This is going to be unpopular…

…but it has to be said. This kind of infighting is going to stymie the movement. It’s going to split it and make it weak. It likely already is, if the comments to that post are any clue.

I don’t understand where that kind of vitriolic racism has come from, but it’s got to stop. There’s racist remarks about nearly every group there, and equal misunderstood, one-dimensional comments about white people as there are the racist grouping WoC (women of color, which bundles everyone who isn’t “white” into a neat package). The great thing about NOT being narrowminded is that you understand you haven’t lived someone else’s life, yet you do your damned best to apply what you HAVE lived in order to understand them better. You realize that people are just people, and we’re more alike than we’re not. You don’t start spouting hateful language at people you believe are privileged because they’re one color (‘scuse me, have you lived their lives?) and you don’t start spouting “I hate PC” at people who you believed are non-privileged (‘scuse me, but they’ve heard it before!). I’m not saying that individual perspectives aren’t important to take into account. But do I go around telling everyone who’s never been in an abusive relationship that they have no idea where I’m coming from and we could never really get along because there’s a fundamental disconnect between our respective histories?

Listen, if you want to split yourself off from other people because you don’t like their skin color and what you believe comes from that skin color, just fucking say it. Stop acting like you’re some kind of martyr or hero or that others FORCE you to split off from them. This goes for the white “I’m sick of PC” -ers and the “Fat is the last acceptable form of prejudice” -ers, as well as the people who claim that, because of my skin color alone, I could never deserve to march arm-in-arm with them against the prejudice that we have in common.

I know you don’t see what you’re doing as splitting the movement, making us weaker, etc. But you are. Stop infighting, and find our common ground. If race is a sensitive subject, and for instance, some of you don’t like the fact that Dr. King is my idol because my skin color doesn’t match his, or you think that I’m some alien to your history because of my skin color, fine. You don’t have to march with me. I wish you would anyway; I don’t like that you distrust my skin color, but I’ll march with you anyway. Because we are more alike than we are different. We’ve got the most important parts of ourselves in common—we want hate to end. Our push, our characters, our minds, our UNIQUE EXPERIENCES which only ADD to our strength, THAT’S what makes us strong.

This is extremely difficult to write. I don’t like conflict, as a rule. It’s probably why I was cowed for so long by manipulative jerk after manipulative jerk. But do you know what shutting up and not standing up for myself against their abuse did for me? Fuck nothing. And I’m NOT going to stand for that kind of racism. Tara was right; we do have different histories. But she was wrong to lump me into some kind of group based on my skin color, assuming privilege, assuming experience, assuming a mindset.

It’s not white women or black women or Asian women who are splitting this movement; it’s a divisive mindset that is splitting this movement.

Follow-up (on Dr. King’s words and FA)

This started as a comment on the last post I made, but I figured it needed its own spot.

I sincerely hope everyone understood what I meant by this particular quote from my last post:

Debunking the idea that some Ugly, automatically inferior group, even exists, is a difficult task that hasn’t been taken up by most any of the previously oppressed groups, with the exception of people like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.—and his words have largely been spun by his successors to apply only to black people or only to racial relations, and not have the generality he originally intended.

Race relations is extremely important, and his words were born from that movement, and should necessarily accompany the movement in its modern struggle for rights.

However, I’ve heard—even by a few prominent civil rights activists—a bit of a sneer when anyone tries to apply Dr. King’s words to the plights of other oppressed groups. But they do apply, which is one of the real greatnesses of Dr. King, in that he advocated acceptance and equal rights—not glorification and special rights—much like what we’re doing now.

We don’t think we’re better than thin people, we don’t want thin people to suffer for the psychological and physical pain we’ve endured, simply because they enjoy—by no fault of their own, rather faulty thinking and scapegoatism by the culture—privileged status. We want to join hands with thin(ner) people (many of us are already married to them, have family members, or are thin people) and be treated as cultural equals.

As a brief qualification, there are some people who should suffer for the psychological and physical pain we’ve endured—but they’ll suffer in the form of plummeting profits and zero demand as the general public finally wakes up to the truth behind the Diet Farce. Politicians will suffer in the form of lower votes and anonymity as the public will no longer support a politician who stakes his career on getting the laws changed to make having a fat child abuse, or who pushes restrictive calorie school lunch programs and overzealous, socially embarrassing ‘wellness’ programs (since, yanno, fatties don’t know they’re fat, they must be told!).

