A Veritable Potpourri!

So I’m going to post some quick hits and foreshadow a few upcoming posts today.

1. If you haven’t already, please go to the wonderful blog “She Dances on the Sand” by Rioiriri and check out her latest post: I am a person, not an epidemic. It’s a great read for both Size Acceptance activists and freedom-lovers. She makes the great point that, all things considered, the obesity epi-panic isn’t about some lingering cloud of doom but rather real people, with real bodies, being told their bodies must change “for their own good, and for the good of the people.” Of course, we know that the obesity epi-panic will accomplish neither of those goals, already ruining or decreasing the quality of many lives, and threatening to throw a whole generation into a fat-hating orgy of unhealthy relationships with food and their bodies.

2. I’ve been reading George Orwell’s terrific essay, “Notes on Nationalism.” It’s definitely going to go on this week’s reading list (which I’ll post every Friday, starting this week, and link to from the top tabs via a new page). Orwell makes the masterful argument that nationalism isn’t just extreme patriotism for one’s country or military, but rather it has much deeper sociological roots. He claims the nationalist is the individual who, at the cost of rational objectivism, will do anything to see his “team” one-up the other “team.” In other words, a person who hates fat people will ignore every rigor of science thrust in his direction, every bit of rigorous and anecdotal evidence, &etc in order to promulgate his message of hate. Nationalists live in a world of fantasy, where their “team” must win against the other “team,” regardless of truth, the dictates of reality, and what have you.

3. I’ve been simmering about one particular Obesity Myth that seems not to have been addressed to my satisfaction: the myth of the all powerful Thin Child who shall never get sick and remain youthful forever. Not sure what I mean? It’s this: fat children are artificially created by their parents/culture/school/environment/whathaveyou, and since fat is correlated with certain diseases more strongly correlated to genetics and increasing age, if the fat is banished from a child that child shall grow up into a non-fat adult who will defy his/her genetics and never get age-related diseases.

I call this Obesity Myth: The Fountain of Youths (plural is intentional 😉 )

At any rate, I really would like to debunk it (though of course, it has many flaws on its face). In particular, I’d like to satirize the progression of the Thinnizing of a group of fat children in order to make them part of this anointed, forever-young generation. I’d like to show that if we truly went “all the way” in making these kids thin, to what lengths we’d endeavor, and the associated consequences like stunted height, stunted mental development, exposure to various other maladies undreamed of by the Thinner is the Winner medical establishment, and so forth.

Some more discussion on these topics is coming soon. Again, for all readers, if you’re interested in joining the Fat Liberation feed or displaying the feed on your site (a great way to keep up with non-Fatosphere bloggers like myself, AnnieMcPhee, limor, and others), please visit the tab at the top of this blog, or email me at big dot liberty at gmail dot com

Comparing Oppressions — a follow-up

So this is a follow-up post to my last post, which linked to the thread on my “home” messageboard ranting about fat people using the power carts at Wal-Mart.

A woman who is tentatively FA messaged me through the board about the thread. I didn’t include her name for privacy reasons.

I’m on your side, I really am.

However, you’re not helping your case with hyperbole.

There are no death camps for the obese. No one is tattooing you and shoving you into a gas chamber.

I lost family in the camps. The comparison doesn’t come close.

You might try using another example of discrimination rather than that.

Of course, you’ve already characterized all Obama supporteers as brain-dead idiots, so take this as you will.

Good luck with your cause.

And my response:

Hi [name deleted],

You’ve mischaracterized what I’ve said, and also made false assumptions. I’ve already explained that we’re not going through a Holocaust, and that what is happening now is not what was happening then. I could have also made the case (which can be shown, independent of charged emotions) that all oppressed groups go through very similar initial characterizations — like they are lazy, stupid, immoral, and what have you. Different groups meet different answers to those characterizations, like you noted (fat people aren’t in concentration camps, and did not ever have to undergo slavery and its long aftermath, or any kind of genocide).

