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1/30/13

In Which Someone Says it Better

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"I don’t support weight loss. Period. That does not mean that I don’t believe people have the autonomy to do what they wish with their body. What people choose to do with their own body is up to them, but expecting me to support their weight loss ignores my own right to not be surrounded by that kind of mentality and the reality that most societies support weight loss as a realistic goal.

I also reject the idea that “health” is connected to weight in the manner that we are fed in our society. I reject “health” as an identity and a space that people can take up. I reject it because health isn’t accessible to most people, it isn’t a body type and it shouldn’t be held as a morally superior status, especially when the idea that a person is “healthy” ignores that people get sick for numerous reasons even if they fit into the idea of what we think a healthy person looks / acts like.

What we think of when we discuss health is a for profit health model that pretends health isn’t multidimensional with numerous contributing factors. While food and exercise can be vital to metabolic health (though not something people are obligated to partake in) someone’s socioeconomic status, genetics, access to fresh foods / vegetables, places to move their body, stress level, preventive medicine etc have just as much to do with their wellbeing as the things we normally associated with good health.

Basically, I don’t support weight loss or the way we view health in our society because they are oppressive and do more harm than good.

**Edit: It should also be noted that a person who accepts weight loss as a viable option doesn’t actually accept all bodies. They still support the notion that thin bodies are inherently better than fat bodies. I accept all bodies because I don’t support oppressive beliefs about what is a good body or bad body. Each individual should have the right to live in their body how they please."

"If there was ever a day that ignorance and hatred was welcomed into my life with open arms… today would be that day. My “Don’t like it? Don’t look.” image ended up in the revolting throes of fat-phobic Tumblr sites with comments ranging from claiming rights to think that I’m gross, to threats to run a “fat heifer” over with their car. Charming, really. Six months ago, this would have indubitably hurt my feelings; would have brought up years of internalized shame. But today… today I was inexplicably grateful for their asinine commentary.

You see, I may live in a culture that makes fatness a social sin… but I also live within a subculture that loves people no matter what they look like. And I’ve become accustomed to civil courtesy, spoiled fatty that I am. In fact, I sat in a meeting yesterday with three gorgeous women, all of us talking about burlesque contributions for the Body Love Conference that I am currently organizing. Having never approached self love in a conversation with these three before, I was amazed when we were all passionately on the exact same body acceptance page. This is what I mean by spoiled. They knew the truth, and I knew the truth, and people immediately around me know the truth… so why was I facilitating this conference again?

Too often we become lost in the personal world that we create. And as we progress, we assume the world progresses with us. But honey, it most certainly doesn’t. For someone to minimize my entire worth into that of road kill, simply because of a body shape they see online is a clear reminder for anyone that we have centuries of body acceptance work ahead of us. I personally consider it a double reminder. Psychology has proven that a person who has self esteem doesn’t engage in cyber bullying; they just don’t. This means that these bloggers not only feel that it’s socially appropriate to voice hate, but also feel an element of body hate themselves. It creates an ugly circle of verbal degradation where they project their own self animosity onto others which then causes their “victim” to feel personal failure and project that onto someone else until… You get the idea. Fortunately, today that not only stops here, but starts a ripple of the opposite action.

Another’s comments cannot offend me unless I make a conscious decision to let them. Which, obviously I don’t, so that ends that right there. What I take away instead, is motivation and inspiration to create a body positive world more evolved than I ever dreamed. So yes, I’ll be working double time on this conference, and making sure that it’s available to anyone who wants to participate. So thank you trolls. That was just the inspiration that I needed!"

"I hate the ”good fatty” vs ”bad fatty” bullshit.

Its ok to be fat as long as;
-You carry it mostly in your hips, butt or breast.
-You constantly talk about how healthy you actually are when someone comments on your weight.
-You eat only health food and never fast food.
-You dress ”right.”
-You are ”working on it.”
-You hate yourself.

You don’t have to defend your health or body to anyone. You deserve respect even if you are fat and unhealthy."

"Just a friendly reminder that I’m not going to stop loving my fat body to make you more comfortable about hating yours."

