De-segregation of plus sizes at Fashion Bug

This post is inspired by Unapologetically Fat’s post on Fashion Bug, please read it, it’s great!

It was a late summer’s day, and my mother was down to visit. I hadn’t seen her since the wedding (so since May), so it was fantastic to have a visit. We usually go clothes shopping when she’s down — call it a bit of a tradition — and we talk about fat issues. Call that a tradition, too. My mom isn’t quite a convert to FA yet, in that she still has a bunch of image/health issues that unfortunately her doctors have compounded.

We decided to stop by Fashion Bug — I had heard there was a store re-do, and I was interested to see how it would look. I walked in, and was pleasantly surprised — it looked like a regular boutique, instead of the usual segregated sections (plus on the right, straight on the left). I could see the clothing more clearly. Instead of having a casual rack crammed next to formal rack (both made of the same cheap knits and polyester), there was a casual and formal side, in which straight and plus sizes generally populated every rack.

Prices and selection was better, yes. But what impressed me even more than that was that I was, for the first time in years, shopping next to women of all sizes. There was a straight-sized woman who was interested in the same shirt, for instance, as I was. There were straight and plus sizes interspersed, shopping together for the same things.

And it was a freaking wonderful feeling.

I had never really thought about how confining and shaming it was to be segregated to often the back corner of a store (in a much smaller section), next to the FOOD (Super Walmart’s new brilliant placement for its Plus section), or next to Maternity or the kid’s clothes (cuz fat people are never single or young, yanno). I told myself that it feels better to shop near people of my own size.

But you know what? It really didn’t. That day at Fashion Bug, when I was shopping amongst straight sized people for the first time in years, *that* is when the shame lifted. *That* is what made me feel like we were all normal, just differently sized. That fat and thin people don’t inherently like different things, or inherently represent different demographics (in a broad sense), or inherently don’t want to shop near one another, or that plus sized people should have smaller selections of cheaper-made clothing because they don’t *deserve* the selection the straight sizes get.

As far as I know, Fashion Bug is the first mainstream store to integrate the straight and plus sizes. For that, Fashion Bug, I will definitely give you more of my business (your price drop doesn’t hurt, either!).

All I know is that I loved, loved, loved being able to shop with my mom again, who is a straight size. That we aren’t banished to different ends of the store. That she doesn’t come back from her side with a top she rightly knows I’d love, but dangit, it’s just too small (not her fault, she perpetually thinks I’m a 1x for some reason lol).

Why Universal Health-care Should Be Opposed by Fat Activists

I’ve been thinking about this for a while, ever since a my short post on why universal healthcare is not automatically fat-friendly.

I’ve often been confused by what I see as hypocrisy in those who are proponents of both sovereignty of body (i.e. – our bodies, our choices) and universal healthcare, which places the care of, and ultimately the control of, our bodies  into the hands of the state.

Many of the proponents argue that they’d rather have the state, an objective third-party with no profit motive, have control over their healthcare than the profit-motivated private sector.

However, I must take issue with that sentiment. The state is not an objective third party with no profit motive.

First off, the state’s decisions are not objective – they are made by regulators, who are often appointed by politicians, or hired by a committee headed by politicians. The main goal of all politicians, regardless of what they might say to get elected, is power. This is a good and bad thing, of course. We want the good politicians with our interests at heart to have more power than the bad politicians who oppose our interests.

Politicians are not specialized or disinterested third parties. They are not hired based on merit, with respect to the issues they espouse: they are elected by a body of non-specialists. And, as we know, even specialists can be biased and motivated to skew truth to attain personal or institutional goals, so even electing specialists wouldn’t guarantee us diddly squat.

As such, the individuals appointed to regulate healthcare and hence our bodies will be appointed ultimately by politicians. More likely politicians will “contract out” appointments to whatever healthcare organization lobbies the hardest, or has the most friends amongst the Washington elite.

