Not a Joke and Not Funny

Reality and PerceptionI got over 300 e-mails/Facebook messages etc. about a project called “I’m learning to apologize for my metabolism” It exists on Kickstarter and the gist is that a woman is trying to raise $20,000 to fund a book that will be a “Collection of images of women standing up against a society that protects fat culture while bastardizing thin and athletic women.”  Many of the messages I received asked if it was a joke.  I looked into it and from what I can find it’s not a joke, and it’s not funny as far as I’m concerned.

My first thought was that maybe she lives in another country where the standard of beauty is different.  Nope, she lives in Las Vegas and she believes that “Its undeniable that when we stand a skinny, athletic or even average sized female next to a larger (even if less healthy, overweight or obese) female, that unless we live outside of this stigma, we as Americans will assume that the heavier person is funnier, smarter, nicer, and less sexually promiscuous, all because she is not as thin or physically fit than the girl next to her.”

I think that she has a right to feel this way and I’m not going to try to say that I know better than her what her personal experience is, but I do think “undeniable” is the wrong word to use.  I know that thin bashing does exist and I have written several times about why thin bashing is unjustifiable.

I do have problems with this project, not the least of which include the use of the following euphemisms for thin:

  • Athletic
  • Fit
  • Likes to run
  • Eats healthy
  • Take care of your body
  • Be in better shape

We just discussed why that’s wrong, wrong, wrongity, wrong, wrong.

She says “The premise of the book is not to bash or assault any single body type, quite the opposite.”

This I’m having trouble believing.  See, I think that if you’re not trying to bash or assault a body type you scrupulously avoid using phrases like “I’m sorry if the butt I work for isn’t as good as the one you ate for.”  I think you avoid making sweeping assumptions like, for example, that only people with one body type are athletic, fit, like to run, eat healthy, take care of themselves etc.   But that’s just my opinion.

I can’t say enough that a culture of body hate hurts people of every size.  I also can’t say enough that I seriously doubt that the road to high self-esteem and size acceptance is paved with blatant hypocrisy.  So even if it’s absolutely true that “Americans will assume that the heavier person is funnier, smarter, nicer, and less sexually promiscuous”  the solution to that is probably not to encourage people to assume that the heavier person is less fit, doesn’t eat healthy, and doesn’t take care of themselves.  If assumptions based on body size are bad, and I agree that they are, then they are bad for people of all sizes.  We can end body bashing and size discrimination, but we can’t do it by doing exactly to other bodies what we don’t want done to ours.

We can simply stop body bashing, body snarking, and making assumptions based on body size.  No more “she needs to eat a sandwich” no more “fat pig”, no more “Real women have curves,”  no more “Lazy fatty”, no more “she can’t be healthy at that weight, ” no more “she looks anorexic,”  no more making ourselves feel better by saying something negative about someone else’s body.  No more.  If we truly want to end body bashing, we have to stop body bashing.

If you are reading this, then you can make the choice, right now, to stop participating in all body bashing. But will you?  The choice is yours.

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Holiday Sale – January or Bust!

I do Size Acceptance activism full time, and at this time of year I get the most requests for help and support, and the least paid talks, book signings, business consulting etc.  So I’m having a January or Bust Sale.  You’ll get 20% off whatever you buy plus an upgrade from media mail to priority shipping in the US.  Support my work, get cool stuff, win-win.

Click here to check it out.

Become a Member (not on sale, but still pretty cool!)

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  Members are the first to know about new projects, get to see things before they are released, get “Member 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.  Join Now!

Published in: on December 7, 2012 at 12:12 pm  Comments (28)  

28 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. How interesting that the fat civil rights movement is provoking the same response as civil rights movements always have. When black people started demanding equality, you got a rush of people saying that ‘it had gone too far’ and whites were becoming a minority. All through the 1970s, a staple of sci-fi shows was the world where men had been relegated to second class status, because women had taken over. Any sign of visibility always provokes a massive backlash – usually in the form of claims of discrimination – from people who have the most to gain from the status quo.

    When this happens, it’s a sure sign that the movement is making inroads.

