Welcome, one and all, to the Big Fat Carnival’s First Edition!
The Big Fat Carnival is a blog carnival for collecting some of the best blog posts regarding fat pride; fat acceptance; critiques of anti-fat bigotry, attitudes and research; celebration of images of fat people; practical difficulties of being fat; fat love (queer and otherwise); feminist views of fat and fat acceptance; the health at every size movement (HAES); and whatever else each edition’s editor feels fits into the theme.
(But please note, The Big Fat Carnival is not a place to advocate weight-loss diets, weight loss surgery (WLS), or feederism.)
(If you don’t know what a blog carnival is, check out this post on Science and Politics).
Some carnival hosts create clever schemes or amusing personas to make their hosting that much more memorable, thus making the whole process not only more enjoyable but also more creative for everyone involved. Gosh, it sure would be cool if I was that sort of host! That would be great!
Alas, my natural-born laziness won out over the impulse to work harder (it was a short fight, TKO, laziness had one hand tied behind its back). So the listings here are pretty plain: The title of each post, followed by a short and (hopefully) representative or intriguing quote from each post.
I have divided the submitted posts into categories, mainly because there are so many posts linked here (almost 50!) that I thought I’d better divide the list into shorter, easier-t0-absorb sections. Many posts could have fit into more than one category, and some are hard to categorize at all, so the categorization is, alas, a bit arbitrary. Also, I decided (again, somewhat arbitrarily) to limit to four the number of included posts from any single blog. Categories, and posts within categories, are listed in a more-or-less random order.
As the compiler of this edition of the Big Fat Carnival, I was delighted with both the quality and quantity of submissions, which came from both blogs that are favorites of mine, and from blogs that I’ve never heard of (but I’m happy to discover now!). Thanks to all of you for making this first BFC edition a big fat kick-ass success.
That said, onto the Carnival!
Section One: Fat, Health and Health Care
Feministe: Because Being Fat Is Worse Than Being Insane. Apparently.
Amanda passed this infuriating article on to me. It tells the story of 17-year-old Nia, hospitalized with schizophrenia, and the psychiatrist who treats her … a psychiatrist who found it so alarming that she was gaining weight from the medication that finally and completely dealt with her symptoms that he took her off the medication.
(Also commenting on this article: I Blame The Patriarchy, BattlePanda, Pandagon, and Shakespeare’s Sister, whose post is also linked in the “body image” section below).
Fatshadow: Untitled Post
Which came first the obsession or the value? I value every pound of my body. I value the lessons learned from the life I have lived in this body. It is an effort for me to value my health but I know that my lack of value for health is a hostile reaction to a world that talks to me about health when it means weight loss. So it’s a value I have to learn. Because if fat people don’t do the thinking and talking about their health they will always be too reliant on people who may not have their best interest in mind. People with products.
Pen-Elayne: Calorie Commandos
You know how ex-smokers are among the most adamantly anti-smoking zealots around? The same goes for people who’ve been on diets, particularly fad ones like South Beach or Atkins. So I casually mention the food chart, and suddenly one coworker decides to gently chastise me for the sodium-free breadsticks I’ve been munching on since I cut back on my salt intake because “you know how many carbs are in each of those?” (According to the pyramid scheme, after all, if I eat 6-11 of those a day all my carb servings are used up!)
Behind the Surface: A Fat Girl Goes Wooing
And it was that constant possibility that I might be harassed for being fat that has had me terrified every time I go to see a new doctor. Last spring as the appointment with a neurologist approached, I thought I was going to start having panic attacks.
I find myself preparing for a new appointment like I might for a date. What outfit should I wear? I want to look like I take care of myself, so something somewhat nice. But not too dressy that it would be hard to get in and out of. Or look like I’m not really sick (yeah, having an illness that is not taken seriously hasn’t helped). Maybe something sporty…
Alas, a Blog: Cathy Young’s Reasoning Is (Insert Generic Fat Reference Here)
No diet has ever been shown in clinical trials to turn obese people into non-obese people over the long run; nor has anyone ever been able to run a clinical trial showing that losing weight improves health over the long run. Furthermore, some studies have found that losing weight deliberately actually shortens life – especially for yo-yo dieters. Why prescribe a “cure” that probably won’t work, and that could shorten life, for a “disease” that simply isn’t that threatening?