However, to unequivocally believe that we’re not supposed to *learn* lessons from history and past forms of discrimination, and that unfair groupings are no longer happening and that horrible events like slavery, the Holocaust, genocide, physical mutilation, and so forth *can’t* ever happen again, or aren’t currently happening to some groups in some parts of the world, is fallacious.

In fact, a recent _60 Minutes_ piece aired the wonders of gastric bypass surgery, which is the mutilation of the stomach organ in order to, in most cases, force a state of chronic bulimia. The reporting was shoddy (they only looked at 6 people an average of 7 months after the study, still well within the weight-loss “Honeymoon” period of the surgery), and they downplayed the mortality rate making it far lower than in reality, and didn’t mention the horrible side-effects that the majority of patients experience which result in a markedly lower quality of life and end up, in about one-third of the cases, in much earlier death than if they’d just remained fat.

Sanctioned mutilation of an organ to attain unhealthy thinness, trumpeted by a normally serious show like _60 Minutes_ — is that *not* extremely chilling and forboding? It’s not genocide, it’s not murder (though there are arguments to this effect), but it’s using scare tactics and misinformation to make people who are socially unacceptable into people who are socially acceptable, and ruining their lives in the process. And while gastric bypass used to be reserved for only the very morbidly obese (400, 500+ lbs), it is increasingly used on lower and lower weights, with a surgeon in the UK actually proposing it for barely obese people and children as young as 10! A mother in the US took her teenage daughter to New Mexico to get the surgery, since the girl was “unpopular” at school and their doctors had scared them into thinking the then-healthy girl would soon get ill and die of her fatness. I consider this child abuse, yet I think many people would consider this mother as going to the extremes to do the best for her child, in the current fat-fearing, fat-hating environment.

So no, fat people aren’t undergoing gas chambers and genocide, *and I never said that.* What I said is that there is a common pattern of alienation imposed upon undesirable social groups, and fat people were merely having this same pattern imposed upon them. I’m sorry you took offense, but you did not interpret my comparison and later qualifications correctly.

As for Obama-supporters, I never said they were brain-dead idiots, either. I also said in another post a while back that I’m sure there were many people who were voting for him based on concrete issues. I was simply repeating what was told to me by a coworker—when pressed, he didn’t have any issues to present with which he agreed, and he is the one who said, “He’s got a certain Messianic quality that I think appeals to people.” And I agree; and that’s not a necessarily bad thing, but whenever you have people blindly following ANY political leader, it is a cause for concern. I’m certain there are people out there who are blindly following Clinton and McCain, too.

Thanks for the message, and I hope I’ve cleared a few things up.

Fat hate speech on my “home” messageboard

From the Star Trek message board I frequent, entitled: “Rant: Fat people and Wal-Mart power cars”:

Time to vent.

This might not mean much to the vast majority here, but it’s become a steady source of annoyance for me. As you may know, I’m handicapped and I can’t walk under my own power. I use canes or a power/manual wheelchair to get around.

When I go to Wal Mart with my mother or alone, I use their “mart carts”, because it’s convenient. Just park and go in and get one, y’know? The sign says “For our valued customers who’d like a lift,” so it makes it easy to get in and get out without dealing with my own wheelchair, which I can’t lift and get out on my own.

Unless of course none are available. Which is becoming increasingly the case of late.

At any given Wal Mart, there are maybe 12 of the power carts. At mine, because no one takes care of them, the majority sit uselessly with “out of order” tags slapped on them. The remaining 4 or 5 are somewhere in the store usually, being used by people who DON’T NEED THEM. Obese people who can walk perfectly fine from their cars to the store without using canes. Who walk perfectly fine in their own homes without power chairs or scooters. Yet they take the “mart carts” away from those who are legitimately disabled, like me, who have more of a need for them. And it is really starting to piss me off.

A few days ago, for instance, I’m standing in the entrance to Wal Mart looking in disbelief as TWO carts are being used by two overweight women. They had no canes. They didn’t have tubes in their noses, so I assumed they had no difficulty breathing. What were they doing? They were in line at the McDonalds. And they had nothing in their baskets so they likely had just arrived.

I was livid. I actually went over and asked them if I could use a cart, as the rest were “out of order.” One lady graciously gave it up, while the other said “Well, I have a heart condition.”

