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Size Matters: Oh, the Horror

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Continuing the conversation about respecting and accepting fatness as a choice, I thought I'd examine some of the reaction to a recent sensationalist news story about a fat woman in New Jersey named Donna Simpson, who expressed her fantasy of adding 386 lbs. to her current 604 pound weight in order to be named in the Guinness Book of World Records as the heaviest woman alive. The story launched a thousand ships of concern trolls, fitness experts offering their services, and wanna-be cultural commentators talking about how disgusting the whole thing is. Another aspect of the story that was so disturbing to people was that she supports her "lifestyle" with proceeds from videos of her eating. People deriving sexual pleasure from watching fat women eat are commonly known as "feeders," and it's not a new phenomenon by any means, but apparently it's new (and horrifying) to some of these people.

Reading the comment thread on a NY Post article on the story, I was struck at the cognitive dissonance most of the commenters appeared to be dealing with. On the one hand, they acted concerned for her health and the welfare of her daughter should she die due to trying to achieve the 1000 lb. weight. On the other, they were disgusted and often would express a desire to see her dead. How you can be worried that someone is going to die and then wish them dead, I don't know. But thinking about fat does some amazing things to people's abilities to reason. There were also the typical comments from misguided folks who apparently think that all fat people are necessarily receiving public assistance, often in contradictory ways—like getting disability AND welfare—and therefore were being supported by THEIR tax dollars. Since the woman rakes in a cool $4000 a month through her feeder pictures alone, I doubt taxpayers are footing the bill. But, of course, logic also flies out the window when talking about fat people.

Admittedly, this is probably an extreme case, but what is it about this woman's acceptance of herself at such a large size that triggers such emotional responses? Other, smaller fat people also expressed disgust at her size and many stated that they were fat but would "never give up trying" to lose the weight. Again, fat people are expected to constantly be attempting to get skinny and if they aren't, the shame train pulls into the station. As I stated previously, our fears and disgust over "excess" fat are reflected in some of the words we use for the act of "letting yourself go" and not fighting the fat—gluttonous, slothful, etc.. The implications being if you don't die from being fat, you'll get yours by going to hell in the end anyway. Even though Americans' collective weight is rising, we're all on diets now more than ever, ostensibly to ward off our ultimate fate. Though many people might not believe accepting their fat is a sin, they definitely believe they'd be in the wrong not to strive for thinness above all else. The U.S. may be the fattest nation in the world, but we make sure to hate ourselves for it.

The drama over Donna Simpson is less about health and more about choice—respecting the choices others make for their own bodies and protecting the right to make that choice and not be penalized for it by society. We are definitely afraid of fat, our own and other people's. But just because one can't get over their own baggage regarding weight doesn't mean they should expect others to carry it too.

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Comments

82 comments have been made. Post a comment.

TYT

I am so glad I saw this article. I have watched The Young Turks for a long time now (off and on, which is how I missed this gem), and never have I been as disappointed in them as I am right now. They went from body policing to outright fat-hatred in mere moments. Unfortunately, if Cenk, the usual host was present, I do not think it would have been any better.

"Health" in a context like this does not have anything to do with blood pressure, cholesterol, physical fitness, or anything like that. It is just an excuse to judge a woman found to be distasteful to them.

Thank you for your take on this.

For me, this gets straight

For me, this gets straight to the "do you really support the right of all fat people to be fat as they wish and/or as they/we are, or are you simply paying lip service to fat acceptance insofar as it supports you in your current form?"

It's pretty clear that non-fat folks will always struggle with fat, but when fat folks fuck each other over because someone else's choices and/or realities around their own bodies apparently make the supposedly when-it's-convenient homogeneous group Fat People "look bad", that's something else altogether. Simply being someone who likes being fat, isn't simply "accepting of it", or "tolerates it" or is "ok with it", but actually enjoys it for a variety of reasons (GASP!!!), i have heard some of the most fucked up, fat-shaming bullshit ever from other fat folks, from folks engaged in fat acceptance, health at every size, and other models purporting to forward fat liberation.

The discussion around this image is one where people's real feelings about fat and the boundaries of "acceptable" definitely come out in the open. i really hope this thread doesn't become yet another venue to hate on other fat folks.

seriously?

honestly as a fat person of 300+ lbs this woman does offend me. I think everyone should exercise, eat well and strive to be healthy. i dont think that healthy equals 150lbs for everyone. I know at my weight, despite being "morbidly obese" i have normal blood pressure, am not diabetic, exercise regularly, eat well but don't police myself, and i can do pretty much everything i want to do physically, i may be a bit slower but i can do it. if she were making an effort to be healthy, and she still weighed 600+lbs that is fine but as it is she's just committing slow suicide.

this woman is just engaging in crazy attention seeking behaviour. if a woman was trying to get in the guinness book of records for weighing LESS than anyone else, who had a goal weight of 55 lbs we would not deem that acceptable or healthy behaviour. i am all about the fat acceptance movement, but to me the fat acceptance movement is fighting against these stereotypes that deem all fat people lazy, stupid, unloveable, smelly, and worthless.

and no i dont support the right for people to get as fat as they wish, just as i dont support peoples rights to shoot heroin. i think you have to try the best with the body you've got. at the end of it if you are still fat then yes of course you should be accepted, but if you abuse your body it isnt anything to glorify.

Yes, seriously.

Hi Liz,

If we're really going to embrace fat acceptance as feminists, that means we strive for just that: acceptance. Donna's situation may be quite different from your situation, but she has the right to be as fat as she wishes without being hated for it. I think Tasha's point here is that it's easy to call ourselves fat positive when we're talking about our friends who wear a size 16, but someone like Donna requires us to put our money where our fat-accepting mouths are.

If you feel good about yourself, that's awesome. If Donna feels good about herself, that should be considered equally awesome. It's none of our business how healthy she is, and it's not up to us to say whether or not she is "abusing" herself. Our role, as I understand it, is simply to accept her choices about what she does or doesn't do with her own body.
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can't even keep up with all

can't even keep up with all the straw fatties being pulled out here.

Yes, i'm being serious. This

Yes, i'm being serious.

This is my interpretation of what you said in your short reply:

- you are offended by her mere existence, and her choices
- your health is "normal" while you are presuming someone else's "health" status to be abnormal based on her weight, not any information you have about her actual health status.
- that she's not making your approved attempts to be healthy
- by existing and gaining weight she is committing slow suicide
- she is crazy
- she is attention-seeking
- you don't support people who you deem "too fat"
- you compare being "too fat" with shooting heroin
- if you are "too fat" you are abusing your body
- if you are "too fat" you shouldn't be celebrated

Can you imagine for even a moment how potentially offensive this all is, and how completely counter to Fat Liberation this kind of speech is?

How does this kind of

How does this kind of comment serve liberation for and solidarity with fat folks?

Being fat isn't a choice -

Being fat isn't a choice - it's in your genes. Learn to accept people with different spatial orientations and quit being so fatophobic!

