On The “Fat And Health” Post At Feministe

A drawing of a very fat Batman brooding on a rooftop.

On Feministe, guest poster Monica (usually of PostBourgie and Tapped) wrote a post called “Fat and Health.”

Interpreting Monica’s post both generously and narrowly, she’s arguing that in a hypothetical world in which BMI was used only to measure the body composition of large populations, then it would be an unobjectionable measure. I think she’s right about that.1

However, Monica did not, in my opinion, make her point very well. She’s wildly inconstant, saying in one sentence that she disagrees with “the notion that some body types are better than others,” and then in the next sentence saying “by and large, (pardon the expression) weightier people suffer health problems that are well documented.” In comments, she attacks the fat acceptance movement, writing that “fat acceptance may actually harm [women] — because despite the fact that posters are operating under the belief I’m unaware of the movement I’m actually very much aware, and disagree vehemently with it.” And she ended her post by saying that weight can signal “too many donuts.”

What happened next was entirely predictable: An outpouring of anger in the comments. And although I don’t like angry conversations for myself personally, I think the anger was justified.

Feministe isn’t neutral space. Like a lot of feminist blogs, it’s a space where a large portion of the community is in favor of the fat acceptance movement.2

What happened to Monica on Feministe is similar to what would have happened if a hypothetical guest blogger named Gregory Q. Example had come in arguing that — statistically speaking — workplace deaths are disproportionately suffered by men, while simultaneously making it clear in his tone and in his follow-up comment that he doesn’t approve of feminism.

If Gregory had done that, he would have faced a explosion of anger in the comments, even though his narrow statistical point — men suffer many, many more workplace deaths — is absolutely true and defensible. But Feministe readers wouldn’t have read his statistics narrowly; they would have have recognized it as part of a larger anti-feminist analysis that they’ve faced time and time again, and that they don’t expect to have to face on a feminist blog.

That doesn’t mean that you can’t talk about male workplace deaths on a feminist blog. It does mean that in order to be able to address that issue successfully on a feminist blog, you need address it in a way that shows you’re not anti-feminist, and you need to be someone who other feminists find credible.

A blogger with a history of pro-fat writing, and without Monica’s disdain for fat activists, could have made Monica’s narrow point without setting off a storm of anger. But Monica couldn’t. And I don’t think that’s unfair. Sometimes credibility is given in return for bigoted reasons (i.e., white people being seen as credible because they are white, etc). But sometimes credibility is earned. Treating people with real, earned credibility differently than people who are against your community isn’t unfair prejudice; it’s respect.

On the other hand, if anger against Monica was disallowed (where anger against a similarly anti-queer, anti-anti-racist, or anti-feminist blogger would never be disallowed), that would send a strong message to fat feminists in the Feministe community that they are not respected and not considered equal. (For that reason, I think Feministe made a mistake by closing comments on Monica’s post, and not providing a new thread where the meaning of Monica’s post to the community could be discussed. Although, to Feministe’s credit, they’ve since guest-posted two different critiques of Monica’s post.)

On their podcast, Monica and her PostBourgie colleagues reacted as if getting angry is something unique to the fat activist community. But I don’t think the dynamic is different in any activist community. Credibility matters. And it’s extremely difficult to make an argument like “let’s talk about disproportionate workplace deaths for men” or “it’s time to defend the BMI” — arguments that people have learned, through bitter experience, to associate with attacks — if you’re not part of the community, don’t respect the community, and have never built up any goodwill or credibility in the community.

  1. In this world, however, BMI is used frequently inappropriately as a way of summing up individual people’s health. []
  2. I’m not clear on the views of the bloggers themselves. However, looking through the archives for the “fat” category, it’s clear that prior to Monica’s post, recent blogging on fat at Feministe has all been fat-positive. []
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28 Responses to On The “Fat And Health” Post At Feministe

  1. 1
    plunky says:

    Wow, I’m listening to that podcast now and it is totally disgusting me. They are not trying to understand the points made against Monica’s post on Feministe at all. Just saying the same stuff over and over. Especially the dude. He said nothing remotely reasonable.

    Good job attempting to talk to them in the comments on PostBourgie, but I think it’s pretty clear that they’re not interested in listening at all.

