Archive for the ‘Body Acceptance’ Category

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a position to act

April 23, 2010

There can be a very strong case made for the position that social movements are more difficult now than they were in the 1950s and 1960s because we have social taboos and legislation that masks the fact that inequality still very much exists. We have masked systemic issues with political correctness, which makes it more difficult to prove injustice. For instance, now that it is no longer acceptable legally to fire women for having families, companies have gotten sneakier about doing it, which makes it difficult for a woman to rally against that injustice. We are still fired for getting married and having babies, we just aren’t allowed to be told that anymore.

So maybe it is the case that groups of people who are openly discriminated against have a much better place to push from. When a woman is told she’s not as good as a man, she can push back. When she is told that her performance is lacking, and nothing more specific, she has little footing.

If this is the case, then the fat population is in a great position for social change. This is a population of people that is openly hated by the vast majority of both men and women across Western cultures. Examples can be found everywhere: in the health care bill, in the movies, in television, in magazines, in malls, in education, etc. Not only are examples of fat-hate everywhere, but the mentality is quite encouraged. If you even date a fat person, you’re often met with some form of ridicule or disbelief. We talk about fat and lack of control in the same breath without anyone bothering to do a double take. The hate is everywhere and it’s blatant.

So we are in the perfect position for a body revolution, yeah? We have the proof that we’re being treated poorly and we have a strong and very present mind-set to oppose. The fat are in a position to change American society in a way that has not been possible in decades. While the details about the how need hammering out, the overall ability and potential is remarkable.

Neato.

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The strangeness of food

April 5, 2010

Food and eating and weight and nutrition are such strange things to us and land in such a strange place in our culture. It is not uncommon to hear conversations where one party spends time belittling the food, eating, weight, and/or nutrition of another. Things like…
Why are you eating so many carbs?
Why don’t you do yourself a favor and get fruit instead of a bagel?
You need more protein, but not bacon.
Don’t complain about your weight then eat a bunch of carbs.

This is all taken from three conversations I’ve heard while reading the times and harvesting my farmville crops this morning here in Pearlstone. Why is that okay?

Let’s preform a bit of a test. Here’s two sets of phrases.
Batch 1:
You’re too stressed out, you should relax tonight.
Take a nap today, please, you’ve been awake for two days.
Why won’t you go to the health center if you’ve felt like shit all week?

Batch 2:
Why would you be religious when you know all religion is idiotic?
That shirt is very ugly.
If you aren’t going to wear make-up, then don’t complain about not getting laid.

Now, which batch seems more like the example quotes?
Okay, it’s not a perfect test, but it seems to me like there is a distinct difference in inquiring about a friend’s health and belittling their choices. The sad thing about eating, food, weight, and nutrition is that it falls under the guise of health concern. But it’s not, is it? Not usually anyway. Not here. It’s about beauty and standards of appearance.

It would not be okay for me to approach a friend and mock parts of their identity with total sincerity. Of course friends disagree with each other, but there is a difference in disagreeing and judging. Also, weight has serious stigma in our culture. To be fat is to be ugly, lazy, stupid, undesirable, pathetic, etc. so maybe it’s extremely hurtful to criticize our friend’s eating.

Food and eating are such strange creatures in our culture.

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Why you gotta be so rude, internet?

November 13, 2009

As I have mentioned before, I quite enjoy The Rotund, and recently this article was featured in response to the question “do fat people know they are fat?” I mean, if fat people know they are fat, why do they wear such unflattering clothes? I’m not going to repeat the entire article here, because you can just go read it yourself, but once again, I find myself facepalming like a motherfucker over the comments.

I feel like the issue of fat acceptance is just really sloppy right now. Part of this has to do with the fact that fat people don’t really see themselves as an identity group, which I beleive they are. We are. It’s very acceptable to make fun of fat people. They are the America of physical descriptions. People are afraid of being fat and appalled by the fat. Fat acceptance is, as far as I know, a pretty new concept, which makes it all the more frustrating to deal with. Unlike feminism, a well-established social phenomenon, FA doesn’t have a very large following (puuuuuuuun) and isn’t known by many people. Generally people agree that the way women were treated in the 40s and 50s is not acceptable today, giving us a hint of progress (although I’ll be the first to admit that some days feels more like two steps back than any movement forward), while it is still very socially acceptable to mock, shame, and abuse fat people just because they are fat.

