by, for and about Women of Size and their allies

Archive for May, 2013

HAES Eating: Eat Until You’re Full

Fierce, Freethinking Fatties

If “eat what you’re hungry for” is the most controversial leg of Health at Every Size® eating, then eat until you’re full is the most difficult. If you’re fat, there is a great chance that you have years, even decades, of experience questioning your body’s hunger signals. Even if you have never once actively dieted, which is often defined by ignoring hunger signals, you’ve been exposed to thousands of bits of social pressure through the media, doctors, well-meaning (maybe?) friends and relatives, all telling you that you eat too much.

If you’re anything like me, decades of trying to lose weight has left you needing to weigh and measure your food to get some kind of idea of how much you “should” eat. Not enough to be full, but not so much that you’re uncomfortable, such as a piece of chicken the size of a deck of playing cards…

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Why I Don’t Diet – An Ode to My Father

More Cabaret

Tiffany Kell headshotMy father died three weeks ago. He was in hospice, with all the pharmacological and technological assistance available to keep him comfortable and pain-free, but it was still, as deaths go, not a good one.

I had flown in hours after I’d heard about his fall. He was in late-stage heart and renal failure, and this fall was the beginning of the end. When I arrived, a nurse popped into the room to check on him. “Are you in pain?” she asked. “Just a little,” my dad said, joking through his wincing.

It didn’t have to end like this.

My father was born larger than life, to a family of larger than life people. DNA sequencing showed we are almost entirely Viking stock, no great surprise given the height and breadth of our bodies.

When my father turned 20, he was over 6’2 and 300lbs. His feats of athleticism echoed…

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Fat Lips and Reverse Shaming

A great blog came out today by a great fat activist. Yes, I know her IRL (which is to say we’ve met) and I’ve even had the opportunity to be offended by her. It happens. Real people say shit.

What’s interesting is what happens next when it’s brought to their attention. What happened in the case below is it got Stacy thinking. What she thought became the article/blog “Not Fat Enough For Fat Activism.” Which got me thinking.

 

fatshaming

 

 

There are a couple of things interesting to me about this. One is that the comment above drove enough traffic to Ms. Bias’ site that she followed it back. I admit to being Reddit-illiterate. But the internet is a very public place where often private things are said. Unfortunately as you can tell from the screenshot, the original author deleted her identity and so the blanket apology Bias’ blog offers cannot be tailored to fit her specifically. Bias says:

I often see this misconception in conversations about fat activism happening outside of fat activist circles. Smaller fatties or thin folks who are tentatively reaching out to fat activism hit up against something that pokes them in a tender spot and finds them feeling left out or unwelcome. The space I can imagine that happening in most frequently is the space of checking privilege.

So first, I’d like to clear up the initial misconception. As the fabulous Glenn Marla says, “There is no wrong way to have a body.”

As I can only speak for myself here, I want to state that I believe this fervently. There is no kind of embodiment that is superior to another. Any belief to the contrary would collapse the very foundations of my ethic. The point of social justice movements like fat activism, disability rights activism, anti-racism, feminism, queer rights, etc is to create all bodies as equal, independent of difference. I, personally, want a world in which all bodies exist in spaces of equal accessibility that are free of stigma and oppression. To that end, holding or projecting negative beliefs about bodies that aren’t like mine is exactly counter to that goal. So let me state clearly: I do not believe that fat bodies are superior. What I do believe is that fat bodies are not inferior. And there’s a world of difference.

 

So there’s Stacy’s opinion/apology. I agree. Mostly.

I will admit that I often find and preach the superiority of fat bodies. There’s nothing particularly useful in shaming bodies for being bodies of any size but I still love it when the guy in the movie tells the neurotic supermodel “Eat something.” In a world obsessed with thinness and a culture obsession with thin superiority to simple say “Hey that’s not nice. Every body is equal.” is insufficient. Give me an anthem with some heft, okay?

The fact is that all things are not equal. Not in balance. Sometimes when the scale tips in our favor, we shout “Hurray for curves and belly rolls and big, beautiful babes.” Gay Pride is not about hating straight people. Fat Pride is not about hating skinny people. Feminism is not about hating men. You are welcome to march in my parade, Baby. However I’m not going to stop the parade to make you the exception to any rule.

You will hear some mockery of heterosexuality in Queer spaces; distrust of (and rage at) straight, white cis men in Feminist conversations; etc. If you stay at the party long enough, you’ll hear straight, white, cis, feminist men raging at the same. The point is that in a culture that privileges and elevates one classification of people over another, it is ridiculous to ask the more oppressed party to always be worried about the feelings of the less oppressed party.

This doesn’t make your feelings invalid. It’s a question of whose responsibility is it to deal with them. Accusations of reverse “fat-shaming” are like accusations of “reverse racism” or “reverse sexism”.  There is nothing in melanin or estrogen or fat cells makes someone nice or even right. Fat, feminist, POC can and will piss you off. This isn’t an -ism.

Basic privilege 101: oppression is not a feeling.

 

There is a cultural machine that chews up fat or brown or ___ bodies. It creates commerce on self-hatred. It polarizes us against each other. Fight the machine.

Often what you may be experiencing when you feel unwelcome in a group is “Other”-ing. This can be particularly unpleasant for whom the experience of being Other is unfamiliar. Your feelings of alienation and/or entitlement keep you from being an effective ally or an active participant. Deal with it. Work through it. Like a fat girl wearing a bikini to the beach. The first time may be a little daunting. Each time you do it, it’s easier. Until the day when the guy who makes some snotty remark doesn’t even warrant wrinkling your brow. You look great and you know it. The feeling of it and the truth of it will sync up.

Just keep showing up.