  2. 2
    Jadey says:

    I took a moment earlier today to go back to the original post and re-read it and consider what about it was the most upsetting part. I agree with you – in the end, it wasn’t her argument so much as her attitude. I re-read my own comments, and there’s more snark and snappishness that I would prefer normally, I also remember exactly how I felt when I first read her post: staggered disbelief and shock, fear and hurt. I’m guessing many of us felt that way. Feministe introduced me to FA and body positivity, and I was completely unprepared for Monica’s insults and jabs. I found the post so beyond engagement the only thing I could think to do was try to link to places with more productive discussions with a minimum of swearing.

    I’m a fan of the guest posting protocol at Feministe. I like the openness and the diversity and I think it’s a practical approach that 99% of the time goes off without a hitch. I don’t hold them responsible for the content of posts I disagree with, and, while I’m not overjoyed with how this has been handled, I’m strongly suspecting that in part the silence and lack of transparency is logistical: I’m pretty sure they are currently operating with exactly one regular blog moderator (Lauren), and that is a lot for a single person to deal with. More than anything, I would like to see a continued effort (when the effort is possible for the regular mods) to affirm Feministe as a fat-accepting, body-accepting blog, and to give the Feministe commenters a place to go over all the different conversations that Monica’s post stirred up. The two guest posts are great, but the comments are a little overwhelming in just how much ground we’re all trying to cover.

  3. 3
    SunflowerP says:

    Since judgemental remarks involving doughnuts (by whatever spelling) are so ubiquitous in fat-shaming that they’ve become an in-joke in FA, someone making such remarks must either have virtually no knowledge of the FA movement (other than – perhaps – that there us such a thing), or be speaking/writing in very bad faith indeed. I’d guess that people weren’t so much “operating under the belief” that Monica was unaware of FA; they were bending over backwards to give her the benefit of the doubt.

  4. 4
    sehkmet says:

    The example of, “men suffer many more workplace deaths,” is not a good one. In fact, the highest death rate is found among sex workers who are predominantly female.

  5. 5
    Ampersand says:

    Sehkmet, that might be true. But what I was referring to isn’t “which single occupation has the highest death rate,” but “what sex are people killed by their jobs.” Overwhelmingly, they are male.

    Sunflower, I do think that Monica was posting in good faith. The problem is, her good-faith opinions are pretty much anti-fat-acceptance, as far as I can make out.

  6. 6
    Dianne says:

    Since judgemental remarks involving doughnuts (by whatever spelling) are so ubiquitous in fat-shaming that they’ve become an in-joke in FA

    Perhaps doughnuts will become a FA symbol reclaimed from the opposition sort of like the toster oven and box turtle jokes of the gay marriage movement.

  7. 7
    raven_feathers says:

    lauren’s replies to you at postbourgie this morning are perhaps more disheartening than all.

  8. 8
    SingOut says:

    lauren’s replies to you at postbourgie this morning are perhaps more disheartening than all.

    Agreed. The original post and subsequent non-response left a really bad taste in my mouth. Lauren’s comments at PostBourgie sealed the deal for me — I’m done reading Feministe.

  9. 9
    Ampersand says:

    I’m probably not done reading Feministe. I mean, everyone has more to them than the worse thing they’ve blogged. I very strongly disagree with Lauren’s comments this week, but she or someone else might still write a great post at Feministe sometime in the future.

    Lauren’s apparent belief that it’s horribly unfair for Monica’s views to be criticized reminded me of this, from Cowcake (discussing another issue):

    However as we know, being confronted with one’s own behaviour can be very upsetting and hurtful to the feelings, especially if your strength lies in the underlying view that only pure goodness can possibly flow from your endeavours. It is unacceptable for nice people to be held to account for any of their actions except in a profoundly supportive atmosphere with an open ended invitation to come to terms with it in their own sweet time.

  10. 10
    Miriam Heddy says:

    In some sense, Lauren’s comments in response to you were worse than what Monica had to say. I had hoped they’d stick with “The views of guest bloggers may not be our own” and I could accept that. But dismissing the community of readers entirely and distancing Feministe from FA, as Lauren did, means it’s not a community that welcomes my participation. There’s enough fat hate out there. I don’t need to get it bundled with my feminist blogs.

