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Article by Lily-Rygh Glen, Illustrated by Mia Nolting, appeared in issue Lost & Found; published in 2008; filed under Social commentary; tagged body image, eating disorders, fat acceptance, fat phobia.
Are eating disorders the Lavender Menace of the fat acceptance movement?

BeckyAll names have been changed. has been active in the fat acceptance movement for a good half-dozen years. She attends and organizes awareness-raising events, takes part in her local fat social scene, and fights to end discrimination against fat people with a powerful combination of weary sadness and righteous anger. She wears her weight like well-adorned armor, betraying no sense of regret or shame in her 480-pound body.

Becky also has an eating disorder. When I asked her how she reconciles these two parts of her life, she replied simply, "I don't." Becky hasn't "come out" about her eating disorder to her peers in the fat acceptance movement and has no plans to do so anytime soon. A binge eater who uses food as a control mechanism, Becky literally shakes when discussing what would happen if she were "found out" within the movement. "That kind of stuff just isn't talked about," she explains. "If I actually admitted that I can't control when or what I eat, and that I hate myself because of it…. I mean, you're kidding, right?"

The stories of other women prove that Becky's misgivings are unfortunately justified. Susan, a recovering bulimic, was actually kicked out of a social group for fat lesbians when she started following the food plan given to her by a nutritionist. She was called a traitor and told she was "giving up her soul" with her new regimen, since it meant that she might lose weight as a result of her changed behaviors. "I thought I was losing bad habits, not friends," Susan laments. "What I discovered is that it's just not okay to talk about the fact that some people are fat because they have serious problems with food. I was [called] fatphobic, but really I was just trying to save my own life."

I've talked to more than a dozen women like Becky and Susan, all of whom are active in the fat acceptance movement, and all of whom identify as eating disordered. Each feels certain that she would no longer be welcome in the fat acceptance community if she were honest about her sickness.

How has the political and social climate of the fat acceptance movement become one in which its members are legitimately afraid that they will be rejected from the community if they openly acknowledge their diseases?

There is no Stonewall of the fat acceptance movement, no single moment of coalescence. The movement's origins can be traced back to the creation of the National Association to Aid Fat Americans (NAAFA), which remains the largest fat acceptance organization in the world. Founded in 1969 by William Fabrey, NAAFA's mission was a simple one: provide support, legal resources, and solidarity to fat people struggling to thrive emotionally, legally, and physically within an increasingly discriminatory and fat-intolerant society. Its goal, as its title suggested, was to "aid" fat people.

NAAFA still exists, but with one critical difference: The acronym now stands for the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance. While this might appear to be nothing more than a matter of printing new letterhead, somewhere along the way NAAFA's primary goal went from "aiding" fat people to promoting tolerance in mainstream society. Instead of supporting the needs of fat people, NAAFA advocates the "acceptance" of fat people as a class.

That strategy makes a certain amount of sense. Fat people are blamed for everything from the morass that is the American healthcare system to the rise of airline fares, and new statistics seem to materialize every day. MSNBC reports that a full 25 percent of all medical costs can be linked directly to obesity, while the New England Journal of Medicine publishes a study claiming that fat is literally contagious; having fat friends, it declares, will make you fat even if you live thousands of miles apart and never share so much as a crème brulée. The shaming of fat people has become a cottage industry through prime-time television programs like Big Medicine, Inside the Brookhaven Obesity Clinic, and, of course, the aptly titled The Biggest Loser. Meanwhile, the "I was a big, fat sinner, but now I'm svelte and redeemed" revival stories of celebrities like Oprah Winfrey (who once proclaimed that losing weight was the single greatest accomplishment of her life, despite having overcome poverty and drug abuse to become the first African-American woman billionaire) continue to make tv and tabloid headlines. In this climate, admitting that some fat people have eating disorders is like putting ammunition in the hands of everyone who seeks to "cure" obesity—to say nothing of modest weight gain—through the humiliation and shaming of fat folks. In this fatphobic mindset, thin people with eating disorders require compassionate treatment (or, more disturbingly, are heralded as icons—see sidebar), but fat people with eating disorders are lazy and deserve what they get.

The arrogance that informs this binary is precisely why broaching the subject in a public forum is so risky. And yet, an open conversation about eating disorders within the fat acceptance movement has the potential to further both the movement's effectiveness and its integrity. One doesn't have to look any further than the second wave of American feminism for an example of how internal challenges can ultimately benefit a political group. Thirty years ago, mainstream feminist organizations like NOW were loath to acknowledge lesbians among their cohort, on the grounds that their presence could weaken NOW's lobbying and coalition-building efforts. They feared the "Lavender Menace" would stall and politically isolate women's liberation by validating the widespread media assumption that all feminists were man-hating separatists. It took way too long for the feminist movement to realize that lesbian voices would enrich, not destroy, feminism.

When I brought this example to one member of the fat acceptance community, suggesting that the movement would similarly benefit from including and inviting difficult conversations, she replied, "[Just] because we do not incorporate [eating disorders] in our performance art or talk about it to the media is not a show of denial." Becky and Susan disagree. It is precisely because eating disorders are not openly discussed that many fat people who suffer from bulimia, binge-eating disorder, and pathorexia (defined as disordered appetite, and used to refer to an entire spectrum of disordered eating) feel they aren't welcome in the fat acceptance movement. Eating disorders are the proverbial elephant in the room that most members of the fat acceptance community pretend not to see. Some of the hushed voices surrounding the issue may be due to the relative youth of the movement, which is still finding its footing and setting priorities. And yet it is precisely because this movement is just now gaining real momentum that the time is ripe for having these conversations. But because the otherwise-diverse movement is silent about eating disorders, it's easy to see why these hot-button topics seem off-limits. The silence around them magnifies the shame of being both fat and eating disordered in a community that refuses to complicate itself. Quite simply, people with eating disorders are the Lavender Menace of the fat acceptance movement.

A quick look at the NAAFA website is instructive here. NAAFA lists official policies on everything from weight-loss drugs and surgery to employment and adoption discrimination, even feederism (a sexual fetish centered on erotic weight gain), but has no official policy on the treatment of eating disorders. The organization boasts groups for vegetarians, lesbian activists, weight-loss surgery "survivors," and those with sleep apnea—but offers no forum for those with eating disorders. The only place NAAFA does give any space to eating disorders is in its selection of brochures. And unfortunately, this potentially useful and instructional document is riddled with factual errors and a defensive tone. NAAFA's stance can be distilled to one simplistic, dangerous notion: If you have an eating disorder, it's because you are trying to lose weight. If, therefore, you stop trying to lose weight, you will no longer have an eating disorder—easy peasy. NAAFA states that "symptoms of eating disorders are the direct result of attempting to lose weight" [italics mine], and "a major cause of eating disorders is … reduction of food intake." Not only does NAAFA's brochure use "dieting" and "weight loss" synonymously—a significant problem in itself—it goes on to offer insights that are as repugnant as they are misguided. According to NAAFA, recovery from an eating disorder is as simple as "stopping the weight-reduction efforts." Try telling that to anyone who is in treatment for an eating disorder, fat or thin. To suggest that altering one's diet will "cure" an eating disorder is manipulative and self-serving, not to mention every bit as patronizing as telling a compulsive gambler to just step away from the OTB and open a savings account.

