Here’s the thing: I blog about fat acceptance.
Fat acceptance, as you can probably guess from the words “fat” and “acceptance” being right together like that, does not go over so well in some circles. Even in some progressive circles — which are usually known for not hating entire groups of people because of their appearances, not thinking what other people do with their bodies is anybody’s beeswax, and not uncritically accepting whatever moral panic the media tries to whip up, but wev. Fat is different! Don’t you know there’s an obesity epidemic? Don’t you know that fat kills? Haven’t you ever heard of Type 2 diabetes? Don’t you realize how much money this is going to cost society down the line? Won’t someone please think of the children?
So, before I start getting comments like that, I want to lay out ten principles that underlie pretty much everything I write about fat and health.
1. Weight itself is not a health problem, except in the most extreme cases (i.e., being underweight or so fat you’re immobilized). In fact, fat people live longer than thin people and are more likely to survive cardiac events, and some studies have shown that fat can protect against “infections, cancer, lung disease, heart disease, osteoporosis, anemia, high blood pressure, rheumatoid arthritis and type 2 diabetes.” Yeah, you read that right: even the goddamned diabetes. Now, I’m not saying we should all go out and get fat for our health (which we wouldn’t be able to do anyway, because no one knows how to make a naturally thin person fat any more than they know how to make a naturally fat person thin; see point 4), but I’m definitely saying obesity research is turning up surprising information all the time — much of which goes ignored by the media — and people who give a damn about critical thinking would be foolish to accept the party line on fat. Just because you’ve heard over and over and over that fat! kills! doesn’t mean it’s true. It just means that people in this culture really love saying it.
2. Poor nutrition and a sedentary lifestyle do cause health problems, in people of all sizes. This is why it’s so fucking crucial to separate the concept of “obesity” from “eating crap and not exercising.” The two are simply not synonymous — not even close — and it’s not only incredibly offensive but dangerous for thin people to keep pretending that they are. There are thin people who eat crap and don’t exercise — and are thus putting their health at risk — and there are fat people who treat their bodies very well but remain fat. Really truly.
3. What’s more, those groups do not represent anomalies; no one has proven that fat people generally eat more or exercise less than thin people. Period. And believe me, they’ve tried. (Gina Kolata’s new book, Rethinking Thin, is an outstanding source for more on that point.)
4. Diets don’t work. No, really, not even if you don’t call them diets. If you want to tell me about how YOUR diet totally worked, do me a favor and wait until you’ve kept all the weight off for five years. Not one year, not four years, five years. And if you’ve kept it off for that long, congratulations. You’re literally a freak of nature.
5. Given that diets don’t work in the long-term for the vast, vast majority of people, even if obesity in and of itself were a health crisis, how the fuck would you propose we solve it?
6. Most fat people have already dieted repeatedly. And sadly, it’s likely that the dieting will cause them more health problems than the fat.
7. Human beings deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. Fat people are human beings.
8. Even fat people who are unhealthy still deserve dignity and respect. Still human beings. See how that works?
9. In any case, shaming teh fatties for being “unhealthy” doesn’t fucking help. If shame made people thin, there wouldn’t be a fat person in this country, trust me. I wish I could remember who said this, ’cause it’s one of my favorite quotes of all time: “You cannot hate people for their own good.”
10. If you scratch an article on the obesity! crisis! you will almost always find a press release from a company that’s developing a weight loss drug — or from a “research group” that’s funded by such companies.
So let’s just be clear that if you want to tell me fat people are disgusting and unhealthy in comments, all I’m gonna do is point you back to this post. And/or point you to other posts from my blog or from one of my favorite fat bloggers, and/or bombard you with quotes from the aforementioned Gina Kolata, or Paul Campos, or J. Eric Oliver, or Michael Gard and Jan Wright, or Glenn Gaesser, orMarilyn Wann, or Laura Fraser. Seriously, you don’t even want to get me fucking started.
Oh, also? BMI is complete horseshit.
I strongly disagree with everything in this post (aside from 7swell’s commentary), so let me break down why.
