want my dad to see me looking slim and pretty in a dress before he dies," she told the surgeon.

But, obviously, it didn't work and she was back up to still not really that fat again. So suddenly her parent's caution about WLS having seen a friend died didn't matter any more. See, their Brooke is a compulsive eater, though she wasn't in November the last time they heralded her success. But she is now.

Her CNN caption says so.

I'm sure her surgeons wanted to make sure that this was stressed, so her mom was eager to declare her sudden onset of a lifetime of compulsive eating. She also moaned about the "red-tape" she had to go through. It just costs so much to get her psychological testing and coming up with flimsy medical justification for a procedure she doesn't even meet the flimsy medical justification for. Why, they already put down $25,000 for her first media tour/surgery.

The young girl, of course, is positioned as the instigator of all this. And she could well be. Being a fat kid can really suck. You get teased a lot and you want anything to be normal. I've no doubt that she honestly wanted all of this and honestly doesn't care about the risks involved with these repeat surgeries. She probably doesn't care if she dies. She just wants to be thin. There are plenty of adults who feel the same way.

Brooke isn't an adult, though. She's a 13-year old girl. She has parents who are supposed to care if she dies. Who are supposed to protect her and support her. Not support her in whatever she wants, but by doing what's in her best interest. Instead, they march her through repeated surgeries and show her off for the cameras the whole way. It just makes me sick and angry.

Being fat isn't easy and Brooke was probably never going to get support for just being who she is, but she didn't have to have this done to her. She's just a child. The people responsible for her well-being have done an awful job. I sympathize with parents who think their children need to lose weight, but there is a point when they need to be held responsible, too. I think that point clearly comes after multiple surgeries all filmed for the benefit of the news media. They've turned their daughter into a prop for surgeons. It just horrific.


Brainstorming Resolutions

In the comments in my previous response to Kell's call for fat activism brainstorming there was the off-handed suggestion about moving International No Diet Day to January 1 to coincide with weight loss resolution season. Its really not a bad idea, but there is so little history in Fat Acceptance and I just don't think I'd want to give up 15 years of continuity with INDD. Also, while I'm sympathetic to the "INDD belongs to everyone" idea, I think there is a gap between that and fiddling with it. I don't know why May 6 was specifically chosen, but it was specifically chosen.

That doesn't mean that having a January push for fat acceptance wouldn't be a good thing. Every January we have to endure an orgy of fat hatred and I'd rather meet that head-on than with hibernation. So, I started thinking about what we could do, and here is my idea.


A four-week event in January based around weekly themes that can be be used to focus the discussion both online and in real-world activity. Online is my forte, so that's what I'll focus on, but do not think that is meant to the exclusion of other activities. Together, the weeks would chart the course of Fat Acceptance, from resistance to education to acceptance to advocacy.

Stop Hating Your Body, Stop Dieting

Learn that you can be fat and fit, Learn that you can be happy in your body

Love your body

Act to demand respect, Act to teach others about size acceptance

Admittedly this is still a rough outline, but my train ride home was only so long. My idea is that any blogs that wanted to participate could offer their own perspectives, meditations, articles, etc on each of the "Resolve" steps with personal experience and advice. Each step is broad, but at the same time focused enough to encourage directed writing within the framework. I think this could encourage a lot of interesting commentaries with a lot of people offering their own insights on the journey of fat acceptance.

"Resolve to stop" could mirror INDD's basic purpose with education about the ways the diet industry has failed fat people. "Resolve to learn" would shift things to a more positive direction, sharing stories and encouragement from our own experience. "Resolve to love" is thus finally the first call to action within oneself. It takes the learning of the first two weeks and asks that it be directed inward. "Resolve to act" is about taking what we've learned and applied in our lives and advocating for it, recognizing that fat acceptance cannot stop with ourselves.

Now, obviously, I'm not expecting anyone to take the full "journey" in a week. The idea of breaking it up is more to expose people the totality of fat acceptance while also giving room and time to people on every step of their our journey to self-acceptance. Its not about doing it all in a month. Its about using the time to recognize everyone's place towards size acceptance.

While I may be thinking in terms of blogging, obviously this kind of frame work could be adapted for real-world action. Plays, demonstrations, political action all can be targeted to address one of the areas of "Resolve". Better minds than I can hopefully find ways to exploit the germ of the idea into something more.