No, that's incorrect....

No, that's incorrect.... sometimes, being fat IS a choice. (but sometimes, it is genetic) Like in this woman's case. Sometimes outside forces cause us to gain weight, but sometimes, simply eating too much and too fattening of foods causes weight gain. Why those foods are eaten is another story (eating disorders, depression, etc). But that's not necessarily genetic. But at the end of the day, I control what I eat and what I don't eat. And at the end of the day, I can choose whether or not i want to get help for a binge eating disorder or not. know what I mean?

Actually. for some it IS a

Actually. for some it IS a choice, or a choice to be fatter than one already is, as in this case. That is the issue here: What choices are folks really willing to accept as valid? It is the very ACT of CHOICE around fat that seems to have folks in a real twist here.

Things that make ya go "hmm"

Very interesting and well-written. I admit, I do carry some 'fat bias' and feel that disgust welling up when I look at Donna's picture, but at the same time I have friends who are certainly not skinny -- probably consider themselves fat -- and I think they are beautiful and awesome. To me, it's kind of similar to how rabidly anti-choice women who have had abortions think that THEIR situation, THEIR reasons for making that choice are infinitely different or more important than those other heathen sluts out there having abortions left and right!! It's like some kind of disconnect that hinges on how we judge our choices and the choices of others (whose motivations we may never fully know or understand).

trying to understand

I don't mean this to come across as snarky or mean-spirited or judgmental. I legitimately want to understand more about this issue and overcome my own prejudices about fat. So I really would like an answer to this question: why do/should we accept some people's decisions to be overweight through practices such as overeating and trying not to exercise (potentially unhealthy decisions) but not other people's decisions to be underweight, through practices such as not eating, purging, and compulsive exercise (also potentially unhealthy decisions)? I absolutely think that this woman deserves the same respect and love everyone deserves. But if purposely trying to maintain a size that is considered by doctors to be too small is a disease, how is the opposite not also a disease? If it's acceptable to say to unhealthily underweight people "I'm concerned about what you're doing to yourself" (and I think most people would say that is acceptable), why is it not acceptable to say the same to unhealthily overweight people as well?

Do you wear sunscreen? Do

Do you wear sunscreen? Do you use barrier methods when engaged in sexual activities with unfamiliar partners? Do you always wear seatbelts? Do you smoke? Do you drink more than three drinks per week? If you're not on the right side of these issues, by your own reasoning, I should be allowed to antagonize you for your own good.

It's none of my business whether or not you burn up like charcoal brickets rather than wear sunscreen to avoid deadly melanomas. Your heath or lack thereof is NOBODY business but your own.

Not sure why this is complicated for folks. You take care of your health and I'll take care of mine.

hope this helps :)

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I think what she means is,

I think what she means is, why is there so much focus on getting women with anorexia and bulemia help (and exercise bulemia)? Why is there always so much concern over those eating disorders? I mean, just go to any bookstore and look at how many books there are about overcoming anorexia and bulemia, and how many memoirs there are about it. I've read a couple myself.

There will always be an infinite amount of concern for women with those kinds of eating disorders, public awareness, education to parents about keeping their daughters from having poor body image so these kinds of eating disorders won't happen, the routine shutting down of pro-ana and pro-mia websites, etc. Look at how many documentaries there are about those kinds of eating disorders, and when they have those kinds of disorders, the immediate response is to get them help so they won't starve themselves to death.

So what's with the double standard? Why does anorexia and bulemia warrant treatment, but binge eating does not? All three are eating disorders, but why are they handled differently?

A simple question: Do you support people who have anorexia and bulemia? Do you say that it's none of your business what they do with their bodies?

I think all eating disorders

I think all eating disorders warrant treatment if needed. But there's no evidence that Donna has an eating disorder. Just because you overeat doesn't mean you have binge eating disorder. I overeat often and I don't have it. She likes to eat, apparently. There's not necessarily a pathology involved.

Of course, but I also don't

Of course, but I also don't think that the the discussion of binge eating disorders should be ruled out.

I do have to ask though, if there was a woman striving to have the lowest body weight and be in the guinness book of world records, would it be any different? Would she be considered anorexic? And would anyone who strives to be at the thinnest they can be be considered anorexic? I mean, if I had it in my head that I want to be 100 lbs, would I be anorexic? If yes, what makes me different than Donna?

I think trying to be as thin

I think trying to be as thin as you can doesn't automatically mean you're anorexic. There's a whole host of associated symptoms that determines a diagnosis of anorexia. It might not be such a great idea to try to be the thinnest person in the world, but I don't think you have to be anorexic to try to do that. The thing is, though, none of us are doctors (I think) and we also are really talking about hypotheticals here so there's no real basis for comparison.

btw to clarify this post

btw to clarify this post wasnt from me, the original liz, i will respond below.

The underweight debate

Liz,

If Donna were attempting to be the lightest woman in the world, I would hope that I'd feel equally that it's her choice to do what she wishes with her own body, free of my judgment. It's not my place, or yours, or Tasha's, to make armchair diagnoses as to who may or may not have a disease or who is or isn't risking her health. No one is privileging fat over thin (or vice versa) we're saying that we should make every effort to accept all body types and lifestyles without hating on anyone.

The bottom line here is that, as feminists, we are striving to not police other women's bodies. Period.
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I'm inclined to agree with

I'm inclined to agree with you on that. But...I would phrase it differently. I don't know how. I'm coming from a place of dealing with an eating disorder myself (anorexia/bulimia combo, basically)...and someone like Simpson (several hundred pounds overweight, not like, 20 or 50 or 100 or whatever marker you set, it varies by individual) just seems to be exhibiting extremely disordered behavior.

Simpson is obviously an extreme example. I'd be interested in hearing more from some of the commenters here who are overweight by choice and not trying to change their bodies. I can't say I've heard of this being too well represented in a way that doesn't basically explain it as fetishism or "irresponsible disregard for health and others".

I guess a thing a lot of people struggle with, myself included, is where to draw the line at "acceptance" versus "concern for the individual's wellbeing" (and within that latter group, what your motivation for concern is, I guess separating "hatred of fat" masquerading as "concern for wellbeing" versus "actual concern for the persons wellbeing" because they are having severe mobility issues, blood pressure problems, diabetes caused by inactivity. And also binge eating. I worry about that being overlooked and people being ridiculed and shamed for that, especially for people who are considered "overweight".

What is "healthy" and what is "disordered" and who decides? Of course, that's a bigger overarching question in psychology that's been subject to debate for decades.

I think Liz brings up a

I think Liz brings up a really good point. There is a plethora of feminist criticism and discourse concerning anorexia and bulimia. If this post was story about a woman striving to be morbidly thin, would we as feminists be supporting her decision? Would we be defending her right to starve? I've yet to hear or read a feminist espouse that opinion. But the thing is... it's the same issue, both anorexia and binge eating are eating disorders. If we defend a woman's decision to gain weight for fame and financial gain, we must also defend a woman's decision to lose weight for the same reason. And Liz's thought-provoking post brought another question to my mind. How is the Fat Acceptance movement different from the Pro-Ana movement? Would Bitch endorse a Pro-Ana blog?

