Size Acceptance – Just Google It?

WelcomeI received the following e-mail today, I’ve received several like it and it’s been coming up in questions at my talks as well so I thought this would be a good day to talk about it:

I was on [a Size Acceptance blog] and I saw in the comments where someone who said that they are normal weight and new to HAES asked a basic question and the blogger told them to “just Google it” and said that she’s not responsible for educating them, and that it’s not the oppressed person’s job to educate their oppressor, and demanding that they admit their thin privilege.  I’ve actually seen this type of reaction a few times. Shouldn’t we be doing everything we can to help people who are just coming to Fat Acceptance and HAES?  Can you please put the smack down on this?

Let’s start here – there will be no smack put down. Those bloggers are completely within their rights to choose not t0 answer questions, and to direct people to whatever resource they choose.  They are absolutely allowed to write a blog and not answer questions about what they blog about, nobody is obligated to educate others in the way that the others want. Some people choose to do this type of education work and some don’t and those are both completely legitimate choices.

I believe that there is room in the fat-o-sphere, and in activism in general, for a lot of different people attacking size oppression, bullying, and stigma from many different angles.  I think that’s a good thing, and I’m not a fan of suggesting that all bloggers/activists should be the same or, even worse, that there is a “right way” to be a blogger, activist etc.

One tenet of anti-oppression work is that the oppressed are never obligated to educate their oppressors.  No matter how well intentioned someone is with their questions, or where they are in their journey, it’s not ok to insist that other people educate them.

The people being asked these questions can suggest whatever resources they choose. I don’t typically suggest that people “just Google it,” especially when it comes to Health at Every Size and Size Acceptance, since there’s no telling what they’ll find (including troll communities).  I’m also aware that there are some theories that would suggest that it’s best for thin fat activists to do work themselves and educate each other about size stigma and oppression.  People are absolutely allowed to do that, I personally think that there are too many discussions about fat people that don’t include us, so if it were up to me I would much prefer that fat people who are interested in educating those asking the questions be involved in these discussions.

I choose to answer questions, including basic questions about HAES and Size Acceptance.  The main reason I do this is because the first time I heard many of these questions was when I asked them, and someone took the time to answer them for me.  I’m able to make this choice because of the position I’m in due to a combination of things including my choices, circumstances, luck, hard work, and privilege, and I want to take advantage of those things and use them to their best outcome and, for me, answering questions from people who are at the start of the journey is part of that for me.

But that’s just my choice, it isn’t any better or worse than any other choice, and it doesn’t have to be anyone else’s choice.  The fact that you choose to be open about your Health at Every Size and/or Size Acceptance journey does not mean that you have to become a HAES/SA educator and answer every question you get.  You can refer people to blogs, books, other resources, to Google if you want to.  You can choose to fight your own oppression (or not) in whatever way you are comfortable and you don’t owe anybody answers, education, or activism on their terms.

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Published in: on March 26, 2013 at 10:47 am  Comments (43)  

43 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Thank you for this. Most of the oppression-related education that I do relates to sexism, and it can be exhausting! (Especially when the person asking to be educated isn’t really read to listen and is still at the stage of indulging the gut reaction of “But Not ME!” that comes up when someone challenges your privilege.)

    Fielding these questions is a huge energy investment, and I have become very selective about whom I invest in. Random stranger on the internet who may be genuinely asking (but also may be phrasing their dissent in the form of a question)…probably not unless I’m feeling really energize that day. I have several friends who are just starting to figure out their whole male privilege thing, and I spend lots of time answering their questions. I am also more likely to spend the time on in-person situations.

  2. All of this. Thanks so much for covering this topic, since it’s one that there’s typically very little understanding about.

  3. Smack downs are more satisfying (to many people, and in some cases, to think about rather than to do) than effective, and Ragen has some very sensible reasons for not engaging in them.

    Still, internet callout culture has serious costs.

    <a href="http://tigerbeatdown.com/2011/10/17/come-one-come-all-bloggers-bear-it-all-out-feminist-and-social-justice-blogging-as-performance-and-bloodshed/"Some non-obvious things about the process

    Some more about the costs

  4. I have to say that while I have seen a number of responses in the ‘I’m not going to be the one to educate you in the basics’ camp responses, I have yet to see one that suggests simply Googling for an answer. Most of the bloggers I’ve seen turn newbie/basic questions away do so by pointing to a specific resource, such as the FAQ from the Shapely Prose archive or another blog that deals more in nuts and bolts.

