Fat Liberation Feed Update

Hi all! I just wanted to run through a couple items about the Fat Liberation feed.

  1. Atchka! is no longer on the feed. I apologize, this probably should have happened sooner.
  2. There has been some concern about elizebeth’s blog, Fat Activist. Do you have any concerns about this blog remaining on the feed?
  3. And, of course, if anyone wants to join the feed, please let me know, and I’ll review your blog to see if it fits. The feed generally doesn’t have a strict requirements to adhere to FA topics, though the blogs should be fat positive (no diet talk, no WLS talk, no fatphobia).
  4. Are there any other blogs on the feed that concern you?

Thanks for your input.

On Being Pro-Liberty and Anti-Dieting

elizebeth has a post today, in which she says:

The conflict comes when I think about suggesting that path for others. It’s one thing for me to say “I’M” fine with accepting my fate…but am I promoting the idea that others should too?

What if the science is suggesting that being naturally fat ALSO means I’m naturally meant to die a little earlier than my thin counterparts?

Am I suggesting that EVERYONE should just accept that? Do I think we’re just supposed to accept our genetic destinies, regardless of the possible outcome?

It’s a hard question.

At the very same time, I also can’t imagine trying to DICTATE how people SHOULD live their lives. Which is why I take a diet neutral stance.

If people can find some way to be happy with who they are AND diet with the goal of weight loss, who am I to say their choice is wrong?

So, if I am to say that I’m “pro-fat”, I have to add the addendum that I’m also “pro-liberty.”

I think there are a few things going on here. First off, there is the murky suggestion that ‘science might say…’ and then a hypothetical decision being made based on what you’re hypothetically positing science is saying at the moment. Namely, that certain fat people ‘will’ die sooner than other people, due to their fat.

Many studies have shown a J-curve relationship between BMI and mortality (here’s one). They each suggest that underweight is the most risky category in which to reside throughout life, and overweight the least risky. ‘Normal’ and small fats (BMI 30 – 35) have the same risk. BMI > 35 has more risk than the others except underweight. I would guess that further partitioning the BMI >35 range would show most of the ‘increased risk’ was at the far higher end. I would also suggest that most people at the higher end of the BMI range are fat due to illness or some kind of condition (that is, fat as a symptom). And it would be the illness or condition that’s a greater predictor of early mortality, which would be conflated with fat in most risk-factor analyses (which don’t care about chicken-and-the-egg causation, just correlation).

So, that being said, your blanket implication (without any real analysis of the gravity of that implication) that ‘science might say…fatties are doomed to die earlier,’ and how you as an individual process that pseudoscienterrific statement, doesn’t really fall out of the evidence.

What I’m seeing a lot of in this post is this fake-skeptical balancing act which seems to grant the fatphobics their arguments in the name of ‘skepticism,’ then goes on a hypothetical walk around the pond to sort out implications. It just doesn’t mean anything. It’s not like we’re in the nineteenth century, when no real science had been conducted on this subject. You don’t have to sit around and ‘wonder’ what might be true. Go out there and read the evidence (The Fat Nutritionist has a superb list of links…magnifica, amica!), and then sort it out on your own. It’ll make your arguments on the implications of science a lot more rational. I mean, I could sit around and say, “Hey, what if unicorns do exist?” and write a blog post about the implications, but it wouldn’t really mean anything in reality, would it?

It’s your blog, you can say anything you wish on it. But as a fat acceptance activist, I take issue with some of your claims (especially since you’re on the Fat Liberation feed), and the way you choose to argue them.

Okay, time for the next point here — on why being pro-liberty doesn’t mean one has to be diet-neutral (or anything-neutral).

There’s a false dichotomy being built in elizebeth’s argument above. The suggestion is that those of us who don’t take a diet-neutral stance want to dictate to others how they should live. But, of course, that simply isn’t true. I can root for you to have the power to make any choice about your body you deem expedient, or not, for whatever, or no, reasons. All being pro-liberty means is that one is anti-interventionist. It doesn’t mean that one has to sit twiddling their thumbs in a dieting-obsessed, fatphobic world, and not speak out against these things.

As an anti-interventionist pro-liberty gal, I think I can speak to this point with some kind of expertise.

The evidence suggests that dieting doesn’t work. The evidence suggests that we are in a moral panic where fat people play the part of folkdevil. The evidence suggests that the vast majority of fat people are programmed to be some degree of fat. Many pro-interventionist, anti-fat studies are conducted in a non-rigorous manner, play fast and loose with the statistical analysis, are meant as anti-fat propaganda/marketing pieces which go straight to AP press-release and then to your local nightly news, or feature giant conflicts of interest in funding or authorship.