  11. 11
    Thene says:


    While I don’t disagree with anything you wrote here – the argument was made of fail, Monica wasn’t the right person to make it, and hi my BMI says I’m a (slightly) overweight runner – I’m troubled by the idea that FA is such an orthodoxy within online feminism that a post which is incredibly mild compared to mainstream discourse about fat deserves this kind of pileon and over-analysis. (though I think it’s the moderation as well as the post itself caused the reaction; there’s nothing like freezing a thread or shutting down a line of comment to make people want to take a fight elsewhere and keep fighting. I digress). If we were rating commentary about fat from 1 (total shaming)-to-10 (total acceptance) , Monica’s post would have been a
    6 at worst and mainstream writing would generally be 3 at best.

    It wasn’t up to the readers to provide Fat Acceptance 101 to the underinformed Monica, but, the fundamentally hostile responses her post received made it seem like FA is dogma and it doesn’t require explaining or justifying ever. If it was just this one post, maybe it wouldn’t seem that way. But I know of two different feminist bloggers (Greta Christina and Daisy Deadhead) who’ve been told off by audience members because they were blogging about how they, personally were seeking to lose weight to alleviate knee problems; no doughnut comments, no insistence that fat is a ‘public health problem’, and yet they still got fingerwagged by readers for not ‘accepting’ their own fat. FA is a POV that can cause people to become angry when they hear others talk about their own bodies, and what the hell kind of feminist slams people who talk about their own bodies? Is that ‘justified anger’?

    I want to like fat acceptance, but I do not like seeing it used as dogma.

  12. 12
    JThompson says:

    @Thene: A post could easily read: “I really want to support feminist causes, but the dogmatic feminists really ruin it for everyone. If only they weren’t so pushy.”

    You can substitute pretty much any group that isn’t mainstream or that’s been subject to oppression and/or ridicule in that sentence and it works the same way every time. FA, GLBT, and Atheists seem to be the most popular targets of that sentiment right now. In the past it was minority rights and feminism.

    I should add that I’m using feminists as an example for a reason. I fully support feminist causes, but I suspect that someone saying that on Feministe would’ve brought down even more of a hellstorm. Using the exact same metric you’re using to label FA dogmatic, you’d have to label the people that were angry over that dogmatic as well, since that comment is nowhere near the venom directed at feminism and feminist causes in the “mainstream”.

  13. 13
    kataphatic says:

    I am SO disappointed by the tone argument spilling all over the place here. When you spew bigoted crap at people–no matter how “nicely” it’s packaged–then you really deserve to be told off for it. It’s not the job of the oppressed to keep calm and “nice” in response to privileged people shitting out their privilege all over the place.

    I was taken aback by Lauren’s comments about this, and have taken Feministe off my reader–for now. I will keep checking back every once in a while because I’m curious what response (if any) there will be to this once the mods return. Sure, with a variety of bloggers, there will be a variety of good posts to come, but if they’re going to be interspersed with privileged bullshit directed at marginalized groups who it’s not yet hip to accept, then I have way better things to do with my time.

  14. 14
    BStu says:

    You know, I don’t expect Feministe to be a fat positive space. I certainly recognize that fat acceptance is not universally accepted in the progressive movement and I don’t expect safe spaces for FA at sites like Feministe. Not have I seen any one do so. Indeed, Maia’s reaction here was premised on knowing Feministe was not a safe space.

    What Lauren’s responses, do, though, is call for a fat hostile space at Feministe and that disturbs me. Her characterization of FA supporters is wildly off-base and rather obviously laden with existing prejudices against our position. She seems to feel justified because we are “wrong” and in doing so she is not foster dialogue but arranging the rules of the discussion to favor only fat hostility. If that’s the community that Feministe wants to be, they are certainly allowed but I’d rather see more honesty about that instead of trumping up charges of fat people being mean for not wanting to be made fun of.

  15. 15
    Thene says:

    JThompson – I’ve rarely seen feminism cited as a reason to quit listening to someone because of what they write about their own body. Never, in fact. If someone like Greta Christina – who, unlike Monica, IDs as fat-positive and has a longstanding involvement with the movement – can get piled on and mass-delisted for saying that she needed to lose weight in order to save her knees, then FA is dogmatic.

  16. 16
    Ampersand says:

    Thene, I really hate it when anti-feminists confront me with examples of terrible things feminists in general have allegedly done, while apparently not noticing that I’m a feminist, too. It makes me feel like, rather than having a discussion with me or other feminists in the conversation, they’re ignoring what I’m writing and saying and instead attacking feminists in their head.