When it comes down to it, the people who have the power to control your body, and by extension your behavior, will be those who crave the greatest power they can get, and will appeal to the electoral body and the misconceptions and fears of that electoral body for healthcare decisions about your body.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not very keen on the electoral body telling me what I can/cannot eat, how much and in what way I should exercise, what medications I should take, and how I should govern the health and safety of my children.

The electoral majority currently believes that I am fat because I eat too much and exercise too little. They believe that diabetes and even certain cancers can be prevented or cured by weight loss surgery such as gastric bypass or a lap-band implant.

They believe there are “good” and “bad” foods imbued with the magical power of health or illness. They believe that processed foods make you fat, and organic, locally-grown foods would keep you generally thinner.

They believe that shunning, chastising, or mocking fat people because of their weight is for our own good. They believe that hanging around fatter people can make you fat, too.

The electoral majority believes that fat adults are stupid, lazy, and lack the power of will. They believe that naturally thinner people are lucky, and that unnaturally thinner people are heroic. “Have you lost weight?” is considered one of the highest forms of praise.

The electoral majority believes that fat children are being mistreated by their stupid, lazy, ignorant parents, especially if those parents are themselves fat (and many parents of fat parents are fat, though of course not all). The electoral majority believes there is a childhood obesity “epidemic,” and that children will begin to have the heart attacks and strokes traditionally enjoyed by 50-somethings with a family history of heart disease.

The electoral majority believes that if you feed children the “right” foods, these days a low-fat, low-calorie, low-carb diet usually only prescribed to people with heart-disease — it will make the children not only permanently thin, but it will prevent heart-disease, strokes, diabetes, and certain cancers, without reference to variable family histories.

The electoral majority believes that the greatest risk factors for heart disease, strokes, certain cancers, and diabetes is fat, and that fatness is the greatest predictor of future or current ill-health. It very clearly isn’t, and even the biggest crackpot medical doctor will admit, when pressed, that fatness is a lesser risk factor than several other factors, with family history at the top of that list.

The electoral majority fears and loathes fat so much, that they refuse to use their common sense, even in the face of overwhelming counterexamples to their misconceptions, like given in the above paragraph.

The electoral majority doesn’t know what certain BMIs look like, or even what “obese” looks like. Their mental images are usually supplied by nightly news scare-footage of individuals who nearly always have the highest BMIs, who are in fact a small percentage of those who are actually technically “obese.”

I don’t know about you, but I do not want decisions made about my body, my behavior, and the bodies and behavior of my family being made by these people.

The idea that there will be some objective institution — some university or government institution perhaps that magically doesn’t have conflict-of-interest funding and their own political interests at heart — which will make objective, rigorously scientific decisions about care guidelines is a myth. I challenge you to give me an example, from any of the world’s universal healthcare governments, of a guideline-issuing body that is scientifically objective and not controlled/funded/influenced by other interests with their own agendas (whether profit or power).

Some people say that healthcare is or should be a right. Well, you can’t successfully institute a right that trounces other rights. The “right” to healthcare is the right of the government to healthcontrol.

That trounces on my personal liberty, the most important part of which is the right of body privacy. You cannot enter, not even with a warrant. The body is off-limits.

Universal healthcare is healthcontrol. It is not, especially in this current climate, a friend to fat people. It will only serve the interests of the electoral majority, who at this time fear and loathe fat, blame fat people for everything from rising fuel costs, to rising healthcare costs, to global warming.

Do you want these people to have control over your body and your health decisions? Do you want these people to have control over what premiums you pay, and what care you are allowed to receive? Do you want these people to have control over the body-monitoring of children in schools and doctor’s offices? Do you, do you really?

I am specifically not talking about relative costs in this article. There are many more eloquent than I who have made the argument that free-market healthcare is vastly more affordable, efficient, and equitable than universal healthcare. And if you think what America currently enjoys is free-market healthcare, you are sadly mistaken. My personal premium in Massachusetts is four times the amount it is in some other states, though I’m receiving the same care. Healthcare premiums are directly proportional to the amount of regulations on healthcare from state to state. (see WSJ.com — it’s in the archives for this week).

