Saturday, May 31, 2014

Why It Hurts

It goes like this. Friends who have "liked" and appreciated your Fat Acceptance posts on Facebook suddenly, probably not even thinking much about it, post something about the "Childhood Obesity Epidemic" or "Children need to maintain a healthy weight." And it is as if they've punched you straight in the stomach or slapped you in the face.

These friends have absolutely no clue that a) you spent at least half of your childhood and teenage years and probably at least some of your college years dieting/starving, after which the weight came right back, and then some. These friends also have no idea that you were actually pretty athletic, at whatever weight you were, and walked your slimmer friends into the ground (not literally) and played volleyball intramurally and climbed statues and gave killer massages to say "healthy weight" is rather a misnomer because you were healthy. It is just that some doctors and insurance charts kept pushing you to lose because your numbers didn't match the numbers on the charts. But you didn't know that then. It just seemed weird and wrong.

These friends do not know that the slimmest you ever were was 123 pounds when you were 12 years old and 5'6", and you had a very bad case of bronchitis and could hardly eat. Ironically the charts listed this as a "normal" weight, but your ribs were sticking out. As you recuperated, you gained weight. And you felt a lot better, but you knew at the same time that you weren't supposed to feel better if you were getting heavier.

So your friends who echo these phrases have absolutely no clue about the childhood of  fat kids who feel healthy and get exercise and eat pretty much what their thinner friends eat. And yet they echo the set phrases of whatever campaign has set its sights on mouthing off about fat kids, most of whom are perfectly all right. Why are they fat? Genetics? Metabolism? Sleep patterns? Chemicals? Who knows? Because guess what - any attempts to control their weight end up causing them a) to gain weight b) to develop eating disorders.

However, if your friends are so very concerned about them, they might consider joining a campaign to give all kids access to places to exercise and the freedom from bullies that would let them do so. It won't cause them to lose weight, but it will give them opportunities to move.

And for goodness' sake, hope that your friends are aware that their fat friends probably were healthy when they were young, or would have been if they weren't being put on every diet known to peoplekind, and then some. time your friends automatically get set to write about "childhood obesity" or "kids needing to maintain a healthy weight," hope that your  friends think about  their fat friends, whom they may be hurting without even realizing it.

And hope that they write about something else.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

"Promoting Obesity"

One of the most often-used phrases to fat-shame successful fat people in 2013-2014 was that they were "promoting obesity." This was of course used about FatLand in the same time period by OtherSiders/Americans. An article syndicated in several publications and online stated that by providing a territory to which fat people could immigrate, FatLand was promoting obesity.

FatLand already had several news services, among them the FatLand Free News, managed and partly owned by Margaret Clancy. She told her star reporter, Ava Bryer, to compose an editorial in response.

This is what Ava wrote.

Since FatLand is a territory to which fat people who have been discriminated against, shunned, harassed and imprisoned can now go and in which they can now live as citizens free of discrimination and harassment, you might indeed say that we are "promoting obesity," although of course FatLand does not recognize words invented to classify fat people. In a way, I suppose you could say that when Israel welcomed people who had escaped the concentration camps, it was promoting Jewishness. When the United States became a refuge for  people who were fleeing the Irish famines (I would not be able to say "welcomed," considering the reception that most Irish people got when they arrived), does that mean that the USA  was promoting Irishness? And when Thailand opened refugee camps for people fleeing Burma in the 1980's, did that mean they were promoting "Burmeseness"?

What this statement becomes when analyzed is a study in ignorance and stupidity. When a subset of people flee from a place in which they are being destroyed and murdered, whatever feature or ethnicity they possess that sets them apart from others who have decided to destroy and murder them is not being "promoted" in their new safe(r) haven. The people who possess it are merely being given a chance to survive. If one does not believe that people persecuted for their looks or ethnicity or religion should survive, then he or she is clearly earmarked as a bigot of the worst sort (not that there are any good bigots around, but there may be degrees).

So to say that by providing a place to which fat people can (and probably should) flee from the Other Side/USA, FatLand is "promoting obesity" is like saying that it is promoting their survival.

And I say to the author of this borderline idiocy: Got a problem with that?

