A Note of Thanks to Leonard Nimoy and Marilyn Wann

I just wanted to write a short note of thanks to Leonard Nimoy, the author/photographer of “The Full Body Project.” [and to Marilyn Wann for the wonderful interview!]

Why the thanks? It’s not just because you’re a brilliant artist who has exposed the beauty of a currently culturally vilified body-type; nor just because you showed compassion for your models’ humanity, beyond the recognition of their physical beauty.

I wanted to thank you, because my fiancé, upon reading your interview with Ms. Wann, has become impressed, at long last, with the social importance of fat acceptance. I believe you have made him question his own conception of beauty; it is his respect for the influence you’ve had throughout his entire life via your acting, art, and personality which has put into perspective this movement in which I’ve been participating since the New Year. Finally he is beginning to appreciate why I speak about it at such length, why I myth-bust commercials for him, why I make a point of talking to his teenage girls about positive body image.

He, a long-time proponent for civil rights, has gained respect for the serious underpinnings of the fat acceptance movement — and the credit goes to your interview, and the respect he has for your words.

We are purchasing your book, and I plan on keeping it visible in the home.


BigLiberty, and her appreciative fiancé

Food Ethicism or, The Cult of the Salad

Almost everyone believes there are such things as “good” and “bad” foods. The notion is inculcated within us from a very young age, and right now various agencies are pushing to make the notion of food ethics formally taught in schools.

The problem with food ethicism is, of course, that it has no real definition. Some believe raw foods are the only “good” foods, some believe fats and sugars are “bad,” others believe carbs are “bad,” some believe high-calorie foods are “bad,” some believe only whole-wheat, fruits, and vegetables are “good.”

Food ethicism is pervasive and, like other ethical systems, defines moral worth or immorality based on how close one adheres to the ethical dictates, or how far one strays from those same dictates. In other words, if you eat “bad” foods, you are a bad person, or at the very least, morally bereft.

Putting aside food ethicism which corresponds to non-health-related values (like animal rights, for instance), most food ethicism judges “good” foods at how closely they help you achieve a socially acceptable weight. The best food, almost bar-none, is the green vegetable. Anti-calorie, anti-carbs, anti-fat, anti-sugar, anti-salt, and anti-processed ethicists are delighted by the green vegetable. Salads are the composition of the green vegetable, in which it prevails, sprinkled with non-green vegetables, and also possibly meat, carbs, and dairy (in heavy moderation).

The cult of the salad has reigned supreme since Day One of the War Against Obese People. When eating out with others, ordering a salad — the more green, the fewer condiment/meat/dairy/carbs is viewed almost universally as a sign of dietary “goodness.” Of course, one cannot live on salads alone. Which is the food ethicists’ great dilemma, across the board. Salads — in their purest form — are extremely low energy, and give you far less nutrition than you’d get popping a multivite.

Salads are, in their purest form, merely hunger-curbers. I.e., accessories to starvation.

So I’ll take liberty to define “eating junk food” as how far one has strayed from adherence to the Cult of the Salad.

The Self-Loathing of our Parents

This started as a comment on Chrissy’s post “Compliments and Good Intentions.”

I began my experiment with non-restrictive “normal” eating about two years ago, and since then I’ve moved up to about the size I was before I started restrictive eating (a size 24, which I wore when I was 15 y/o. I’m 25 y/o, now). When I was moving down in sizes, you couldn’t dam the flood of compliments I got. No one asked *how* I did it, of course, and if they did, would they have liked the answer? (“I haven’t eaten anything since yesterday morning, and that was a fat-free Fig Newton. Oh yes, and I’m also taking diet pills with ephedrine, whee!” )

I’ve noticed that my experiment has generated, rather than insults, a great sucking void with respect to my appearance. When I was starving in high school I used to get all sorts of proud compliments from my father, my stepmother (and worried remarks from my mom — she’s the only one who had her head screwed on straight), my friends, my grandmother, my extended family…and do you know I haven’t gotten a single body-referential remark since I gained back the weight? It must be because they’re so happy I’m not longer eating-disordered and are now respectful of my humanity and unmindful of what I look like, right?

Maybe not. My dad speaks with pride that my four year-old little sister is skinny as a rail, and treats her chubbier little sister (two years old) with far less respect. Weird? Should I mention he considers, “Hey, have you lost weight?” the biggest compliment of his own self in the book? Yes, he’s a self-loather. Does that mean I have to be, too?