Okay, let’s check — yep, I’m still pro-liberty. Now, what just happened here?

I was able to define clear points on why I’m fat accepting, and how the evidence plays a crucial role in that state of being. I didn’t breathe a word about what other people should or shouldn’t do—in effect, I was engaging in education and promotion, not public policy. There’s a difference. I didn’t assume that my fat readers fell into any particular categories, nor did I feel the need to talk out of both sides of my mouth in order to appear as some kind of ‘moderate.’

What I don’t think is understood clearly is that this ‘skepticism’ being employed on some pro-fat blogs is not making your arguments appear more reasonable, it’s just watering down their meaning to nearly nothing. I can still give my opponent his best argument while fashioning one of my own. For instance, even if fatness qua fatness is associated a higher risk of death in some fat populations, that doesn’t meant the ‘obesity epidemic’ is a reasonable movement of any kind. Because, quite simply, there are other populations that experience this same kind of J-curve relationship with respect to mortality, with respect to other characteristics. Athletes and tall people, for instance. Yet, I don’t see people talking about a Tall Epidemic, or angrily protesting outside Olympic stadia that they have to support these athletes and their irresponsible, health-costly lifestyles.

We’re in a moral panic. Moral panics infuriate pro-liberty people like me. The vastness of the ignorance that needs to be put in motion in order to force society to evolve to this state is astounding. Additionally, moral panics often result in some kind of intervention forced on deviant groups by the other groups in power.

So what does being pro-liberty have to do with taking a neutral stance on dieting? Well, nothing. I can be pro-liberty and anti-dieting without contradiction. However, one cannot be pro-dieting and anti-dieting without contradiction. And one certainly can’t be fat accepting while weakly arguing the other side’s case without necessary logical and evidential caveats, under the guise of ‘skepticism.’

JunkfoodScience off the Fatosphere

…so if you want to stay updated on Sandy’s GREAT posts (each a gem) on JunkfoodScience, please subscribe to The Fat Liberation feed, which will carry Sandy (one of the foundations of the fat liberation movement, and one of the strongest myth-busters the movement has ever seen), until the sun burns out, or idiots stop hating fat people (whichever comes soonest).

Some of JFS’s best posts since was removed from the objective, unbiased, united, diverse, and intersectional Fatosphere:

1. Science by press release squared — Can children’s books really eradicate childhood obesity?

2. The first Law of Thermodynamics in real life

3. Healthcare on the government

4. How’s that working? (on how the MA mandated-insurance plan, similar to the Obama plan, has failed, failed, failed. Not exactly in agreement with hopes and dreams of some of the Fatosphere bloggers)

EDIT: As such, Big Liberty no longer supports the Fatosphere as a community (though there are some individual bloggers on the Fatosphere we still support). The Fatsophere feed will be removed from the Big Liberty front page. Good riddance to bad rubbish!

EDIT 2: According to Linsday, Sandy herself asked to be removed. If this is true (I don’t have any verification of this from the source), then I applaud Sandy for making such a wise choice. It made my skin crawl to see her thoughtful, well-researched, objective posts followed in the feed by the latest spin in support of far-liberal ideology (again, not all bloggers posted such, but some of the most prominent on the feed did).

EDIT 3: Some of the statements in this post have been edited for accuracy (as well as the title). Apparently the Fatosphere did not drop JunkfoodScience (I believed it did, since I was dropped due to my politics). However, it is still important to outline WHY JFS is no longer on the Fatosphere feed. Would it have remained if the Fatosphere hadn’t gravitated so sharply left? What does the removal of JFS mean to the future of the Fatosphere feed, given her gigantic role in the movement?

Coffee Catholic is off the Fat Liberation Feed

Hi all,

I just wanted to announce that Coffee Catholic is off the Fat Liberation feed. Her blog isn’t much about fat these days, and some of the imagery has been pretty offensive, so I don’t think that her blog is a fit for the Fat Liberation feed anymore.

There was also some questions about her politics and rhetoric in the previous post, and there were some things I considered to be out of line (though, as I’d argued, no more than the Fatosphere feed), and upon reflection I decided that I don’t want the FL feed to exist as merely a counterbalance to the Fatosphere feed. It is its own, separate entity, and is not going to be playing by the same rules (which I think are a tendency to squeeze out one political party while promoting and encouraging extremists on the other side).

Apologies to those that were offended by CC, and apologies to CC since this was so abrupt.