    Am I dogmatic? I’ve never heard of Greta Christina before, but I googled her, and I doubt I would have yanked her off my blogroll. (Actually, I just now added her to my google reader subscriptions.) Some searching found two mentions of her on fat-positive blogs, one positive, and one critical but hardly dogmatic (it’s a “I’m a big fan of you but I disagree with you strongly on a few points…” post). If she was the subject of universal condemnations in the fatosphere in the last few years, I’m not seeing it.

    Instead of criticizing the views of unlinked, unquoted, unidentified fat advocates, why not address what the people right here, who you’re currently talking to, have said? I think that’s fairer. As it is, it feels to me like you’re holding fat advocates like me accountable for things that others have allegedly said that I never read and am not familiar with.

    I don’t deny that some FAs are dogmatic, get angry, say mean things in comments, etc. But I think there’s some folks like that in any movement. It’s just feels odd that you’re saying that such folks characterize the movement as a whole, even though I don’t think it’s a fair description of the FAs you’re actually talking to, here in this thread.

  17. 17
    Mandolin says:

    I wondered whether you would apply the logic you’re applying to FA to other social justice movements. Is it okay for people to point out racism in angry terms, even if it’s not the level that racism reaches in popular discourse? Is advocacy for poor people less valid if some advocates for poor people are jerks?

    To be more personal about it, do you feel it would be okay for me to tell you not to be angry at anti-immigrant sentiment that’s not as vicious as Pat Robertson’s? And does the good of anti-sexism depend on the polite behavior–as judged by outsiders–of every anti-sexist?

    Yeah, I basically just made the same points twice, but.

  18. 18
    BStu says:

    Why accuse fat acceptance of being “dogmatic” when its really the “dogma” you object to? Because framing the debate that way preserves a sense of moral superiority? Because it fashions a crude facade over the underlying “how dare you think that?!?”?

    I’ve never heard of this woman before so I find it rather silly to think anyone in FA has been wringing their hands over her. Looking at the applicable posts, though, its clear that she set out to criticize fat acceptance and I presume a good number of fat positive people decided to continuing supporting the position they had been supporting. Fat acceptance activists are not at the mercy of the whims of everyone who ever agreed with them. I don’t hate people for disagreeing with fat acceptance. I don’t appreciate the self-righteousness many present. I’m certainly frustrated by those who make themselves out to be martyrs because I haven’t decided to join them in attacking what I believe. But I don’t hate them. I don’t care at all. I care about fat acceptance. If you don’t believe in fat acceptance, I have no interest in cheerleading that. Nor should I. Nor should I be attacked as “dogmatic” because I continue to believe what I had believed. Dieters very rarely get criticized within FA simply for dieting. I’m sure you can find a stray example, but even then its often roundly criticized for the approach. But dieters frequently decide to take it personally when FA criticizes dieting. This ultimately proposes a standard where FA is completely impotent. We have the right to be silent, and that is all. Well, screw that. If a dieter is ever criticized, its usually for making a false martyr of themselves at the hands of FA. Fat acceptance is disenfranchised to an extreme degree. Dieting is the status quo opinion in our society. That there cannot be even a marginalized pocket of people arguing for something different is frankly disturbing. And it is not my problem that anyone thinks that way. Its disrespectful to me and my right to my beliefs and convictions. My beliefs do not go away because someone disagrees with me. A lot of people disagree with me. I’m used to it. I’m still going to fight for what I know is right and what I know will best serve the interests of fat people.

    No one is obligated to agree with me, but shame on anyone who things I should be obligated to agree with them.

  19. 19
    Scanlon says:

    I for one have a “gadfly” opinion on the fat issue.

    I see being fat as a medical problem rather than the result of irresponsibility, laziness, gluttony, or psychological problems on the one hand, or an inescapable biological destiny on the other. Although there may be certain people who either eat for emotional reasons or have an almost “unbeatable” genetic predisposition towards being fat, I don’t think that there are too many people who fit 100% into either profile.

    Major reasons why obesity has increased so much in recent decades include factors such as high fructose corn syrup, vitamin D deficiency, a car oriented society, lower mineral contents in many foods, and there’s increasing evidence that certain food additives such as MSG or Aspartame, along with many environmental pollutants could have obesogenic effects on at least some people.

    Many of these problems are solvable.