Which is really what this is all about. This is just an idea. Just a brainstorm. A way of framing fat acceptance. Maybe its good, maybe it isn't. But hopefully it can at least spark some discussion. What do you like about this idea? What do you think can be better? What ideas do you have? I know this has devolved into cliche, but sometimes the most important thing in creativity and imagination is to be willing to be wrong. To be allow yourself to make mistakes in trying to figure out what's best. So open yourself and brainstorm. Don't be afraid of being wrong. That's the only way to be right.


Getting fat has not ruined my life

I wasn't always fat. I don't mean that I once "successfully" dieted, either. I was genuinely, effortlessly thin growing up. I never thought about maintaining my size. I did what I wanted and I was thin. That was that.

Things changed, obviously. As I grew into adulthood, my metabolism changed. I still ate what I wanted. I still walked everywhere. Just now I was getting fat. This kept up for a few years and then it basically stopped. My weight will fluctuate, sure, but for the most part I've been the same size now for a good 7 years or so.

And it hasn't ruined my life. Really.

I know I have a unique perspective on this experience because I already believed in Fat Acceptance before I got fat. That wasn't enough to make me immediately accept my now fat body. Heck, no. I didn't like it one bit at first. I wanted to lose weight very badly, but I knew enough to know that dieting wouldn't do me any good. While that didn't stop me from wishing really hard to lose weight, it did keep me from screwing up my metabolism. Wishing I wasn't fat wasn't necessarily good, but it was a lot less harmful than trying to diet would have been.

Wasn't easy, but slowly I came around. I still struggle. Everyone does. But I feel like I have a very healthy relationship with my body. I never allowed myself to develop a confrontational relationship with my body. Oh, I came close, don't get me wrong. But I never completely let go and blamed anything wrong on my body. Yeah, its different, but it hasn't ruined my life. Different isn't bad.

So, I look differently. Some aches and pains I didn't have 10 years ago are here. Others are gone, though. I actually had major problems with my back growing up. We're talking, was laid up and unable to move without horrible pain for a week with nothing really having set it off. That stopped after I got fat. Do I think it stopped because I got fat? No. Which is why I don't think any new ache or pain is because I got fat, either.

My body is different, but it hasn't ruined my life. My relationship with my body is actually a lot better than when I was thin. Back then, I was hyper-critical of my body and any perceived flaw. I actually thought I was too fat THEN. Getting fat made me confront those attitudes and working off my exposure to Fat Acceptance try to reshape my attitudes towards my body. No, its not perfect, but its okay.

Being fat hasn't ruined my life. It's a challenge, yes. Its a challenge to keep from all of that fat hatred in this world from getting to me. It's a challenge when co-workers casually make fat jokes at their expense and I have to wonder about what that says about their feelings towards me. It's a challenge when everyone wants me to accept as fact that being fat is a bad thing. When I'm expected to be so compliant as to congratulate people for the "achievement" of becoming less like me?

It isn't a bad thing. Being fat is different. Just like a lot of things are different or pose challenges. But being fat hasn't ruined my life. It just means I'm fat. I know what it was like to be thin. It didn't feel really different. The biggest change is in the perceptions and demands of others. People assume my weight is a state of failure. They demand that I be apologetic for my body. Some thing all the more since I used to be thin. I can't do it, though. Because I know that being fat has not ruined my life.

I know that there are some people who will think that being fat ruins a person's life. I know that there is a limit to what I can do to change their minds. And I know that ultimately, there may only be one thing I am left with. Not believing that being fat has ruined my life. They can believe whatever they want to, but I'll still know that being fat doesn't ruin your life. Whether they like it or not, people who disagree with me are just going to have to accept that not everyone endorses or cheerleads the "fat is bad" mentality. And maybe knowing that one person doesn't see things they way they do can influence them to reconsider their own acceptance of fat negativity. If that's all I can do, I sure am not about to give it up. Fat fatalism is not inevitable. Not for me, and I don't accept its inevitable for anyone. Getting fat has not ruined my life and I won't pretend that it did for the benefit of anyone.


A Big Fat Brainstorm

Kell Brigan posts a call for fat activism brainstorming that is well work checking out. Some solid ideas there for what a fat acceptance movement should be providing. Its definitely a wish list, but there is an infrastructure for some of it so this isn't pie in the sky, either. All solid ideas, but I wanted to spotlight one in particular:
Really, really, really get behind International No Diet Day, i.e. organize marches in each state, prepare buttons & t-shirts, arrange "teach-ins", arrange "speak-ins", do press releases at the state and city level, arrange city-level coordinators for marches and events, contact campuses, large-size clothing stores, onling fat activist blogs & message boards, in front of medical facilities, in front of women-friendly businesses (i.e. Feminist Women's Health Center)

Could not agree with this one more. INDD is an important symbolic event that deserves rallying around, especially from the new generation of fat blogs. It was noted by a lot of the fat blogs this past year, but I'd like to see us expand awareness next year, perhaps with a collective, week-long event leading up to May 6, 2008. All fat acceptance blogs could work together to generate articles in honor of
INDD. Maybe we could even adopt a blue color scheme to recognize the event.