The ‘obesity’ researchers who’ve been sucking from the teats of Lilly, Merck, &etc will suffer, as their grant money will dry up. The journalists and radio talk show hosts who expounded on fat with bigoted, hate-filled language will suffer as their readership and listener pools dwindle.

The problem isn’t thin people—it’s the culture, and the machines keeping some lies loud and truths unheard. Just like Dr. King stressed that the problem wasn’t white people—it was the culture.

Just thought I should clarify.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

I’ve been listening to the Good/Bad fattie debate with a bit of detachment. I haven’t thrown my hat into the ring yet, since I feel the Good/Bad division is a historically natural human response, a sort of boundary/structure-seeking inherent in finding one’s place within a group. Perhaps my detachment comes from not feeling any need to be a part of a group, per se, which comes from my slightly different neurological profile. But I recognize the human, or typical, urge to find one’s place within a society in which they’ve accepted as their own.

Hell, we see this dynamic all around us. It’s part of what we’re fighting against; we’ve become the victims of a war of attrition, the wearing down of our equal status as individuals and, when it comes down to it, as full-status humans. Many groups have historically undergone similar warfare. Political and religious structures, some long-lasting and some not, have cropped up throughout history which reflect this desire to structure society so that it can be more easily navigated and controlled. Caste systems, racial classification, economic classification, fat classification, &etc.

That we seek to similarly divide ourselves is, therefore, natural. It is not, however, in any way, shape, or form, desirable. It is an impulse we must fight against, at all costs. And that’s why I think there was such a furor this week over the Good/Bad fattie classification. It’s not because the majority of us think in such terms, but because the majority of us know that groups have the tendency to divide their members into such categories, and we know that we must reject this tendency if we are to really change anything.

Are we changing anything if we get fat accepted, but now there are strict guidelines about how much one should exercise because it’s been determined that activity level, and not fat, are what most closely correlate to good health? Are we changing anything if we just put everyone else on another diet, namely, some particular person’s (not everyone’s) definition of HAES? Are we changing anything if, instead of keeping quiet about the size-control methodology of some private insurers and their interested diet industry sponsors, we give that power to the government and their interested lobbyists instead? Are we changing anything by buying fat-hiding clothes, and wearing skirts to the beach, because we’re afraid of being heckled by teenage boys? Are we changing anything if we feel the need to list what we ate that day and our activity levels to people who are anyone except our doctor? Are we changing anything by supporting others’ decisions to mutilate their bodies by amputating their stomachs, starving their bodies, cutting off parts of their bodies, &etc instead of trying our very best to educate, and then support them only in recovery from that disordered thinking and not during it?

Recently I was “outed.” Just today, I received a comment on my blog from someone who knows me personally; I have no idea how she got the link here. I have had to struggle with my own anonymity, since every fiber of my being screams against it, wants to be open and honest and unafraid of the consequences. I have much to fear, honestly: retribution from a previous abuser, misunderstanding of my posts by family and friends, frowning-upon by employers who might find my confessions unprofessional and ‘unhinged;’ personal and professional doom is very possible if this blog is truly “outed.”

The point is, the truth, to some, is Ugly. Not ugly, Ugly. Disgusting. Horrifying. Makes one quake with fear and loathing.

Ugly is a concept we’re all familiar with; Ugly is Bad, Ugly is a characteristic held by one person which ensures all the rest of us who aren’t Ugly are automatically better than that person. Beauty is the opposite of Ugly. Beauty connotes automatic superiority. Many things can be beautiful in different ways. It is harder to be Ugly; Ugly isn’t open to interpretation. The Beautiful are protected from the Ugly by laws. The Ugly are put in cages, or jails, or eke out lives at the bottom of the totem pole, or succeed only as long as they remain invisible and anonymous.

Fat has become Ugly. Automatically inferior to non-Fat. Our voices have been suppressed, our bodies made invisible or the objects of jokes, our minds marginalized, our morality falsely interpreted as encompassing the historically-defined morality of Ugly persons (lazy, mean, stupid, crazy, unhealthy, contagious). It is interesting to note that the aforesaid Ugly morality has been, at times, attributed to most other oppressed groups (Jews, blacks, gays, &etc were all at some point labeled approximately thusly).