But in what is by far the biggest betrayal of their readers' trust, NAAFA contradicts decades of medical and psychological research and claims that while the term "compulsive overeating" implies that "binge eating has a psychological cause (i.e., compulsion)," "there is little evidence to support this notion for most fat people who binge-eat." Now, let's just be realistic here. Obesity itself is not listed in the DSM-IV, the listing of diagnostic codes used by psychiatrists to classify patients, because, the volume notes, "It has not been established that it is consistently associated with a psychological or behavioral syndrome." Fair enough. But NAAFA's claim that there is "little evidence" to support a psychological cause for eating disorders is absurd. While binge-eating disorder, probably the most common eating disorder among fat people, is frequently triggered by food restriction, it is dangerous and irresponsible to imply that there is no pathology around eating disorders. In this instance, NAAFA is willing to risk the physical and psychological well-being of individual fat people in order to protect fat people as a class from charges that they are unhealthy. Although NAAFA claims that its mission is to support members, it's hard to see how fat people, with or without eating disorders, are being supported through faulty information used to bolster the organization's party line.

 

Perhaps more than anything, what NAAFA's stance on eating disorders proves is the level of misinformation around eating disorders in all areas of mass culture. One prominent radical fat activist (who declined to be named or quoted in this article) defined the fat acceptance movement's take on eating disorders in a simple phrase: "Not every diet turns into an eating disorder, but every eating disorder begins with a diet." This is, of course, blatantly false; not only does the statement focus specifically on eating disorders that involve restrictive eating (as opposed to overeating or binge-eating disorders), it highlights the very biggest misconception around eating disorders: that they are about food. Eating disorders are no more about food than alcoholism is about beer. It is widely recognized in treatment communities that eating disorder symptoms are about helplessness and control—not, intrinsically, about food. Just as a drug addict shoots heroin to avoid painful or uncomfortable emotions, an eating-disordered person either reaches for food as a way to stuff the feelings down, or turns away from food in order to try to establish a sense of control over an out-of-control life. Reducing eating disorders to a habit of dieting is grossly oversimplifying a complicated psychological process. Although fat activists might assume that their antidiet stance could discourage or treat eating disorders, this oversight highlights the exclusion of eating-disordered individuals from the fat acceptance movement and the broader ignorance about eating disorders as a whole.

Indeed, the most concrete proof that the fat acceptance movement has lost its way is its reaction to this very article. When I solicited input from members of my local fat acceptance community, I was shocked at the vehemence with which I was told, in one way or another, to simply shut up. One fat activist responded to my inquiry by saying, "I would hate to see the work that has been done [within the fat acceptance movement] torn into." I was accused of being fatphobic and "healthist;" I was told I was going to make the entire movement look like "a bunch of sickos"; and I was literally threatened, as one woman suggested that I change my phone number and move, since the backlash "won't be pretty." This level of defensiveness says everything about the fear of mainstream culture that has permeated the fat acceptance movement. The dread of being judged is now greater than the desire to "aid" fat people, no matter how complicated and unattractive the truth of our lives may be.

An unintended consequence of this heavy-handed resistance is that it has forced me to examine my extremely complicated attempts to reconcile my own eating disorder with my 10 years as an activist in the fat acceptance movement. I am left to wonder if it's possible to simultaneously struggle with my own body and be in full acceptance of others' bodies. Is it possible to be part of a movement that either willfully or inadvertently misunderstands a critical piece of my own life, so that, like Becky and Susan, I feel welcome only as long as I remain closeted? In a fatphobic world, fat people are hated simply for daring to walk around unashamed. And in a culture that rarely deals well with complexity, it may be too much to ask that we understand that people can demand acceptance before they are perfect.

Despite this bleak picture, there may be some hope on the horizon. This year's NAAFA conference featured a presentation and workshops by Deb Burgard, an expert in eating disorders and member of the organizations Health at Every Size and Association of Size Diversity and Health. Burgard has been working within the fat acceptance movement for 25 years and doesn't agree that there is a deliberate silence within the movement. She nevertheless advocates what she calls "stereotype management skills" and the bolstering of an "emotional immune system," both of which could help lower the level of defensiveness and fear within the fat acceptance movement and allow the critical space for discussions of eating disorders among radical fat activists.

While Burgard's work at this year's NAAFA conference was not specifically about eating disorders, I hope the inclusion of her voice is a sign of the fat acceptance community's growing willingness to leave its collective comfort zone. So do Becky and Susan. If we have learned anything from the modern feminist movement, it is that those among us with the most complicated stories often have the most valuable insights to share. There is no excuse for the creation of a new Lavender Menace, and there should be no tolerance for enforced silence within any political movement, let alone those who claim to be radical—no matter how well intentioned their mission may be. The fat acceptance movement is too young to silence its own members, and the lives of fat people are far too complex to reduce to a few media-friendly, thin-pandering sound bites.

Lily-Rygh Glen lives in Portland, OR, where she fronts the indie-rock duo Gone Against Blue and creates Tit Totes (http://motherwit.com/tittotes). As a result of the backlash to this article, she no longer considers herself part of the fat acceptance movement.

Comments

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Your Article

Thanks for writing your article. I was wondering about people with eating disorders in the fat acceptance movement. I don't think fat people should be "ashamed" nor do I think they "cause" a rise in airline prices (which is really ridiculous)nor do they cause rises in medical insurance costs. They may be used by the airlines or insurance companies as excuses, but they are not the real reason. I'm sorry you lost support from your movement simply because you wanted to tell the truth. I have to admit that I'm a little confused about the movement, because I would think people would like to live a semi-healthy lifestyle. I'm not obsessive about what I eat but I like to meet my nutritional needs. Are most people in the movement then completely against any attempt to moderate diet? I'm not trying to be judgmental, I'm just trying to find out. I think everyone should be proud of and love their bodies, and everyone knows that women are encouraged not to love theirs. But isn't an eating disorder a reflection of that hate or shame one would feel for their body? I hope Becky and other people like her will overcome their disorders. I think that overcoming that should be more important than conforming to a movement.