This is a serious question. Being a bigger girl myself, I am happen to be attracted to larger men. I like to be thrown around during sex, slapped in the face and physically dominated. A smaller man doesn’t feel dominating. I can definitely see how the reverse could also be true. What is your take on this? Would it considered “fat hating if a 6’ 165 pound man is only attracted to skinnier women?
Yes, in the sense that considering a whole class of people unloveable for a single bodily characteristic is a kind of indirect hatred, especially in a culture that discriminates heavily against fat people as potential love/sex/life partners.
I don’t know where you get the idea that, “I’m not attracted to fat people,” = “I think fat people are unlovable,” but it just doesn’t work no matter how you look at it. Most of us are smart enough to know that just because we aren’t attracted to someone doesn’t mean no one is, so not being attracted to someone doesn’t mean we think they’re generally unlovable. And if you mean “unlovable” it the sense of, “I can’t love someone I’m not attracted to,” what they’re really saying is, “I can’t have a fulfilling relationship with someone I’m not physically attracted to.” And while that might not be true for you, that doesn’t mean it’s not true for everyone. If someone considers sex part of a fulfilling relationship (which is not unreasonable) and can’t be turned on by someone, it’s not unreasonable for them to not want to date that person! As long as they’re polite in turning down that person’s advances and don’t treat that person any worse because of it, that doesn’t make them a bad person!
‘Only being attracted to thin people’ in this day and age isn’t really comparable to, say, preferring tall people, as the vast majority of people with a preference for tall people won’t treat shorter people like subhumans unworthy of love. There’s a whole different kind of dynamic between thin/fat in our society than exists between more neutral preferences, as a function of pervasive bigotry against fat people.
Then it’s the dynamic that’s the problem, not the individual’s lack of attraction to fat people. Just because the vast majority of people who aren’t attracted to fat people treat them as subhuman  doesn’t mean the problem stems from people not being attracted to fat people; it stems from people thinking fat people are sub-human. THAT’s what you should be fighting, not someone’s inability to get hot by looking at you.
Although, if you ask me, the problem goes beyond fat people, in that there’s this idea in our society that whomever/whatever you don’t find attractive is fair game for you to criticize and dehumanize. You see that in the chaser community too with bullshit like, “Bones are for dogs, men like real women.” You see it in women’s reactions to the end of No Shave November, when women were like, “Alright guys, play time’s over, cut that shit off!”, never thinking, hey, maybe they want to keep their beard because they like it. Frankly, I think that’s what we really need to be fighting, the idea that one can impose their standards of attractiveness onto others as a benchmark for whether that person/feature is worthy of respect or not.
Attraction is very complex. It’s undeniable that societal attitudes play a huge role in who we find attractive.
Some people subvert those attitudes in one way or another, but when most five year olds pick the fat kid as the person they least want to hang out with of any group of people, then you know you’ve got a powerful kind of soclalization of attitudes right there.
And again, the problem here stems from THE SOCIETAL MARGINALIZATION OF FAT PEOPLE. If you’re going to argue that that marginalization is caused by people not finding fat people attractive, again, you’ll get more millage out of getting people to stop marginalizing people/features they don’t think are a attractive than by telling people, “Stop not being attracted to fat people!” Fight the real enemy.
If we lived in a time where fat/thin wasn’t so charged in the love/sex/partnership realm—where on most dating sites things like height and hair color are often expressed as soft preferences and weight, to contrast, a dealbreaker—then this would be an easier question to answer.
But we don’t live in that fat/thin neutral society. We live in an era that teaches kids from toddlerhood that fat people are less-than in all ways, but especially in that they’re lower-status love/sex/life partners. It’s rather impossible to untangle all of that from a more neutral ‘preference.’
If that were true, getting involved in body acceptance would actually change whom we find attractive. But that doesn’t happen; if anything, it only makes us accept that there’s nothing wrong with liking the kinds of bodies we like. Except when it’s used to spread shit like this.
Okay, I am REALLY FUCKING GLAD that someone addressed this. There’s this bullshit post that was going around tumblr for a while that’s like “BEING BODY POSITIVE DOESN’T MEAN YOU HAVE TO FIND EVERY BODY TYPE ATTRACTIVE.” And all of these thin body-posi “activists” or whatever reblogged it with comments like “THANK YOU” and shit, and it just made me so goddamn mad. Am I seriously the only one to whom it’s painfully obvious that statements like that are just cop outs from thin people to excuse finding fat bodies inherently ugly and unworthy of any type of admiration? DUH that’s not okay.