For those who believe that universal healthcare will ensure everyone is safe and healthy while under our current system some people are left out in the cold, let me ask you this: why would the complete regulation of healthcare make it more affordable person-to-person, while the evidence shows that regulation only makes premiums more expensive?

Wouldn’t it make more sense to pare down regulations on healthcare so that people in states like mine who can’t afford a $300/mo individual premium, but who can afford a $100/mo premium, would gain the ability to purchase healthcare? How many people would are currently uninsured, would then choose to be on the rolls?

Additionally, without having to pay abnormally high premiums on every individual insured under universal healthcare, the government would have more money in its coffers to offer an affordable plan to the impoverished citizens of our country. Our taxes would remain low, and fewer and fewer people would remain uninsured. We’d never get 100% of citizens insured, which is as it should be — individuals should have the option to opt out of insurance for whatever reason they choose, even if they can afford it.

But even disregarding the economic argument above — even assuming that somehow universal healthcare is the boon many make it out to be — we again face the problems of the electoral majority and healthcontrol.

Taxes will necessarily be raised in order to pay for universal healthcare. All the people who currently do not have policies will need to be subsidized. People who currently own more expensive policies and use more medical resources than others will need to be subsidized by those who use fewer resources. Institutions will have to be created to regulate healthcare, state hospitals will be built, employees and maintenance and so forth will be hired.

Given also that greater regulation means more paperwork which means hiring more people and building buildings to house those people and so forth, individual premiums will certainly be more expensive, on average, than they are now, under universal healthcare.

In short, there is no way that the current average individual premium could possibly go down under universal healthcare. It will only go up.

How is this efficient? Same quality of care for more money? Who’s paying? The taxpayers. Who will get angry when their taxes go up, and look for someone to blame, some group of people who are “more expensive” members of the healthcare community, those who have, unlike older people (who are always going to be more expensive), brought their ill health “upon themselves”?

This argument is already being rehearsed.

Nearly everywhere you hear — even in America — people claiming that fat people are making the country’s healthcare premiums go way up. People are angry that they are being made to pay for weight loss surgery (I agree with them. I do not want to pay for someone else’s weight loss surgery). They blame heart disease, certain cancers, strokes, and diabetes largely on fat, so when they hear about how expensive it is to treat these conditions, who do you think they’re going to blame?

Taxpayers—the electoral majority—who hold all the misconceptions I listed above (obviously there are some exceptions, like those in the FA community), are going to believe that fat people are costing them money, through their irresponsible, ignorant, lazy behavior. Do you see where this is going? Do we see how it has gone in some other countries, even states in our own union, who want to make fat people pay more for healthcare, or be denied health services with no option to turn anywhere else, just because they are fat?

We are very lucky to currently be able to state, “My fat is none of your business,” when encountering fat hatred, or “My fat has nothing to do with you. I’m not hurting anyone.”

Under universal healthcare, we will no longer have that freedom.

Under universal healthcare, they will believe that our fat is indeed their business, because it is costing them money. They will believe it has everything to do with them, and that it does indeed hurt them and their desired lifestyle. They will believe that they couldn’t afford to send their kids to private school because of fat people. They will believe that the government couldn’t afford to send the proper equipment to the troops because of fat people. And so on, and so forth.

Do you understand? Do you get what I’m trying so desperately to convey?

The only way we can fight our fight and win is to retain our sovereignty over our own body. Once our body becomes common property, the misconceptions about fat will turn fat people into easy scapegoats, and will institutionalize fat hatred. We will no longer be able to say, “Hands off!” We shall be immensely less free, and will become institutionalized second-class citizens. And brother, whatever you say about our practical second-class citizenship currently, it is peanuts compared to what we’d suffer as institutionalized second-class citizens.

Universal healthcare should be opposed by fat activists.