The author obviously didn't

The author obviously didn't bother to talk to the bloggers at Feed Me or the F-Word.org. Both of those are fat acceptance bloggers and talk about eating disorders quite a bit. Morgan, from fatgrrl, also talks about her eating disorder. I haven't seen anyone tell any of them that they can't be fat activists.
I blog about fat acceptance occasionally, and I had weight loss surgery 10 years ago (I wrote about it on my blog, and guest-blogged about it on Shapely Prose). No one has told me that I can't be a part of fat acceptance either.
I would imagine there are fat activists out there who don't want to talk about binge eating disorder because fat phobes will point to that as proof as that all fat people binge all the time. That is ignorance and willful stupidity/bigotry speaking. Saying that all fat people binge is just like saying all fat people look exactly like those headless fatties that the news is so fond of using as examples of the OMG OBESITY EPIDEMIC, when those headless fatties are maybe 2% of the total overweight/obese population (and I know, I could be used as one of them, I'm that fat).
The fat acceptance movement of which I am a part doesn't exclude people because they have an eating disorder, doesn't exclude them because they just happen to be thin, and doesn't exclude them because they don't practice HAES all the time. The fat acceptance movement of which I am a part excludes people if they want to keep advancing stereotypes of fat people as lazy, dirty, smelly, ugly, stupid, gluttonous blobs of disgusting flesh. All of the fat acceptance bloggers I've read (and I have about 100 FA blogs I check on every day) are smart, funny, wonderful people who are doing great work advancing the idea that fat people are just that, people, and we deserve to be treated with respect and civility. This article does a disservice to all those wonderful people by making it seem as if this is a closed community where the only way you can belong is if you are fat, proud to be fat, and don't have any doubts or issues about your size. Sorry, I don't care how far along that journey to self-acceptance you are, there are always going to be doubts creeping in every once in a while, just because you can't get away from the fat hatred that is thrown at us on a daily basis by everything from newspapers to magazines to books, movies, and television. It's hard to ignore that and keep telling yourself that you are worthy of respect, and to have someone who is supposedly into advancing fat acceptance to write an article saying we would exclude people with eating disorders (patently not true) is not helping the cause any.

no fat chicks

Cmon, though. I've seen vans pull up at WalMart, with three profoundly obese females getting out of the same vehicle and take EVERY motorized cart in the store. These women are obviously co-overeating their way to death. People with real handicaps, like missing legs or osteoporosis could be using those carts. Fat has become revered like a disability that society is forbidden from encouraging you to fix. The answer for those three fat women is to get off their f*cking asses and WALK! Have you ever sat in coach on an airplane and had a fat person next to you, spilling over the armrest into the seat that YOU paid for?! I'm all for letting people live however they want, but when you start feeling you have a right to cramp other people's spaces and rights, take away services from people with non-self-inflicted handicaps, or just generally feel like I should make you feel "beautiful" when (maybe on the inside you are) you have let your "outside" fall all to hell...you are asking for TOO MUCH...just like you do at the dinner table!

who's to say osteoporosis or

who's to say osteoporosis or missing legs aren't "self inflicted"? perhaps the person who is missing a leg had to amputate due to diabetes. or the individual with osteoporosis should have consumed more calcium. those people with cancer should have bought organic and stress induced heart attack victims should have spent more time loving rather than hating. perhaps we should pay people to determine which individuals have acceptable disorders and are thus deserving of a motorized cart, love, and respect.

all of us engage in "unhealthy" activities. those larger than others are discriminated solely for their appearance not their lifestyle choice. not to mention that many individuals may be considered overweight due to a glandular problem. not that either is any better or worse.

peace.

Unhealthy activities

Now there's the interesting nugget in the discussion... I just don't know where I stand on the fat acceptance movement because at the heart of it, being over a certain mass per size is unhealthy, as in physically damaging to one's health. As in we're not being kind to our bodies.

But polkadotriot is right, we all engage in unhealthy activities. The reality is we judge ourselves and others based on our assumptions around those activities. Can one separate the person from the activity? Can I still love myself even though I'm overweight? I think so. Do we equate being large with a disease process? I don't think so. Do we condone largeness because anytihng else would mean non acceptance? This might be where I start to draw a line. I don't support cigarette smoking, cocaine use, unprotected sex with multiple partners, or violent behavior, but I can still love people who do those things and support changes they want to make. I don't blame someone for getting lung cancer, but I'm certainly not surprised when I find out they've smoked a pack a day since they were 13. Doesn't mean I want to celebrate it either. Hmmm. I don't want to participate in discriminating and making assumptions due to size, and I want to support us all loving our bodies, our selves (ode to feminism), but to ignore the fact that the most health promoting, life-loving thing to do would be some behavior(s) change??? Just because I strive for improvement does not mean it comes out of a self-hating place.

By the way, your comment

By the way, your comment "heart attack victims should have spent more time loving rather than hating", is completely ridiculous. If you knew anything about the physiology of a heart attack aka myocardial infarction, you would know that it stems from a build up of plaque in the arteries of your heart. You would also know that the 2 major risk factors of having plaque lining the walls of your arteries are A) obesity and B) lack of exercise. So, a fat person can "love" all they want to, whether that is their kitty, their husband/wife, their twinkies, or their motorized cart and they will STILL be at a higher risk for a heart attack because of their obesity.

peace.

It would be great if we all

It would be great if we all would step back a minute and look at how we came to possess the opinions and beliefs that we hold.

"When you start feeling you have a right to cramp other people's spaces and rights[...]you are asking for TOO MUCH." The unnecessary anger, the lack of compassion, and the cruelty that you feel compelled to throw at the heads of everyone reading this article has really cramped my space and my rights. Please get your brain off it's ass and take it for a walk; the exercise would be good for it.

I agree with the first reply to this comment. If all obesity is caused solely by self-inflicted unhealthy habits (which is patently _not_ the case), so be it. We ALL have unhealthy habits. I don't fall into the obese or overweight category, but I have plenty of less-than-ideal habits. The ONLY reason I am given a decent level of respect and acceptance from the general population is because my habits don't result in fatness. That is not right. It's not fair.

And Two-Wheeler, if you feel like you look great on the outside, you might do well to keep your inside to yourself. You will keep (for a little while) the world's good opinion that your thinness has given you.

Tara Seguin

Hear, hear, tseguin!

Hear, hear, tseguin!

beauty is in the eye of the beholder, biologically...