It’s hard escaping the personal values and expectations of your parents, but I think the most important part of the journey is to realize that their personal emphasis on thin(ner)ness = success is just that — their personal emphasis. I frankly pity my Dad, because I know how unhappy he is, loathing his naturally fat body, fighting against it, coveting the rail-thin body of my stepmother and his adopted daughter. That’s really, really sad, and once I realized the issue was not with me but with him, I was free to let melt away the anger, indignation, confusion, and disappointment I felt in his estimation of my body. It was never really me he was seeing, you know. It was himself.

Cartoon for You

I drew this some months ago. It’s supposed to be — well, ironic. Let me know if it’s too obtuse lol 😉

The image is rather small because of the template of this blog design, so I’ll describe it: there’s an “in-betweenie” in the first frame. He/she is happy in the second frame, because he/she is skinnier than the fat person who has entered the frame. In the third frame, he/she is sad/mad because he/she is fatter than the very skinny person who has now entered the frame. In the fourth frame, he/she is confused because the fat and skinny figures have found love.

The title of this cartoon: Misplaced Moral Comparisons

Congrats, Whitney, for Consistent Showmanship

I want to congratulate Whitney, the winner of America’s Next Top Model, for consistent showmanship, poise, stating a plus-size-positive message whenever she had the opportunity. Here’s a YouTube of her interview on the Regis and Kelly show:

I watched a few of the old episodes from YouTube, and I was impressed by how consistently Whitney projected a size-positive message, and had no fear of speaking out about the unhealthy, abusive expectations the modeling industry places on the majority of its “normal-sized” (!!) clients.

One of her lines during the morning show interview was: “Do you know the majority of nine years olds are dieting? And I have a 13 year-old cousin who thinks she’s fat! Can you believe that?”

Gorgeous and wonderful. I know many people here object to the fact that they don’t consider her truly “plus-sized” since she’s a size 10 and most plus sizes start at 12, but remember, this is “plus-size” as defined by the 0-2 obsessed high-fashion industry. What Whitney consistently projected throughout the show was that she was a normal girl who ate normally.

And, by the way, can I say right now that I heart The Deep South for apparently being more fat positive than the rest of the country?

Here’s another telling line from the interview:

“At the Versace show none of the other girls were eating, and I brought a regular Italian lunch — you know, pasta and everything — and you should have seen them look at me.” [she said this in a very size-positive way, not a guilty way] “You know, you need brain-energy to walk and have a presence on the runway.” [So true! Earlier in the show a girl actually *collapsed and had to be put on oxygen* because I believe she wasn’t eating]

Congrats, Whitney, again. And I can’t wait to see your spreads, and I can’t wait to see you dumbfound the industry and the current media as you go on their shows and make them look so, so tiny. The news anchorwoman who introduced Whitney’s segment actually said, “So maybe I should eat something.” !! I know that was probably facetious, but I bet a part of her was thinking, Man, this girl won a beauty contest and she gets to eat…what the hell, my producers would *kill* me if I just gained five pounds!

Here’s to snapping this toxic culture’s spine in two. 🙂

Breast cancer is not “as simple as that.”

Vesta44 has a great post today about an article which claims exercise can help reduce breast cancer risk in women. How does the magic exercise pill work? Why, by reducing “the pounds,” (i.e., icky evil FATZ), of course! And we all know that extra of “the pounds” has been shown to be an automatic death sentence, leaving anyone over forty diabetic, in constant cardiac arrest, and riddled with cancers, right?

The diabetes and cardiac part we’ll wait on: La Wade is still experimenting on fat mice to get her slice of the anti-obesity wonder drug pie, so perhaps she’ll turn up the diabetes/heart disease/cancer/ruining pictures/ruining moment miracle cure soon. Stay tuned to the totally objective analyses on Phat Science for that one, folks! Oh, did I mention that because all the major studies claim a weight loss success rate of between 0% and 20% (the higher one being only a one-year study), we can therefore only conclude that weight loss success rates are greater than 0% and less than 100%? (i.e., we can’t conclude anything about weight loss success rates) Oh wait, that’s a logical fallacy? Ya don’t say? Damn that wily Carl Sagan and his Baloney Toolbox. You’re going to have to ask La Wade how she arrived at *that* particular conclusion!

But back to our original programming. So fat = cancer (risk!) right? You know what also equal cancer risk? Being tall. Yup, says so right here.