Monday, May 19, 2014

To A Former FB Friend

Dear Former FB Friend,

It never ceases to amaze me how people can experience the disconnect that causes them to write in frightened tones about the DEATHFATZ Obesity Epidemic, and yet understand that their sister who diets and diets may diet her way into an eating disorder and regain the weight she lost.

As someone who counsels lesbian and bi couples with love, tolerance and wisdom, you still don't seem to understand that fat people are a much-maligned majority and that some of that love, tolerance and wisdom would be most helpful and pertinent when dealing with fat people, who really don't need to be stigmatized as an epidemic. First of all, people are older and taller these days. Many people gain weight when they are older. Taller people tend to get higher BMI readings because of the flaw in the BMI measuring system. People who diet may often diet their way to gaining weight, since that is the only thing that dieting seems to predict with success.

And I would also add: So what? Is the problem that you, a thin, blonde white female, cannot stomach the idea of fat people existing happily without stigma? You said you read FatLand. Didn't this mean anything to you? Didn't you see how the territory in which mostly fat people lived managed not only to grow, but to thrive when fat people were not stigmatized and were not stopped from making their contributions to a society that welcomed both them and their contributions?

If you knew, would you continue to write about us as an "Epidemic"? Would your sister be part of an epidemic? Or is it that you just don't like looking at fat people?

I tried to get to get across to you how fat people feel about not being represented in the ongoing discussion of their fate and their health. I thought you understood.

I guess I was wrong.

Sincerely, Frannie

Friday, May 16, 2014

Non fat readers.

Our non-fat readers are, I believe, not very well understood by us. (Sounds like I'm comparing them to yogurt...)We have not even taken any surveys or asked them any questions. I think that some curious Fat Studies dissertation writer should attempt to sample slim and/"average" folks who read Fat Studies pages and Fat Acceptance and Size Acceptance Lit. What do they hope to achieve or accomplish? What do they wish to know? Do they have many fat friends? Where did they find out about FA first? How do they feel about Fat Acceptance and HAES? Are they themselves afraid of getting fat, given the pressure in our society to be slim?

What do they see when they see us, listen to us, maybe even hug us? Oh lord, I feel a poem coming on..

Thursday, May 15, 2014


As I stayed with my mom in the hospital, I had time to envision FatLand hospitals.


Gowns for all sizes. Seats that are comfortable for people of all sizes. Equipment that is calibrated to get accurate readings for each person (my little mom needed a pediatric cuff, which theyt  didn't figure out for three days) for blood pressure, temperature, pulse, electrolytes, nutrients. Stretchers and beds that could be extended to fit people of all sizes. Furniture for those who stay with patients that would fit us well (middling on this, for the hospital in which we stayed.)

Nurses who don't discuss one's size. (They did comment on my mom's smallness, although not in an insulting manner. I am sure that I would have run into many size-related comments had I been the patient.) Doctors who don't discuss one's size. (Ditto what I just said in the last sentence.)

Waiting rooms with capacious chairs (the hospital in which we stayed did have them, amazingly). Chairs for people of all sizes outside, too. (Hats off the the hospital for this, too.)  Ambulances that provide stretchers for people of all sizes (without commenting on them).

Is this all too much to ask for Other Siders/Americans in our lifetimes?

Sunday, May 11, 2014

The Oppressed Non-Olympics

It's not that we are more oppressed or less oppressed than other's more that they say the same things about us as they did about other oppressed groups before they rebelled and began to redefine themselves and their relationship to their oppressor(s).

They say..we're less intelligent. We are lazy. We are dirty. We don't know what's good for us. We  don't listen to others who supposedly know better than we do about what is fair for or good for us. We are not talented.  We provide a bad example. We are bad fatties, not the good ones who are constantly trying to lose weight.

We are not interested in sex. We are too interested in sex.  We promote obesity by participating in sports and other activities openly.  We act proudly.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Mother's Day in FatLand

Mother's Day is a very special day in FatLand, not only because it venerates moms, but because in FatLand, the ideas of softness, nurturing, loving and feeding are not looked down upon.

In the past 100 years, these qualities associated with mothering have come under attack because it has become more and more de rigueur for CEO's and other business-oriented people to appear and perhaps even be hard, nasty, unkind and unforgiving, especially when pursuing ways to increase profits. The qualities considered necessary to make a good CEO are often in exact opposition to those considered necessary to make a good mother.