Each person has the right to live her/his life the way she/he chooses. That includes looking the way he/she chooses, within the genetic and situational variables which define our limits. A healthy mental state means accepting onesself, but self-acceptance doesn't mean that those around us have to accept us. Others may find us physically unattractive. Whether we like the fact or not, our minds and reason cannot erase our biological workings, and those biological workings by default decide what we find physically attractive in others. Obviously, external appearance doesn't necessarily indicate inner characteristics or personality. But, as humans, we do indeed find certain external appearances naturally attractive and others unattractive. One of the many inequities in life is that we're not all born with genetics that make us physically attractive, at least not to most.
If being physically attractive to others is important to a person -- and, as with most issues, the reason for that can be complex and varied -- then it's pointless for that person to fault others for judging them unattractive if they possess and, especially, if they've chosen or even nurtured an appearance that others, because of natural and biological instincts, find unattractive. Sure, it's unfair if we're deemed "gross". Sure, it may hurt. But it's a matter of biological instinct. People's minds may say, "She is so inwardly beautiful!" but their biological instincts say, "She is physically unappealing."

What about kids who have

What about kids who have been "fat" all of their lives? What about poor kids whos parents struggled to put food on the table (it's more expensive to eat healthy food than to buy cheap processed crap)? What about people who were abused as children and didn't get the counseling they needed to cope so they turned to food for comfort?

It's not as simple as it looks. And it is hurtful to hear people who may or may not have struggled with weight to hear words like "just get up and walk". It it WAS that simple, don't you think they would have tried it already?

Might I add..

I liked this post at first - but not for the right reasons. I am just now (at 30) really getting a grasp on how my tendency to judge others is both pervasive and counter-productive. I am REALLY lucky to have the body I do (6'2" 185, fairly cut, capable of running). For the last quarter I have been eating way too much comfort food to get me through a terrible family tragedy. I run 10 months out of the year and as I have started again in early FEB I am slimming back down to where I want to be despite eating 3000 calories minimum per day.

When I discovered running I weighed 220 and had the stamina of Homer Simpson. I tried running and it worked. Then I immediately started quietly blaming every fat person I saw for being fat because they weren't doing what I had done.

What I have come to realize reading about fatness is that just as I am lucky to be able to metabolize all this extra food, most people are not. And for a few on the other end of the bell curve, I can understand that they'd have to run 20 miles a day and eat very little to see the results that came to me so easily.

I feel so much better when I use the energy I had been devoting to telling everyone else how to live for my own self-improvement.

The one way I feel I can appropriately influence others is to just show them love. Add a few positive points to their daily meter (thinking in terms of 'The Sims' helps to visualize that the positivity and negativity absorbed by a person in a day is cumulative).

Ben

Who let the dog in?

This moron is the reason why such a schism is occurring in the Fat Acceptance Movement in the first place. No one in the movement wants to admit that SOME of us might have an eating disorder because they are afraid they are conceding to THIS! We should all remember to not lose our focus, that THIS is our true enemy!!!

by "Dog" i refer to the poster who said C'mon now

...and slammed those women who used the drive-around carts at Wal-Mart. I wanted to clarify since my reply didn't come out directly under that post.

How do you know those fat women didn't have some other disabilty? This is exactly the kind of judgmental attitude that has made our movement so polarized on the eating disorders issue, because no one wants to concede any ground to people like this festering scab on the butt of humanity.

Who let the dog in?

This moron is the reason why such a schism is occurring in the Fat Acceptance Movement in the first place. No one in the movement wants to admit that SOME of us might have an eating disorder because they are afraid they are conceding to THIS! We should all remember to not lose our focus, that THIS is our true enemy!!!

Duh. The author repeatedly

Duh. The author repeatedly said she was speaking specifically of NAAFA. Also, even the author (who did an amazing job, by the way) was speaking in general terms of the FA movement, she would never be able to cover absolutely every FA blog. Also, despite the fact that your FA blogs or blogging friends claim to not discriminate against fat people with eating disorders, the overall message from the major players in FA do exactly what the author says they do, which is shun anyone trying to eat healthier or maybe even lose a little weight. As you said, what we need is to help the cause and come together, but you lashing into the author with dripping sarcasm because she didn't include every FA blog ever made in her article (which, I think says more about your own uncertainty in blogging and/or low self-confidence issues) is absolutely pushing against the cause. Step back and lay off.

Burgard has been working

"Burgard has been working within the fat acceptance movement for 25 years and doesn’t agree that there is a deliberate silence within the movement."

Kind of tells you something, doesn't it? Like maybe we should listen to the lady with the 25 years of experience?

Though fat acceptance itself is not an eating disorders recovery movement, eating disorders and HAES have been addressed since almost day one of fat acceptance. I think the two movements share a lot of common ground, because many of the issues underlying eating disorders and size discrimination are the same. In fact, I would consider myself to have arrived at fat acceptance through my interest in/experience with disordered eating.

That doesn't mean NAAFA is or should be anyone's primary source of information on eating disorders, and it doesn't mean fat acceptance can be all movements to all people. But if you think we kick people out or deliberately silence people with eating disorders, I'm not sure what movement you're actually looking at. Maybe you had a bad experience with a certain group of people -- that doesn't define a movement.

People in fat acceptance do, indeed, question knee-jerk self-diagnosis of things like binge-eating disorder, but it's not because we think fat people with eating disorders ruin our street-cred -- it's because there has been a long-standing, self-perpetuating myth in our culture that if you're fat, and if you eat in any amount, it is automatically overeating or binge-eating.

And, for the record, no, we're not "completely against any attempt to moderate diet." A lot of people involved in fat acceptance also believe in Health At Every Size, which is a philosophy encouraging fat people to eat well and be active, without making weight-loss the goal. Some people might choose to change their diet or to exercise -- but that is their personal choice, and no one gets kicked out of anything for it.

I think real disagreement only comes into the picture between size acceptance and eating disorders recovery when we see someone promoting a restrictive, weight-loss-oriented approach to recovery. This approach could be a legitimate personal choice for the individual -- though I don't believe dieting is ever the appropriate treatment for an eating disorder, binge or otherwise -- but promoting intentional weight-loss cannot be reconciled with fat acceptance.

Sometimes people make changes, and sometimes they lose weight as a result of those changes. This can be a good thing or a bad thing, but it is always a personal thing. It is not the business of fat acceptance to define someone's weight as acceptable or unacceptable, even if that weight was achieved through means with which we disagree.

It is the business of fat acceptance to provide a safe place for people of all sizes while we work on changing society. That certainly doesn't mean shunning or silencing people with eating disorders, though it might mean excluding people who promote weight-loss.

What we want is for fat people to be treated right, and for everyone to treat themselves right. That would mean getting appropriate treatment for eating disorders, not shoving them under the rug.

Shoddy journalism

Do a Google search on "fat acceptance and eating disorders" and my blog is the third result. My blog specifically talks about both eating disorders and fat acceptance, but since it didn't fit within the author's preconceived agenda, I can see where she would ignore it.

The article has been thoroughly deconstructed at www.fatfu.wordpress.com and I have little else to add. But as a reporter myself, I am appalled at the shoddy level of journalism of the article.