Fat Americans, universal healthcare is not your friend. Regardless of how you believe the current heavily regulated market economy healthcare is broken, at the end of the day, we still have sovereignty over our own bodies. We can opt out of discriminating plans, we can choose to pay more, some plans still do not discriminate against fat, and, above all, nobody else can honestly claim the right to dictate our health or our choices to us.

Human rights cannot contradict each other. Beware of anything people claim to be a right which does.

By adopting universal healthcare so we can redistribute income in the direction of the poor, we will put the currently uninsured 15% on the rolls, but we will lose something much, much more important: The fundamental right to govern our own bodies.

Libertarianism, Individual Responsibility and Freedom is Compatible with Fat Acceptance

I get the hint from a discussion in the comments of a post titled “Hostility” on Shapely Prose that some people in the Fat Acceptance movement believe that, somehow, libertarianism has the penchant to create “straight white guys” who are non-PCers, i.e., reject the idea that one must use civil language and compassion when talking about people who fit into stereotypical groups. It is then explained that non-PCers are secretly afraid that, if they aren’t allowed to demean people with words, then their “incredibly tenuous superiority” will be threatened.

First of all, I should mention that the tie-in to Libertarianism was taken out of the original post. Thanks to Fillyjonk (the OP) for rethinking that tie.

However, regardless of whether it was taken out, it is an important to highlight a knee-jerk association, similar to “Conservatives are evil” and “liberals are fascists.” And I’m not saintly in this respect; I’ve maintained that modern liberalism more closely resembles classical statism, where an elite, in this case highly educated, few decide how/where the non-elite should live, what healthcare they should receive, how their children should be educated, what jobs and universities they do/do not have access to, what charities private individuals should support (in the form of taxes to support the popular social welfare programs of the moment), and so forth. I’ve also hinted, and seen hinted on other blogs that are certainly not libertarian, modern liberalism would (and already is) proactively separate out social undesirables and enforce a lifestyle upon them that would ‘integrate’ them into the masses (like weight-loss programs in public schools, and special-ed requirements for Aspies).

I would like to, at least on my blog, debunk some of the popular beliefs held about libertarianism and show, in fact, it is not those who truly understand and hold dear libertarian morals that would thrive in constructed superiority over stereotyped classes, but those who warp libertarian ideals for their own purposes (perhaps the same dynamic operating in the embarrassing elements of conservatism and liberalism). These individuals are operating perpendicularly to libertarianism, NOT in parallel with it.

From the Wiki article on Libertarianism:

Libertarianism is a collection of political philosophies possessing a common theme of individual liberty. Libertarianism’s ideals, although often varied in detail, typically center on policies in favor of allowing extensive personal liberties, rejection of state communism and state socialism in favor of individual ownership and control, personal responsibility and charity rather than welfare statism, and also theorize either limiting or entirely eliminating the power and scope of government with the purpose of maximizing individual liberty.

Certainly, within that scope, is the necessary acceptance of freedom of speech. I think, if we truly want to understand the mind of non-PCers, we need to see things from their perspective. They are, at heart, fiercely indignant at any external measure to limit their speech, which they believe is a way to control them. They’re likely angry, and finally having accepted non-PCism after years of succumbing to it, are abusing its purpose.

You see, the true strength in free speech in Libertarianism is that those who respect free speech, and want to protect it, are those who choose, of their own free will to use civil language, while at the same time rejecting doublespeak notions. In other words, a veteran Libertarian would never use crass, crude, developed-to-be-defamatory language to describe others, rather, we would use the most technically correct, civil language. We wouldn’t call the Fat Acceptance movement either Fattie-Fat-Fat Power or The Communal Progression to Be Accepted of Those Individuals Who Currently Fall Within the Overweight to Obese BMI Categories (which are arbitrarily defined).

Instead, Fat Acceptance is technically descriptive and civil-tongued.