And perhaps this is off the point... but I find the constant policing of these blogs by Bitch Employees to be incredibly condescending. It suggests that those of us with differing opinions are unruly women who need to be schooled. What's the point of having open discussion if we can't express ourselves without fear of being metaphorically spanked? If a comment is abusive that's one thing. But if the post inspires a line of thinking that is in disagreement than the original the post, so what? We're big girls. Dare I say, some of us are grown women. We can handle it.

Fat acceptance comments

Hi Aly,

First of all, I disagree that fat acceptance and pro-ana are the same thing. Anorexia is a mental illness, fatness is not. Binge eating is a disorder as well, but as far as I know Donna has not been diagnosed with a mental illness and it's not our place to do that for her. However, we at Bitch (or at least I, I can't speak for everyone) do believe that no one's body should be policed by others, regardless of how thin or fat someone is (if that's what you were getting at).

As far as the comment moderation goes, you might be able to handle it ("it" being comments that go against our policy), but many people would prefer not to. We've upped our moderation efforts because our readers and bloggers have asked us to do so, to keep the threads more productive and safer for everyone. We do try to be transparent about why we're deleting certain comments (see an earlier post by me in this thread for evidence of that) but we feel that, especially with certain triggering topics, we need to keep a handle on things. I hope that helps!
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.... Because it's their

.... Because it's their space? You can determine what the "right" version of feminism is for your space, too! There's nothing actually stopping you!

This woman clearly has a

This woman clearly has a body image obsession, which is closer, in definition, to Anorexia than to "fatness," which is simply a body type, as is "thin" or "athletic." We may not know whether she is a diagnosed binge eater, but she has the same goals as a diagnosed Anorexic except in the opposite direction: instead of thin, she wants to be fat in order to achieve a certain perceived social status - to the detriment of her health.

I find it funny that other than BDD, there is no medical name for such a disorder. (someone correct me if I am wrong.) And I believe it is truly a disorder.

Also, health and body image are not mutually exclusive.

She's got a point. And, I

She's got a point.

And, I think the fact that anorexia is a mental illness is a moot point.

Why is wanting to be the thinnest woman in the world any different from being the fattest? Why is it OK to condemn eating too little, but say it's fine to overeat?

And, I do think that people supporting Donna's habit of binge eating and putting videos of her eating on the internet, and charging people to view them, making money off of binge eating, *is* the same thing as pro-ana websites. It's teaching, promoting, and engaging in disordered eating. Just like pro-ana websites describe how to lose weight, Donna is describing to how to gain weight, and is glorifying it. Pro-ana websites glorify not eating, and she glorifies eating too much.

If anorexia is a mental illness, then wanting to be 1000 lbs, and binge eating to get there, is also a mental illness.

No, it's not the same .

No, it's not the same .

This woman is a sex worker. She is part of the feeder/feedee subculture. The videos she makes of herself eating are intended to be viewed by people who get sexual gratification from on watching fat women eat and grow larger.

Sure, it's in the context of eating and body image and all that, but that's what she's doing.

Now, the whole issue of sex work as a rational, valid career choice that women can make is a whole other can of worms.

But I don't think that this woman's choices can be or should be viewed solely through the lens of fat acceptance (or lack thereof).

The comments after the original article were disturbing. I can't even decide which bothered me most - the outrage that she might get medical care for some ailment or so the insistence that she lose custody of her child and that she should die soon, dovetailed with the admonition that they're only worried for her health!

Donna definitely has a mental

Donna definitely has a mental illness. I don't say this because she wants to be fat, I know plenty of "feedees" in the porn industry and otherwise and I don't consider them to have a mental illness.

I know Donna has a mental illness because of some of the things she has said in interviews. While on a certain talk show, a scale was brought out and Donna weighed herself, when she found out that she was at a significantly lower weight than she had thought, she became visibly upset and disclosed to the audience that she had "reverse anorexia" in which she saw herself as a lot thinner than she actually was and she became very depressed when she found out she had not gotten bigger.

Now, do I think that's a reason to hate her or disapprove of her decisions? No. Just as I don't hate anorexic people, I don't condemn her, but I do know her actions are unhealthy especially psychologically. I think she should seek therapy for her feelings.

Excellent post

People, especially people who are in the business of media and pop culture, try to use convenient buzzwords as an easy way to validate their own arguments. Certain people are trying to tag Donna Simpson with words such as "mental," "unstable," and "crazy" in order to not only demean her but also to take away her credibility as a rational, thinking individual. Once they do that, it doesn't matter what Simpson says, if they can get people to stop seeing her as a human being, others will be less willing to listen and understand. This is why we're having a problem with fat representation in the media, there aren't enough people pushing through to make sure that fat people are seen as not fat people but just people, just as women are people, men are people, lesbians are people, transgenders are always people, and every person just is not exactly the same as every other person, but that doesn't make them inhuman. It's why we're fighting to push for more plus-size clothing commercials on television and demanding more movies with leading roles for actresses such as Gabourey Sidibe. This marginalizing, name-calling tactic has been used countless times over the years to try and shepherd groups of people into easy-to-target margins which then makes things easier for those who want to argue against them because it takes less work to use these kind of buzzwords instead of actually constructing a sound, respectable argument to prove a point. It's kind of like using the word "concern troll" to marginalize a group of people who aren't content with taking someone's word for it that if you don't automatically applaud and praise a woman who is trying to nearly double a body weight of 600 lbs to fit some sort of standard in her mind then you don't fit the standard of how a proper feminist would behave. And that's what makes us good women. Our ability to behave and follow rules that others set for us to avoid stepping on toes and making others feel uncomfortable for having to deal with us. It's how the woman's movement has gotten so far, after all. We can only rouse and demand meaningful, intelligent conversation in a public forum if we abide by the rules we set for ourselves to avoid stepping on others toes and only making them deal with our voices if they "prefer" to. I don't think anyone would take the time to construct a counter-argument if they could simply make the problem go away by striking what was said from record in the first place. That's even better than making the problem transparent, that's making the problem invisible. If Donna Simpson were starving herself to reach a weight of 50 lbs, for the same reasons, then the tone of this blog would have been much, much different and we would be having a conversation instead about why pop media is filled with people who have the opposite of the feeder fetish: a fetish for extremely thin women.

NO ONE was asked to applaud

NO ONE was asked to applaud or praise her. Tell me where I inferred that anyone should SUPPORT her choice. I said respect her choice--not "respect" like admire, but ACCEPT that she made the choice and realize that you don't have to change her mind. Where people got that we should be "glorifying" (another word someone used) her simply for choosing to gain weight, I don't know.

