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! ๐Ÿ™‚

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3 comments on “Weathering the storm or, growing pains

  1. vesta44 says:

    This is the reason I love FA/SA/FL so much – there are so many different voices/views/ideas. I may not agree with all of them, but by reading/listening to all of them, my view of this movement and what it means to the people in it is broadened. I’m given a different perspective with which to look at what’s happening to people who aren’t the same as me and have experiences that are so very different than mine. Hell, those experiences that are different from mine give me a different perspective on what I’ve dealt with in my life, and sometimes give me ways to cope that I hadn’t even thought of, let alone considered. If we want society to accept a diversity of body shapes/sizes, then shouldn’t we be willing to accept that same kind of diversity in thoughts/ideas/ways of working to advance this movement?

  2. Rachel says:

    Actually, I’m a Buddhist atheist ๐Ÿ™‚

    I think these kinds of growing pains are just that: growing pains. It indicates the movement is becoming larger, more expansive. I think this is a problem common to many movements as it constantly seeks to redefine the boundaries drawn by its members.

  3. BigLiberty says:

    ^Sorry for the misconception Rachel, I know some people who are Buddhist and Jewish culturally, I’ll make sure to note that. ๐Ÿ™‚ And you’re right, redefining boundaries is a sign of growth — growth being a good thing, amidst the conflict! ๐Ÿ™‚

    vesta, I agree with your last statement about diversity. I think many misunderstand what it means to accept diversity within a movement — they feel like it means they have to agree with everything everyone else in the movement is saying, and that to say, allow someone who is anti-fat-hate yet is currently dieting into the movement means they have to believe in diets or dieters. Not so. And one could link arms with a dieter against fat hate, and write on her blog how she believes diets are tools of oppression, *without cognitive dissonance*.

    The minute that same dieter starts to imply since she diets others should diet, of course, is the minute you can choose to unlink that arm. But it is entirely possible there are dieters out there who are against fat hate and would make valuable additions to the movement. And yes, it makes me uneasy, since I don’t personally want to rubberstamp any cosmetic diet, ever. But I realize I’m *not* doing that by teaming up with someone who is against fat hate yet happens to be a dieter, and I get over it, yanno? ๐Ÿ˜‰

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