They found that the risk of experiencing breast cancer increased by 7% with each 5cm increase in height for post-menopausal women, with a marginally increased risk among pre-menopausal women.

But that’s not all! You couldn’t write an article about injecting something about teh tehriffic tehrible fatz in it, could you?

Women who are significantly overweight later in life are 26% more likely to develop breast cancer compared with those of average weight.

That’s right. So how do we interpret that as actual personal, and not comparative risk? Right now, the average risk is about 12% per person (and that’s averaged over women who do and do not have genetic predispositions. So your risk is much less than that if you aren’t genetically predisposed). So since “significantly” overweight women (and by overweight, they’re using BMI definitions — so this isn’t even obese, people) will get breast cancer at a rate of 1.26 to every 1 non-overweight woman, then their risk for getting breast cancer is a whopping 15.12%.

So being “significantly overweight” earns you a 3% higher actual risk of getting breast cancer. See how statistics are manipulated in order to look scarier than they actually are?

But wait, there’s more from this fun little article:

Paradoxically, however, being obese appears to have a protective effect in women before the menopause.

Since they’re scared of stating this stat (scared of losing their grant money, that is), we don’t know how *much* of a protective effect being obese before menopause has. It’s not good marketing to use comparative statistics on the non-lucrative stats, you know.

Even the article writer seems to miss this last one. The article title is “Tall + Fat = Cancer”? Where did this person graduate from, the Hurst School of Yellow Journalism? Or just Clown College? Jesus, really.

So it seems like there isn’t some magical prescription to make sure you don’t get cancer. If you’re not genetically predisposed, your risk is small, and if you’re overweight it’s a tiny bit higher, and if you’re obese before menopause it’s a tiny bit lower. Therefore, “diet and exercise reduces cancer risk by shedding pounds” is a fallacy.

And that, folks, is as simple as that.

The Fat NIMBY Argument

I’ve stated before that I believe it’s theoretically possible for a dieter to be pro-fat rights. People accept all sorts of contradictions in their lives with seeming ease; one can be a proponent for the rights of a group without wanting to be a member of that group, sure.

However, there’s a bigger picture that I’m beginning to realize with this whole “I’m for fat rights but personally want to lose X lbs.” The Not-In-My-Backyard (NIMBY) argument.

Most people are familiar with NIMBY arguments: one realistic model is pro-alternative energy activists not wanting the view from their summer beachhouse marred by off-shore windmills.

When a dieter says, “I’m for fat rights but personally want to lose X lbs,” it’s a variation of the NIMBY argument. They’re for fat rights, sure, but they’re going to impose a restrictive lifestyle on themselves and possibly their family because, personally, they don’t want to be fat(ter). Rationalize it any way you want — “Even though I want to lose X lbs I’ll still be considered fat by society’s current standards,” or “I don’t want to be thin, I just want to be a size healthier!” or what have you, it’s simply a Not-In-My-Backyard argument.

And many, many other civil rights activists more experienced and eloquent than I can tell you why the NIMBY argument is a fallacy and will only ultimately hobble any civil rights movement.

For those who aren’t quite clear on it, the prevailing science is this: fat fit people are as healthy as normal-weight fit people, on average; by far the greatest risk factor for heart disease/tII diabetes is genetics; it is a rare anti-obesity study that is *not* backed by a self-interested Pharma company, or power-player orgs like the RWJF; starving a fat child thin will *not* make him eternally healthful and youthful and will in fact likely make him shorter and stupider as well as thinner; the causal relationship between human adipose tissue and any of its so-called comorbities has not been established over nearly 100 years of obesity studies; significant weight loss is impossible to maintain for virtually all people; the correlation between weight loss and increasing health has not been extricated from the correlation between greater fitness and increasing health, or the temporary effects of weight loss itself; every since the creation of the childhood obesity epidemic, the prevalence of childhood eating disorders has soared, and keeps rising even as average weight gain is plateauing; a certain amount of fat is needed for proper brain/gallbladder functioning, and low-fat diets put these organs in danger; there’s a strong correlation between crash dieting/WLS and gallbladder problems, anemia, nutritional deficiences, as well as a whole other host of serious health issues which pale in comparison to most fat-related comorbities, including ED/WLS-related death; WLS and other similar stomach-reshaping/mutilating procedures are for many just forced bulimia; diet foods themselves are not necessarily “healthy,” and the idea of a human being living on no-fat veggies and empty fiber is nutritionally absurd (vegetarian/vegans/raw foodists need fats and proteins in their diets from “bad” foods like bean-types and nuts, and do not live on leafy greens and wheat germ alone), though these are food which are categorized as “healthy” to children, all other foods being lumped into the “bad” category upon which are imposed various levels of “moderation” and restriction; …. ad nauseam. REFERENCES: Search the Junkfood Science website for links to the proper articles, they’re all there.