Section Two: Self-Image and Body Image
Creampuff Revolution: Creampuff Bares Her Belly
Check it. My stomach is big. It’s big and it’s cuddly and it STICKS OUT. I used to wear only long, voluminous shirts and not just to cover my ass – ’cause, as my friend Jeba says, you can’t hide an ass that big. And really, why would you want to? It’s glorious! My clothing choices were generally based on camouflaging my stomach. My stomach was shy. . . or so I thought! I was looking at myself and my tummy in the mirror one night and I suddenly realized there was a reason my stomach refused to stay hidden, refused to be pulled in or masked or ignored – SHE NEEDED MORE ATTENTION.
Shakespeare’s Sister: Beautiful Madness
I just want to take a moment to address something I found particularly distressing in the piece…the notion that “fat” and “beautiful” are mutually exclusive. My entire life I was teased for being fat. Even when I was thin, I had large breasts, which got translated into being fat by my pre-teen peers. I was 12 years old, and not a pound overweight but already sporting D-cups the first time I got called “a fat cow.” I’ve spent my whole life feeling fat, whether I was or not. And consequently, I never felt beautiful, because there’s no such thing in our culture as being both fat and beautiful.
The Boiling Point: Your Yucky Body; a repair manual
Yay! Mikhaela submitted a cartoon! This is just a sample, be sure to go read the whole thing.
Body Impolitic: Whose Body Is This Anyway?
your body, which should be yours by the most basic of birthrights, is not your body. The media, big business, and the medical establishment take it over the minute you are born and put an enormous amount of time, money, and energy into making sure they keep it. If you want to own your own body, you have to put in an equivalently enormous amount of time and energy.
One Tenacious Baby Mama: The Perfect Fit?
(Note: There is one nude image of a woman contained in this post.)
On good days I’m a G.S.G, a Good Sized Gyal. A Middle of tha way Hoochee out to raise some hell. Proudly sportin’ every single inch of me. All stretch marks and dimples with jiggling bits and tits. Lovin’ it. Hoping to develope/envelope some more substantiality eventually.
Other times I walk hunched and harried. My body…it’s shape…it’s image…so fucked. So fucked. Mind filled to capacity. Cerebrum stuffed. Psche straining. Other people’s confusion seamlessly merging with my own. Other people’s shit, projected, injected becomes my own.
A Mindful Life: Self-Portrait Tuesday
When I moved to Austin, my weight crept up to 160 again and stayed there. This was okay by me. I worked out in a gym. I was flexible and strong. I wore size 14 jeans. I felt pretty good about myself. Then an elderly man who’d become a friend in a grandfatherly sort of way one day told me (after he’d had me as a guest for dinner), “You know, Kathryn, you’re pretty. If you lost 20 to 30 pounds, you might find a boyfriend.” If he’d punched my stomach, the effect would have felt the same.
Section Three: Our Fat-Hating Culture
Feminist Reprise: Choosing Justice
This is why I believe quibbling about whether I’m a big fat dyke by choice or nature is a waste of time better spent fighting for liberation. I am a big fat dyke, and even if you think I should choose to be something else, that doesn’t make it right for you to scream at me in the street, take away my job, evict me from my apartment, refuse me a motel room, beat me up, put me in prison, rape me, or kill me. Arguments for tolerance based on genetics are actually undermining our efforts towards the just society we really want…
Body Impolitic: 21st Century Sin
The world we live in seems to treat food very much like the Puritans treated sex: an obsessively present temptation which is simultaneously sinful and irresistible. Eating high-calorie food is the only thing that contemporary secular Americans call sinful.
Official Shrub.com Blog: Fatty, Fat, Fat, Fatty!
It’s easy for me to advocate for society to adopt a broader image of beauty (and of health) because I’m thin. It’s easy to feel good about my body because I fit into what’s seen as the “correct” weight. But, as much as I try not to, I do think about my weight. I dress it up in pretty words like “healthy” and “toned” but part of it will always be about my body shape. It doesn’t help that every time I see certain members of my family I get comments about my weight. Snarling at, cursing at, and otherwise being angry with them has helped to keep the comments at a minimum, but I haven’t been able to get them to stop completely no matter what I do.
Feminist Reprise: It’s Not The Fat, It’s The Stupidity
Most of the people who sustain me with their affection and support are fat, and when you dis fat people, folks, you’re not just dissing me–you’re dissing the people I depend on to keep me sane in a world that hates me. You’re dissing hardworking honest goodhearted people, and I’m just not going to put up with that. Because if you can write smug simplistic little letters reducing the complexities of our lives to one sentence–if you think it’s your prerogative, because your body type is socially acceptable, to dispense inane nonsensical redundant advice about how we should live and what we should do based on our appearance–you’re just proving you don’t know us.