  2. Regan, you are so good at getting to the heart of the question. So many times I read your blog feeling confused about a complicated issue and then you separate one issue from another with such discernment. Yes, it’s wrong to make assumptions about people’s character based on their bodies, fat or thin. Yes, the solution to the problem that people make assumptions about you based on your body type is not to make more assumptions about other people based on their body type. Suddenly it’s not complicated any more. A Kickstarter campaign devoted to countering the idea that thin people as a group are not hateful or promiscuous or less than real women would be fine. This could be done without making reference to fat people at all. It’s not a zero sum game where you can’t win without making someone else lose. It would be cool if we could all be allies in ending body policing. I get that it’s hurtful to thin women when people post pics about “which kind of body is sexier.” So I don’t post those things or make those kinds of comments.

    The constant media saturation of images of people on the thinner end of the bell curve, the lack of representation of other body types – these things do need to be addressed, but they can be addressed without shaming people who are naturally thin. I don’t think the fat acceptance movement is really the source of the comments that bother this woman – I certainly don’t hear that coming from you or any of the blogs that I read. There are plenty of jealous people who want to tear other people down, and there are many internet memes that are not well-considered. I don’t think those things represent the fat acceptance movement.

  3. I liked Chloe’s comments about how there is a cultural backlash with stigma and prejudice being brought into the light towards groups who have traditionally had more to gain by keeping the status quo. However, that does not diminish the reality that the backlash isn’t just talk or ‘tit for tat’ kinds of comments. I’ve worked in public venue for 23 years, mostly with adolescents, and you’d be surprised how often I’ve heard that children of color believe that it is acceptable to be biased against whites and that it isn’t ‘prejudice’ because that only happens TO black people/minorities/women.

    I’m saddened that stigma and biases against anyone who isn’t fitting the mental ideal of an individual (whether that be societal or just a single person) has to put up with stinging and damning comments.

    (warning… trigger comments may be shared here)
    I found it interesting that while reading the “…as Americans will assume that the heavier person is funnier, smarter, nicer, and less sexually promiscuous, all because she is not as thin or physically fit than the girl next to her.” I translated that into my own recollection of “hiding behind humor to cover her sorrow…has more time to learn so she can balance the deficit of her looks…has had to put on a nice, brave face to deal with jerks and simply wants to treat others the way she’d like to be treated…sexually/relationship alienated (since no one wants a fat chick in bed). My history of managing being a fat girl in this society has left some deep tracks.

    I’m actually more tweeked by the idea that she’s asking for money up front to create this book, rather than writing it and finding a venue to market it. How often do things like this happen?

    • I’m starting to write a book (now that I find myself unemployed: Will Write for Food!), and it never once occurred to me to set up a Kickstarter campaign. My plan is to flesh out my ideas, find an agent, write a book proposal, and pray for a soft landing on at least a small pile of cash. Lather, rinse, repeat.

      I wonder if someone would give me twenty grand to sit back and write my magnum opus… but somehow I doubt it. It’s not like my idea requires loads of travel or a lot of expensive equipment. Once I’ve got a computer that didn’t hang with the Flintstones and an updated copy of Word, I can do the research and development in my own living room and kitchen.

      Hers sounds like it will require even less work, research, or personal outlay than mine will. I can’t imagine what the money is for unless she plans to live off of it while writing her book and shopping for a publisher. Unless, that is, she plans to fund a study to prove her point. But a proper study takes years and a lot of careful training. I doubt twenty grand would cover that, nor would it get her book out very quickly.

      In short, no, I’ve never heard of anyone setting up a fundraising campaign for money to help them write a book. I’ve heard of publishers giving advances, certainly, and I’ve heard of writers working McJobs they don’t have to think about too hard while honing their Great American (or otherwise) Novels. I’ve even heard of benefactors giving writers a place to live and work rent free as they worked. In fact, that’s how To Kill a Mockingbird was done. Some friends gave Harper Lee a room in their apartment for a year while she wrote. But to the best of my knowledge, this Kickstarter campaign is a first.

      • Actually, that’s not true. I ran a successful Kickstarter for my book and others have done the same.

        • I did not know that… obviously. Sometimes my knowledge is not the best. Thanks for the correction.