Freedom is hard. It allows others to choose their words and their actions which could, in theory, lead to unpopular opinions and actions to arise. Dangerous and harmful actions have laws created which would protect the citizenry from each other, but unpopular opinions are left to the marketplace of ideas to ferret out the most sensical. Demagogues aren’t allowed to arise since the only way they could come into power would be for the society to reject libertarianism in favor of fascism since fascism has, at its heart, the destruction of liberty. A libertarian society would construct its laws and Constitution to, above all else, protect personal liberty.

Indeed, as a rights theorist libertarian, it is the control of another when the other has not in any way infringed upon the liberties of their controller, that I find most repugnant:

Rights theorists, which include noted deontologists, assert that all persons are the absolute owners of their lives, and should be free to do whatever they wish with their own bodies or property, provided they do not infringe on the rights of another to engage in that same freedom.

This should be of interest to FA activists, and is one of the primary reasons FA activism is compatible with my moral beliefs. While conservatism ever seeks its base and history for morality (which may mean imposing control structures on others), and modern liberalism answers ‘good of the majority’ determinations with control structures imposed on the unpopular, libertarianism believes “all persons are the absolute owners of their lives, and should be free to do whatever they wish with their own bodies or property, provided they do not infringe on the rights of another to engage in that same freedom.”

Even though there is hard evidence to back up the assertion that fat individuals do not harm the ‘people’ with their fatness, in a libertarian society the question of whether or not fat is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ for the people would never have arisen. In fact, in a libertarian society, the only argument that would have fat people infringing upon the liberties of non-fat people would be in a universal healthcare system where, indeed, fat ended up costing others more money (though a recent study suggested even this well-worn position of fattists is, like their other positions, crumbling under the weight of scientific evidence [pun intended]). And, in fact, a morally-consistent libertarian society would never have a universal healthcare system in the first place, since it is fundamentally an income-redistribution mechanism.

Therefore, I put to you that libertarianism is one of the most strongly favorable systems to diversity. You can be anyone, of any color, of any sex, of any size and ability (and so on), and you can participate in the society with equal facility. That is, unless you desired unequal treatments that would infringe upon the personal liberty of others for your own gain, or whether others desired unequal treatment of you for the same reasons. Neither would fly. Therefore positive and negative discrimination would not be allowable.

It is important to note at this point, that I don’t consider most individuals who harbor beliefs opposed to such fundamental freedoms bad. In order to become a good character writer, one of the first concepts I had to grasp was that most people who are ‘bad’ don’t believe they’re ‘bad.’ I.e., they are just like you and I, in that they believe their systems will deliver us all into a better life. No system of beliefs has yet discovered a way to let everyone be free in a way where every single person has the perfect life, progressing in exactly the way they want it to. Libertarians would leave those who make bad personal choices out in the cold, and the children of the same would have their parents to first overcome (though then, in libertarianism, they would have a world of opportunities open to them. These aren’t opportunities in the sense that modern liberalism defines opportunities, but that is a discussion for another day). Liberals believe some should carry the burdens of others who ‘cannot’ carry the burdens of themselves, their children, etc. The definition of ‘cannot’ is very wide-ranging, and varies between liberals themselves. Conservatives believe government should impose the ideals of their forefathers and religious icons upon all, in order to preserve what they believe is some sort of cultural ‘golden age’ (like family values with respect to the 1950’s-era family); this would of course place impositions on some, like gay couples who want to be married, women who want/need abortions, and so forth.

Libertarians believe the cultivation of individual liberty maximizes societal happiness and prosperity. Liberals believe the cultivation of the collective good maximizes societal happiness and prosperity. Conservatives believe the cultivation of what they believe are historical periods of happiness and prosperity will maximize societal happiness and prosperity.

To say any one group is flawless, without so-called members that warp the fundamental messages to their own ends, is fallacious. Within libertarians, there are some ignorant people who translate individual liberty into “I can word-vomit all over you, and that’s freedom o’speech baby.” Those who really understand libertarianism would know that, with freedom, comes responsibility. That word-vomit does hurt others, while a civilized conversation embracing the same questions would make on think, not hurt. Libertarians want to preserve a civil discourse because to do so allows everyone the most freedom as well as maximizing their own freedom. It is in their best interest to speak responsibly.