    And the central biological problems in most cases of obesity are insulin resistance and leptin resistance. Medicine is starting to come up with ways to treat those problems. For some people the cheap and low risk diabetes drug “Metformin” ends up working very well as an off-label weight loss treatment, because it is fairly effective at treating insulin resistance and seems to have some value with the leptin resistance. Some of the modern injectable diabetes drugs seem to have some efficacy at dealing with leptin resistance, and are being studied as treatments for obesity in non-diabetics-they are already known to help diabetics loose weight.

    Other people benefit simply from having the right nutriceauticals and/or vitamin D levels. Other people have a a severe problem with compulsive eating or “food addiction” and in some cases that can be treated with medication like depression can be. Although bariatric surgery is considered a drastic solution, not only does it work for some people, but it is very possible that less drastic equivalents such as newer forms of lap banding, and/or the possibility of gastric pacemaker might end up as a much less invasive way to achieve many of the same results.

    And then we might find both early preventatives and solutions that we can’t even predict now.

    But I think it’s better to keep advancing this knowledge than to either shaming overweight people, insisting that it’s all a matter of “pushing away from the table” or “putting down the fork”, or on the other hand teach that some people are just “born to be fat”.

  20. 20
    Elusis says:

    I see being fat as a medical problem

    I still fail to see why my or anyone else’s fatness should be considered a “medical problem,” let alone “treated” with powerful drugs or invasive, complication-causing surgery.

    Diabetes is a medical problem. If diabetes is present, or pre-diabetes, treat it, fat or thin.

    Blocked arteries are a medical problem. If blocked arteries are present, treat them, fat or thin. *

    High blood pressure is a medical problem. If high blood pressure is present, treat it, fat or thin.

    You see how we could go on in this vein?

    A statement like “I see fat as a medical problem” makes no more sense to me, at this point, than “I see red hair as a medical problem” or “I see black skin as a medical problem.”**

    * In my mother’s family, some of the males seem to be pre-disposed to cholesterol and blockage problems. My mother’s father died of a series of strokes and heart attacks, despite being at a middle weight for his height. Of his two sons, the extremely tall, thin one, and his tall, thin son, both battle high cholesterol despite life on restricted diets and cholesterol-reducing drugs, while his shorter, fatter son has maintained normal cholesterol until nearly his 70th decade.

    ** Red hair is correlated with skin cancer and Parkinson’s disease, one of which seems to be a result of environmental damage and one of which seems to be genetic. Black skin is correlated with sickle cell anemia and higher incidences of low birth weight and infant mortality, one of which seems to be genetic and one of which seems to be the result of stresses like racial micro-aggression and structural/instiutional racism .

  21. 21
    Scanlon says:

    Actually having been “fat” and having been treated by a doctor of functional medicine, I think the idea that my having been fat is anything OTHER than a medical problem is a horrible insult. I became fat as a result of first undiagnosed and then undertreated hypothyroidism, as well as a horrible vitamin D deficiency. And the fat was causing some prediabetes. And even if it didn’t cause those things, it was physically uncomfortable carrying around all that weight, and I disliked it. I would have disliked it even if fat people were considered attractive because it made it harder to do a number of things I enjoyed doing.

    I was fortunate in that I had a found a doctor of functional medicine who instead of making the only choices either the lecture on diet and exercise, or bariatric surgery, offered me a more enlightened approach to thyroid treatment, a good approach to treating various deficiencies, and finally off-label metformin. All of them are making me lose weight. And if the lose their effectiveness byetta would probably be the next step because it is a more powerful-if more expensive and injectable!!-anti-obesogenic.

    I’d say that the metformin was not just a tremendous help in losing the weight, but it was had other quality of life benefits such as not being hungry all the time, which can really be a boon for lowering your stress level along with the extra poundage.

    And the fact of the matter is that obesity is a medical problem. Skin color is not. Skin may be correlated with certain conditions, but it doesn’t cause them. (We both know that race is a social fiction right?) Obesity IS a causative factor in diabetes, high blood pressure, and so on. Bleaching or dyeing somebody’s skin will not have any effect on sickle cell anemia or parkison’s disease. But people HAVE been known to loose their diabetes and high blood pressure by losing weight.

    To say “treat the diabetes not the weight” makes little sense, because the two conditions are deeply connected by a biological problem known as insulin resistance, and a related problem called leptin resistance. Being fat is unfortunately both a result and a cause of these conditions.