So while we’re discussing Good/Bad fatties, even if the Bad fattie is indeed a “straw” fattie, let’s keep in mind that there is a very good reason we must be vigilant about this dynamic infiltrating FA. The fact is, the war we’re fighting is being fought against All fatties, the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, however they are defined within our ranks. It might even seem, to some, reasonable to compromise with anti-Fat warriors by throwing Bad fatties to the wolves, so that society can just transform its precious dichotomy of Beauty/Ugly : Thin/Fat to Beauty/Ugly : Healthy/Unhealthy.

Debunking the idea that some Ugly, automatically inferior group, even exists, is a difficult task that hasn’t been taken up by most any of the previously oppressed groups, with the exception of people like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.—and his words have largely been spun by his successors to apply only to black people or only to racial relations, and not have the generality he originally intended.

I think the Good/Bad fattie debate isn’t spurious. In fact, it’s vitally important: in busting one false dichotomy (thin = Beauty, fat = Ugly) we must be careful not to simply transfer that dynamic to a whole new group of future oppressed people. That open racism is largely frowned upon is a great victory. There have been many other victories for historically oppressed groups. We aren’t the last group to be oppressed openly—the desire to oppress, to find one’s place in a class-conscious world, to assert one’s status using traits that are purely incidental and have nothing to do with the content of one’s character, will always be there. But we need to name this dynamic; like the courageous and brilliant Dr. King, we have to call it out for what it truly is, and we need to let people know that our struggle isn’t just about Fat, it’s about busting this highly destructive and oppressive dynamic.

It comes down to “Superiority by Birth”: because I was born to look/act/etc a certain way, I’m better. I didn’t have to do any work, or prove myself in any way — I’m just naturally better, and you’re naturally worse, there’s nothing you can do about it (though you should sacrifice your whole life trying).

This last statement is one of the most destructive and oppressive viewpoints in the history of mankind, and is at the root of all sorts of massacres and atrocities. Take your pick—the Crusades, the French Revolution, the Holocaust, the massacre of Native Americans, the rise of the Roman Empire, the fall of the Roman Empire—and so forth.

And maybe it is just human nature, and we must succumb to repeating history with different groups in power and poverty, for equally arbitrary reasons.

But perhaps, like Dr. King, we can step out of ourselves, and maybe — just maybe — evolve as a species beyond the arbitrary and hurtful definitions of the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

Shoring Up

When I was first reading the FA blogs, I read somewhere (possibly written by Rachel, fillyjonk, or meowser) that many people who come to FA from fat-bigoted cultures/families or eating-disordered pasts become angry when they learn just how far over their eyes the wool had been pulled, their whole lives.

It’s not just a matter of, “Oh, ha-ha, you got me!” Many people experience very real physical and psychological torture at the hands of fat bigotry (in its many forms). Whether it’s the pain, guilt, self-hate, elation, and accompanying regain-plummet of yo-yo dieting, being physically abused by school-children or family, or just being constantly bombarded with WW ads on the bus every morning, noon and evening, fat bigotry is practically common-place. Which means, of course, that it gets most of us, somehow. Which itself means when we find the house of bigotry is a house of cards we become very, very angry.

And I was. Perhaps I still am; I certainly am indignant at the thin-crazy/fat-invisible media, the vocal, unavoidable, and plentiful shills by Big Pharma and weight-loss industry members, the memories of the abuse I suffered, the constant reminders that fat people are second-class citizens in this country, the conventional wisdom fallacies about the connections between weight, health, the economy, global warming, &etc, &etc, ad infinitum.

But lately, I feel as if I’m quieting down a bit. I’m getting a much better sense of how to read and interpret the studies and literature; my baloney detector for such things has been honed. I feel as if I can absorb and understand a good deal more, and that’s what I’ve been doing: reading and absorbing, reading and absorbing. No longer reacting (as much); I’m a vessel, and I want to have as much knowledge, as much truth, as much ammunition, as possible.

Perhaps it’s a natural stage in the process of coming to terms with the truth behind a good deal of life lost to a lie. Maybe others can speak to this. But I’m more peaceful now, and very much enjoying ‘shoring up’ after a long spell of indignant anger.

