Many Things are Not About Fat People

One thing that I find really upsetting is when someone wants to draw attention away from a discussion, they play a game of “look at the fatties.”  I’ve been thinking about this because  the petition to get Barneys and Disney to abandon their plans to make Minnie Mouse into a 5’11 size 0 Super model has received over 137,000 signatures and a number of celebrity endorsements.  It is getting a lot of media coverage and eating disorder experts, child psychologists, and body image experts and others are talking about how images like this and the unattainable photoshop beauty that girls are under a crushing pressure to attain are dangerous for girls’ health.  But often one of the first comments is “What about obesity?”

I’ve seen this won’tsomebodythinkofthefatties technique used in discussions from global warming to contraception to politics.  It goes like this – someone writes a blog or article that says  “here is my well thought out opinion on this issue that has nothing to do with fat people.”  Then someone literally leaves a comment that says “But what about obesity?”

What about it?  Dude, this has nothing to do with obesity.  You might as well have said “What about the new Smurfs movie?” It’s exactly as relevant. Besides which, obesity is a body size – it’s not an eating disorder, it’s not a diagnosis, it’s not the problem, and it’s not part of the  discussion. It’s a body size.

The first problem with this is that it’s derailing – even if you massively don’t get it and believe obesity is a problem, there are other problems and it’s ok to talk about those problems with absolutely no mention of other unrelated problems. If you don’t want to discuss whatever the actual issue is that is being discussed, feel free to go find a forum to talk about whatever you want to talk about.

What’s worse about using obesity to derail a discussion is that obesity isn’t the new Smurf’s movie, nor is it an abstract concept, it’s people.  People who are ceaselessly shamed, stigmatized and bullied in our society for how they look. People who should have a reasonable expectation of being able to engage in a dialog on the internet without someone suggesting that they are a worse issues than whatever is actually being talked about, or that they somehow compound every problem by their mere existence.  It seems like some people take joy in the idea that they can bash fat people all they want and justify it because, hey, that’s what everyone else is doing.  There are people who just want to take every opportunity to treat a group of people poorly with little fear of repercussion.  Look – making assumptions about people and/or attempting to blame them for things based on how they look is bigotry, straight up, there is nothing that can justify it.

Fat bashing for the purpose of derailing a discussion is still fat bashing and it has to stop.  If you’re up for a little armchair activism, you can always call that out when you see it.  Either way, if you’re fat know that it’s completely inappropriate.

I’m Putting on a Happy HAES Holidays Workshop – Registration is Name Your Own Price

Normally I get between 100 and 200 e-mails a day.  During the holiday season that climbs to 200-300 from people asking about everything from how to set resolutions that aren’t about weight loss to how to deal with the family food police. I’ve put together a group of speakers to give you information to support you through the holiday season.  Details and registration are here, registration is name your own price.

Like the blog?  Check this stuff out (and you can help support my work which I would really appreciate):

Check Out my Book:  Fat:  The Owner’s Manual The E-Book is Name Your Own Price! Click here to order

Buy the Dance Class DVDs (hint:  Free shipping was supposed to end on Monday but I haven’t had a chance to make the changes to the pricing so there’s still free shipping until I get it done)!  Click here for the details

Become a Member and Get Special Deals from Size Positive Businesses

I do size acceptance activism full time.  A lot what I do, like answering over 4,000 e-mails from readers each month, giving talks to groups who can’t afford to pay, and running projects like the Georgia Billboard Campaign etc. is unpaid, so I created a membership program so that people who read the blog and feel they get value out of it and want to  support the work I do can become members for ten bucks a month  To make that even cooler, I’ve now added a component called “DancesWithFat Deals” which are special deals to my members from size positive merchants. Once you are a member I send out an e-mail once a month with the various deals and how to redeem them – your contact info always stays completely private.

Published in: on October 25, 2012 at 10:34 am  Comments (6)  

6 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. This is our constant challenge, to separate the concepts in the minds of people. The media constantly make this association and it is ingrained. Anything about body acceptance and food is ok, as long as it doesn’t give us fatties free reign to be fat. Cause if you take off all the restrictions and consequences, we will run rampant and take over society like brain-eating zombies.

  2. Thank you, AGAIN, for your insight into the prejudices associated with the idea of obesity.

  3. There’s a new Smurf’s movie?! Seriously, thanks for this. :)

  4. I have been catching up on my google Reader and I have really enjoyed post after post of cogent and heartfelt arguments from you, Ragen.
    I was following along with this one, right up until literally the last word. I am not entirely sure how you mean “classless” here but the idea I think you are trying to get across would be best served by leaving class out of it. I think you are trying to say that the derailing fat-bashers are “not classy.” As someone who doesn’t identify as middle class or higher, I find it problematic to conflate lacking class with things/actions that are “bad.” In my attempts to be more intersectional, I have become increasingly aware of the classist assumptions/aspersions activists (including myself) make.
    I really respect your activism and I am hoping that this criticism will be viewed with the spirit I intend (my tiny piece of arm-chair intersectional activism). Thanks for all you do.


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