The author makes sweeping claims, based on anonymous sources and unidentified groups. She deliberately and willfully distorts the views of Deb Burgard, even after Burgard specifically told theh author that she was misrepresenting her views. The author either ignores, overlooks or doesn't try to seek out fat acceptance organizations and activists who do not promote the kinds of views expressed by the article author nor her "anonymous" sources.

I realize Bitch magazine is often underfunded and works with minimal staffing. But I expected them to have higher journalistic standards than this.

The-F-word.org: Conversations on food, fat and feminism

The-F-word.org: Conversations on food, fat and feminism

Frankly, it seems that a

Frankly, it seems that a good portion of the nay-sayers commenting are just pissed that the author didn't read your precious blogs. I'll say it again, she was speaking specifically of the NAAFA, not of every FA blog ever written. And, might I add, *good* journalism doesn't usually include a google search, which of course you would know if you were a journalist. Why don't you pick yourself up by your bootstraps and write a little more on your blog, instead of getting all pissy because this author didn't directly quote you.

Thank you for writing this!

I really wanted to be a part of the FA and HAES movements. But they don't want me.

It was really interesting to see this article about those who are big enough to pass in the movement, but are still rejected if they come out about their EDs. I'm on the other end. I'm not big enough.

I'm about 130 lbs right now, which considering I'm 4'11" and have a tiny little bird skeleton actually means I wear a size 12 (sometimes a 10, but not often). I'm fat by society's whacked-out standards. I get dieting advice from acquaintances, two of my aunts tell me repeatedly I "have such a pretty face, but I'll never get a boyfriend if I don't(blah blah you know the rest)," a group of guys mooed at me the last time I went to the beach, and the list goes on as usual. But apparently, this isn't enough. If I want to be a part of the FA, I seriously need to pack on the pounds.

I've been lectured at length by my other aunt (300+ lbs and a long-time Fat Activist) about how ridiculous I am to complain about the way people treat me and how I have no clue what life is really like for fat people. I got the same lecture nearly verbatim from a (now former) friend when I tried to bring up that conversation with my aunt! I was rejected from one FA livejournal and one messageboard which required perspective members to fill out questionaires.

And all this was before I even brought up my struggle with my eating disorder. I'm EDNOS. I cycle between periods of binge eating, exercise bulimia, and extreme restricting with compulsive exercising. When I was in college, I wanted to join a local size acceptance group that I'd heard about through a friend. She was a bit dubious about me joining because I was about 102 lbs at the time(since I was in the throes of a restricing/exercise period), so she asked me why I wanted to join. I told her honestly about my ED and that I wanted to join because I wanted to learn to love myself as I am and to work to prevent other people from ever feeling about themselves the way I feel about myself. She told me not to bother even coming to a meeting, that I'd never make it in the group.

And these were personal experiences I had, not even getting into the skinny-bashing and contempt-masquerading-as-pity for dieters and/or ED people I see online.

Well, fuck you guys too. I still believe in HAES and I still believe that noone's worth should be judged on their weight (or appearance in general), but I want nothing to do with the movements that claim to represent these ideals. But sadly, I think that was the last chance for me to escape my ED. A harm reduction approach is all that I can manage anymore.

You know, It's sad that there are pro-anorexia boards that I've been to that are way more accepting than the supposed size acceptance movements. The ones I go to absolutely forbid any sort of fat bashing, have threads openly admiring all body types (from the terrifyingly thin to the very large), have posters who profess admiration for and envy of anyone who can accept her body as it is no matter what it looks like, and try to bring some love, support, and much-needed outside perspective to hurting posters. I guess maybe we're fucked up and we know it, so we can't afford to have the morally-superior "my way or the highway" approach that others do.

This whole issue is such a mess. I'm so tired.

Self-identifying

I'm always amazed at certain movements - the fat acceptance is no different - that seem to search for a definition fo what is "something" - the key term for their group, and when it comes to actually someone setting down a definition, then the group gets uneasy because that definition "comes" from someplace. But if you suggest that maybe 'fat' be a self-defined term, that is clearly unacceptable... because the you get "those with dysmorphic issues" that are clearly 'not fat'. I figure that those that want to qualify themselves as 'fat' they should - and feel whatever power they need to from that self-definition. If it turns out that they, in fact, do have disordered eating or dysmorphic issues, then hopefully they can move towards that path of self-healing.

But I've found on one listserve I'm on, the ladies who are a size 10 - 18 or so, are considered "thin", "inbetweenies" and really aren't allowed to be part of the 'fat' conversation. Me, I'm 320lbs and I could give a poop less if someone who is a size 8 calls themselves fat; I may ask them to clarify that term (considering I'm the other end of the scale), but I think that discussion of 'what is fat' or 'why is fat?' is really really important.

I think your theory that fat acceptance movement, in a big sweeping generalization, is NOT inclusive is entirely valid, and there is much evidence to support that. I think the key to HAES and fat acceptance gaining a more wide-spread acceptance is that level of inclusivity that allows people to self-define, and from there the conversations around that self-definition will help to expand and reinforce the whole notion of 'acceptance'.

what is fat

I may be those size-8 and consider myself fat, well I think fat is a term that is sometimes vaguely used, because I have had issues with my weight for years, and was at one point healthy quote unquote, though mentally that's another story. What I consider to be fat, is all the muscle that was once in my body to be a jiggly mess, or the excess fat on my stomach, or my BMI being borderline overweight, perhaps I should just call myself chubby? I hope to one day just not care, but be healthy, just eat healthy and gain some healthy habits ...

hatchet job

Having spoken with several activists who refused to speak with lily-rygh glen concerning this article, _not_ because they didn't wish to speak to the subject matter, but because they saw the agenda coming a mile a way and didn't trust the author to ethically represent their words -- I'm amazed at Bitch Magazine's lack of foresight.

I'm also amazed that Bitch Magazine allowed the "anonymous activist who did not wish to be quoted" to _Be Quoted_ in this article against her wishes, and completely out of context.

To those of you out there with eating disorders who genuinely do not feel welcome in the fat activism community -- to you, I say, I am so sorry. I am sorry if you have been made to feel this way, I am sorry if you have not received the acknowledgment you actively deserve, and I'm sorry that you've felt silenced and unwelcome. I don't doubt that these experiences exist. But as an activist who fights to incorporate people of all sizes, and at all stages of empowerment, I guarantee you that, despite what Lily-rygh Glen would have you believe due to her own anger and frustration, there _are_ communities who will welcome you and work is being done every single day to address and confront prejudice that still exists inside every layer of activism, and to build bridges between movements to increase compassion and understanding.