"I resent the fact that the weight loss industry has a net worth greater than that of Bill Gates. I resent the fact that the weight loss industry makes money hand over fist off of people’s hatred for the way their bodies look and feel. And I definitely resent the fact that the weight loss industry makes millions of dollars by making promises to consumers that they never intend to keep. Nearly every weight loss regimen in existence has an unprecedented 95% failure rate, meaning 95% of those who do lose weight adhering to them inevitably regain the weight they lost, and sometimes more, within a span of three years. It’s a vicious cycle, and we owe it to ourselves to break free from it. And it starts by learning to love our bodies and spitting in the face of what society considers “attractive.” Extend a one-finger salute to the relentless barrage of media propaganda that says you have to be a certain size to be “beautiful” in the eyes of our society. Say, “Fuck it, I’m fat and I like it! I won’t lose weight because society says I should! Fuck that shit! And fuck you!"

"Yesterday there was a post floating around on tumblr that was a drawing of a fat disabled woman with the signs “Fuck Diets” covering her naked flesh. What many people saw was a person rejecting diet culture and the shame that comes along with not only being fat but also being disabled. Something that was suppose to be positive was turned into a conflict due to a few trolls that wanted to decide that this fictional person was disabled due to an illness not being taken care of. I find it pointless to discuss the semantics of the whole conversation because I find the idea that people are putting a label of disease on a fat body, a disabled and fictional drawing of a body ludicrous. It is truthfully the sign of how much fat stigma is alive in our society that even a drawing meant to be positive and show body diversity is turned into something it isn’t. What I want to talk about is the reaction from the people who were trashing the drawing by saying that their response was a hypothetical situation the drawing could be depicting. When people say that they are speaking hypothetically what they really mean is that they are not talking about you, so you don’t have the right to find what they are saying offensive. This kind of response to a push back against negative comments is not only meant to try and negate the emotional reaction of those people who are offended, but is also a way to try and silence the ability of anyone who takes issue with the person’s harmful stance. By saying that they are talking about a hypothetical situation it also makes it so that a person who has had their own body read in a similar fashion has no space to speak out, because clearly they are not speaking about actual situations that have happened to actual people. Attacking a drawing, that doesn’t depict a real person, gives people who are blinded by their own prejudice an ability to try and remove their own responsibility that is connected to the harm their words cause. The issue really isn’t that they are reading a drawing of a person that was meant to be positive, but that they are trying to negate the reality that their words have been said about real people, with real bodies that live in reality. Their lives and body should never be used as a hypothetical situation. When fat disabled bodies are read as a being the result of an inability to take care of ones self that is not only fat phobia but also ableism in action. When someone sees a fat disabled body and automatically assumes that the state of their body is the end result of mismanaged care that is directly related to growing up in a society where you are socialized with fat phobic thinking. We are continually taught fat people have X illness and that illness results in X state of body, then our minds fill in the blank. Without challenging social conditioning no one is able to break away from the fat stigma that is so ingrained within our society. By not breaking away from prejudice, people create these hypothetical situations while forgetting that there are real people with real bodies who have and continue to deal with people who do not think hypothetically about the way they read their body. All of us learn to read bodies in a way that doesn’t allow for us accept difference in others but question why someone else’s body exists as it does. Instead of allowing for bodies to merely exist many react with fear and push back trying to understand through ableism and fat phobia, speaking in hypothetical’s to try and protect their own discomfort."

"The people who get angriest about fat girls looking good and feeling hot are the people who are the most strongly invested in the idea that a person has to be skinny in order to be happy, healthy, and loved."

"We have people crying about the dreaded epidemic that is fat people taking over the world, fat parents being told they are failures for having fat children, fat people who are not allowed to adopt children because we are unfit to parent. We are told we are the reason the world is in recession, we are eating the world’s food resources, we are sucking up people’s tax dollars because we bring the big fat bag-o-diseases upon ourselves and don’t deserve the care offered to others without thought.

We are told by medical professionals that our only health issue is fat, the only diagnosis is fat, the only cure for every medical ailment we have is to lose weight. We have fat people dying while doctors fail to provide proper healthcare because they can’t see beyond our fat to treat our very real diseases that are NOT JUST FAT. We are called lazy, told we smell, are useless, and there are people that want us ERADICATED FROM THE FACE OF THE EARTH.

THIS IS FAT SHAME."
- Rachele

15 ♥ COMMENTS ♥:

Kelly Gibson said...

help me understand: if i support (by that i mean applaud personal progress) someone else's work and desire to lose weight, be it for health reasons or vanity reasons, is this considered fat shaming? i am not a troll- i truly want to understand, and am on my own journey of self-love and acceptance.

Yvette said...

Thanks for compiling all of this great thinking and sharing it with us.


Yvette
fashionandhistrionics.blogspot.com

Rachele said...