    And you are so right. Each activist has to decide where putting their action does the most good. Some will tirelessly educate beginners, while others will choose to reach out to an audience that’s in need of refinements. You know, sort of the way there are teachers in school who teach children how to read and to know their ABCs and teachers who help more advanced students interpret classic literature and to develop their own writing style.

    Both kinds of students need to learn and need the resources, but if someone who hasn’t learned their ABCs shows up in the class on analyzing the imagery in the lesser-known works of William Faulkner… yeah, that student needs to be sent to the beginner’s class and taught to sound out ‘dog’ and ‘fog’ first.

    It’s all needed. But students who are eager to learn how to interpret subtle imagery don’t need to be slowed down by someone just figuring out how to form a B, and the student struggling to learn what words are doesn’t need the confusion of trying to argue the semantics of one of Shakespeare’s major soliloquies. It only makes things harder on both the teachers and the students.

    It might sting for a while to be told one is not welcome in the advanced class until one has mastered the basics, but it really is for the best for ALL concerned.

    • I really like the metaphor here. It’s a really awesome one.

  5. I have a feeling I know exactly which Size Acceptance blog is being referred to. Or this type of thing happens really often. Which is possible!

    Thank you for addressing their concerns. Education can quickly become mentally and emotionally exhausting, and there are so many amazing resources already extant that explain things so well that it just makes sense to refer people to a FAQ.

    I think it’s only respectful to take it upon yourself to learn a little bit about a topic before grilling someone in person on it. It’s just plain rude to demand people take their time to explain things to you that can easily be learned with ten minutes of reading. Now once a person has done that, has a basic idea of concepts, then it’s time for one-on-one discussion clarifying or delving deeper.

  6. Thank you for this wonderful post. Another insightful Blog! I agree with you totally about how it is up to the individual Blogger to answer questions as they see fit. Like the others that have posted here, I advocate as well, I am an animal rights advocate. So when I talk about animals,Vegetarianism or Vegan lifestyle choices. I often get questions. Usually they are promoting or defending themsleves. Usually they have done no research. I used to answer fully in order to educate but that is exhausting. Now I share info, blogs and resources. Your Haes is fantastic!But to many it will be a challenging concept. Just as Size prejudice is challenging. People do not like to not feel good about themselves and that can make an uncomfortable situation when they realize that maybe they have done some shaming, bullying, etc… I believe it is a great thing to direct them to a resource that can get them the info that they need without exhausting yourself in the process. Your blogs are always wonderful and refreshing. I am a fat person and have been such on and off for most of my adult life. I do have issues with health in my legs, but had many of the same issues when I was not overweight. To find such a welcomong place with such infomative blogs is a Godsend to me. Thank you!

  7. I will be honest – I struggle a little bit with this idea. On the one hand – absolutely: defending or explaining or educating or what-have-you to those who are either a) not at all interested, and are just picking a fight, b) still “learning their ABCs”, c) have not done a lick of research or self-education is difficult, exhausting, and not the obligation/responsibility of the oppressed or “one who is being questioned” (in a situation that doesn’t necessarily involve oppression). I’ve dealt with this issue on my own blog, regarding a radically different topic, and it’s annoying as hell.

    On the other hand: I’ve been told, in anti-oppression work, to NEVER ask the oppressed for help understanding the issue, because they are so oppressed and can barely make it through the day as it is that the last thing they need is you foisting your own uneducated self onto them and demanding that they help you fix yourself. Well…okay, but if that’s true, then don’t we just end up with a circle full of oppressors attempting to educate themselves about an issue with no input or conversation or feedback from those who are most impacted by the issue? And how does that really get us any progress?

    • Hi Katie,

      I absolutely agree that if there is no one from the oppressed group to educate it can be a problem. I think that the key is to get input from people who are part of the oppressed group and who want to be part of these conversations – while of course acknowledging that each of us can only represent our own opinions and nobody speaks for the entire movement – at least it gives the opportunity for some input from the oppressed group without putting pressure on members of the oppressed group who don’t want to participate in this type of work (and have every right not to).