BeingGirl: For girls, by liars

This morning, Harriet Brown had a wonderful post to which I felt compelled to respond upon a bit more digging.

“BeingGirl: For girls, by girls,” a site hosted by Proctor & Gamble, is one of those places that draws in teenage girls with cutesy graphics and shitty writing (by the staff), and better writing which populates the rest of the site (posts by the girls themselves). Some of the posts are heartbreaking, and the articles themselves (esp. the ones concerning weight) are filled with virulent lies, and ‘methods’ of weight-reduction which read like a pro-ana site.

What dangerous nonsense…I hope my teenage, computer-literate, soon-to-be step-daughters haven’t ever stumbled into that den of lies.

Here’s a quote from the “Express Yourself — Creative Expressions” part of the site:

All that I can think about are the calories in that food

All that I can think about are the calories in that food Constantly counting and adding to make sure I don’t eat too much I know that it is bad to diet, but being thin makes me feel good That feeling of the fat on my stomach is annoying to touch So 900 calories a day is all that I can allow People tell me how much weight I’ve lost, but I just don’t see it I’m scared to eat more than that I don’t want the weight, not now People saying “Eat more, eat more” makes me just stare at it and sit Yes, food, food, everywhere, but I’m scared to eat it up You want to help me Well, I’m way beyond help I’m lost…

It was given 1046 positive “votes,” which means that resonates with at least that many girls on the site (the ones that bother to vote, anyway). It looks like the average number of positive votes is about 1000, from what I can see.This one, lower on the list, makes me feel very good, however:

Being Me

I have always struggled with weight issues and until recently I have
never really accepted myself. I always had self esteem issues and
would hide behind a facade of friendly compliments to other people and
big clothes. I figured out that I really needed to accept myself, so I
really stepped back and looked at my choices. Not just my eating and
exercising habits, but also my dressing and grooming habits. Going out
and buying that dress that I have always wanted but never felt I could
pull off.

I found that by stepping outside my safety zone I found more
confidence in myself and began to accept me for who and what I am.
I have found myself actually pursuing romantic endeavors I had never even dreamed of before.

I just wanted to let anyone who is having self esteem issues know that if you can step outside of your safety zone, as hard as it can be, you can
truly make a difference in your life. It has in mine.

But this post only got 422 positive votes, compared to the negative body image’s post of 1024. 😦

These article writers (not the open-forum posts by regular girls like the ones quoted above) seem like they’re ALL nasty liars. Here’s another quote, from “Teenage Girls Fear of Fatness”

You would think from the words Carrie uses…guilty, bad, cheating, hate…that she was talking about something more immoral or harmful than snacking on potato chips. You would think she was worried about the osteoporosis, anemia, obesity and cardiovascular disease that might be made worse by eating certain foods [emphasis mine]

Anemia? Christ, that’s a new one. Where the hell are they getting this garbage, anyway? Or is it just “known” that OMG FOOD!1! is a toxic substance that causes diseases, and we need to try so hard to find the ‘wisdom’ to abstain from it?

The rest of the article is filled with confused contradictions, at one moment claiming rightly that body image is horribly skewed in the teenage girl population, then wondering “what causes” this when their own site is replete with panic-mongering bullshit, ending with :

Learn to see yourself through your grandma’s eyes not that distorted mirror you rely on. There’s no need to eliminate any food you enjoy from your diet. Just learn to make trade offs and balance unhealthy foods with healthy ones. And keep on the move. The safest and most appropriate obesity prevention strategy is to get rid of those “automobile feet” and exercise.

And when they don’t “prevent obesity” that way (exercise has been shown to be a largely ineffective way to lose weight, though it’s very effective in increasing health), what then? How are they going to feel? Like they need to start ritualizing food, just like they thought? That they aren’t good enough, and the answer is just to exercise ‘more’?

I could go on and on with this site. Instead, I’m just going to end with a few gems that you can discuss (and, of course, feel free to go to the site as well):

The Runaway Eating Epidemic

A recent study by the National Longitudinal Study for Adolescent Health revealed that in the five years between 1996 and 2001, about two million teens joined the ranks of the clinically obese!