That is definitely something for you to decide for yourself but I agree with fatbodypolitics "They still support the notion that thin bodies are inherently better than fat bodies." Personally, I don't comment on other people change in weight in a negative or positive way. Also just by saying "desire to lose weight, be it for health reasons or vanity reasons" you are saying that you can't be fat and healthy or fat and beautiful - so that is some fatphobia. What about just making healthy choices for the sake of taking care of your body? Do you know how they are losing weight? Are they taking dangerous measures? Do you know if you are encouraging disordered eating? Weight loss is not a realistic goal. Being healthy at any size is.

unitedstatesofbecky said...

Well Miss Rachele, I really enjoyed this post. It's so great to see all these wonderful things. I agree that it seems like the only way to be "acceptably fat" is if you "are trying to 'fix' it." It's so wonderful to hear/read from women who reject the idea that being fat is something that needs fixing. It doesn't. It's like when you posted the underpants rule. What's right for one body isn't right for another person's. And I hate that we live in a society where (in some circles) it's more socially acceptable to enjoy hard drugs or drinking yourself into oblivion every night than it is to be a hefty girl. I know you don't want to be anyone's poster girl because you're just who you are, but I do believe your site is inspirational to so many women out there and also really provides a lot of information for people looking to become more self-accepting, which is good.


I also really strongly believe that a lot of people's issues with fat people aren't really about them, it's about their own fears and issues. I am a fat woman and when I married my handsome, kind, loving, average-sized husband, I got a lot of "how did the fat girl get a guy like that?" kind of stuff. But I have a husband who looks at my whole body and says "Damn, that girl be sexy" and also loves my personality. That's how.


So anyway, thanks for the post. :)

Kelly Gibson said...

i had in mind my father-in-law when i wrote the 'health reasons'. he's lost about 60 lbs (by eating healthy foods and walking around the track at the school where he teaches). in his case, by losing that weight he is now in control of his diabetes and is off of the blood pressure medicine he'd been on. i think he has vanity issues as well, but in his case it was health-related.

in other cases, where i KNOW it's about vanity, people sometimes hide under the "health reasons". in that case, i do not give the same encouragement. my soon-to-be-ex-husband has yoyo'd for his entire adulthood, and on his recent weight loss kick, it's all he could talk about. i don't know how many times we fought because he felt i wasn't encouraging him enough- i also don't know how many times i asked him "why can't i just love you the way you are?"

Rachele said...

Usually I would delete this comment because it goes into "diet talk" area (and I still might delete it) but I think you should consider that fact that fat in itself isn't unhealthy. Your FIL didn't get his diabetes under control because he became a smaller person, it was the increased activity and change in food choices. He could have had liposuction and still would have had diabetes. You seem to think it is only okay to be fat positive when it's about vanity but when it comes to health you see fat as the problem and that getting rid of it is an appropriate health measure.

JesTheMilitantBaker said...

Amen.

rae - say it ain't so said...

"Just a friendly reminder that I’m not going to stop loving my fat body to make you more comfortable about hating yours."
- gorbelliedstrumpet

oh my god. i love that so much.

Anonymous said...

Rachele I love you. Your blog has changed my life! Thank you!!!

CeliaESmith said...

Rachele, I've never fully understood your point that losing weight can't be benificial to your health, like she said it can help with diabetes and these sorts of things. But your last comment finally made it click for me. One step closer in my own acceptance :)

heather cochran said...

That Lesley Kinzel quote is perfect.

Rachele said...

"I also really strongly believe that a lot of people's issues with fat people aren't really about them, it's about their own fears and issues." EXACTLY.

geetabix said...

You are the awesomest.

Dakota Lloyd said...

... I understand the being fine with your body. I disagree with the health thing, at some point on both spectrums being too large or too small is a severe risk to your health. Due to a chronic illness I dropped 34lbs in less than 2 weeks, I was still at a perfect weight for me. I'm not large, I'm not small either. I'm 160lbs and most is muscle. I'm happy with myself save for 2 areas that were caused by medication.
I got put on weight gain drugs to make me gain weight again.


I think you need need to accept health at both spectrums, because weight IS a factor. I mean if you're 100lbs and eating shit then you're still unhealthy. Healthy isn't a body type but body type does influence it! I mean in this country they put chemicals in our food that promote kidney failure, heart calcification and liver damage. Whether if you're skinny or fat this will cause issues, but the larger counterparts MAY have a larger likelyhood of it becoming serious...

gorda bella said...

I'm chuffed that there are other "fat bitches" who carry their lumps n bumps with pride. I have a big arse, and i'm proud of my round behind. go girls!

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