I Look Good and I Do What I Want

a journey of loving my body and myself

politics of fat May 12, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mae @ 2:46 pm
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As someone who is just becoming familiar with the concepts of Fat Acceptance, Intuitive Eating, and Heatlh at Every Size, I have been fascinated by the discourse/uproar/kerfluffle that is going on over at Big Fat Deal over an interview between a weight-loss memoir writer and a blogger who is part of the Fatosphere.

Its been a very instructive experience for me. Basically, I got the primer on Fat Acceptance and exactly what is objectionable about promoting the success of an individual’s pursuit of weight loss through dieting. I’ve been unable to tear myself away because (with the exception of yoganut who forgot to check her smug at the door), every commenter has made me think from a new perspective. Its been amazingly cool.

The whole discussion boils down very simply for me: dieting is bad. Dieting, for me, created problems that were not there before: (an) eating disorder(s), emotional traumas that are still fresh wounds, and huge self-esteem problems. Maybe I would have had self-esteem problems without being fatter than normal, but I am positive that years of indoctrination along the lines of: “you are lazy, you have no discipline, you have no willpower, you have no control, you are baaaaad…” contributed hugely.

So. Dieting doesn’t work for the vast, vast majority of people who undertake it, and for some much larger (I have no statistics) percentage of people, dieting actually creates more problems than they had before. How could anyone who understands that, in good conscience, not speak up? Just because the memoir’s author found herself in the lucky 2% – 5% doesn’t mean that she should be held up as a role model for other people. I think the conversation that is continuing to take place is a very needed response from a community that can speak intelligently on the nuances of the situation. I don’t think its about tearing down the memoirist personally but of tackling the societal baggage that is, by default, attached to a successful weight loss story. I thought it was mostly respectfully and intelligently done, and very necessary. I found it especially appropriate in a place like Big Fat Deal, where discourse on the subject is encouraged. I am grateful to have discovered it there.

I have to confess to reading a lot of the memoirist’s blog as a result. Its dangerously compelling for me. But dieting is not good for me personally. I need to get completely comfortable with that fact.

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9 Responses to “politics of fat”

  1. I linked here from your comment over at my place, and thanks again for commenting because now I am aware of your blog, and it sounds like you have some really fascinating things to say about weight, food, body image, etc. I am really enjoying your writing so far and am looking forward to reading your archives. Yay!

    Thanks especially for this: “I don’t think its about tearing down the memoirist personally but of tackling the societal baggage that is, by default, attached to a successful weight loss story.” That baggage does indeed exist, and I agree that BFD is sort of a uniquely well-suited place (not a diet blog, not a “fully” FA blog, and the commenters tend to be accordingly diverse) to have a dialogue about it.

  2. Mae Says:

    Hi! You’ll find my archives pretty empty. I am officially Really New to Blogging. All I really know is that I am sick of hating my body and feeling constantly at war with myself. But I have found it really cathartic to write. So that is what I am doing.

  3. Caitlin Says:

    I could cry.

    Basically, I got the primer on Fat Acceptance and exactly what is objectionable about the politics of promoting the success of an individual’s pursuit of weight loss through dieting.

    every commenter has made me think from a new perspective.

    I don’t think its about tearing down the memoirist personally but of tackling the societal baggage that is, by default, attached to a successful weight loss story.

    This is exactly, exactly, exactly what this has been about for me. I’m so glad you took something good from it. It makes me feel that sticking at it has been worthwhile (no matter how many times I was left staring speechless at my computer screen in disbelief).

    And, How could anyone who understands that, in good conscience, not speak up?

    Exactly that, too.

    You write very well. I’m excited about hearing what you have to say.

    Also, All I really know is that I am sick of hating my body and feeling constantly at war with myself.

    You’re all over Shapely Prose like white on rice, right? I love (almost) everything in the fatosphere, but it was SP that really made the difference for me.

  4. Mae Says:

    Hi, Caitlin. The first time I confessed my body-image/weight/self-esteem issues from the safety of internet anonymity, the two blogs recommended to me by a wonderfully understanding inter-stranger were Shapely Prose and The Rotund. I’ve been reading both since, oh, November 2007 I think. And have slowly started to add other blogs to my newsreader since.

    I am so grateful there are writers, bloggers, and commenters out there having this conversation. Combatting an inner dialogue full of fat-hate and self-loathing is a monumental undertaking. I have tried and been unable to do anything about it when it was me, alone. Maybe some day I’ll be one of those writers giving back to others. Right now, I am the one that needs help.

    So, thanks!

  5. Julia Says:

    Really enjoying what you have to say so far. 🙂 Welcome to the blogosphere!

  6. All I really know is that I am sick of hating my body and feeling constantly at war with myself.

    I am so glad you’re fed up with this type of crap, and that writing is helping. None of us deserves to feel like our bodies are our enemies every day of our lives. It really pisses me off. As Julia says, I’m looking forward to reading what you have to say!

  7. Juliet Says:

    I haven’t really followed much of what is happening, though I know the blogger in question from my former life as a diet blogger. When I switched from diet blogger (or pretending to be a diet blogger) to an Intuitive Eating/Body Acceptance blogger, I discovered a LOT of hostility from former readers. Not only that, but I’d get SO many comments about how “oh, I can’t trust myself to do IE, I HAVE to diet” and they made me want to cry. You CAN trust yourself, but you do have to be willing to accept that in the beginning, you’ll probably gain weight while you learn that no food is truly off limits. Most diet bloggers found this concept so foreign and alien, and I felt, on one hand, attacked – and on the other hand, like I could no longer read these bloggers personal blogs or comments simply because they were insidious for my progress… and they made me so sad for the writer.

    Like you, I know now that dieting is the single worst thing I could do to myself. I have to focus on kicking the eating disorder, and if weight loss occurs, I’ll be able to maintain that – but it isn’t the goal anymore and I recognize that it can’t be.

    I think anyone fortunate enough to fall into that 2% – 5% should try to recognize that they are in the minority. It’s not as simple as saying, “if I could do it, ANYONE can…” because it just doesn’t work that way. If that were true, the many, many of us in the body acceptance/fat acceptance arenas would’ve done it the millions of times we tried.

    We don’t lack willpower or determination. We’re stronger than you can ever possibly know.

  8. JuliaRS Says:

    Hi there, I found your blog through spacedcowgirl’s site, and I just wanted to say I think you’re a terrific writer, and I look forward to reading more from you.

    I read through your archives, and I think you and I have a lot in common in terms of family dynamics and “hiding” food. Good luck with your new blog!

  9. Mae Says:

    Juliet, I fear the weight gain has already begun. I can feel it in my clothes and just how I “feel.” But I am also already starting to feel more in evenly-keeled, as in, not eating the ice cream in the freezer simply because its there (and knowing that tomorrow I might decide its New Diet Time and throw it away, leading to Last Supper Syndrome tonight).

    Thanks, JuliaRS! I am pleased to making your blogging-acquaintance.


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