Shame on Bitch Magazine for publishing such a one-sided article whose only effect will be to validate and vindicate those who have been hurt by the few and wish to villainize and dismiss the many in this larger movement. Critiquing a movement is a valid and sometimes much-needed activity. Giving a perpetual victim with an axe to grind the space to do so without requiring balanced journalism, and while ignoring the red flags popping up everywhere as activists contact you to bow out of the article due to the writer's obvious agenda --- that's not journalism. That's sensationalism.

Finally

Thank you for writing this article. As someone that has struggled with eating disorders since the age of 12 (so, literally half my life) it is incredible how stigmatized they continue to be by all facets of society.

I don't dare come out to most 'feminists' because I get the impression it's viewed like dieting, as though it's a weakness and I just am a lesser feminist.

My weight has been down to 81lbs and up to over 200lbs. My healthy weight is somewhere between 135-150. I tend to be a binger when I am eating (ie. not starving myself silly). I've never been a regular binge&purge bulimic, but it's happened on occasion, usually while I've been on several weeks or months of virtual starvation.

When I'm fat... I hate myself, but I hate society for condemning fat people so. Well, I always hate society for that. But I never feel like I deserve to celebrate or defend my weight. I don't feel like I'm a deserving fat person, because, well, I feel that I've brought it upon myself. I know I have eating issues, that I can't properly regulate it and that I binge due to emotions and boredom. I'm never proud of being big, even though I worship women who are.

And then when I'm small or trying desperately (in an unhealthy), well, I still feel fat, but the feeling of starvation of fighting hunger, ignoring the pain as long as possible is such a high. I'm so ashamed and so afraid that I'll be found out and someone will try to stop me, though...

God. It's just a lonely, lonely place. Of pretty much all the things I've dealt with in my life, it's the most isolating thing. And because of the isolation it's also incredibly painful and seems somewhat hopeless.

Thank you for putting it in print. Women of any size may suffer from eating disorders. And by the time adulthood rolls around, most of us know how to hide the signs pretty well.

An outside perspective

Being a part of a community which is seen by the greater majority to be lacking is challenge enough. Yet it seems almost inevitably we turn on each other.

As I read this article, the author lost me in the attempt to identify a problem, issue, fault, whatever... As someone who has not experienced the put downs, etc that come with being fat, I cannot speak specifically to that issue.

What I can speak to is how attempts to paint everyone with the same brush all too often lose sight of the fact real human beings are involved, with real feelings - all with likes, dislikes, things that make one laugh or cry, hurt or feel elated, a desire to be accepted, to be valued and respected, and all the unique experiences that bring them to a given point in life. Things common to every human being on earth - including the uniqueness.

I'll read an article by Julie Bindel trashing transfolk, only to find another defend her overall contributions to feminism. I'll read transfolk trashing each other, and as host of a feminism board, feminists trashing each other. Every time a community does this, it saddens me in how not only we all collectively hinder our efforts towards equality, but towards recognising the humanity in each other.

This is where the article truly fails, because it goes after our emotional jugular. After reading through, would one come away with a positive or negative feeling? Would one feel someone has gained a greater understanding of those the article purports to discuss? Will there self respect be intact?

I'm not quite sure how an entire community can be collectively diagnosed in one writing. We are complex beings; what brings us to any issue or community might be - likely is - wholly different than why another is there.

If there is one thing that makes me crazy, it is the rendering of a conclusion that leaves one feeling like 'this is you - all of you - don't even bother attempting to explain otherwise.'

Big girls can be beautiful

People shouldn't have the prejudice of fat folks. I once joined a big people dating site http://plusmingle.com, Here, size acceptance is the norm; very friendly, kind, warm and loving people gather together because they truly love and admirer plus-size folks or are plus-size themselves! We are fat, but proud!

Big girls can be beautiful, take care of your self and love whats on the inside first.

Big girls can be beautiful, take care of your self and love whats on the inside first.

infighting lets them win

There is no need for trashing the author. We all have personal experiences and opinions about issues that affect our lives.

She did acknowledge that this is a young movement that needs to hammer out the rough. The feminist movement split into separate camps over issues like this. If you are a free-thinking individual, you do not take what you read for face value; you think on it and rationally work out what is real for you. So...if someone who is afraid of joining the movement when reading this abstains from action, it is no cause of the authors. A person like that would be just as susceptible to any other opinions.
The information age has afforded all of us the ability to easily research what we need to, instantly.

Channel hostility into the fight itself, not towards comrades. If a "fat" person wishes to lose weight, to treat an eating disorder, whatever they want to do, does that make them less valuable to a growing movement? I personally desire to feel appropriate to myself. Should I think of myself as not "fat" even if I still am? There needs to be a realization that ALL warped ideals of body size are wrong, eating disorder or not. Believing you are fat is being fat; this is not about who is ridiculed in public the most. It is all painful and degrading to endure.

It is about dashing the disgusting ideals of a slowly crumbling patriarchal ideology, to free the minds of human beings from the imagery of oppression. Smearing someones name, who is merely attempting to nip a problem in the bud and who is on your side, is the worst sort of backpedaling. Let us all be united to break down walls. This is not a war we need to fight with each other. Please.

Right on!

You said it! My favorite line: "this is not about who is ridiculed in public the most. It is all painful and degrading to endure."

Thank you for sharing your insights.

Lily-Rygh, you get feedback

Lily-Rygh, you get feedback from this article, feedback you dont like, feedback from fatties, and this is what causes you to flee the FA movement? This is sad to me.
But mostly i think it must be interesting(?) to be able to come and go from the fat acceptance movement like that, simply because you're challenged on what youve written. and i wonder how that ability to come and go in this way has influenced what you came up with in the first place. i think theres a lot of talking/listening/arguing/learning to be done, and its too bad youre taking off right when its getting going.

Why is everyone so angry?

I can certainly see discrimination against overweight people everywhere- in the media, etc. I understand the need for some kind of defense against it, but the NAAFA is taking it entirely too far.

I believe no one should have to feel ashamed about their bodies. I believe everyone has the right to eat and live how they choose. But you cannot deny that being 400-500 pounds is NOT natural and is NOT healthy. I don't blame individual people for this, I mostly blame our society and the food industries for putting profit above public health. Walking through most major grocery store chains, I am appalled at the kind of things people are putting into their bodies (not to mention their childrens' bodies). Some of the things we eat can hardly even be called "food" at all!

I do not support the belief that there is one definition or beauty or health. We don't all have to be 120 pounds and a size 3, I'm not. I do not diet, and I wouldn't suggest anyone else go on a diet or resort to weight loss surgeries as a way to be "skinny" because to me, that is not the ultimate goal. I'm not "against fat" or fat people, but I do think people in general (fat or not) should start taking control of their lives by saying NO to over-processed crap and YES to healthier alternatives.