Yeah, I bet she did. And the hamburger she was ordering probably did it a world of good, too.

I just don’t understand it. There should be some sort of sign that says “Please give priority to the handicapped,” or something, but even that probably won’t do any good. It’s always the same thing: the only people that seemingly use the carts when I’m in Wal Mart are fat people. And they give me looks. Excuse me? Like they can’t see the TWO CANES in the basket that suggest that I can’t walk.

Like they’re saying, “You’re skinny. What are you doing in one of these?” *sigh* I just don’t know. It pisses me off. And talking to the management does no good. I’ve tried.

Ugh!

Gaaaaarrrghghghg!

Quick hit: Giving short kids growth hormones to make them taller

I consider this article very important because it discusses another aspect of “body engineering” children in order to fit into societally acceptable norms—making short children, who are often teased for their shortness–rather than addressing the root problem of societal body discrimination.

The last quote is the all-important caveat.

http://www.med.umich.edu/1libr/yourchild/commentary/index.htm

Until research findings such as these were available, it was easy to assume that anything that could make the shorter person taller would be desirable, because of commonly accepted negative stereotypes associated with short stature and predictable experiences of teasing and juvenilization at younger ages,. In fact, in 2003, the FDA approved growth hormone (GH) to promote accelerated growth and adult height in the shortest 1.2% of children and adolescents who do not have any detectable medical problems. GH had previously been approved for treating youths with GH deficiency; in this case, medication was substituting for a hormone that these children’s bodies were not producing on their own. GH was then given to children with other medical conditions; for example, Prader-Willi in which metabolic benefits from treatment have been reported.

And at the end of the article:

My concern over the FDA approval of GH for healthy, short children is that medical treatment may send the wrong message. You possibly communicate to the child that something is wrong—so wrong that it justifies daily injections for years. Currently, little to no consideration is given to the potential psychological harm that treatment could inflict on the child we seek to help. And by “treating” short stature in healthy children, medicine is reinforcing the social forces that maintain negative stereotypes about short people. (5) There will always be individuals below any cutoff adopted to set the limit between “normal” from “abnormal” height. Therefore, even if the individual with short stature were to receive psychosocial benefit from GH (a benefit that has not been demonstrated), it is only because others remain shorter.

Over time, more and more treatments will blur the line between what we consider medically necessary versus enhancement. In deciding how to use these treatments, we need to focus on evidence, like patient-reported quality of life—especially when treating young people who rely on their parents and healthcare professionals to make proper decisions on their behalf.

~ David E. Sandberg, Ph.D.
April 2007

Which is the same thing as putting fat kids on diets, or on over-vigorous forced exercise regimes, or shaming them for their BMIs, etc. By “treating” fatness in healthy fat children, medicine is reinforcing the negative stereotypes about fat people.

Dealing with Life in a Fat-phobic Society

This is meant to be a guide for people who are ready to become internally liberated from fat-phobia, while still living in a fat-phobic society.

1. Don’t make assumptions.

Just because someone is thin, does not mean they

a) Hate fat people,
b) Don’t know what it’s like to be fat (many of us were thin once, twice, or more times during our yo-yo dieting days),
c) Aren’t sympathetic (some are honest and informed enough to appreciate the issues),
d) Aren’t empathetic (they could have had a mom, dad, sister, best friend, etc that was fat),
e) Accept the obesity epi-panic paradigm

Just because someone is fat, does not mean they

a) Don’t hate fat people
b) Accept their fatness (“I’m a thin person in a fat person’s body”)
c) Are sympathetic to other fat people (“Ugh, I might be fat, but at least I’m not as fat as *that* disgusting person!”)
d) Are empathetic to other fat people (“I’ll working to get those pounds off, I swear!”)
e) Don’t accept the obesity epi-panic paradigm (“I’m so depressed…how did I let myself go? I’m so unhealthy. I must have no willpower.”)