No, you do not. That's not

No, you do not. That's not what I was trying to imply and I apologize if you thought that comment was directed at your writing. I was using hyperbole to try and express how I don't understand why there are some comments I read here yesterday but can't read today and that now there are holes in this blog thread that leave certain people with the last word because there are things that have been deleted, such as Aly's second post, refuting them. That's what got me frustrated, because it seems like whenever I read a comment here that so much as hints that the writer feels that Simpson's choices might be self-destructive in the long run rather than liberating and a triumph for more cultural acceptance of people of all sizes, there's someone springing up with a passive-aggressive reminder about the comment policy, someone else telling them that they should mind their own business, and someone else grouping them in with "concern trolls" which just seems especially counterproductive to me. If people were posting horrible things here like "this woman is disgusting, she should just die, she's so stupid she doesn't she know what she's doing to herself" or "ha-ha fatty" like those people in the NY Post that you linked, then I could understand why Bitch Magazine would want their comment moderators to delete them.

People got the idea that Bitch is implying that we should be supporting Simpson because people are getting scolded and censored for not.

That's all. Again, I'm sorry if you thought I was criticizing your blog post. I thought it made a good point about how immaturely biased some people are towards weight and the value of people thinking before opening their mouths and speaking hateful things.

Logic flying out the window, indeed.

I don't know if thatsfit.com could be more of a concern troll if that were their goal. This winner from their piece on Simpson made me laugh:

She admitted that she tried dieting a few years and was set to undergo a gastric band operation but pulled out of the life-saving surgery at the last moment after a friend died during a similar procedure.

A "life-saving surgery" she abstained from because it might KILL her? Considering Simpson is, y'know, still alive, how do they even justify labeling her would-be operation "life-saving?" What nonsense.

while we all see her wanting

while we all see her wanting to weigh 1000lbs as a path to self destruction, why don't we discuss other paths of self destruction as well. For example drug addicts, smokers, daredevils that throw themselves off of cliffs with or without a parachute and people with anorexia and bulimia. Why are we so fixated on this lady?

I am 100% sure she knows what her body is going to have to go through, the risks she is taking by going down this path, just like a smoker knows that they can get sick from a cigarette.

I am not going to encourage her or discourage her. THIS IS HER CHOICE. I feel bad for her daughter who will feel the ramifications of the public's outspoken opinions about her mothers choice. But i also feel bad for the thousands if not millions of children who are brought up within a drug environment. The thousands of children who have had parents die at war. The thousands of children who don't have parents at all!

Good on her for getting us all to re-evaluate ourselves and make us decide if we are happy or not within our body. Fat or skinny.

But let this be the end of it. If you feel impartial to her actions as i do ignore the media coverage, stop talking about her, and move on to your life and figuring out yourself!

i definitely appreciate the

i definitely appreciate the overall sentiment of knocking it off with the judging of other people's decisions around their bodies, but regarding your comment "while we all see her wanting to weigh 1000lbs as a path to self destruction", please speak for yourself. i certainly don't make this leap for another person. i don't assume she is on a path to self-destruction, or anything else for that matter, and it ain't my place to judge this woman on her choices about her body in any way.

Preemptively stepping in with some reminders...

When commenting on this thread, remember:

1. This is NOT a blog about health: We can't know someone else's health status and it's none of our business anyway.

2. Fat does not equal bad, nor does thin equal good.

3. It's fine to disagree with someone's choices, but it is not fine to concern troll or police them in any way.

4. We are moderating this thread, and comments that are considered to be concern trolling, derailing, or in some other way against our comments policy will be deleted.

5. This is a blog about fatness and pop culture, so keep your comments on topic. Thanks!
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"I'm 100% positive they're

"I'm 100% positive they're not healthy."
Really? If she was purposely shedding hundreds of pounds instead of gaining them, would you still be 100%, completely, without any doubts, sure you knew about her health?
If we can conceptualize that there are non-life-threatening ways to purposefully lose that much weight - which people do, regularly, on TV, with little or no scrutiny about their morality or sanity - why can't we conceptualize that there are non-life-threatening ways to purposefully gain it? If fat does not mean unhealthy and thin does not mean healthy, why don't we blink when someone's trying to lose hundreds of pounds, but jump to arms when someone's trying to gain it?

Fatness as a Choice

One of the main ideas I took away from this article is that it is Donna's personal choice to be fat.

This really hits home for me, because I think everyone's right to make decisions in their own life is a pretty basic right, and our society would probably be a lot less effed up if people could get this seemingly simple concept through their heads. To be honest though...I never really knew it was considered politically correct to come out and say that fatness is a choice, because many people I know (fat, thin, and anywhere in between) say that being overweight is a disability and that there are genetic pre-dispositions, etc...implying it's not a choice, rather a burden they're forced to live with. I will openly admit I don't know the first thing about genetics, so I'm in no position to comment on that aspect.

I guess I'm kind of hoping someone more educated on this issue as whole will be able to explain to me why I feel like both points of view will get me accused of insensitivity, and also why fat as a choice is the correct position to take. As I mentioned before, I agree with the idea of the article, but am frankly a little uncomfortable with how little I know to back it up. Thanks:).

i will give you an example

i will give you an example that i hope doesnt stray too far from the OP, because they're both intimately connected to me:

As a trans person, i often get taken to task for what others see as the choice to be trans, and the choice to alter my physical body because of it. i have no idea whether i am trans because of genetics, nature, nurture, or any other possibility, and no real desire to find out. My (and this is not the case for all trans folks) choice in the matter is to change my body. i have had folks tell me i'm a freak, ruining my health, putting my life at risk, and because i identify as a trans person and am not interested in taking my body further than i have, making other trans people "look bad" in the eyes of the non-trans (cis) dominated systems i live under.

As a fat person who enjoys being fat, who doesn't eat all my veggies, who loves donuts and carbs and other foods deemed by some to be "unhealthy" and therefore bad, whose ability to exercise is limited due to disability, and as someone who is also quite ok with being fatter, i am called a freak, ruining my health, putting my life at risk and making other fat people "look bad".

Some trans folks chastise me for liking being fat and THAT apparently making THEM "look bad" and out of control; fellow trans folks who concern troll about my health (which is hilarious to me, considering the degree to which i am NOT chastised by them for injecting testosterone into my body every week, and for having surgery to remove my breasts and all the physical effects that has on my body, not to mention the life-threatening nature of a major surgery like that); and some well clued-in fat folks chastising me for daring to ENJOY being fat, as opposed to simply putting up with it, tolerating it, and for not eating according to their personal standards and worrying about what others will think of all fatties because of that.

For me, it is happenstance that i am fat. It is certainly my choice to be fatter than that happenstance allowed for. i haven't thus far seen that FA or HAES can include that reality, but i would like to think that Solidarity At Every Size certainly can, which is why i started using the term :)

But so far, quite aside from what non fat folks are ok to say about fat as a choice, it's not even politically correct for fatties to say they are fat or fatter by choice with other fatties, yet. Seems to me that the more folks recognize that we deserve the freedom to be whatever size we are or wish, much of that will dissipate.