    As for low birth weight and other high levels of health problems among African Americans, it is very likely that large share of that is related to vitamin D, deficiency. Of course, all ethnic groups in the US are dealing with a horrible hidden epidemic of vitamin D, deficieny/insufficiency. But the fact of the matter is that darker skin people need more sun to make vitamin D, and African Americans have high rates of lactose intolerance, so this problem is dramatically worse among African American and Caribbean American populations. Also there’s increasing evidence that vitamin D deficiency is a contributing factor to insulin resistance, “diabesity” and all associated health problem-but it could be solved with supplements and education.

  22. 22
    Scanlon says:

    I think the problem with fat acceptance is that they insist that people should just “accept” being fat whether they want to or not, and regardless of any related health problems, physical discomfort, occupational limits, or problems doing what they enjoy.

    It’s long since been accepted by progressive people that it is NOT acceptable to discriminate against people with HIV or disabilities. But does that mean we stop looking for a cure for HIV, or trying to prevent people from becoming infected? Should we also put an end to research into treating spinal cord injuries and traumatic brain injuries, and get rid of campaigns to prevent potentially disabling accidents? Should we stop looking for ways to prevent or cure MS, because it’s wrong to discriminate against people who have it?

    Would we ever say ” Treat opportunistic infections but don’t worry about the HIV”? Or “Treat the pressure sores, but don’t try to find a way to heal fractured spines?”

    Of course not!!!!! And it’s a no brainer on these other conditions!!

    So of course, it’s wrong to discriminate against fat people. But to deny the medical causes and consequences or to do away with ways to prevent, mitigate, treat, or cure obesity is absolutely absurd.

  23. 23
    mythago says:

    Scanlon, the fact that fat was a medical problem and a result of a medical condition for you does not mean that it is a medical problem and a result of a medical condition for everyone. You also seem to be confusing correlation and causation.

    Vitamin D is the latest nutritional hype/scare. Should people get adequate amounts? Yes. Does having dark skin mean you must not be getting enough? Don’t be ridiculous. A few hours of sunshine a week is plenty even for somebody with a lot of melanin.

  24. 24
    Scanlon says:

    Actually there are some very easy ways to distinguish causation with others reasons for correlation. One very, very simple one is the extent to which various problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, knee problems, PCOS, and more so often clear up when people loose weight. Sure there are thin type II diabetics, but even thin diabetics have been cured of diabetes by getting a lap-band or lowering their intake of food. There is more and more evidence that “diabesity” is a single condition for which being “fat” and having pancreatic problems are simply different manifestations of each. In this framework virtually all obese people, and even thin type II diabetics, are at least starting to manifest this disorder.

    Fat may be more harmful to some people than others. But very few people can be obese and stay healthy for more than a few years. There’s a certain point where it simply puts a strain on the body.

    And the truth is that “a few hours of sunlight a week” is typically enough for thin, healthy, and fair skinned people. But the truth is that

    1. A very high percentage of modern Americans don’t get it at any time of the year. The nature of the modern world is such that even people in favorable climates, don’t get enough from sunlight exposure.
    2. Fat people need something like 3X as much as thin people to avoid deficiency. (And since low vitamin D seems to contribute to diabesity it’s a terrible viscous cycle.)
    3. In much of the United States people can’t make vitamin D, for several moths of the year.

    The sound fact of the matter is that vitamin D deficiency is rampant in contemporary America. There are many high risk groups and African Americans are very high risk. Some statistics says that 50% of all African American kids are clinically deficient year round. Of course, almost nobody is immune. But when something like 97% of African Americans insufficient at least part of the year? Sure that does mean that dark skin isn’t proof. Something like 3% of African Americans get enough year round!! To ignore this problem is condemn millions of Americans to terrible health.

  25. 25
    Elusis says:

    It�s long since been accepted by progressive people that it is NOT acceptable to discriminate against people with HIV or disabilities.

    Is this the functional equivalent of saying we’re in a post-racial society? Or is it another dialect of the “last acceptable prejudice” meme? I can’t tell.

    HIV/AIDS-related stigma and discrimination
    Recent cases of HIV/AIDS-related discrimination

    Good thing nobody progressive is ableist any more.

    And if you think there’s no heated conversation about the search for a “repair” or “cure” for a number of disabilities, you’re clearly (pdf) not paying attention.