      ~Ragen

  8. I agree that an individual is not obligated to educate his or her oppressors, and one’s feelings and experiences are always valid. On the other hand (and here my training as a librarian informs my beliefs), if you state a fact or a statistic, I will trust your argument more if you cite your sources. In that case saying “Google it” is lazy and, worse, not likely to yield reproducible, reliable results.

  9. Oh Ragen! I would love if there was a solid, accepting and positive HAES/size acceptance FAQ on your blog or anywhere really that I could direct friends too when they show interest🙂 I’d make one, but I don’t feel even remotely qualified to speak for the movement

    • Ragen, that might be a really great blog post.

      • Actually, Ragen, can you post a list of the top ten or so questions that you get asked by people new to the concept?

      • In fact, would anyone who has been asked basic HAES questions send me a list of the questions they’re most often asked, or ones they would have liked the answers to in the beginning? You can contact me via facebook or my blog. Click my portrait to get to my wordpress profile page.

  10. I agree with you, Ragen, people sure have the right to respond in whatever way they want. However, it is possible to say, I don’t want to be responsible for your education without being rude and confrontational about it, which ultimately causes more damage in the end and drives people away and does us all a disservice.

    • This. Thank you for pointing that out. I’m not sure how accurate the portrayal of the blogger is, but it’s counterproductive to automatically treat all thin people as the enemy.

  11. I found the anecdote problematic not because of the dismissive, “just google it,” but because of the assumption that the “normal weight” person, who was not just inquiring for shits and giggles but *new* to HAES (meaning that he/she was already on board and wanted to find out more) was, in fact, the oppressor. The lines just aren’t that clear when we talk about HAES and size acceptance!!

    Not all thin people or “normal weight” people are oppressors, just as not all fat people are allies. The amount of loathing we are taught to feel for fat people is not hindered (as we all know) by being fat ourselves!

    I’ve been a “normal weight” person all my life, and I had never once felt comfortable in my skin until I found HAES. I recognize that I have more thin privilege than so many others, but being “normal weight” (defined by BMI, hence scare quotes) was not enough for me not to get mocked in school for being chubby, for me to fit into the clothes I wanted to wear, for me not to feel, constantly, that I was taking up too much space, or that I was unworthy of affection because I was carrying around too much adipose. I was so afraid in high school of people seeing my fat that I got doctor’s notes so I didn’t have to swim in gym class and show everyone my too-big body. Our society is so messed up that there is practically no level of thin you can be that you do not feel pressured to become thinner. Not to mention that we cultivate body dysmorphia so that even those who seem thin to others feel some of the same stigma that those who seem fat to others feel.

    My point: If I had not been welcomed into the HAES movement as warmly as I was by Ragen and others, I might have been turned off it and not had the wonderful, life-changing, HAES experience that I have had and now share with pretty much everyone in my life.

    HAES and FA are important for everyone, and there is no one in our culture who has not to some degree been oppressed by fat stigma. There are some who are so mired down by it that they send Ragen death threats and do similar asshole things, but if someone is at a place where they can recognize that fat stigma is a bad thing and they want to learn more about HAES we should welcome them as warmly as we can. They are not the oppressor!

    • Here, here!!! You said it perfectly. Unlike your story, I spent much of my life cycling through being fat or thin; now, with a HAES lifestyle, I’m ‘average”. “We are not the oppressor”.🙂

  12. It’s always worth keeping in mind, if something is new to you and you have questions, that you don’t know how often the people involved in it get asked the, and sometimes the need to constantly lead newbies through the basics can result in conversations getting repeatedly derailed.

    For example: If I wrote a post about a negative experience with a doctor, and invited readers to discuss solutions and ways to deal with fatphobic medical staff, it’d be immensely frustrating to have someone comment to ask something really basic like “but I thought fat was unhealthy?”. Answering that question is NEVER going to be a quick, simple thing and 9 times out of 10, the answers given will generate more questions and more. And then no one has the time to actually discuss the thing that was the point of the post, and none of the regulars get to hear each other’s advice for doing things that will help the movement make progress.