INDD is an established event that could be reinvigorated with an additional push to use it to raise awareness about fat acceptance. Though May 6, 2008 is still a long way off, I'd really love to see us do something special to give it momentum for the years to come.


Reasons to Have Sex

So, you may have heard of this study from the University of Texas where they researched 237 reasons we have sex. Yes, we evidently needed a study to find out why we have sex. (Suprise! Because we're attracted to our partner) In looking through the reasons cited in their research, I realized that quite a few were related to body acceptance.

A few of the reasons seemed to be pulled out of a diet plan...
105 I thought it would make me feel healthy.
131 It seemed like good exercise.
176 I wanted to burn calories.

A few seemed based on attributing the way they felt to their partner...
204 The person made me feel sexy.
211 The person really desired me.
215 The person flattered me.

A lot, though, were explicitly based on the individual wanting to feel better about themselves...

43 I wanted to feel attractive.
68 I wanted to feel good about myself.
136 I felt insecure.
139 I wanted to boost my self-esteem.
172 I wanted to make myself feel better about myself.
180 I wanted to raise my self-esteem.

One was even the reverse. A person specifically wanting their partner to feel better about themselves...
79 I wanted the person to feel good about himself/herself.

Now, I can't say any of this is all that surprising. Obviously, the idea that some people have sex to feel better about themselves isn't new. And with the number of really horrible and heart-breaking reasons cited in the study, these are pretty tame. Still, I think its interesting to see all of the justifications people come up with for things designed to pacify their self-esteem. Feeling bad about oneself actually because a reason to have sex with the notion that sex will serve as a cure or at least a band-aid.

Again, its not surprising but still somewhat alarming that people would approach sex this way. I know "self-esteem" can mean a lot more than appearance, but its not hard to imagine that much of the interest these reasons would generate are from people who seek validation for their bodies through sex. Still, while the "my partner made me feel..." reasons were top 50 reasons among both men and women, the physical insecurity reasons weren't. Of course, they weren't in the bottom 50, either.

I guess I don't really have much of a point this. Just noting the ways the study found body image intersecting with sexual experience. Maybe someone else has a more profound observation than I could muster, but it seems like an interesting issue to think about, at least.

Why I love her.

Figures that I write a post more or less for the exclusive purpose of it being seen and it gets eaten up by the all important fat-o-sphere feed. Anyway, speaking of that post...

I was a little worried when I posted it because instead of just insulting me, the troll also seemed to be insulting my girlfriend and I didn't know exactly how she'd take that. I mean, sure it was bluntly childish and easy to dismiss, but childish insults have a way of hurting us even when they shouldn't. Anyway, so I read the troll's comment to her last night and what was her response?

She burst out laughing.

Which is about right and certainly the reaction the troll deserves. Being laughed at for such wild and absurdist idiocy. Its a little old-hat for me. In high school I was ridiculed as "gay" for writing in support of gay rights in the school paper. When I suggested that fat women don't owe anything to FA's for being attracted to them, I was dismissed as a only respecting women to get into their pants. When I defended NAAFA before NAAFA sold me out, I was diagnosed as autistic when I wasn't being diagnosed with heart disease. (Guess who NAAFA sold me out, too?) The saddest thing is that all of these people, even the "you smell like cheese" fellow all think they are the ones who are respectable. They all think they are the ones who are mature and sensible. They all adopt the airs of "concern trolls" when not calling me an autistic gay suck-up who smells like cheese and should die. And yet they all turn around and say those things. Their hate is entitled and the fact that I've stopped being hurt by it is just another reason to hate me.

I'm glad my girlfriend isn't letting it hurt her, either, and I implore all of you to not back down from hurtful monsters like these. They deserve to be laughed at and little else.

My own personal troll just struck again. He went to the Wordpress site I've set up but haven't decided to use yet and he suggested that I must surely have had to stand back to Peru to get both me and my girlfriend in the shot above. Class acts, our distinguished rivals. We really must show them all the respect they deserve.