Body Impolitic: How Young Can You Be And Hate Your Body?
The pressures on adults to be thin and forever young are well understood; what’s not so obvious is that as the airbrushed unreal early pubescent body becomes the image of the adult model, this puts pressure not only on the three-dimensional, unPhotoShoppable adult, but also on the child whose idealized body is being co-opted. If mommy wants to look like a twelve-year-old, what is a twelve-year-old supposed to want? And what will “trickle down” to her five-year-old sister?
Feminist Reprise: Screwed by Southwest
…On Friday the Thirteenth, I was barred from boarding Southwest Airlines because I refused to comply with their “customer of size” policy by purchasing a second seat.
Even though I’ve been some degree of fat my whole life, and certainly have gotten my share of ridicule and rejection because of it, being refused a public accommodation hasn’t been part of my experience. Discrimination has been this bad thing that happened to other people. But suddenly, when I was just going about my business, I was informed by a smug gate agent that I was required to purchase a second seat before I would be allowed to board the plane.
OUPblog: Resolute We Are
According to 43 Things, the online home of lists and resolutions, losing weight is the all-time top goal of all resolution makers visiting their site. Apparently we are more desperate than ever to fight the putative battle against obesity, a war that supposedly begins at home. But let’s think about it. Even if there is an obesity epidemic…an idea which is thoughtfully disputed by fellow-OUP author J. Eric Oliver in his recent book Fat Politics…why would it be that Americans would suddenly be so hefty?
I Hate People: Fat People Are People Too!
This is the kind of mentality that a lot of people have engrained on their systems, the kind of mentality that makes them believe that fat people, and especially fat women deserve to be abused. Because “how dare they to be normal?? How dare they show their fat asses and bellies in public? How dare these women not be sexual objects??”
Travelling Punk: Navigating the complex world of compliments?
‘Have you lost weight?’ someone called, accusatorially across the office as I turned from the printer to return to my desk. Startled by the tone, I wondered, what have I done, before my mind caught up with the content of the question and my mouth emitted a little, unsure, ‘no…’.
Section Four: Fat, Gender and Feminism
Capitalism Bad, Tree Pretty: Being Purple
I don’t think the experience of being fat is worse for women; I think the experience of being fat is qualitatively different for women.
Maybe that’s not even what I mean – maybe I mean: the experience of being fat is part of being a woman in the society I live in – whatever size you are.
Feministe: Your Priorities Are Showing
Here’s the lesson I’m drawing from here: the cultural imperative to be thin is so strong that the FDA is willing to put out a product that’s not terribly effective, prone to abuse, and potentially dangerous. Because there is no risk or discomfort too great to be endured for the sake of being thin. And heavens, no, we’ve never had any problems whatsoever with FDA-approved diet pills **coughphen-fencough**!
Body Impolitic: I’ll Just Have A Salad
Here’s what we mean when we say food is gendered. Women are expected to want salads, vegetables, fancy chocolates, and sweet alcoholic drinks with umbrellas in them. Men are expected to want slabs o’ meat, potatoes, apple pie, and beer or hard liquor. Women are expected to comment in restaurants on the size of the portion and the presentation of the food before they take a bite. Men are expected to dig in.
Pound: Fits Like Teen Spirit
I guess it’s no wonder that out of all the different kinds of plus size markets out there, the store that most consistently sets off Fat Apocalyptic alarms is the store for young white girls, because really, hot young white chicks are among our most precious national resources, and without them America’s reality shows and porn would suffer.
Mind The Gap!: Dove: Real Beauty or Just Real Troublesome?
But at the risk of sounding like a humourless, spoil sport, never satisfied feminist I’m now going to come out and say “I’m not happy.” What’s not to like? Well I don’t like the fact that the empowerment is very little, very late, and I don’t like the questions about my own feminist thinking which this campaign raises. What really bothers me is not the fact that the Dove campaign is not radical, it is the frightening probability that, in the context of our current culture, this campaign is extremely radical. As feminists, this is what we should be worried about.