Thanks

Thanks so much for your thoughtful response, it's helpful to at least know in advance that this is simply a controversial issue and I'll probably never be able to avoid having an opinion that pisses someone off. That's why I mostly prefer to keep my mouth shut:). I strongly agree with what you said about much of the controversy dissipating once people respect each other's freedom to decide. I'm certain there are historical examples of that principle somewhere... Ok on second (depressing) thought, maybe controversy never truly dies away (I live in Portland effing Oregon and still get comments from random strangers for being half of an interracial couple), but at least we can hope for some improvement.

LOL I know PDX well, and

LOL I know PDX well, and hear you on that for sure. I'd like to think that things will change with time, with discussion. I fear that fat folks will continue to be vilified though (whether for our assumed health status or some other reason), for probably a very long time. And fat folks who have the gall to enjoy being fat or or goddess forbid fatter will be doubly fucked. But at least folks are talking. That's a start :)

Genetic predisposition/choice

It sounds like for those people you mention knowing who are fat, it's genetic. However for the woman in this article, it's by choice. (Or possibly by genetics and choice.)

Some people have blonde hair because of genetics; some people choose to have blonde hair (by dying it). Some people have semi-blonde hair genetically and choose to have REALLY blonde hair by bleaching it blonder.

Not everyone's the same. Also, being something by choice and being something by genetics isn't necessarily an either/or thing: you can do both (or neither) at once.

I'm a little troubled by the

I'm a little troubled by the offhanded reference to feederism as a fetish ("[...]apparently it's new (and horrifying) to some of these people."), as if it is another healthy fetish that people are too prudish or naive to accept.

Feederism is a fetish and can be harmless in cases like these (she is eating for herself, they are only watching), but often manifests itself as an act of abuse and control of women, sometimes to the point where they are complete dependent on the "feeder" for all of their needs. Unlike other potentially abusive sexual subcultures, such as S/M, the goal of many feeders is to render the feedee unable to withdraw from the relationship. It is the other side of pressure to be "thin enough", sometimes taken to dangerous lengths.

I think it SHOULD be horrifying to readers. Any coercion in a relationship should be. It isn't based around finding women attractive and letting them be free to make their choices. That is healthy-- feeder subculture is not.

While i think it's

While i think it's definitely important to call out abusive behaviour whenever and wherever it shows itself, you are taking one messed-up subset (existent within pretty well any fetish) within feederism/gaining and painting the entire bunch with an abusive brush. Part of the problem lies with an inability to accept that anyone would willingly WANT to be fat/ter. It hasn't mattered one iota that no one is forcing me, abusing me, manipulating me, i get hated on and condescended to for gaining at all, no matter the context, by folks who have talked a streak about fat empowerment.

Hey...

...if it's really what Donna wants to do, all the power to her. If it's a decision made in clear mind and good (mental) health, then there shouldn't be any issue. Usually, I respond to any Guinness attempt, whether it involve weight or anything else, with an "O..kay." Donna is no exception. Is that Donna in the photo?

Um, and as per the discussion above regarding fatness as a disease/disorder, especially compared with anorexia, couldn't one argue that binge eating (whereby food fills an emotional void) or self-starvation (also as an attempt to control emotion) as actions are indicative of illness, and the person's weight is merely a side effect? I know people of varying sizes who partake in both activities (sometimes in alternating bouts), and their weight/size is not the indicator of their issues. Their actions are. Just a thought.

Yes, that is Donna in the

Yes, that is Donna in the photo.

agreed.

my biggest stumbling block to understanding this is not so much about the fatness and much more about the guinness book of world records part. it still gets published?

Maybe we could start

Maybe we could start combatting acceptance by not calling overweight people "fat." I may be alone in this, but reading these articles is a bit of an eyesore as we're trying to learn the comfortable lines of acceptance by using a word that most overweight individuals don't like. Calling someone a "fat person" is the same thing as constantly referring to a small-breasted woman as such, or a gap-toothed person as such, etc. It's taking a person's imperfection and making that the only thing that's relevant about them. Calling someone a "fat person" is dehumanizing them to a certain degree. I understand it's the subject of the article, but literally every reference here is "fat person this, fat person that." Even when referring to a less overweight person, they're called a "smaller fat person."

I've never been a "thin person," and while I don't consider myself wildly overweight, I do understand that there are struggles involved with these sorts of situations. Being overweight is just as much of a mental disorder as bulimia, anorexia, or depression is. The word "fat," at times, feels just as much like hearing the word "slut." It just doesn't sit well and it makes it hard for me to take any of this supposed "acceptance" too seriously.

Keep in mind that you're

Keep in mind that you're commenting on BITCH Magazine. The process of reclaiming hurtful words is important and powerful, especially within the feminist movement. Many in-groups have words, typically used as insults by nonmembers of said in-groups, that they use in different ways. It's a complex psychological thing to be able to turn something hateful into something positive; it's a way of exercising power and dulling the sting of the word when it comes from nonmembers spewing hate. You do realize that people -- feminists! -- are also reclaiming words like slut too, along with defending women who are called sluts?

No, being overweight is not as much of a mental disorder as bulmia, anorexia, or depression; in fact, it's not one at all. Eating disorders are NOT the same thing as depression and to conflate the two is not cool. You're also making the wild claim that all fat people have a mental disorder, which is simply untrue. Fat people have fat, not a mental disorder; fat people can certainly have mental disorders, but the presence of body fat does not mean you have one.

Previous "Size Matters" Posts...

Check out some of Tasha's earlier posts for "Size Matters," the question of the title of "fat" is already hashed out there.

oh come ON

Fatphobia disguised as "discussion" is a bit of a joke.

Ultimately, if it's not about you, it's not about you. And some woman's choice, any woman's choice, any person's choice to do as they see right with their own bodies is Not. About. You. What is it folks can't understand about that?

If this fat person is so inundated with judgment and scorn even by supposedly fat-positive people, what on earth do any of you imagine will happen to you or other "more acceptable" fat folks? A free pass? Does anyone truly believe that? Come ON.

Solidarity and support, not divide and conquer!

Thanks for this article, Tasha.

I think there's a

I think there's a distinction to be made between "acceptance" and "approval". I'm a skinny or thin person, but my habits are far from super healthy; however, I don't ask anyone to approve that (in some sense I even don't; I wish I could eat healthier and exercise more, I'm just too lazy or too busy, and love burguers too much). I only ask people not to judge me, hate me or pity me, or make offensive comments about myself. I realize I'm not a public figure like this woman is, but I am sometimes the subject of that type of comments from my vegan friends.

It's not like I approve what this woman is doing, I do think it's unhealthy and IF SHE ASKED FOR MY OPINION IN THAT, I would tell her that; I just don't think it is my freakin bussiness, or anybody else's.

Wow

This is the most interesting comments thread we've had in a while on this site.