It seems that fat people THINK they are taking control by saying, "This is what I choose to eat, so be it" but you really aren't choosing if there are no other obvious choices, are you? It's about informed choice. Eat as much as you want, eat whatever you want, but be aware of what you're putting into your body and what the side effects are (many of the "foods" we eat have drug-like side effects, but most people don't know this).

Thank you for writing this article, I enjoyed reading it. I'd never even heard the term "fat acceptance movement" before and I think I'll do some Googling to find out more about it. I'm sure the things I've said here have been said before, and if anyone would like to debate this with me, I'm willing because I'd like to learn more about the ideology behind this movement.

Reaction to Piece and Comment

@ Rachel:
You address how the reporter neglected to use your fat-acceptance blog as evidence for the piece which therefore deems it as of "shoddy journalism." Then you go on to diss Bitch for printing it. Seriously? I'm afraid your comment reads more like a shameless plug for your blog rather than a sincere desire for the fat-acceptance movement to evolve through the clearly documented stigma the author and her sources share.

And as far as a "preconceived agenda," what's preconceived about reporting on the experiences that a lot of these people have gone through? Clearly the author is touching on an issue that's relevant--simply look above and below your comment to read how other people of size (ie. Raksha38) have experienced the same thing.

As a progressive feminist who's been involved with the fat-acceptance movement from the sidelines, I think the author explores a suppression that's alive and well. One of the stronger points of the piece is when the writer addresses the psychological elements of eating disorders: "the very biggest misconception around eating disorders: that they are about food. Eating disorders are no more about food than alcoholism is about beer... Reducing eating disorders to a habit of dieting is grossly oversimplifying a complicated psychological process." I think that's an important piece of the fat-acceptance puzzle: being able to recognize when one's relationship to food is damaging--no matter what the size of someone is.

< ccole.info >

ccole.info
ccole.info/aflyonthewall

fat people expect too much because of being fat

Scooters in the stores can't be used by most fat people - the highest cut off weight I've found on any of them is 250. They also can't be used by people of any weight with bad knees, including my less than 150 pound father. And the amputee I knew certainly didn't need a scooter - he preferred roller skating and horseback riding when he wasn't walking. So, if a store patron has a complaint about who's using a store's scooters, try talking to customer service, or the manager. If that doesn't help, a letter to the store's headquarters might.

I'm fat - maybe 450? - and I find fat organizations offensive, pushy, and insulting. About 20 years ago I sent for information. What I got was a booklet filled with stories of angry people - mostly women - verbally screaming that they would no longer visit their family or friends who didn't have chairs that could hold their weight, or how they were insulted when told they must buy two airline seats. Well, of course, if someone's too fat and hangs out of the seat onto the seat purchased by the rider beside them, they should be forced to buy two seats. It isn't about their being fat, it's about the person who purchased another seat not having enough room. That's called consideration for other passengers. And why should family and friends buy furniture they don't want or like just so a visitor can sit in it? It's THEIR house and I find it insulting that someone - anyone - thinks an individual should change his/er home to accomodate a visitor. Businesses are different; it's more intelligent for them to have benches instead of chairs. Benches - as long as they're not on wooden legs - can accomodate all.

I've never personally known any other fat person, so I can only speak for me, but I always WANTED to be fat - from preschool when I first saw the laughing fat lady thing at the amusement park. In 7th grade when the home ec teacher suggested it was time for me to lose weight, I thought, "Wait until I grow up, I will be the fattest woman you've ever seen." And as a teenager I so WANTED to be fat, that even my dislike for fast food and fried food, and my love of vegies and exercise - roller skating, walking, horseback riding/shoeing/lunging/showing/mucking stalls, dog training - allowed me to keep my fat at 313 pounds for decades.

Then a knee injury I got from a horse when I was a teen, and phelbetis, made the doctor tell me that I had to totally stop excerising - even walking - or I would lose my leg. I had to stand as little as possible and sit with my leg elevated. 7 years later, in my mid 40's and at about 600 pounds, I got congestive heart failure, in part from the lack of excercise. They hospitalized me with a lasex IV for 3 days to take out the excess water - about 160 pounds of it. They allowed me to start walking again, and I learned how to watch my phelebis so I could tell when I needed to stop exercising, which I tend to overdo since I get an "exercise high" easily and don't want to stop.

I've stayed at the 450 or so range ever since. My health isn't perfect - I still have bad knees from the horse accident and another accident. I have sleep apnea, hypothyroidsm, diabetes (no meds needed), phebitis, and still take lasex to avoid congestive heart failure again. My back never hurts anymore, and my legs seldom hurt unless I overdo it. I neither take, nor need, any meds for pain. My sugar is consistently in the 95-115 range and has been since I became diabetic 7 years ago. My collesterial has always been under 100 even though I eat a diet high in meat. Until the transmission went out in my van 6 weeks ago, I spent about 4 hours a week - and I would spend more if I could afford the gas - walking at Wal-Mart (balance problems mean I can't walk anywhere less level, or without a buggy to hold on to).

Sure, my knees, my heart, my sleep apnea, would all be better if I wasn't fat. But I know I could not be happy if I wasn't fat. I can either accept the restrictions fat has put on my life and be happy, or I can stop being fat, have a less restricted life...and be emotionally unhappy.

No thanks. I've seen how emotionally unhappy friends think alcohol, doctor-approved drugs, living anywhere but where they are, being in a relationship, not being in a relationship, being thinner, having this, that, or the other, will make them happy. I've listened to them cry and refuse to get out of bed for days. I've heard about all their aches and pains from their depression. So...why would I risk ending up that unhappy when staying fat means I already have the happiness others seem to be trying so hard to find?

www.writeroffthelake.com

thank you

thank you for telling your wonderful story :)

so its cholesterol and

so its cholesterol and lasix...not collesterial and lasex

Re: The Dream and where I wake up

Born Fat, still fat, & I always tell people I'm "livin the dream".... come see what I've done to help the fat community!

www.myfatspot.com

sad...

As a person who has suffered from a variety of compulsions esp. eating disordered behavior I was saddened when I recently asked a national fat acceptance organization( in an effort to see) how I could help and was “shot down” based on my own stature. Do I have to be heavy to be accepted as a supporter? I was under the impression the whole point of acceptance was, trying to look past any persons pure aesthetic qualities and see who they are for the content of their character. I have an illness, does my thinness itself make me an undesirable supporter. That seems like saying that my work with groups for minority acceptance should be nullified because I am white OR that by volunteering in my local soup kitchen is unwanted because I am middle class.
I find the hypocrisy so confusing. I want people to love me and hope I reciprocate that to my fellow man or woman.
How can anyone who is working for acceptance judge another because they are not the same?