Alas, a Blog: Fatness and Moral Panic
The terror that fat seems to inspire, the moral terror, seems rooted in the same fear and loathing that has traditionally been reserved for the promiscuous woman. She is not obeying. She is “out of bounds””“much like the fat that oozes over the sides of the airplane seat. Her problem is a surfeit of appetite““which is the reason that no matter what medical studies might actually show, people will continue to frame the problem of obesity wholly in terms of eating and of appetite.
Section Five: Dieting and Weight Loss
FattyPatties: Revisiting the Numbers
Anyway, about 8,304 innocent people lost their lives in 2005 due to bariatric surgeries. (Of course it’s more considering most die slow deaths from years of nutritional deficits and complications, but we’ll disregard those for this exercise.)
According to CNN, there have been 2211 casualties in Iraq as of January 15, 2006 (covering nearly 3 years). […] In just one year, bariatric atrocities resulted in eleven times more innocent American lives lost than from the Iraq War.
Feminist Reprise: An Exercise in Critical Thinking
Because of course fat people never eat apples, and if we did, we’d all instantly become thin. How dumb we must be not to figure that out, how self-destructive, masochistic even, to stubbornly insist on staying fat–and of course unhealthy–when the cure is so close at hand.
Redemption Blues: The Fat Of The Land: Desperate Remedies
“Chew? Didn’t I learn that skill sometime before my first birthday? ‘No. Nobody in the Western world knows how to chew. Dr Mayr showed this. Most people today swallow their food after giving it one or two chews, and it enters the intestines very hard. This puts stress on the gut. Here, you will learn to chew each mouthful of food 40 times’. Forty? ‘Yes. Do not swallow anything until it is a thin liquid pulp. And you must not speak to each other or read when you are eating. This is distracting and wrong. You will sit in silence. And chew'”.
In the past, this approach was known as Fletcherism. Verily I say unto thee, there is nothing new under the sun, especially not when it comes to wacky theories about dieting.
Alas, a Blog: Anti-Fat “Science” (U.K. Edition)
Note the claim that this is a “scientifically-based program” – which means, I assume, that the Top Ten Tips have been shown to lead to significant, long-term weight loss in scientific studies. There’s also a second claim: the Top Ten Tips do not not involve “radical lifestyle change.” As we will see, neither claim is true.
Section Six: Our Fat-Hating Media
Reappropriate: The Modern-Day Freak Show
Every time the topic of obesity comes up on CNN, the cameramen are sent out to local malls or city streets to videotape fat people (*gasp*, *shock*, horror of horrors!) walking. With every Paula Zahn voiceover comes the inevitable booty shot of a fat person going about their daily business, painfully ignorant of the camera lens trained firmly on their ass. The heads and faces are never shown — after all, that might actually require asking the poor voyeurism victim for permission to beam their rear ends into televisions all across America.
Pound: Imaginary Fat People
I went to see America’s Sweethearts last week. I’d heard the movie kind of stunk, and I could have seen John Cusack’s big, adorable head spout much better dialogue in other movies, but I went anyway. I went to see Julia Roberts in the fat suit. I needed to see what the film industry’s idea of a 180-pound woman looked like.
Vegankid: PETA Makes You Fat!
In the summer of 2004, while attending the supposedly radical We Are Resisting conference in Lawrence, KS, I saw my first PETA ad. Chew on This: 30 Reasons to Go Vegetarian
. It was the introduction to a workshop on animal rights. Within the first ten seconds I wanted to leave. I at least should have said something. But, instead, I sat floored in silence.
#3: Eating meat makes you FAT! The word fat took up the entire screen in its glaring sans-serif font. Well, nobody wants to be fat. You’re better off being anything but fat – bulimic, anorexic, dead. Anything, but fat.
New Game Plus:J Pop Nightmare?
The article is written by the chief editor of a website “created to provide the gateway of introduction of Japanese Entertainment into mainstream American culture utilizing the most popular ways a typical individual may discover Japan.” Appropriate and judge Japan seems more accurate”“not to mention degrading the Japanese to insects by accusing them of having a hive-mind. Disagree? The author, Jeffrey To, tells his critics to “go jump in a river and die.”
No surprise, the article goes on to be sexist, fat-bashing, and racist. To start, the author predicts plus-sized official cosplay costumes will be released.
Pound: The Shocking Truth
There is something I need to tell you. I mean, you’re going to find out anyway, but I thought I’d tell you first: I’m really Tyra Banks in a fat suit.