Some liberals take the notion of the ‘good of the people’ to mean “My beliefs are superior, so people would be best off if they followed them. I shall make them follow them.” I’m sure that the good part of liberals find that view repugnant. Liberalism wants to maximize the good, and spread out privilege so as many people as possible have as much power as possible. Unlike libertarianism, there are constraints to personal freedom, since it’s believed some freedom (like that in the free market) will lead to abuses of some so that others profit (dog-eat-dog). Whether or not this is true is heavily debated, and is one of the fundamental differences between liberals and libertarians, who believe the free market maximizes prosperity for all, if the market is truly allowed to be free.

Conservatives have groups within them that view some ‘historical successes’ to be those times that maximized the happiness and prosperity of people like them, i.e., Jim Crow with respect to whites. And, again, most conservatives are likely highly embarrassed at this moral minority within their ranks, who warp their beliefs for their own ends.

In conclusion to a very long post I’ll probably want to edit a few times more, since it’s being written in all one shot (yay, Sunday morning!), all of the political groups within the FA movement have their flaws, and each person who adopts a set of beliefs believes he/she will truly maximize the happiness and prosperity of his/her fellow man. To pick out the members of a political group that warp the beliefs of that group and characterize the whole group that way, is nothing better than rhetorical mud-slinging. While I’m strongly opposed to liberal fascism and think it is a force for great evil in the world, I never confuse your average Democrat liberal with a liberal fascist, so name to separate out this dangerous element. In other words, liberal =! liberal fascist (=! means ‘does not equal’).

I also believe that the core precepts of libertarianism are, taken together, the best friend of the FA movement. We should all accept the notion that each individual should have liberty over his/her body, to love or hate it at will, to treat it well or abuse it, to promote it or denigrate it, without government intervention. That rehabilitation is our choice, not our consequence. That love, acceptance, and promotion is our choice, not our fight.

And if others don’t like it, they can speak against it. But they can never take our right to be who we are.

“Lock-in” the Fatty Fat Fats

I have been reading the article on Junkfood Science here: Children hungry to lose weight

One of the recommendations of “Hungry for Success” is so-called “lock-ins” of high school students during lunch-time, so they can’t leave the campus (and get that fatty fat fat McDonald’s food which is obviously CAUZING TEH FATZ THINK CHILDREN OMG).

This is just one of the many problems with this article. Its main thrust, of course, is the implementation of a Food Police to monitor what you eat and turn food choices into moral choices (especially in their pressure on expecting mothers, who we all know are vulnerable to doom-and-gloom language, desiring their babies to be as healthy as possible).

Another example of what I’ll just call “Fat Capitalism;” my firm belief is that no less than free-market capitalism is necessary to end the oppression of fat people. Why? Because the tools of mass <i>political</i> oppression are precisely the tools a powerful, centralized government possesses. It doesn’t matter if they don’t use those tools against the unpopular segments of society this generation, because with those tools in their possession, all it takes is the political ‘tide’ to turn, and generally unpopular groups turn into scapegoats.

Tools that centralized governments currently use against their unpopular fat groups: government-mandated healthcare programs (“You make everyone else’s premiums go up, fatty, because of your fat. Therefore, I can force you to diet.”), public education (“Your kids are in our schools and we provide the food and recreation. Hence, we can force your children to take more hours of gym than academics, go to mandated after-school concentration-camp nutrition/starvation programs, and lock them into the school during lunch so they don’t get fatty-fat-fat”), adoption and child services (“You’re too fat to adopt/keep your child.”), and more to be added later.

I will expound upon “Fat Capitalism” more in a future post. To become free, one must live in a society that allows us to make free choices about our own bodies. Too bad that “Pro-Choice” will soon only apply to abortions, since all our other body choices will be taken away from us.