I completely agree with Jennifer when she says that no one has the right to do anything and not experience some form of backlash. As a hardcore libertarian type, I'm fond of the idea that anyone should really be allowed to do anything with themselves and their bodies without intervention from regulatory agencies of any kind. However, I think that there's a huge difference between "policing" as it pertains to actual police given the power to enforce laws of the land and group "policing" as it appears to be defined here--free individuals telling other individuals how they feel about their choices. I have a friend who lives in NYC, home of the nanny statist ideas that the government should be able to tell people what to put in their bodies. He and I have had very heated discussions about the laws being passed in regards to trans fat and such. I am always the one saying that the government has no right to tell me what I can and cannot eat.

Personally, I'm all about "more power to ya!', but if someone wants to disagree with any choices I make, I also think it's their right not to like it and even to say so. Then I have the power (if I'm truly comfortable with my choice) to say, "Oh, well! I really don't care what you think!" We have every right to make the fat acceptance movement about fighting governmental agencies telling us what we can and cannot do with our bodies. We cannot turn it into the thought police. I will say that I do support an underlying idea presented here, which is basically, "If you don't like fat people, at least stop hiding behind bogus arguments as to why." That's valid. I regularly tell people that a lot of research supports the idea that fat might not be as strong an indicator of health as many have been led to believe, so it's kind of bogus to me when people start using that as their prime argument against unchecked fatness. But there is a difference between people being allowed to do something and people being validated by others for their choices by other members of a free society. I smoke, and I've had people be real jerks about it, walking by me and dramatically coughing and waving their hands around and shooting me dirty looks. I know they think I'm making a poor choice, but I just keep on making it in spite of their opinions because I do not care what complete strangers think of me or my choices. I'm also all in favor of making all drugs legal, and that is not a joke.

As for the question posed by Liz about the differences in most feminist discourse on anorexia and what we're reading here about fat acceptance, I think it's a perfectly valid point. I've read a lot of that discourse myself being a recovered anorexic/bulimic. What is usually said is that anorexia is the byproduct of a society that sees women as only as good as her body. It is the result of a society that encourages women to exhibit extreme self-control as a symbol of their goodness. It is the result of a society that wants women to be silent, to be invisible, and to be incapacitated. This is an extremely common argument. And my answer to the question is that it is no different. If you support someone being able to do whatever they want with their body, you have to support a woman getting down to 55 pounds as much as you support her getting to 1000.

Seriously. She should get as fat as she wants to, and I mean that. But if other people want to have opinions about that, I say let them. She doesn't seem to care. Which begs the question: Why are we trying to police the policing of a woman who is happy with her choice and doesn't appear to be upset about attempts at policing? It doesn't seem that any of those concern trolls or policers are actually impeding her progress on any level.

Interesting thoughts, Nan.

Interesting thoughts, Nan. In response to your last paragraph, I'd say that I think the purpose of the original post was to call us to examine our own personal reactions to Donna's choices, i.e. do we draw a line at what we'll "accept?" - not so much to police the concern trolls.

This woman has NOT accepted

This woman has NOT accepted herself and her body as it is currently. As stated she is "trying to achieve 1000 lb. weight" (which requires her to gain over 300 lbs) in order to be accepted and/or achieve a higher level of status by a certain group of people. Granted, for most people it is easier to gain weight than lose, but a weight fluxuation in excess of 300 lbs for any human is extreme and should be viewed as such.

She has, by definition, body dysmorphic disorder "in which the affected person is excessively concerned about and preoccupied by a perceived defect in his or her physical features. The term "body dysmorphic disorder" [...] describes those excessive social-acceptance fears that relate to one's personal body image." Her perceived "defect" is that she is not heavy enough. She believes that when she gains weight and achieves her goal, she will not only receive more recognition, but more money, fame and admiration. An anorexic woman is considered unhealthy when she loses weight for the same reasons this woman has gained weight. I do not see the difference. The fact of the matter, is both extremes are unhealthy and I personally don't believe either should be accepted.

Armchair Diagnosis

It's not our place to impose any kind of a diagnosis on her from snippets of things that she has said. We don't know her medical or psychological status or background (neither is it our business), thus we cannot stand in judgment.

If her status mentally,

If her status mentally, physically or otherwise, is "none of our business" why has this article even been posted? And, NO, we don't know her medical or psychological background, and I never stated we did. Her actions simply reflect, by definition, a person with BDD. Also, her actions, as a morbidly obese woman, STRIVING to be even more overweight for a perceived status, are precisely why we are commenting on this article? Non? Otherwise, why have comments? Why encourage people to share their opinion and then scold when they express one in opposition to the content?

Health tropes aside...

This is a pop culture blog, not a health blog. The arguments Tasha is presenting does not appear to be on support vs. non support of this woman's decisions, but on the conversation swirling around her personal choice. Fat acceptance is much like what we struggle with feminism every day (see s.e. smith's posts). Are people accepted into the feminist community when they choose to engage in porn? Are trans? Weigh over 300lbs? Choose to have an abortion? She is on the fringes of this idea of acceptance, thus it is a great struggle for people (myself included) to incorporate her into our acceptance swagger.

It is not my (nor, I believe, the moderators') intention to "silence" opposition to content of the blog, rather to keep the conversation on track. We are dealing with the pop culture conversation about her choice, not on her perceived mental instability.

Do you know the diagnostic

Do you know the diagnostic criteria for Body Dysmorphic Disorder? There's a pretty long list of criteria and if all you know of her is from reading any of those links, you don't have enough information about her actions to diagnose that. Plus, are you a psychiatrist?

PEOPLE. Stop acting like you know, when you don't. At all.

Snaps

Great Post Tasha!

As always, this blog (and the accompanying comments), help me realize my privilege. It's one thing to be all for Fat Acceptance, but cases like this make you put your money where your mouth is.
Her decisions are her business; it's her body and her choice.

Am I on a Bich Blog or US Weekly?

I think it's quite clear that we live in a culture where fat people are disdained, monitored, policed and disgusted. This article and the comments which have followed are a perfect representation of those feelings.

Feminist blogging is tricky because we don't all agree on any issue and we (those who self-identify as feminists) are generally coming from completely different social locations. As someone who is fat (on the smaller fat end) I have dealt with a plethora of self-hatred and hatred from my peers (not that it was always intended to be cruel). I have had many 'well-intentioned' doctors, friends, coaches, family etc try to 'help' me be the 'real' me by convincing me to get down to a size 4. This is not healthy behavior, nor is the complete lack of regard for Donna's choices displayed in the comment section here.

I know discourse on positive body image (i.e. years of discussion on anorexia, starvation etc) has dominated feminist circles, but this blog seeks to discuss body image in a different direction, I stress the word, DIFFERENCE, in regards to fat acceptance. I love the fact that my homepage is BITCH and I have a space in my day to read about something like fat acceptance when there is little to no popular spaces which do so otherwise. I am really bummed on the comment thread here and the hyper-defensiveness of BITCH readers who are offended by the blogger's attempt to discuss Donna in a different light than mass culture has thus far.
I guess my response to all of you who feel as though your comments are being disregarded is that your comments aren't enlightening or intelligent when you are spitting the same bullshit I can hear on any other news forum. I don't care about your desire to share your disgust and your alignment with popular opinion of fat hatred. I am pretty sure Cosmo has a web page you can share your thoughts on.