Yes, I know that all this time you thought I was just a chubby white girl. I’m sure it sheds light on a lot of things, such as my inexplicable personal happiness. Well, now you know I’m happy because, hello! I’m Tyra Banks! I have my own production company! And here you thought I was just happy because I ate all the pies!
Chewin’ The Fat: There’s An Elephant In The Room
Can someone explain to me how if two thirds of us are “overweight,” then why are we virtually invisible in media representation? Well, not invisible. We can always be called upon for comic relief, the perky sidekick, the foil or the villain.
Raging Feminist: Big Fat Sex
[Regarding Showtime’s The L Word:] It should have been an interesting scene, then, as she fell into bed with her new romantic interest. Sure, he was a man, but he’s an interesting fat man. Boy was I disappointed, but not shocked, when they cut to a completely different scene as soon as Kit and her man hit their hotel bed. Now I’m not one to look for the sex scenes, and, in fact, the soft core porn atmosphere of the show is often very upsetting to my feminist politics, but damn, if I’m going to see a bunch of people having sex, if I’m going to be subjected to tons of explicit heterosexual screwing, and if I’m going to hear women talking about fucking one another every week, completely internalizing patriarchal ideas about sex, then damn it, I want to see some fat!
Fattypatties:Why I feel abandoned by the left or, yep, we’re irrelevant
So I sent out e-mails to a bunch of Air America Shows (below is from the M&M Show here in Phoenix)– here is the only response so far and, well, I can’t make a better case for why I don’t bother much with the Left any more…
BStu: The Most Nefarious Result of Fat-Suits
It also should be pointed out that the most nefarious result of fat-suits is the reason they are employed. Its not simply to deny a job to a fat actor. Hollywood is doing very well on the count as it stands, especially with regard to female actors. The reason is that it suits a narrative structure which exalts weight loss and gives it a redemptive quality. For that, you need to employ a fat suit so you can show the transformation into an acceptable state. If you stopped the fat drag, these stories would stop and that would be a benefit in and of itself.
Peggynature: A Million Little Dummies
You want to talk truth, Oprah? Let’s talk truth. Let’s talk about systematic bias in not only the popular media, which have been known as professional spin doctors for hundreds of years, but in scientific studies and in the peer-reviewed academic journals they are published in. This ain’t no pennystinker newsprint popstand selling the latest paperback. These are scholars, scientists, and people who influence public policy. Let’s talk about conclusions that don’t even begin to correspond to the hard numbers printed, for anyone with eyes and basic math skills to make sense of, on the facing page.
This Ain’t Living: A Few Thoughts On Surveys
An article published in the Chronicle today discussed the results of a survey on fat bias. Curiously, the headline was “Some Americans OK With Being Fat.” The headline was only curious if you bothered to read the article, though. Although I note the Chronicle hedged their bets with “some.”
Section Seven: Neat Stuff I Couldn’t Classify
Bitch|Lab: Oppression: It’s a Process, Not a Product
On an analysis that looks at oppression as a process, and not simply a product, the lens is turned, not at fatness, but at how it is defined and how that definition is inexorably political.
Maia wants to subsume an analysis of fatness into a feminist analysis. I find that a problem. But more, I think it’s likely very wrong to assume that fatness and disability are “in” the body, while race and gender are not.
Several Excellent Posts At Redemption Blues
A few funny, sharply observed, wide-ranging and impossible-to-classify posts at Redemption Blues: The Fat Of The Land, Pariah, and Bite-Sized Junk.
This philosophy is beginning to hit home now, reaching some place beyond the intellectualizing centres of my brain. Because I am one of those fat people who has gone above and beyond genetic intentions, through my behaviour. I am the type of fat person who everyone screaming about The Obesity Epidemic loathes, because I have done it to myself
I would not say I have chosen to be fat, however. Despite all the obesity hysteria, it is more complicated than that.
Hey, Fat People: Cafepress.com Wants To Hear From You
And finally, a public service announcement: Cafepress wants to survey plus-sized consumers about adding plus-size clothing to their wares. Evil Lesbian Media Whore has the details.
That’s it for this edition of the Big Fat Carnival! Big fat thanks to everyone who contributed, either with posts or by sending encouraging words my way! (And I’m sorry that I didn’t respond individually to every submission email.)
Please join us again in two months, when the second edition will be hosted by This Ain’t Livin’! You can submit posts to Meloukhia of This Ain’t Livin’ by going to this link.
(The third and fourth editions will be hosted by Vegankid and Body Impolitic, respectively).