    Not all fatosphere webspaces are intended to be educational for newbies. Those of us who’re already in the movement need to have SOME spaces where we can concentrate on more than just educating others. I agree that “just google it” is a little short, but referring someone elsewhere is perfectly fine.

    Most forums, blogs etc involved in social justice stuff have a blogroll, a FAQ or a page of links to useful resources, and a hell of a lot of the time any questions a person has WILL be covered on those resources. It’s generally not only a good idea but just basic good sense and politeness to check those resources out before asking questions, since they’ve taken the time to compile them for you.

    To be fair, the only times I’ve seen people give such short responses to a question has been when the question is so glaringly misunderstanding the concepts discussed that everyone can tell responding will be frustrating and potentially unproductive. See: Asking someone on a blog about evolution what good “half an eye” is, or where the “crocoduck fossils” are.

  13. I agree that bloggers can write anything they want, and no one is obligated to answer others’ questions. On the other hand, calling someone who may be just curious an “oppressor” and demanding that they “admit their thin privilege” is bitchy and counterproductive.

    • Agreed. Whether or not a belligerent reply is justified, it’s more likely to anger and drive away a curious outsider than engender understanding, and could even “justify” a prejudice in his or her mind. I’d rather educate, though it doesn’t always reach its mark. While someone might understand it intellectually, they may not GET IT. It depends on whether they understand some other kind of minority or outcast situation. It’s hard to appreciate someone else’s suffering without grokking your own, and American culture is so “winner”-driven that it doesn’t really encourage that kind of navel gazing. Hence, not only does an activist situation work against status quo itself, it works against ongoing conditioning within the status quo–not only the machine, but the power grid.

    • If you are under the impression that each question posed is simply someone who is curious or if the question is phrased fairly innocently that therefore the asker is just curious, then yes it might seem rude or “bitchy”. I think the difficulty is that there will frequently be questions posed to bloggers that at come across at first as someone who is simply curious, however once engaged it is clear that have no interest in learning and wish to monopolize the bloggers time with ridiculous arguments or basically are just trolls. They also get a ton of hatemail, and abuse from people who will not stop until they are blocked (and sometimes even then they come back under different names). I agree that they may miss some opportunities to get to educate curious people, but I think it’s also important to remember how much hate and abuse they have to deal with for writing about these issues and why they might not be so patient and gentle with people all the time.

      • Really good point about the constant abuse. Sometimes it gets tiring trying to be polite all the time, and it reaches a point where it’s not even worth starting it because it constantly descends into “Yes, BUT.”

    • Yes, I agree.

  14. I’ll open myself up to a flamewar here.

    No, you are not obliged to do or say anything in particular (common basic decency etc aside) in your personal blog or, indeed, in anything you do. Of course you’re not. And of course if someone is rude or abusive, you don’t have to be sweet back.

    With that said, I do not care for the tactics of those who respond to perfectly civil posts with abuse and then claim “tone policing” when they are told it is unnecessary.

    In this very blog I once suggested that if people seriously want to change the world and others’ way of thinking, they need to be prepared to repeat themselves; I think most fighters of oppression would consider that a very small price to pay for creating the world they want to live in. I was entirely respectful and polite.

    In response, a well known poster subjected me to a foul mouthed tirade of abuse and when I told her it was unwarranted accused me of “tone policing”. She claimed she had a right to behave abusively towards me because it was bad for her mental health if she didn’t. She also said that if I did not believe I deserved her abuse, the movement could do without allies like me. A win-win situation, clearly.

    You (generic ‘you’, I am not addressing any particular individual) can tell me everything you like about how you are not obliged to educate me, that I am oppressing you merely by existing, that I should do my own research (believe me, I have read and absorbed a lot in this sphere and I’m afraid I still believe you’ll have to repeat yourself if you really do want to change the world and not just vent your frustrations), that I should check the privilege I am generally assumed to have by people who know nothing about me, etc etc etc. You can tell me you are not obliged to do anything, and you’d be right. Of course you can spend your time doing what you wish. Though if you don’t want to tell me why you don’t agree with me, or answer my questions, or waste your precious time on the likes of me, perhaps you could just ignore me.