Considering what we know about the science, the deep hypocrisy of the Fat NIMBY Argument becomes painfully apparent. Dieting for long-term weight loss is virtually impossible and can lead to serious physical and mental health problems: so the “I need to be a size healthier, though I won’t discriminate against you because you’re fat” means you do not accept that fat is not a choice for virtually all people, and you feed into the corrupt diet industry’s mantras and likely also feed their bloated coffers. And that is not fat acceptance, nor is it, in the long-term, good for the fat rights movement as a whole.

EDIT: I’ve included my comment on Attrice’s “Question about dieting and fat activism” post here:

I started writing a response about how dieting and being pro-fat rights can be paralleled to a “Not In My Backyard” (NIMBY) point of view, but it went very long and so I just made a post about it on my blog: https://bigliberty.wordpress.com/2008/05/12/the-fat-nimby-argument/

Summary: The “I support fat rights but personally want to lose X lbs” is similar to alternative energy activists petitioning to not have windmills mar the view from their summer beachhouses. Perhaps they are great alternative energy activists, and do wonderful things for their community, donate money to great charitable causes promoting alternative energy, go to marches and protests &etc.

But certainly one can see how the NIMBY argument is ultimately hypocrisy and thus ultimately harmful to the alternative energy movement as a whole. Those windmills have to go somewhere. Similarly, to state in one breath that for virtually all people fat is not a choice, therefore they should not be treated as moral outcasts and share equal rights with thinner individuals, and in the next breath engage in diet-talk, is ultimately hypocrisy and does *not* ultimately help the FA/FR movement.

Those fat people have to go somewhere. They’re not getting anywhere on good intentions; your dollars further bloating the coffers of the diet industry, your support of anti-obesity initiatives in what has been turned into the experimental laboratory of public school, your desire to shed fat from your own body for  whatever reason, are all silent judgments as fat(ter) people as disgusting/unhealthy/morally inferior to thin(ner) people.

That’s why diet talk is incompatible with FA/FR, and why dieters cannot ultimately help further the fat rights movement. Quite simply, one cannot allow that kind of hypocrisy in a movement and expect it to survive.

That’s not to say that dieters shouldn’t read FA blogs, or comment, as long as they understand the purpose of the blogs and each blog’s individual rules. In fact, I wish every dieter that exists read FA blogs. But a dieter cannot be a fat rights activist, in the true sense, and though well-intentioned they have the potential to harm the movement to a far greater degree than whatever they’re doing to ostensibly further it.

Weathering the storm or, growing pains

To start out, I should mention that FA/FL/SA is the first movement of which I’ve been a part as an active member. I’ve considered myself an Objectivist, but I wasn’t exactly an active member of the movement. Other than that, I’ve mostly been on the fringes of the status quo, reading, learning, writing, and keeping to myself.

That being said, I don’t really know much about the history of this particular movement. I don’t know much about previous internal conflicts, how the movement began, and how it’s changed since then. My experience has spanned only the past six months or so — so, keeping that in mind, I just want to say a few things about what’s been going on recently.

I’m unaware of the particulars of the conflicts, and really, it doesn’t matter. What I see is that there are a few people who have different interpretation of what FA means to them or which kinds of voices should be included as representatives of the movement, and how they believe their own individual diversity adds to the movement. Examples are here:

Lindsay’s “Re-evaluating my thoughts: the D word

Rachel’s “Notes on the fatosphere

Red3’s “Radical Fat Acceptance” and “Moderate Fat Acceptance

WorthYourWeight’s “Comparing Oppressions

My “This is going to be unpopular…

Fatshionista’s “A Different Kind of Fat Rant

amongst others, I’m sure.

Let’s get one thing straight: though I’m no longer on the Fatosphere feed, and have started my own feed, this does NOT mean that I, or the bloggers on my feed, consider themselves “outside” of the movement. Most of us read the Fatosphere feed diligently and comment liberally on those blogs, as well as in the fora on BigFatBlog.com. For our own reasons, we either weren’t accepted, or don’t feel comfortable being members of the Fatosphere feed. And that’s okay; the Fatosphere feed does not define who is in the FA/FL/SA movement.