This is yet another reason that thinness has been prized as a body type. Thin people do not have bodies that are easy to hug. Thin people are not associated with kindness or nurturing and lovableness.  See where this is going? The more kindness is considered passe or weak, the more fat people are also considered these things.

Mother's Day in FatLand takes on another added dimension because many who emigrated had to do so without their parents. Thus it was important for counselors to express nurturing and kindness to the new FatLanders, as well as the ability to understand and give them incentives to appreciate themselves and become and feel that they were part of FatLand.

Thus Mother's Day in FatLand continues to be much more than an occasion to send a card with flowers (although these things are certainly welcomed by those who receive them).

Monday, May 5, 2014

No Diet Day in FatLand

In FatLand, people celebrate No Diet Day, not as the day that they shouldn't diet, since they don't, but as a day on which to cook and bake their finest and most luscious meals, snacks and desserts. Many restaurants have sidewalk cafe exhibits and tastings, and there are music and clothing exhibits and outside art showings and fiction and poetry readings. A gigantic all day festival, in other words.

However, yet another aspect, a more serious one, is commemorated in the FatLand Archives and Cultural and Historical Museum. Not only are records, books and archives relating to dieting mentioned, but the roll of the numbers of people who died as a result of dieting is read. This roll is recompiled every year. It is kept meticulously.

In schools, students discuss what diets were and what they caused. Exhibits vary from year to year. One exhibit that gained some notoriety was that of a scale. FatLand students had never seen a scale. A video showing kids lining up to get weighed was also shown. Some students cried on seeing the cruelty and insensitivity of this procedure. The teachers who were showing the video started a discussion on why The Other Side/USA utilized this mostly useless system and then how it was proven to be dangerous as well as useless. They directed the discussion loosely into why living in FatLand liberated people from being weighed and from having to diet.

Lunch was then served, with a make-your-own sundae bar featured for dessert.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Fat Talent

One of the most wonderful things about FatLand is that people with talent do not undergo harassment when they demonstrate their talents. Especially those which were associated with being slimmer on the OtherSide/USA, like dancing, various sports and acting in romantic movies.

People on the OtherSide/USA would often say that certain moves "looked wrong" wheun done by fat people, even when they were performed expertly. In their minds, fatter bodies were already so "wrong" that anything they did was automatically wrong. But when enough fat oeople started to perform in FatLand, whether dance, ice skating, figure skating, synchronized swimming or other activities and sports, people began to see that dances and sports performed by fat people were often beautifully done, with a grace and soft fluidity all their own. And yes, they looked different than when thinner people performed them, but the difference was just that - a difference, not a detriment.

So what it seemed/seems to need on The Other Side/USA is simply for more fat people to start dancing and figure skating and doing gymnastics. That way more people see that there can be different kinds of grace and beauty, that the look of a dance or sport they are used to does not dictate its worthiness when accomplished by those who are fat.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Happy Happy Chart

When the first Neighborhood and Block Counselors were chosen, their job was defined as making sure that FatLanders were "adjusting" - feeling more or less okay, making friends, walking around, eating as they wished. However, counselors soon found that it was difficult for them to define endpoints. For what were they aiming with the people they counseled?  Contentment? Ease? Peace? Cheerfulness? Happiness?

Those did sound like good words and good states to achieve, but they soon found that every person had her or his level of positivity. Sometimes this appeared as quiet contentment. Sometimes it resembled ease or peace. Occasionally there were people who were more vocal, more emotional and more easily detectable as "happy."  

After getting together and meeting, the counselors decided that they would first and foremost aim for contentment with the people they counseled. If and only if someone wished to feel more involved and excited, and specifically said that she wished to feel more strongly positive about her life, then they would talk with and advise her as to how she might reach, what she might add or adjust to attain the level of cheerfulness and maybe then, happiness, which was something that others had already reached, sometimes on their own, sometimes with help.

They even drew up a chart for themselves, but which also became famous and sometimes something of a joke around FatLand.  CONTENTMENT-> EASE-> PEACE-> CHEERFULNESS-> HAPPINESS.
The "Happy Happy Chart," jokers and sometimes the counselors themselves called it. 

But it worked.