    But if you are going to dedicate hours and hours of this precious time, maybe even hours every day, to reading and posting and thinking about your cause, then I confess I wonder what you are trying to achieve if not at least try to guide genuine questioners in the right direction.

    • Holly, you will get nothing but agreement from me. Though I don’t remember her name, I do believe I was attacked by the same person (or her twin) at some point. It was ugly, it was unnecessary, and I heard the same kinds of comments about “tone policing,” an argument that I often find used when the person is seeking to control the response of her audience and who wants impunity for abusive behaviors, which is one hallmark of narcissistic personality disorder.

      I heard the same praising of self for her willingness to be uncontrollably enraged in order to get her point across. Thing is, this person does not recognize the difference between anger and abuse. You labeled it appropriately.

      • Thank you, Helena. I have read plenty of justification for accusations of ‘tone policing’ (see, I educate myself) and I still think it’s almost always lazy, self indulgent hogwash. I also think it’s just a manifestation of internet tough guy syndrome. When I read people on Tumblr or WordPress telling me to watch what I say or they will “hand me my arse”, or words to that effect, I roll my eyes so far back I see my own optic nerves. Being potty mouthed on the internet does not indicate strength of character.

    • Hi there! I have been reading these posts- a bit late because I just got back on my Laptop a few minutes ago. I have to say that I am genuinely confused about the questions a person might ask about Fat Bigotry. I am someone who has been fat on and off for most of my adult life and have seen this bigotry in all aspects of American society. It is a bit hard to miss. So I am not sure what questions a person might ask other than personal health questions or demanding proof that Fat and Healthy is not only possible -it is more the norm than not. So what questions would a person ask?

      • Hi Carolyn,

        Bearing in mind that people are introduced to FA/SA from all sorts of angles, their questions at first can be very diverse. A lot of people read the comments on a news story/opinion piece and find it that way. Here are some questions I have had/have asked/have seen others ask. Some have been resolved in my mind, some have not. I’m not asking anyone to answer them and I know some are very basic in FA circles. I’m just giving you examples of what people genuinely don’t understand when they are new to it and perhaps even after they are no longer new to it. This is definitely not an exhaustive list:

        “Isn’t fat unhealthy?”

        “I lost weight and feel much better for it. Why do you believe the two cannot be correlated?”

        “I am a paramedic. One of my colleagues suffered a permanent disability after trying to lift a very obese patient off the floor. What do you suggest paramedics do with very heavy patients when we cannot be sure of lifting them without injuring ourselves? What would the ethical solution be?” (I thought this was a bloody good question, but the fat activist to whom it was very politely asked took great offence and accused the paramedic of bigotry and hatred without offering a suggestion.)

        “Doctors will generally prefer a non-invasive, proactive approach to health concerns where possible. Why should a doctor not suggest weight loss through healthy eating and exercise if s/he honestly believes, as a medical professional, that it may help the ailment?”

        “Designing, cutting, creating, costing and selling plus size clothing is a complicated issue (there are matters such as fabric waste when a correspondingly small size cannot be cut for a plus size one or a company does not believe it will sell a size 4 for every size 22, there are issues with scaling past a certain range within a size run and so on). Why do so many people not accept that when companies decide what sizes they want to create and sell, it is simply a business decision?”

        “I hear a lot of complaints that plus size clothing isn’t as cheap as the very cheapest straight size clothing. The influx of very cheap straight sized clothing in recent years is largely a result of sweatshops in the developing world with questionable ethical practices. If we are really concerned about protecting the oppressed and vulnerable, should we not be more worried about the pay and work conditions that get us dresses for £5 from Bangladesh than the fact that these dresses have a limited size run?”

        “I lost weight and kept it off for over five years. It has indeed required a degree of discipline and self control but I am not disordered or mentally unwell. Why does Kate Harding consider me a ‘freak of nature’?”

        “Exactly how large/strong should clothing/seats etc be made, given that they will have to be somehow finite and it will always be theoretically possible for someone to exceed their limits?”

        “If buying two seats on the plane is not the solution, what should airlines do to ensure that everyone who paid for a seat is able to be comfortable and safely accommodated?”

        Just a few.

    • Thank you for this response. I agree 100%. Someone mentioned that we should just make the questioner do their own research. I have to wonder…how does one do research when every query is met with hostility and they are told to look somewhere else. By asking the questions they are asking, aren’t they doing research?