Uh, yes, revising standards downwards in order to label more people obese (in 1997 or 1998, I forget) is going to make the ‘ranks of the clinically obese’ go up (don’t you love how ‘clinically’ obese makes it sounds so uber-scary and real, even though it’s an arbitrary number based on the bullshit skewing and misemphasizing of the Nurse’s Study’s statistics?)

Dieting Myths

This article “debunks” dieting myths—and also let’s you know which ones are “true”! The poll questions are the standard stuff, but one of them asks:

To keep weight off, you should take off how much a week?
1. at most 5 pounds
2. at most 2 pounds
3. at most 6 pounds
4. at most 4 pounds

The real answer, of course, is “at most 0 pounds.” “Taking off” weight doesn’t work for the vast majority of dieters, and to expect that one can “take off” some magic perfect number a week and “keep” it off is dangerously fallacious. To suggest to teenage girls that permanent weight loss is achievable in any fashion as long as they do it the ‘right way’ is abominable, and goes against the preponderance of evidence.

Fitness and Diet

This one is confusing, filled with dangerous contradictions:

When Should You Diet?

Unfortunately, women today are often pressured to measure up to a certain body type so they “diet’ to achieve that goal. But there are many body types and some people might have bigger shapes just because they’re built that way.

Just think of it in nature. Some cats are naturally skinny, some are husky, and some are heavier. Different builds and body types in animal are natural. And it’s the same with people. Each person has an ideal, individual weight range where they are still healthy. That range could be higher or lower, depending on the person. So just because you don’t look like the skinny actress on the cover of an entertainment magazine, don’t worry. And don’t go crazy dieting.

Sometimes going on a diet can really help you — if you’re overweight and need to lose pounds, for example. More than 1 of every 3 American adults is considered to have an unhealthy weight. Because of these excess pounds, they are more susceptible to disease. So being very overweight can be unhealthy, and is a good reason to “diet.” [emphases mine]

Huh?? One moment we’re all “different,” the next minute overweight is unhealthy and should be dieted off??? I don’t have the energy for this last one. Please tear into it for me.

My to-be stepdaughters shall be warned away from this site.

Edited to correct typos and provide emphases.

Quick “duh” hit

Special attention should be given to portion sizes, which have increased significantly over the past two decades (http://hin.nhlbi.nih.gov/portion/index.htm). Though there are no empirical studies to show a causal relationship between increased portion sizes and obesity, there are studies showing that controlling portion sizes helps limit calorie intake, particularly when eating calorie-dense foods (foods that are high in calories for a given measure of food). 

 

Source: The Good Ole USA Gov’ment 

Thanks, Einstein. Limiting caloric intake limits caloric intake. And the Obvious Award goes to…. 🙂 

However, even more telling was the line right before.  “Though there are no empirical studies to show a causal relationship between increased portion sizes and obesity, there are studies showing that controlling portion sizes helps limit calorie intake…” 

I.e., though fat people don’t eat more, if you don’t want to be a fat person, you shouldn’t eat as much. Set-point theory, anyone? Sure, you can lose weight by restricting your ‘caloric intake,’ but you’re not going to keep it off — otherwise there would exist a causal relationship between portion size and obesity. 

No kidding. 

Massholians — stand up and be counted

Fellow Massholians, proud payers of the government of Taxachusetts, pahk your cahr and get to the wicked Statehouse to testify for your pissar fellow body-diverse Minutemen!

Details via Kate Harding, quotes from Marilyn Wann, and how to get in touch with Ms. Wann here.

And quotes from Paul Campos’ book The Obesity Myth, to inspire you:

“…Americans who would never dream of consciously allowing themselves to be disgusted by someone’s skin color, or religion, or social class, often feel no compunction about expressing the disgust elicited in them by the sight of people who weigh anything from a lot to a little more than our current absurdly restrictive ideal.” [p. xxiv]

“To the tens of millions of Americans who are being made miserable by the lies of the weight loss industry, and its mouthpieces in the medical and public health establishments, I would say this: Rejecting those lies requires nothing less than an act of personal and social revolt. And nothing less than a revolution is needed to overthrow America’s eating-disordered culture, with its loathing of the most minimal body diversity; its neurotic oscillation between guilt-ridden bingeing and anorexic self-starvation, and its pathological fear of food, pleasure, and life itself.”

Time to stand up and start the revolution.