        • One of my best friends started a Kickstarter to fund his book. He hired me on as editor–as that is what I do. Another friend of his is a graphic designer and he hired him to do the art for the cover. A portion of the Kickstarter funds was to pay us for our work. He isn’t the first. I’ve seen several Kickstarters that are used to fund writing projects.

      • HI, I make a living as a writer, I am working on my third book. This is the second where I will use Kickstarter (you can see my grossly shameless plug for my campaign below). I have an excellent literary agent and I’ve published with a major press before. But these days the publishing world is in such turmoil that many are opting to self publish and self promote, for a host of reasons, the most important of which none of the “big six” (the only publishers that pay more than a few thousand in an advance) won’t touch anyone who isn’t famous or has a track record of very high sales. In fact they now use Amazon to search for books to pick up rather than buying most book proposals. Every agent I know, and all the big publishers, and expanding into new areas.

        Books may be the most difficult thing to successful fund on Kickstarter, but if you have something that rings true to people, and you work your ass off, it’s possible to raise enough money for the costs. A Kickstarter campaign is actually way more work than having an agent pitch a proposal, and they take nearly as much of the money. But there are good reasons to do it. It’s not for everyone, but for some of it, it’s a reality of life.

        But as I said in my comment below, this woman’s project won’t get funded. Regardless of the content, she hasn’t done the Kickstarter work. Not to mention the content is foul and people don’t give their money away lightly.

        Good luck on your book!

        Rebecca Jane Weinstein

  4. It is not a book I would spend money to read. From a literary standpoint, it’s weak because it uses the “Everybody knows” approach, something my Freshman Comp teacher told me (and my upper level Lit teachers hammered in later) is faulty reasoning and undermines what might possibly be a good point.

    “Everybody knows that thin women are getting bashed as a result of this ‘Fat Acceptance’ movement”.

    *buzzer noise* Everybody DOESN’T know what you think to be true.

    It also utilizes the word “we”, and unless one can guarantee that all people on the planet wish to be included in that hive “We” mentality, it’s once again faulty writing (and logic) to use that pronoun. If you haven’t the huevos to use “I” for your point of view and must hide behind a plural pronoun, then it’s time to ponder if what you’re saying is valid.

    I give this a D+. Not quite failing, but probably good enough to line birdcages, provided the bird is good company.

  5. I saw her picture on another website where she is holding the sign saying “I’m sorry if the butt I work for isn’t as good as the one you ate for.”
    If she is annoyed that people think the fat people around her are nicer, she might want to try being a little nicer to her fellow human beings,

    • Amen Carrie!

      • The photo you mention isn’t actually picture of her; it’s apparently a sample from her book-to-be. The author of the blog is named Britton Delizia, and here’s what you can find about her (including photos) if you Google her: http://tinyurl.com/brittondelizia

    • I think it’s pathetic that she’s wasting her time worrying about someone else’s butt.

  6. No one is free until we’re all free.

    We can’t build ourselves up by tearing anyone else down. Everyone has a right to love and accept the body they are in and do what’s best for their health and happiness.

    I have been guilty of this in the past and I am happy to have been shown the error of my ways. Thanks to you for continuing to be a sane voice in a sometimes insane world.

  7. “But.. if it just makes it into the hands of ONE little girl who feels like she has to be overweight to fit in with the current 70% of the overweight population of America, and it gives her the strength to know that being healthy isnt a bad thing. ”

    Muhahaha!!! Is this seriously an issue? Children overeating and not exercising just to fit in? There could be one little girl like this in the world, I suppose. Weren’t girls being forcefed in Mauritania?

    I have a 13 year old daughter who is very stringent with what she eats because she wants to be thin even though she is ostensibly in agreement with HAES and size acceptance. I have another daughter who doesn’t really care and who eats what she wants but then I have to limit some things because those are all she would eat if she could. She doesn’t eat poorly to make a statement.

    • For years I didn’t exercise because it never made me lose weight, and therefore I felt like a failure. Now I exercise in spite of the fact that it doesn’t make me lose weight, because it helps counteract my fibromyalgia pain.
      The message that thin = healthy and fat = unhealthy is very destructive.