Of course it’s not okay. But that’s a flaw in their CHARACTER, not in their sexuality. See the emboldened paragraph.
Even though the post doesn’t explicitly say “You don’t have to find fat bodies attractive”, I definitely feel like that’s what it’s alluding to, especially after taking into consideration the types of people who have reblogged and agreed with it.
Tell me, how big do you think the audience is for a post that says, “You don’t have to be attracted to skinny people to be body positive!” Tiny, that’s how big that audience is, because there are fewer people who aren’t attracted to small bodies than there are people who aren’t attracted to big bodies. The fact that the types of people who have reblogged and agreed with that post are the types who aren’t attracted to bigger bodies is just a matter of probability.
And also if you fetishize fat bodies (or any other marginalized bodies), you are a piece of shit. YEAH “BBWLUVER” WHATEVER-THE-FUCK-YOUR-NAME-IS, I’M LOOKING AT YOU. If you’re still following me, I hope you choke on dog shit.
So if someone doesn’t find you attractive because of your body type, they’re hateful scum, but if they DO find you attractive because of your body type, they’re a piece of shit. There’s just no way to win in this situation you’ve set up. Your whole set-up designates everyone as hateful scum or a piece of shit, as sub-human.
This is a really good point and something I hadn’t considered before.
Because it’s misguided and ignores the root causes of the problem.
While I agree with most of this, I don’t like the tone in the last paragraph.
Fetishization isn’t a bad thing. Fetishizing a certain body type, in such that “Bigger” men or women are a turn on for you, isn’t inherently evil. In many ways, one can’t control what does and doesn’t turn them on, sexually. My fetishization of certain objects [say, underwear] isn’t something I chose. It just is.
Now, how you go about treating people who are bigger just because of your fetish, that’s something different altogether.
I just don’t like this idea that people who fetishize larger bodies are pieces of shit. Because they aren’t. They’re just extremely sexually attracted to larger people. Plain and simple.
If you really believe that, then how in the world can you agree with thisisthinprivilege’s post and feministpizza’s reply? You’re arguing that we can’t control whom we’re sexually attracted to. Your third paragraph is exactly what I was saying in the emboldened paragraph: whom we are and aren’t attracted to says jack shit about our character. It’s how we treat those we are/aren’t attracted to that makes us good or bad people. So if you believe that, there’s no way you can think not being attracted to fat people on its own is tantamount to fat shaming!
no no no no NO NO NO!! I was hoping not to see this piece of shit text post on my dash, but fucking here it is!
How the fuck is it not finding fat people sexually attractive fatshaming?! That’s like saying not finding tall or shot people sexually attractive tallshaming or shortshaming, or not finding a certain race sexually attractive racist! They are none of that, they are just fucking preferences! God damnit!! You have to be really fucking delusional to think just because someone doesn’t want to have sex with you equates to them shaming you!
You’re the one sane person in this discussion. Thank you, 7swell.
TL;DR: It’s not fat shaming to not be attracted to fat people; it’s only fat shaming if you treat them as subhuman because you don’t find them attractive. If you want fat shaming to end, you’re not going to make it happen by saying, “Stop finding fat people unattractive!” You need to address and combat this societal idea that people/features have or lack value based on whether we find them attractive or not. Fight the real enemy!!
Here’s my reason.
WHen people try to involve themselves in your body, in how much weight you could lose or gain, how you look naked if you aren’t consenting to them seeing you naked, speculating on what illnesses you may or may not have or get, they are being very forcefully intimate with you.
If their premise is your health, then give it to them.
Because our weight is not the only thing involved with our health.
When people come at us on the basis that they are JUST SO CONCERNED FOR OUR HEALTH, okay fine.
If you want to talk to me about my health, we can’t just talk about the size of my ass. We are going to talk about my pooping schedule, possibly if I’m having a two poop kind of day. We’re going to talk about how I need to be very careful about too much fiber in my diet because I get painful gas and bloating and I don’t like that."