The blog posts linked above might make people think that the movement is fracturing, dividing against itself. It might make some worry that we’ll never get anywhere if we keep disagreeing, or trying to exclude/include certain groups, individuals, or points of view.

I think most of us agree, at least on the surface, that diverse movements are the strongest kinds of movements, and that if we’re excluding certain people who could be valuable members for whatever reason, we need to find a way to rectify that sense of exclusion. There are good and bad ways to approach this. I personally thought “A Different Kind of Fat Rant” was a bad way to approach it. Note the word personally. And so I personally wrote a blog post to that effect. I did NOT attempt to find a way to exclude Tara from the movement as a whole, because that’s ridiculous. She’s a wonderful voice, a great blogger, and a great member of the movement and I’d link arms with her against fat hate any day, whatever she thinks of my skin color.

Another example: I’m a meat-eater. However, I’ve greatly enjoyed Rachel’s posts on her vegetarianism, and don’t feel put off or “divided” from vegetarian FA bloggers in any way, shape, or form. I’m also an atheist, and Rachel is not. I don’t feel like she’s trying to disinclude me, or blame meat-eaters or atheists for FA veggies feeling divided from the movement, or what have you. I feel like she’s a valuable voice, and I love meeting the person behind the objective journalist, even though I don’t share her views. I get the feeling, from what she’s written, that she feels the same way about meat-eaters and atheists. Furthermore, Rachel and I have very different political philosophies. However, I don’t feel put off by her in that respect, or that we’re divided from each other within the movement. In fact, I feel grateful that Rachel has a different philosophy, so that she can speak to those who don’t share my philosophy, and talk about FA in a way that might hit closer to home for them than I could.

Our political diversity makes the movement stronger, gives the movement the ability to include more people.

This is true for all kinds of diversity.

So what’s going on in the FA movement these days? What’s with those posts I linked to above? Are we fracturing?

…no, I really, really don’t think so. I think we’re experiencing the growing pains of a movement which has the potential to move to the next level, to have strong voices of every stripe and color trying to make a difference. We all want the same thing: an end to fat-hate. I think if there are any problems right now with us evolving to this next level, it’s that some members of the FA movement don’t want these voices representing them. They claim these voices don’t truly represent what FA should be, whether it be political, religious, diet-related, etc. And while I think those viewpoints are equally as important to the movement as the viewpoints they disagree with, if one thinks having her say requires elbowing the “other guy” out of her party, then, well, who’s being divisive?

Frankly, I don’t see what these finger-pointing members are trying to accomplish. Are they immersed in the “Elite FA Club” mentality, afraid the movement is growing too quickly for them to control the direction in which it grows, or simply don’t want people to belong to the movement who aren’t exactly like them and believe exactly the same things they believe? Or perhaps they think their views are in some way the most “right” for FA and should be treated as such? Or perhaps they just like being Big Dawgz, and feel threatened?

Regardless, it’s undeniable that the movement is changing in nature, perhaps evolving to include more people, to represent the huge growth of FA bloggers. I think what we’re going through is completely natural, though it certainly ain’t easy. To all those who feel like they’re currently at the center of some controversy (myself included), I say: let go of your anger, and remember why you started your blog in the first place, and realize your voice might not be a representation of the current status quo, but that does *not* mean it isn’t valuable. And for goodness’ sake, keep posting! 🙂

In Honor of International No-Diet Day

…I wrote a poem. It’s called, “I Was Good Today.” I hope you like it. 🙂

I Was Good Today

Now, I was good today.
The cravings found no purchase, gained no ground.
I saw, I turned my head, temptation fell, slain by my strength.
I was so good today.
Now, I was good today.
Their talk at lunch could not sway me, I
did not falter, nor give in. Some will of granite stored within
was drawn upon, made melt their castles built on sand.
I held that fork with an unshaking hand.
So good, so good this day.
Now, I was good today.
That empty hole, around which I
had orbited since junior high,
was filled. Was filled! Was there, no more.
So good, this simple day—
I fed myself, I loved myself, I banished my self-hate.
Temptations to restrict were felled, cravings to purge were slain.
I took the “T” off “DIET,” and I chose the other way.
To live, to live, to live—
now, I was good today.

May 6, 2008