  8. This is a pretty feeble consolation, but now going through my second Kickstarter campaign (from hell), not to mention the other half dozen I helped on, I can almost guarantee that this woman won’t raise the money. She’s going about the process really badly. That doesn’t change anything about her intentions, but the book is unlikely to be made, at least with the help of Kickstarter. If anyone ever wants Kickstarter advice for something not completely offensive, I would be happy to help. And, please feel free to delete and be disgusted with this shameless promotion, but my latest is for a book called “Fat Kids: Truth and Consequences.” http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1222517018/fat-kids-truth-and-consequences.

    • FYI, I sent you an email about interviewing for your book, but I never heard back, are you full up with volunteers?

      • No, I am kind of behind in getting back to people, I’ve had a really good response, but that means I’m swamped. I can’t tell from your “name” here who you are. If you want to send me another email I’ll put you on the top of the list. Sorry for the delay. I never intentionally turn anyone away. Email me at rebecca@rebeccajaneweinstein.com.

  9. Forgive me for being chatty today, but I can’t stop thinking about this strange project. While I find it offensive and totally misguided, I also find it sort of fascinating. Here is a woman who has the kind of body most valued in our society and her thinking is still so distorted that she believes she is discriminated against. If she were a little more introspective she would realize that the size acceptance movement is doing her an enormous favor — supporting the notion that all bodies should be equally valued.

    What this project says about her is one thing, what it says about our culture is women (and these days men too) feel so much pressure and shame about their appearance that even those that fit the ideal are haunted by the fear of stigma, judgment, and rejection. If only she would make that point, rather than condemning others, she might have something.

  10. Wow, I didn’t realise how GREAT my life has been all these years. (Sarcasm alert). All those times I cracked jokes about my fat body to avoid someone else saying it first – All those years I spent being passed over (or very rudely debuffed) by guys – clearly they simply thought I was not promiscuous enough.

    “Americans will assume that the heavier person is funnier, smarter, nicer, and less sexually promiscuous…” honestly if you asked Americans what they thought of 2 women, 1 fat & 1 thin, I completely disagree that anyone would say “obviously the fat girl is funnier and nicer, smarter etc…” most people would say something more like “the fat girl is lazy & doesn’t take care of herself, the thin girl is healthier & a better athlete”. I am so saddened by this premise.

    • Yeah, me either. I can’t count the number of days that I woke up saying “thank the Goddess that the world loves fat people like me!”
      Yeah…didn’t happen…ever.
      Even though I’ve come a long way, I still won’t post an actual picture of myself because I fear the mean spirited fat bashing.

  11. There are many strange things about this project, body bashing is bad in all forms but thin or healthy women are not oppressed, I never saw a naturally thin girl or woman overeating to fit in.

    “less sexually promiscuous” sounds problematic too. What does promiscuous mean? It’s bad to be a woman and like sex?

    • … but thin or healthy women are not oppressed….

      Just going to gently point out that “thin” and “healthy” are neither synonymous or mutually exclusive. I know that you’re mirroring some of the language of the Kickstarter campaign, but the way you’ve phrased it here isn’t quite true.

      Just on the axes of body size and health…

      There are thin women who are oppressed because they don’t meet societal standards of health — for instance, someone with a physical or mental disability (visible or no).

      And there are healthy women who are oppressed because they’re fat.

  12. Agree with Diversity is Art. Thin oppression….whatever! For every one thin-body bashed woman, there’re probably at least 5000 fat-body bashed ones.

  13. What world is this woman living in??!! Smarter?! Nicer???!!! Funnier??!! Seriously WTF???!!! No one believes that of me because I’m fat. In this society everyone tends to think I’m less than any of those characteristics because I’m fat.

  14. I got an email this morning posted on my project from someone named Max McCain supporting this woman’s project. He wrote me “I hope you have a heart attack.” It was particularly ironic because this is his comment on her project page: “Well done. I am definitely willing to put up some money for a project like this. It would be great if you could get the necessary funding, but even if you fall short, the sheer level of rage this is likely to incite within the fat acceptance community is admirable.” If I were inclined to respond to him I might explain the definition of rage, and that wishing someone a heart attack might just represent that emotion. I wonder what poor Max is so angry about?

    • Probably the millimeter he’s packing in his boxers.
      Yeah, I know. That was immature. But sometimes it can’t be helped.


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