      I’m actually quite perplexed by the general attitude to this. Also, there seems to be a lot of assumptions that the questioner mentioned in the email must have been negative and an oppressor. There is no evidence of that. Though one response alludes to the idea that even asking questions means one is an oppressor. ???

      These thin HAES people need to educate themselves? Isn’t asking questions one way to educate oneself? What if they need clarification? What if they are aware of their thin privilege and are asking questions to try to see something from a fat person’s point of view?

      I love this blog but I completely disagree with the tone here on this topic.

      • I just wanted to jump in and clarify here because I don’t know if you mean the tone of my original blog or of the comments. I choose to answer questions from people – I’m not a fan of having people educate themselves, if I have my choice I would rather be in the room, acknowledging that I can only represent my beliefs around HAES/SA and not the beliefs of an entire community. I’m also not a fan of calling out thin privilege because I think that the principles of psychology tell us that it’s most likely to reinforce the ideas we’re trying to challenge and make people less likely to want to be involved in size acceptance work. I try to avoid “If they’re not with me they’re against me” thinking and instead I try to think “If they’re not against me, maybe they’re with me” (I blogged about it here https://danceswithfat.wordpress.com/2012/08/08/with-us-or-against-us/ )

        That said, I will staunchly defend other people’s rights to be activists on their own terms which includes the choices not to answer questions, to call people out on privilege, and to tell people to educate themselves. Just like I don’t think it’s our right to tell other people how they should eat, move, or treat their bodies, I also don’t think it’s our right to tell people how they have to be activists, and I don’t think either approach is better or worse.

        I also think tha if you’re not answering a lot of these questions, it can be difficult to conceptualize how emotionally difficult this process can be, even when the people asking the questions are well meaning (and they aren’t always). I rarely get less than 200 e-mails a day (not counting hatemail), most asking basic questions. I have written literally thousands of e-mails answering these questions and including research, citations links etc. only to have someone reply with “But everybody knows…” and truly believethat’s the same thing as all of my research. I understand that there is a ton of conditioning and societal brainwashing that people have to overcome but it can still be a psychologically difficult process for the answerer to go through to constantly defend our right to exist and to constantly have people feel that they what they read in the Daily Mail is the same thing as the hundreds of hours that we’ve spent doing research. I think it’s worth it but it truly is tough, no matter how much we might want to help.

        ~Ragen

        ________________________________

        • Ragen, I don’t think anyone’s got a problem with the ton of your blog; it’s more the tone of the blogger (as portrayed by the person who sent you the email). “SA bloggers are not obligated to educate everyone who asks about SA or HAES” is fine; “demanding that the poster admit her thin privilege” and calling her an “oppressor” is not. Most of us are assuming that the thin person being called out hadn’t done anything insulting.

        • Thanks for the perspective on that Ragen. 200 emails!?!? I agree with the poster at the start of this thread. (generic) You are going to have to repeat yourself a lot in order to change minds and change the world. But I can see how you can get burned out really really easily.

          Personally, I do think that there is often a ‘better’ or ‘worse’ way to do things. If the poster wasn’t being disrespectful, the blogger maybe scared away a potential ally, and maybe any other potential allies reading the thread. I think that’s a ‘worse’ response, especially given that you said it wasn’t a psychologically effective approach.

          Of course, if the poster was trolling the response was completely appropriate. And you are right. In either case, the blogger can blog on her own blog and be an activist in any way she wants to.

  15. It seems every time someone brings up fat acceptance, the oppressors demand proof that you can be healthy and fat, and when they get that proof they call it biased, or bring up how there are thousands of (genuinely biased) research papers claiming fat is unhealthy.

    It gets to a point where you feel it’s not worth your time trying to educate people. Fat people are tired of trying to educate someone, only for them to turn it into a “debate”, and then to cry “But my opinions are valid too!” as if the right to have a fat body without being constantly judged, is a matter of opinion, like arguing over the color of the wall in a room.

    Fat people say to those who oppress them to educate themselves, because if they are a true ally they will, if they are a troll or a oppressor they will pitch a fit about how you are supposed to educate them if you truly believe in your position. Most of the time wasting an hour or more of your time, arguing against your stance, stomping their feet and shouting that you have no real proof, how the CDC and Mayo Clinic say fat is unhealthy.