TRIGGER WARNING: I’ll be talking about the pervasiveness of fat oppression and I’ll also be defending Fat Admirers right to be in the Fat Acceptance movement, challenging (in fairly insulting terms) those who question it, but also acknowledging the existence of creepy FAs. If any of this doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, how about you bog off instead of reading it and getting your knickers in a twist.
So, sometimes while searching the ‘Fat Admirer’ or ‘Fat Acceptance’ tags, I’ll come across something like this occurrence: a Fat Admirer writes in to a fat acceptance blog asking how they can get into Fat Acceptance. The Fat Acceptance blogger replies that Fat Admiration and Fat Acceptance are not the same thing and that you don’t “get a cookie” for liking fat chicks. Here’s the problem: that’s not what the Fat Admirer was suggesting- if they thought their attraction already constituted a form of activism, why the fuck would they be asking for advice on how to become involved in the activism side of things?
This phenomena doesn’t always present itself in the form of an ask. Sometimes it’s simply a short little blog to the effect that “your boner does not constitute a form of activism”. I just wanted to indulge myself a little a here by yelling at you through a megaphone (read, in capital letters): WE KNOW! Alright, maybe not all of us. But the amount of shit that gets directed at FAs in general because of a few creeps is something that really sticks in my craw. What a lot of folks don’t seem to have grasped here is that just because Fat Acceptance and Fat Admiration are two separate things, that doesn’t mean they are also mutually exclusive. Not a hard concept. Not everything is an either/or situation.
Coming from someone who spends as much time as I do ranting in favour of Fat Acceptance, this decision to criticise the way certain folks within the movement think it’s acceptable to talk to FAs might seem a little odd. But I as I’ve said before, rejecting Fat Admirers as part of the Fat Acceptance movement on principle is kind of a dumb thing to do. I think most of the Fat Acceptance movement understands this (and I’m basing that quite a lot on the number of followers this very blog has), but there are enough others who I think sometimes need a reminder. I wish that reminder didn’t have to come from me, as I’m not one of the movement’s core participants (I’m what’s occasionally described as an ally), which means its very easy to dismiss what I have to say on the grounds that some folk think I shouldn’t even be part of the conversation to begin with. To this I say: whether I was invited or not, I’m still right- deal with it.
And yeah, I get it: some FAs who hang around the movement are actually creeps. But not all of us. I could say it’s not fair to tar an entire group of people with the actions of some within that group, but it’s not really the unfairness that bothers me. No, what gets my impotent rage motors running is how thick it is. In the past, I’ve used military metaphors to describe why, but extended metaphors tend to get a bit lost on the kind of belligerent mindset that needs to be changed here, so I’ll put it very, very concisely instead: if you attack people who honestly want to help you, the number of people trying to lend you a hand is going to drop sharply. And if you don’t think you need help? Well, sorry, but that’s not all that realistic. The oppression of certain body-types is, let’s be honest, fairly bloody pervasive, permeating the media, medical profession and the highest levels of government: it’s going to take a huge social movement reaching enormous swathes of the population to get it changed. That or you can just resort to blowing shit up. Nope- no takers for that? Then you’d best start learning to differentiate between the creeps and the people who genuinely want to help a bit better.
OK, that’s it- I’m done. Go about your business. Sorry for the downer. Oh- and for fuck sake: READ IN FULL BEFORE YOU REBLOG. I Know I say this a lot, but the amount of times I get reblogged by people who think they disagree with me when what’s actually happened is that they’ve just skimmed over an important caveat is fucking embarrassing.
All of this. All of it.
Why is it when people “confront” me about my fatness, they never ask me shit about my actual health? As I’ve pointed out before, no stranger ever walks up to me and asks me if I’m pooping regularly. No one walks up to me and asks if I’ve had a pap smear lately. No one ever asks me the intimate details about my period and yet they are comfortable telling me U GONNA DIE FATASS.
How is it that in spite of the numerous times I have asked openly and honestly for someone to explain this to me rationally without using ad hominem attacks or assume I’m about to drop dead of any number of obesity correlated illnesses, no one has EVER in the history of my blog taken me up on it?"
— Kate Harding (via fattyfatdancepants)