I'd also like to point out,

I'd also like to point out, and am well aware I might catch some flack for it, that there is something of a socio-economic issue at hand here. Could it not be argued, speculations about Simpson's mental health aside, that she has a unique privilege of choosing to gain all that weight? That she is privileged to have physical and monetary access to that amount of food?

It's interesting that you

It's interesting that you point this out because earlier I was discussing this with a friend. I brought up socio-economic issues, but from a different direction. I posited that she might be in a position where she saw herself as the best way to support herself and make it into a higher income bracket because her size might limit her employment options. In other words, she might not get jobs at 600 lbs because of discrimination or actual physical limitation, so she might see the gaining and subsequent videos and attention as her only option for moving up the socio-economic ladder.

A friendly reminder from a mod

Hi all! Please review Comments Policy prior to contributing feedback. Thanks!

It's important to remember these posts are designed to create a safe space for fat folks to discuss representations of their bodies in pop culture, not for others to derail conversation with concern trolling or debating health. There are many places on the internet to have those conversations, so please respect the rules of this particularly sandbox.
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Not interested in debating wild hyperbole

Maybe for this article to pertain in a more relevant way to fat acceptance the author could have used Jessica Simpson as an example instead of Donna Simpson? Just sayin.

Why would Jessica Simpson be

Why would Jessica Simpson be a better example?
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Jessica Simpson, perhaps,

Jessica Simpson, perhaps, because she's a more "realistic" or "appropriate" amount of fat? No. That is not how fat ACCEPTANCE works. There is no magic number or shape where someone is just fat enough.

were you trying to make a

were you trying to make a point or did you just feel like making a comparison based on last names?
and if you were indeed making a point, what would be challenging people's viewpoints or assumptions in an article about accepting jessica simpson's looks?

Love her!

I think shes great! so nice to see someone love themselves, and also figure out a way to make their assets work for them! I like her example so much more than other people who are obese that are always talkig about how they want to lose weight and all that. There are too many concern trolls out there, they need to leave this fat and HAPPY woman alone.
I also want to know why overweight is the only thing that it's still acceptable to make fun of, and why it's considered OK to get into others business telling them about their health. Leave people alone! Almost everyone has habits that are less than perfect!

as a feminist who has

as a feminist who has participated in a bit of gaining/feeding myself, i have to say that the "diagnoses" on here are a bit alarming. really, step away from your armchair psychology for a minute. and if you're really a psychologist or a social worker, you should really know better than to diagnose from one glimpse into a person's life from an article.

gaining, like the type donna practices, is rarely compulsory in the same way that anorexia is (i also won't get into the fact that if you straight up don't eat for days you will certainly die, but if you overeat for days, you will probably not die for many, many decades and you may not even die because of your overeating, so the comparisons, while though-provoking, don't really hold) i can't say how donna feels, but i know in my case, it is not compulsory. it is a choice. it is NOT body dysmorphia either. i see my body as it is. i like my body as it is, and i want more of it. i do not see a defect about my body, as someone else mentioned earlier that gainers do. i have a feeling that donna doesn't either, even though you might see that because perhaps you see a defect in her body.

donna is the most extreme gainer/feedee i've ever heard of, and there's lots out there. i don't think tasha meant for you all to start policing her body and making rash assumptions about her mental health. that is incredibly problematic and downright disrespectful, fat-phobic and even misogynistic, imo.

ugh

THANK YOU.

SERIOUSLY. Couldn't have

SERIOUSLY. Couldn't have said it better myself.

Agreed!

I'm a social worker and I wouldn't dare make these armchair diagnoses based on a couple quotes in an article, so I don't understand why other people are making them. The only person who can truly offer a mental health diagnosis is a psychiatrist who has conducted an intensive assessment, and even then, they don't always get it right...

Also, I believe that people have a right to self-determination (a vital part of anti-oppressive practice folks). All I can do is present the options to a person and allow them to make decisions for themselves. While I may not personally think all of my clients are making the best choice, it is their choice to make, and I have no right to take that away from them, nor do I have the right to impose my judgments. Why is Donna Simpsons situation any different?

Because I actually know

Because I actually know people in the gainer community, let me just clear up a few misconceptions...
"Gainers" are people who are intentionally gaining weight, either because they want to get bigger or via a sexual fetish, or both.
"Feeders" are people who may or may not be fat themselves, who help gainers put on weight specifically by feeding them.
"Encouragers" are people who support gainers and their progress, but not necessarily by physically feeding them.
"No limit" gainers are people who don't have a weight goal in mind and want to get as fat as possible.

We can pretend that people like the one Tasha writes about here are few and far between, but the reality is probably that there are more of her than are out there, talking to the media. Assuming she's some outlier on the absolute margins of culture erases a whole group of people who are very happy with their bodies and lives.

To be honest, I have a hard

To be honest, I have a hard time respecting this particular action (the desire to gain weight to be in the Guinness Book of World Records) because I think it's just kind of ridiculous. That has nothing to do with the weight gain part, but the body modification part. If she were trying to get in the book for most plastic surgeries or most piercings or longest toenails, or was popping pills in an effort to become the world's hairiest human, I'd also think it was weird and certainly wouldn't cheer her on.

So that word "respect" for me is a tough one, as I don't find anything honorable in what she's doing. But I would still give her her due as a fellow human being. I would certainly want to protect her right to do what she's doing - she's not directly harming others; she may not even be harming herself, but even if she is, we (mostly) have the right to harm ourselves in this country (however you want to define "harm").

All in all, I don't care what this woman is doing, so I definitely don't care that she's fat. I didn't even know she existed 30 minutes ago. And I'm a somewhat caring person, so the concern "trolling" certainly seems like just that to me. Why are people getting so agitated about a person they don't even know doing something that they want to do? She's not asking for anyone's sympathy or assistance. If people want to be helpful, there's a lot they could be doing to help people who *are* asking for help.

Just wanted to mention that

Just wanted to mention that a number of comments have been removed as far as i can tell, and it makes things a bit confusing when you see folks responding to comments that no longer exist. Not disagreeing with the choice to delete, totally respect whatever you need to do here to keep things ok and not just careening into failsauce, just wishing there was a way to note that something had been deleted. Can there be placeholders? Does that happen elsewhere on the site that i've not noticed?

The opposite

This is a true story. I don't share it on the feminist Blogosphere because I feel like the feminist hardliners would bee fairly critical but since this thread is about acceptance, here it is. I specifically did not use my loged in SN because I don't want this to be part of my online narrative.