    Yes, fat people do not have the responsibility to hold people’s hands and walk them through fat acceptance, like they are dealing with a small petulant child. They do not owe oppressors their time, explaining things to them, only to be interrupted with a doe-eyed “But..but” as if the person they’re talking to is about to break down because the mean angry fat person won’t listen to them, or a “It’s not true, IT’S NOT TRUE! IT’S NOT TRUE!” temper tantrum. We have to fight for our right to exist, and taking time to hand hold and contend with the typically immature response of oppressors, takes time away from that.

  16. If you leave someone to the results of google, they may get the FA answer or they may get the -wolf-in-FA-clothing response. If you aren’t interested in a dialog with someone, that is indeed a choice but if you are an activist, at least make the effort to make some directed suggestions on where to find a FAQ or someone with the energy/interest in answering. That takes slightly more effort than a blow-off, but not by much. This is not the same as dealing with a troll, in which case… they get what they deserve.

  17. Whether we have the responsibility or not, is the oppressor type of person really the most common sort who asks the questions? IOW, is it mostly ignorance or malice that’s behind them? I can see that people would not want to answer the same questions over and over, yet I can also imagine the curious newbie wanting to learn yet not having a clue as to how to go about it, or even what to say. Flooding people with info (“Just read these FAQs and books!”) will, I believe, just chase people away. Are there better ways to approach this issue that will encourage sincere people to want to read up?

    • I don’t know which is more common, but I do know the two can be extremely similar at first. Not all trolls start out with obvious trolling, and some of the most fruitless, frustrating and eventually pointless discussions I’ve had online have involved a supposedly innocent enquiry that ended in round after round of purposefully inane questions and misunderstandings. Sometimes, even at the end, it hasn’t been clear whether the enquirer is malicious or merely not in a personal mental place where they’re capable of taking in what you’re saying.

      I do think “just google it” is a bad way to send someone to self-teach, but I think having a FAQ and directing people to that, or to specific links on your blogroll, is perfectly valid. If someone genuinely wants an answer to their question, there is absolutely no reason why they wouldn’t at least take the time to try suggested links before coming back if they are still unsure.

  18. How do we know enough to label the girl of being one of the oppressors? Couldn’t she equally be one of the oppressed? How do we know how she has acheived her ‘normal’ size. Could she not just as equally likely be a victim of the same oppressions that we are supposedly fighting against?

  19. I agree, no blogger or individual is responsible for doing more with their blog and thoughts than they want to, whether it’s education or using commas correctly. Educating others is a choice not an obligation.

    I agree, those who are of normal weight or those passing for thin, should acknowledge the concept and aspects of thin privilege where it applies as experienced in their own lives.

    However, likewise they can also acknowledge their difficulties or oppression.

    In particular, I take exception and do not agree with labeling the questioner as being the “oppressor”. Leave that for the active Anti-Fat-Haters, or the media-lulled masses. This woman is actively embracing HAES, and that makes her (if not a full fledged sister) at least a caring ally.

    Does the fact that I am currently only slightly overweight (by those damned bmi numbers) mean that I cannot live a HEAS lifestyle or be a Size Acceptance activist? How does the fact that I spent years yo-yoing between being fat and less so, and it’s only since embracing HAES that I’ve basically been maintaining anything close to a stable weight (along with a more stable mindset), mean that I’d be welcomed only part of the time? I think not

    Isn’t Health at Every Size is for EVERYone?

    Off on a related tangent, I also chafe at the term (not used here but found repeatedly in other googled essays) of “inbetweenie” to describe women who are neither “fat enough or skinny enough”.

    Any name ending in “ie” is a diminutive. The basic meaning of diminution is “smallness of the object named” and usually refers to the quality not just the size of the object. The idea of using a diminutive as an endearment, intimacy, etc. is secondary and dependent on context. I’m for sure not going to identify myself as or accept being called a “weenie”, which is also derogatory slang for ” a person who is regarded as being weak and ineffectual”. Again, HAES and FA activists shouldn’t be dismissing allies with negatives.

    You accomplish more with positivity.🙂


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