On the presence of CoffeeCatholic on the Fat Liberation feed

This started as a comment on this post, at Dancing With My Mirror.

One newcomer to the Fat Liberation blogroll is a right-wing blogger who goes by the nick “Coffee Catholic”. I know that there is space here for varying opinions but when I read a comment from that blogger that goes “That’s because you creepy man-looking Feminist/Liberals cannot even begin to imagine what it means to love beyond your selfish self-serving selves.”, it pisses me off and makes me feel attacked. She turned off comments for some reason (ummm, wonder why?) and to be frank, aside from one or two entries, I don’t even see what her blog has to do with being fat.

I’m kinda sitting on the fence here (I could imagine that if that person subscribed to the blogrolls, she’d skip over nudiemuse’s entries, to name one blogger whose overall opinions and points of view are at the spectrum opposite of Coffee Catholic’s). I admit it: I am a liberal, left-wing, pro-choice agnostic feminist fat straight woman (phew! that’s a lot of adjectives!!!) who believes in the right for gay marriage and gay rights in general. I rarely (if ever) discuss politics and religion in my writings because I feel these topics to be private. So when I read homophobic, right-wing, anti-feminist entries (that have nothing to do with fat acceptance) in the blogroll, it makes me uncomfortable.

I don’t know where the line can be crossed for someone’s blog to become unsuitable for the Fat Liberation roll, but for now, my only option is to quickly scroll down whenever I see the name Coffee Catholic.

I run the Fat Liberation feed, and while I don’t agree with what CoffeeCatholic says a good deal of the time, I think what she has to say is no less hateful and rhetoric-filled than some of the blogs on the Fatosphere. I’m thinking of Shapely Prose, f-words, TheRotund to name a few (I didn’t include nudemuse because I think her posts, while politically disagreeable to me, aren’t hateful). These blogs also don’t always post about fat (with f-words posting as much about fat as CoffeeCatholic).

While I agree that it might not be the most appropriate blog on the FL feed at times, you have to realize that there are people out there who are just as offended by some of the posts of blogs made on the Fatosphere, and who scroll past those posts as quickly as you scroll past CoffeeCatholic’s. While CC is extreme, it’s bothersome to those who are mostly used to having their own extreme viewpoints heard and encouraged. What not a lot of people realize is that some of the viewpoints of the blogs on the Fatosphere feed *are* extreme, and *not* mainstream.

I think it is important to give blogs like CC a voice, mainly to balance the Fatosphere. I’ve never read anything on CC’s blog that I believe is homophobic, for instance — she doesn’t hate gays, she just doesn’t like the idea of her life having to conform to what she sees as groups that are less about civil rights than they are about power-lobbying. And while she believes that homosexuality is a sin, she doesn’t care about whether people are gay or not.

Now, I personally don’t agree with this. I don’t think homosexuality is a sin, I think it’s biological and natural. But I’m not going to paint hate where there is just disagreement.

I can understand how if you see life differently than CC, you might think that’s discriminatory or hateful. You have to understand that there are many people who think that demanding special privileges for people based on their sexual orientation, gender, ethnicity, religion or non-religion, etc is hateful and discriminatory. This is something in my experience not a lot of social left-wingers really grasp. Of course, it’s hard for the right-wingers to understand why singling out people based on their skin-color *isn’t* racist, for instance. So there’s a dissonance between groups that is similar in its stubborn nature, but ultimately doesn’t make any extreme blog any more sanctimonious and deserving of feed status than any other extreme blog.

For instance, this post is worthy of being on a fat-related feed, even though it doesn’t mention that Obama promotes the 400,000 deaths due to obesity/year CDC number shown to be hugely false? That Obama supports a Health Corps which would be like the corps of fat police (oh ‘scuse me, care providers) now roaming the streets of Scotland, fingering fatties for unsolicited “health” advice? That he supports “healthy” school lunch initiatives like the one in Florida which was found to be underfeeding children and, when discovering they weren’t getting any thinner, proposed to further underfeed them??

You have to understand that there are some people out there who consider this kind of unbalanced post as much as an “attack” as some people find the posts on CoffeeCatholic’s blog. So who deserves a voice? Why do the left-wing extremists deserve a voice on the feeds, while the (only) right-wing extremist doesn’t?

I’m really sorry that some people don’t feel comfortable reading the FL feed. Sometimes I skip over CC’s posts, too. But you have to understand, there are those of us who don’t always feel comfortable reading the Fatosphere feed, either. Either you are fair and supress all the extreme voices, or you try to create balance when you see the scale being tipped largely in the other direction. That’s what I’m trying to do.