Since January of 2009 I have countered calories fairly meticulously, First through Weight Watcher and now through a free online service which actually tracks calories, fat, sodium, carbs, protein, and all instead just a simplified points system. I have lost 30 lbs. The vast majority of that was in the first 6 months and it has pretty much been weight maintenance since then with small periods of losing after Xmas and other holidays. I know a great deal of people would look at what I do and say that it is too time consuming and obsessive but I think of it like balancing your check book. My SUPER GOAL Weight is about 10 pounds lighter than I am now (which is really hard to get to).

This activity has never made me sick. I eat enough. I am not hungry. I feel great. I really like being able to fit into a smaller size when I shop.

So go ahead, I want to hear people's opinion, you can diagnose me to your heart's content, you won't hurt my feelings. And if you want to congratulate me on taking control of my life, go right a head. I too love my body and I know what I want to weigh and I am working on that goal.

The Fat Acceptance movement has not been particularly accepting of my choice to do this. I get why, even though I try to explain that I don't want people to do this if they don't want it; I am not disgusted by Fat.

The truth is that we do police bodies in the feminist community, we tell women that they are too thin. We tell them not to let patriarchy make them diet and hurt themselves. We tell women that they are sick when they manipulate their body in one way but not another.

I totally agree that this is not about health, it is about bodily autonomy. I am just kind of on the defensive because I feel like it doesn't cut both ways in the FA movement or in Feminism.

We are talking about a woman who wants to weigh X lbs she is currently focusing a lot of attention on getting to that goal. Observers (perhaps professional, perhaps not) might say "That seems like a big change and that the steps you would need to take to get to that goal might be detrimental to your health in the near or long term." I would applaud us for being able to say, this isn't about health and it is no one else's business so leave her alone. But this statement has to be true if X is 100 lbs or 1000 lbs.

perfectly said

thank you so much for posting this. i feel less alone in my own beliefs. no one should be shamed and that includes "points counters." i learned this from my sister a long time ago, but had yet to see it in FA or feminist communities. thanks.
-sara

FA and size acceptance are

FA and size acceptance are terms that get used interchangeably, when they are really talking about two different agendas. Size acceptance speaks to an across the board acceptance of bodies and the right for folks to do with their bodies as they see fit. Fat Acceptance is focused on empowering fat folks to find comfort, acceptance and agency in bodies they've been routinely told are unacceptable.

I realize, you know this. I realize that dieting or weight loss is a really thorny subject and there aren't many places where critically conscious folks are able to talk about losing weight for themselves and independent of all the conversation around appearance and attractiveness.

That said, there are so many places to talk about not wanting to be fat or wanting to be less fat and I find it really curious that any space that seeks to concern itself with the lived experiences of fatness independent of weight loss or some of the usual discourse surrounding fat bodies receives so much push back.

also, OMIGAWD, sara mccool! <3 *swoon*

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The difference between losing & gaining for body modification...

Anon -

Not interested in diagnosing or praising you. However....

"The truth is that we do police bodies in the feminist community, we tell women that they are too thin. We tell them not to let patriarchy make them diet and hurt themselves. We tell women that they are sick when they manipulate their body in one way but not another. "

Yep, feminists (and fat & size acceptance activists) often do say that the patriarchy *shouldn't* make people diet and hurt themselves. But it doesn't follow that they are discussing all women who modify their bodies to be thinner. It just means that pressuring someone else to modify his or her body is wrong. They also don't say that woman have a responsibility not to "let" the patriarchy pressure them to lose weight. (And how exactly would a woman do that anyway? The patriarchy DOES pressure most women to lose weight, so it's not like it's a choice to be pressured.)

Nor is it the case that all women are called "sick" when they lose weight, but not when they gain. Although that's an interesting hyperbole, and perhaps if true, feminists & size activists would be the only people in the world to actually say that.

By extension, feminists and body activists also say that it is a problem when a person feels that she has no choice but to keep up efforts to modify her body when she doesn't want to (and that means modification in any way - plastic surgery, hair treatments, makeup, Spanx...).

That is why there is a difference between body modification by choice, and body modification due to coercion - including external/societal coercion and self-coercion from a mental illness. In your case, if you're not doing what you're doing due to coercion - great!

That said, consensual body modification doesn't exist in a vacuum. When a person chooses to modify his or her body in a way that will gain them societal approval - including losing weight or even gaining weight - it's different situation than when a person modifies her body in a way that will garner criticism, like Ms. Simpson is doing. And in my own experience, when I'm doing something with my body that's society-approved, it takes a greater level of soul-searching to figure out how much of my choice is being pressured (because inevitably, there is always a certain level of pressure that prods me into my decision).

It's the ol' "can-I-wear-lipstick-and-still-be-a-feminist" question. When it comes down to it, a person has to make the choices that are best for her. Feminism, fat/size acceptance, and any other movement mean nothing if a person can't make choices. And honestly, even if I'm giving in to societal pressure to modify my body, it can be easier than having to fight it 24/7.

But, if my body modification choices happen to meet with societal approval, I'm not going to specifically seek approval from feminists, fat/size activists, or whomever. Their hands are pretty full as it is. I can get pats on the back from my friends on Facebook, and leave the activists to support those who aren't getting a lot of societal support.

Thanks for sharing. I

Thanks for sharing. I actually got a lot of flack because while some may view me as "fat" (I am 5'5 and weigh 190 lbs) I don't identify that way. I gained weight because of a medical condition. And because I said I don't consider myself fat, people automatically assumed that I have a problem with myself, and my self-image, and that I am disgusted by fat people. Which isn't true.

Any time there is a

Any time there is a discussion about respecting a person's decision to gain weight (and honestly? how often are their articles on how we should accept people's right to gain weight? Yeah, rarely. It's hard enough getting people to respect fat folks at the weights we're at, let alone respecting our decisions or desires to gain more), out come the "but what about the flip side?"'s. There is no "flip side" to this story. If it's not about you, it's not about you, and this post was not about thin folks or about anorexia. But it was also not intended to be about health either, and we saw how long that lasted.

I only have one problem with

I only have one problem with this. It's completely her decision, of course, if she wants to weight 1000 lbs., but I also worry about someone that wants to set the world record for being the heaviest woman. A healthy human heart should weigh between 9-12 oz., and there is literally no way that a heart of that size could sustain a thousand-pound body. I'm not questioning her mental health, because like I said, it is a CHOICE, and she may be sick, she may not.. I can't speculate. However, medically this will cause problems for her. It's just worrisome. =/

What this woman is doing is

What this woman is doing is no different than many women I know who strive to be 90 pound (or 80). They know the health risks, but are willing to risk that to achieve their ideal weight. Their size is a large part of their identity and they are adult women, making adult decisions. Only difference is these women can be forced to get "help" and be basically forced to eat, while this woman is not even supposed to be judged. And eating that much, knowing the health risks, to achieve the weight of 1,000 pounds is just as psychologically damaging as the one to eat only several hundred calories a day to weight 90 pounds.