    But why am I bothering to post links? It’s obvious from your comments just regarding the risk of postnatal death and low birth weight for African-American babies that you didn’t even bother to go have a look at the resources I linked to, because both of them address the “well maybe it’s income/health care/nutrition/environmental influences/maternal age/etc.” question and they STILL find that, controlling for all of those factors, black babies are more at risk. Which leads to the explanation that perhaps it’s life-long stress (the same stress that produces more instances of high blood pressure in African-Americans, perhaps?) associated with racism. But you’d have known that if you went to the links.

    I think the problem with fat acceptance is that they insist that people should just �accept� being fat whether they want to or not, and regardless of any related health problems, physical discomfort, occupational limits, or problems doing what they enjoy.

    Sorry, you’re setting up the same straw fattie that the original author of the post that evoked this whole response did – positing some mythical FA gorgons somewhere who stubbornly refuse to hear the cries of their sick and dying and immobile fat sisters and brothers because they’ve drowned them out with their relentless chant of “THERE IS NO SUFFERING, THERE IS ONLY ACCEPTANCE!”

  26. 26
    Scanlon says:

    Can you not tell when somebody is just pointing blatant illogic?

    You’d find it ridiculous to say that because it’s wrong to discriminate on the basis of HIV or spinal cord injuries that people simply “accept” these conditions, rather than trying to treat them. Why should the “rules” for fat be any different?

    Because putting obesity in the same category as skin color is frankly absurd.

    And yes I know about the people who are against curing disabilities. None of the people I’ve met with SCIs are in that camp.

    As for the studies who control for nutrition and says black babies are still at risk? Meh. I’ll buy it when they actually do blood tests for vitamin D deficiency among other things, instead of just assume the presence of a prenatal vitamin adequately control for it. The idea that these studies adequately control for nutrition ignores the fact there’s more to it than just prenatal vitamins and a look at somebody grocery bill or recent food diary. Many deficiencies can take years to develop, and are hard to assess even with clinical testing.

    Is FA as powerful as say Oprah Winfrey and Doctor Phil with their evangelizing about how obesity is always a psychological problem? To the point where Oprah avoided taking her thyroid meds for at least a couple of years? Or all those useless lectures on diet and exercise coming from everyone from doctors and relatives to total strangers? No.
    But what they are advocating is still harming people.

  27. 27
    B. Adu says:


    I think the problem with fat acceptance is that they insist that people should just “accept” being fat whether they want to or not

    It seems that you’ve not noticing the acceptance of your treatment model which is all about dealing with symptoms, not what you claim is the underlying cause.

    To say “treat the diabetes not the weight” makes little sense, because the two conditions are deeply connected by a biological problem known as insulin resistance, and a related problem called leptin resistance. Being fat is unfortunately both a result and a cause of these conditions.

    Treating diabetes without treating weight doesn’t make sense either if the underlying issue is weight, why do you think they don’t bother?

    Weight is centrally co-ordinated in the central and peripheral nervous system. This is the reason why weight loss fails, because this system reads calorie restriction as a threat. Why do you think they are not adjusting that and solving everything in one fell swoop?

    Perhaps because dealing with symptoms and accepting the underlying fatness is more potentially profitable than dealing with weight itself.

    We all have to accept the reality of the outcome of all this, that fat-actual fat not “fat”-people will remain fat. It is not FA against reversal of fatness, it’s the pharmaceutical profit machine.

    They don’t want it and never have.

  28. 28
    BStu says:

    Scanlon, your fat was caused by a medical problem. I’m glad you got treatment for that medical problem. If that treatment resulting in you not being fat, I don’t care one way or the other. But really, your experience is precisely why treating fat and not health is a problem. Had your doctors just kept hectoring you to lose weight, would your problem have been treated? You acknowledge your luck in getting actual treatment and not demeaning lecturing, but many fat people aren’t so lucky.

    And many aren’t fat because of anything. Many people are fat without “cause”. They are just fat. The important thing is that there is no safe and reliable means of making fat people into not fat people. That you happened to have a treatable condition impacting your weight proves nothing about other fat people though it does prove the danger with treating fat as a moral failing unto itself. I understand why you perceive a fat body as a a diseased body, but that stigmatization is neither fair nor productive.

    We don’t have a means of making fat people into not fat people if they really want to or even if they really need to. It happens sometimes. Its no moral victory for those who happen to lose weight nor a moral failure for those who don’t. You aren’t a better person because your weight went down. Your life is not more worthy. Your life is better because you had a health problem successfully treated. Not because you weigh less.