Because few are willing to accept fat people as a relevant identity group, there is not a shared understanding of things that are just not appropriate to be said. For instance, it is not appropriate to tell women to shut up and go make me a sammich (I’m looking at you, PhillyD, even though I love you). And this string of comments in response to a very personal and well written article about how one woman is constantly made aware of her weight and has been forever falls into the catagory of not appropriate. Not all of them, but a good portion, like

Celebrate your fat all you want, good luck to the individual I say, but don’t expect the rest of society to celebrate it any more than they do smoking or binge drinking.

and

The thing that has always bugged me about fat people is how much most of them complain about being fat, yet do nothing about it.

Here we have being fat compared to destructive habits and fat people being labeled, once again, as lazy slobs who need to do something about their weight. And I beat my head against a wall because maybe it will lower by IQ enough to be able to accept these arguments. This is what I mean. There are premises here that need to be addressed and fought.
Sex is gender. Wrong. A premise that needed to be fought.
Fat is lazy. Fat is a disease. Fat is a problem. Fat is avoidable. Wrong. Premises that need to be fought.

Sadly (?) a lot of the comments have been deleted. I say sadly for several reasons, one of which is because it is these normative views and inappropriate comments that tell me what arguments I need to dismantle.

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Rainbows! Unicorns! Self-affirmation!

November 11, 2009

How am I supposed to concentrate on papers and projects and that one exam when I’m going to be moving out, living from a backpack, and finally have an adventure that doesn’t involve a bunch of people telling me where to go or correcting my behavior without me asking them to? November 23rd is the final day I will have a room in Varsity Apartments, and then it’s sleeping on busses and in tents, picking up my travelouge again, and walking everywhere. I’m so excited to finally have to rely on myself for more physical means of survival (okay, it’s not the most intense survival scenario ever, but it’s more than I’ve had to do before).

I think this whole self-reliance kick has been a very positive step in my development. It’s been so much more important here than anywhere else, because of having to build a support system from strangers and a 14 hour time difference. And I’m actually proud of how content I’ve made myself. I recently looked at a picture of someone I haven’t seen since high school, someone who was very important to me at one stage, and he looked so different, I didn’t recognize him. If his name hadn’t been next to the picture, I wouldn’t have noticed it was him at all. I don’t get very reflective in terms of high school often, because except for a few close friends and slightly amusing stories, I’ve been thrilled to put that stage away, but seeing that picture really sent me off thinking about the good old days of teen angst. And I’m such an entirely different person now then I was in so many good ways, I can’t help but smile. I was getting some air two days ago walking through the bike paths of Sippy Downs, and I actually got a skip in my step thinking about how I’m different.

Being here has really helped solidify my change, and for that among other things, I am extraordinarily pleased I came here. I really don’t remember ever actually being proud of myself before. Not just please with a grade or glad I got through a chior concert or happy to have passed, even though i could have dome better, but proud. A lot of it had to do with this Body Acceptance kick I’ve been on since coming here. Well, I guess it started in New Mexico, but I’ve really embraced it since being here. Its amazing how much just being comfortable in yourself physically can drastically alter how you perceive the rest of your life. There’s a girl here who really seems to enjoy calling people fat to their face, and not in the Fat Rant sort of way, but in the “Lose some weight, you fat load” sort of way. And I really don’t like this girl, because of this (among other things, but mostly this). She has made comments about my eating and my weight passive aggressively. She’s told my roommate that she needs to lose weight, even though my roommate is several sizes smaller than I am. I’ve gotten into an argument with her about Fat Rights in regard to health care. And it feels good to not like her on purely ideologically grounds. I don’t care on a personal level when she makes comments about my weight that would have sent me into a self-loathing spiral before. I get angry in the same way I get mad when people say ignorant things about gay people or make very racist comments. I’ve accepted my physical state enough to be able to argue using ideas and not defensive aggression.

Yeah, this is a big pat myself on the back post, but I’m really pleased with the way things are going. I’m not saying I’ve reach a state of enlightenment and now nothing in my life will ever be bad or that I’m never going to experience self doubt again. There’s still huge areas of myself that I need to get in order, and I do have days when I’m less confident. But I’m going to take a moment and celebrate the fact that I don’t dread running into people I detested from high school, because there’s nothing they can do to make me feel like I did back then.

This post is so rainbows and sunshine, it’s making me a little nausous, but I’m okay with it =]