I am proud to say (no

I am proud to say (no offense to Becky) that I weigh less than she does. I am proud to say this because I weighed more than her for a LONG time. I started my diet in June 2008 and lost 50 pounds. I'm now close to being under 400 pounds. I have Becky's exact same disease. I use binge eating as a control mechanism.

The desire to spread fat acceptance and force women (it's always women) with otherwise low self-esteem to accept and love themselves - including their bodies - is tantamount to losing weight. I learned that the hard way. It's impossible to lose weight in a society that makes you feel like you don't deserve to live.

The problem comes in the two thing (losing weight to be healthy & live, and loving yourself) do not have to be mutually exclusive. Accepting one's own self-worth MEANS wanting to stay healthy and live a long happy life. Anyone who thinks that the only way one can be truly "fat accepting" is to stay fat forever and never lose a pound, is seriously misguided, as well as headed for a lifetime of illness.

Fat Movement is misguided.

It should be called "Accept me for what I am if I eat healthy and exercise appropriately" movement.

Loving yourself, despite your body appearance is one thing, but "being fat" should not be the end game, it should be a starting point to maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

I hear all the time of people making excuses (my genes, my metabolism, darn yoyo diets), but here are the facts.

Approximately 30% of Americans are obese. Most of them has nothing to do with genes or anything other than a sedentary lifestyle and over-eating of calories.

If it were all about the genes, then why do our Canadian neighbors have an obesity rate of only 14%. France 9%? Korea/Japan 3.2%.

Are they born with the skinny gene? I don't think so. Only a very small percentage of people have the genetic excuse.

We care so much about what we eat, but we don't seem to know the basics.

1. Exercise moderately 4~5 times a week.
2. Eat 2500 calories (2000 if your a woman).
3. Make sure you maintain government advised levels of vitamins/minerals/fats/sodium etc.

It's not that hard. Forget the carbs/sugar/akins thing. A calorie is a calorie, those minute differences (simple vs complex carbs) don't make much of a difference to the obese person. Just don't consume empty calories IMHO (like Cola).

Like I said, accept yourself for who you are, but you should never accept an unhealthy lifestyle.

well that's convenient for

well that's convenient for you. there is evidence emerging that a calorie isn't necessarily a calorie (http://www.fourhourworkweek.com/blog/2008/02/25/the-science-of-fat-loss-...). to maintain my weight, i never eat bread products, eat small meals often on top of exercising 1.5 hours a day. i often have problems with fainting because i have to expend so much energy and take in so little. it's a somewhat extreme way to live in order to have a "normal" bmi. i have a friend who is naturally underweight despite eating nachos literally everyday. you cannot tell me that every body is the same, that is unbelievably ignorant. do you really think you're educating anyone? hate to break it to you, you're not.

Amen. That was one of the

Amen. That was one of the most stupid comments I've ever heard. One could easily find an equal number of medical professionals who say that calorie-cutting makes you lose weight and those who say that cutting carbs does. It's what works for the individual person. And I, like the reply above, have thin and underweight friends and family who eat much more junk food than I do (including empty calories) and stay that way, whereas until recently, to even maintain my weight I had to be on a constant, very restrictive diet and exercise heavily. Nothing else that is "natural" in the world takes that kind of effort -- sexual drive (natural and no effort required), knowledge gain (natural and again, no effort required beyond living), you name it. There is something physically wrong with a body that requires so much over-effort simply to stay at an (in my case) over-weight. If it truly were as simple as eating 2000-2500 calories a day (I can't even imagine getting to eat that much!) and exercising moderately, we would have almost no obesity in America. Nice try at self-righteousness, but you really REALLY came out on the bottom this time. And judging from your condescension, you'll probably stay there. Have fun!

Acceptance?

So here's my thing. NAAFA=National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance...the fat acceptance movement... acceptance? Acceptance, tolerance, etc. What is the virtue in using these kinds of terms? Why position fat people as something to be accepted? I understand the need for organizations to promote the dignity and humanity of those of among us that aren't Ken and Barbie, but the language is troubling, is it not? I'm white and male and straight and average height and weight and from an upper middle class family. So, you know, I could get elected to public office if I weren't an atheist. That's as close as I can come to being a member of a maligned group. But the notion of striving for atheist "acceptance" seems absurd. All I am saying is that we should be using better words. I am open to suggestions.

This is a great article. The

This is a great article. The fat acceptance movement started out as a good thing but it has turned into a movement that worships obesity. People should instead support each other for how they live their lives and that should include positive reinforcement to get healthy. Notice I said get healthy, NOT lose weight. Obesity is extremely unhealthy and causes a multitude of other health problems. While feminism is about overcoming the beauty myth and becoming comfortable in our own skin, feminism never posited that women should become unhealthy or suffer silently from any kind of eating disorder (whether under or over eating). The fat acceptance movement doesn't necessarily just offer support to overweight people, it provides a strong sense of solidarity with eating disordered or unhealthy.

As someone who was

As someone who was overweight most of the life, I can declare that fat shaming never worked for me. I've heard for many times:"Do you really want to eat that?" or "Nothing tastes as good as thin feels" or "If you're cheating on your diet, you're definitely cheating yourself." ... And I really hate "fat-acceptance" ads.
My friend loved me no matter what size or shape I am, and never washed my brains when I ordered a double-cheeseburger instead of a turkey burger. But her friend who tagged along was a real piece of work: she would now be called a "frienemy". As I was placing my order with the waiter, she interrupted me to strongly suggested that I order grilled chicken instead. Why? Because she thought I should really watch my weight..... UGHHHHH....Hate it....

Unfortunately, mainstream

Unfortunately, mainstream America is never going to buy into the idea that overweight and obesity are healthy or even health neutral. There is just too much contrary medical evidence. And I don't see an end to fat-shaming either (though it is unfortunate); after all this is a country which made smoking so taboo and disgusting that smoking incidence has decreased sharply.

The FA movement reminds me all too much of the anti-global warming people: defensive and willfully ignorant of modern science and progress. Progress even of their members, since the FA movement seems so vitriolic against dieting/weight loss, which I just don't understand. It makes me think that many of them are (unconsciously) bitter that they can't achieve a normal weight, hence the anger at those who try to and succeed in controlling theirs. Sure, it's bad to be pathologically focused on your weight, and if you are large and happy with your state of health and body no one has the right to judge you, but it's so defeatist to suggest that just because you've given something up or don't prioritize it, that it is no longer a worthy goal to have. It is also downright dangerous to insinuate that all eating disorders are linked to dieting, when as the author points out it is about control (other addictions, including food addictions, also have to do with chemical pathways in the brain).

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Big Trouble | Bitch Media

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Big Trouble | Bitch Media

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Big Trouble | Bitch Media

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