2. Appeal for justice to the right authorities.

a) If your child is singled out in gym class for his/her weight, it might not be the gym teacher who is prejudiced. It could be a school policy to single out fatter children, to weigh them, calculate their BMIs, or use calipers publicly to determine their body fat percentage. Appeal to the principal, school board, state, or federal government accordingly.

b) If an ignorant news anchor makes disparaging remarks about a fat person/fat people, remember they are merely playing their roles in a fat-phobic society. Take the producer of the show to issue; bring your issues to the top of the power chain, not to the chain’s replaceable mouthpieces.

3. Realize fat issues and fat-phobia are multi-religion, multi-ethnic, all age, cross-class, multi-culture, multi-sex, cross-educational, cross-political, multi-moral, etc.

a) While statistics show certain groups are fatter, and certain groups have varying levels of fat acceptance and forms of fat-phobia, that does *not* mean any group is immune to fat-phobia, or any group should be marginalized in the War Against Fat-phobia. We’re all in this together, and we’re not going to get out of it unless we stand together, equally.

b) Fat rights are apolitical. Fat rights can be advocated by liberal, conservative, Progressive, libertarian, fascist, democrat, etc. You do not have to be a member of any one particular political movement to be a believer in fat rights, and have the ability to advocate. The assumption those of one political stripe are worthier advocates for fat rights than those of another political stripe is fallacious and divisive, and will only harm the integrity of the movement.

c) Fat-phobia is omni-political. One political group does not discriminate or hate fat people more than another. Some so-called Progressives and left liberals consider fat people to be a representation of the materialistic, consumption-obsessed dynamic they despise. Some so-called libertarians believe fat is voluntary and fat people will somehow increase the tax burden. Some so-called conservatives believe fat is synonymous with anti-Christian gluttony, and is therefore undesirable. Some fascists believe if fat people had their diets and behavior properly controlled and directed, they would no longer be fat.

4. Shed your anger.

Everyone is indignant when they witness something they believe to be an injustice. However, hasty, angry retorts will be used against you, as a reinforcement of how undignified fat is, or how defensive fat people are, or how “crazy” fat liberation is. Respond with truth in measured tones, wherever you encounter fat-phobia, whether it be on the internet, in your child’s school, on TV, in your family, at your workplace, in public, etc.

And, finally:

5. View your obstacles as opportunities.

Because of your unique experience with discrimination, both fat-based and otherwise, you are likely more informed on certain issues than some other people, who have not experienced what you have experienced. You have the power to educate others about what you’ve experienced.

However, always be careful not to marginalize other people based on their weight, demographics, and so forth, when you’re educating. We’re all individuals, with individual experiences, and should respect other people and not belittle them if they do not understand or agree with us.

Hope you all find this list useful.

“Brownies” are the enemy

So I was watching TV this morning, and saw the latest Playtex commercial.

At first, I actually thought it wasn’t that bad of a commercial. The women (though airbrushed to make their skin look scary porcelain-smooth, at the very least) seemed like they weren’t your typical underwear models, and I always enjoy a break from the Victoria Secret’s ‘Typical Male Fantasy’ 18″ waist and 40″ bust.

However, imagine my disappointment when I heard the following lines (made by the only woman who wasn’t thin) :

“You know, like when the muffin, and the top, and the bra…” (obviously bringing to mind Fattie McPatented Shoulder Flab)

“Gravity is no longer my enemy. But brownies are.”

Zah???@?@!

Oh yeah, include the fattie mcfatties in your commercial, but make sure that they’re properly apologetic “good” fatties that are working towards getting into that smaller bra size! Because, yanno, who wants to think about “gravity” when you’re busy demonizing food and restricting?

PlayTex: We know youse womenz goodz. Weezah gonna connekt by bra-ing up a starvin McFatty. Now BUYZ OURZ STUF!

Am I overreacting by finding this fairly insulting?

Artificial Insemination

Hi all,

I was wondering if anyone knew anything about this process, the cost, the snags, etc? I’ve researched it on the web and know that it’s a comparatively cheap male infertility go-around, however, I also know that the success rates are low. Also, does anyone have any information/experience/etc about discrimination in the artificial insemination process, specifically fat discrimination?

Thanks in advance! 🙂