Model Fat Bashes, Then Claims To Be The Victim

WTFAlysse Dalessandro, a fashion and beauty writer, and designer for the brand Ready To Stare, posted an excellent article from Everyday Feminism called “11 Reasons Your ‘Concern’ for Fat People’s Health Isn’t Helping Anyone” on her personal Facebook page. Then a plus sized model and self-described “body Activist” named Ali Tate Cutler took it upon herself to demonstrate why the article from EF was necessary, and illustrate the cycle of fat phobia – fatbash (using “the science!”), non-apology/demand education/tone police, claim to be a victim.

It’s also an example of casual fat elimination. which is when people suggest, during the course of normal conversation, that it would be cool to eradicate fat people because the world would be better in some way if we didn’t exist.

Step 1 –  Make an argument that sounds all “science-y” but is actually based on stereotypes, prejudices, and …rectal pull.  Ali has this step down pat

Sorry but I don’t care about people’s health who are fat, that’s their own prerogative and their own life to lead. They are free to make their own choices. I am a staunch feminist, followed by a close second environmentalist. While some people are genetically obese and are vegetarian, and eating relatively low carbon foot print foods, most obese people are not. I do care about the excessive amounts of carbon, nitrous oxide, and methane gases it takes to produce a large person; the amount of animals that have been killed; the amount of exploitation that is going on to create fat. That’s not even being mentioned. Being obese is simply bad for the environment, and in this day and age, we cannot afford that lack of empathy anymore.

First let’s clarify – if you missed her point (and it would be easy to do since it is a poor argument, very poorly made) she is suggesting that people whose weight in pounds times 703 divided by their height in inches squared is greater than 30 (aka obese people) shouldn’t be allowed to exist because of her assumptions about the amount of meat that we eat and its impact on the environment.

Ali is a plus sized model and self-described “body activist”, but she appears to be one of those people whose “body positivity” only expands far enough to include herself.  Just as her “body activism” is questionable, so is her “environmentalism” since it seems to include lashing out irrationally on other people’s Facebook pages using numbers that she makes up. Suggesting that size = amount of meat eaten is patently ridiculous, especially considering the popularity of the paleo diet.  Ali seems to know that there are fat vegetarians and fat vegans (and thus that you can’t tell how much meat someone eats based on their size)  but she’s not one to let facts get in the way of a good fat bashing.

Regardless of what you believe about fat people and our carbon footprint, any time someone like Ali suggests that it’s ok to take a group of people who are identifiable by sight, calculate (or, in Ali’s case, make completely random guesses about) their cost on society, and then suggest that they shouldn’t exist, they are going down a bad, bad road.

But it gets more hypocritical. Having spent some time looking at Ali’s social media she is very proud of the time that she spends flying around the world, apparently the expanded carbon footprint that requires is justified in her case because of the importance of Ali wearing clothes in many locations.  To be clear, I have no problem with Ali being a model traveling around the world to do it, I do have a problem with her throwing carbon stones from her carbon house.

Finally, in the “adding insult to injury” and “horrible irony” categories, the winner is…Ali’s use of the phrase “lack of empathy.”

Step 2 – Issue a Non-Apology, demand education, and tone police

Like so many before her, Ali seems to suffer from NAS (Non-Apology Syndrome.) So, after seeming to be super surprised that people didn’t jump on her “stereotype the fatties for the environment” bandwagon and instead insisted that she stop saying ignorant shit and educate herself, she issued the kind of non-apology that  far  too  often follows this kind of fat shaming. This is better than some, but still fails at the core goal of apologizing  for doing something wrong:

I wrote a comment on @readytostare instagram about obesity and its relationship to over consumption. I was coming at this from an environmental viewpoint. After reading some of the viewpoints and comments on the thread, I can totally understand how my comments came off rude, coarse, and inappropriate. And definitely not the truth for many people. I didn’t want to offend ANYONE and I’m so sorry that I did. I hope you can forgive my poorly written comments.

Except the problem isn’t that what she said “came off” rude, coarse, and inappropriate it’s that they, in fact, WERE rude, coarse, and inappropriate. And the problem isn’t that people were offended, it’s that she stereotyped fat people and suggested that our existence is a “lack of empathy”. And the problem isn’t that the comments were “poorly written” it’s that they were inaccurate, bigoted, and suggested that fat people shouldn’t exist.

At this point Alysse said on Facebook

From the emails she has continued to send me, I’m clear that she’s not open to understanding how what she said was wrong, she just doesn’t want people to be mad at her.

Ali doubled down with a note telling Alysse how she should have responded:

This is Ali Tate. Thought I should write you about our interaction on Facebook. I’m really, I didn’t meant to offend you! I’m a body positive activist as well, and am passionate about talking and learning about these things.

But I don’t think I warranted a “fuck you” on Facebook. If I am wrong and wrote a false claim please, by all means, tell me why it is wrong and engage in rational discussion? The last thing I meant was to offend, just a good conversation. Anyways, hope you could unblock me and we can Converse about it.

Let’s give her the benefit of the doubt and assume that in the second sentence she actually meant to say “I’m sorry.” This is still not ok.  First of all, bigots don’t get to control both sides of the conversation. This (all too common) technique of fat shaming and then telling fat people how they should respond to your bullshit, is bullshit.

Also, you have to come from a particular combination of privilege, bigotry, and ignorance to think that you can suggest that people shouldn’t exist, and call it “just a good conversation.”  There is no way to have a “good conversation” about whether or not fat people should be eradicated. There is no way to have a “good conversation” about whether fat people have the right to exist.  Nobody has the right to require fat people to debate them for our lives.

Step 3 – Claim to be the Victim

At this point Ali posted to her own Facebook

Wow. Now I really know what it feels like to be cyber bullied. It’s rough guys. Hope no one has to go through this.

Sorry Ali, my tiny violin is in the shop. This is another common tactic of bullies – engage in bullying behavior and then accuse those who stand up to them of being the bullies, using claiming victim status as their exit strategy from the situation. This also makes it clear that Ali has never actually been the victim of cyber bullying and I hope that continues for her, because it is horrible.

Let’s examine the situation:  Ali, a plus size model and “body activist,” voluntarily went onto the Facebook page of a fat activist, on a thread about why concern trolling fat people is not ok, and hijacked the space and the thread to concern troll fat people – stereotyping us and calling us a “lack of empathy” that the world “cannot afford.”  Ali is the problem here, and so is the idea that people who stand up to oppression are bullies.  Many people have offered to educate her so I’m not going to spend my time and energy on it, but I sincerely hope that she educates herself, or at the very least keeps her stereotyping and fat bashing to herself.

In the words of Alysse (who was kind enough to give me permission to write about this and answer my questions)

I initially had blocked Ali from seeing the post because I didn’t want to cause any trauma to her because I knew I couldn’t control how people would respond but then I decided then that blocking her wouldn’t give her a chance to respond either. It was a difficult situation for both me and her. I believed that she should be held accountable for what she said about the community that both employs her and that she claims to advocate for. I hoped that the experience would educate and multiple people who I consider to be strong body advocates have come forth and offered to educate her. I hope she takes them up on that.

Here is the story in pictures:

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Published in: on January 27, 2016 at 10:17 am  Comments (14)  

14 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Because everyone knows skinny people don’t eat too much!

    Oh, and Ali? The word you were trying to use is “coarse,” not “course.” Those homonyms will bite you on that not-quite-fat-enough-to-be-environmentally-disruptive butt every time.

    • Her use of “Converse” as a verb while capitalizing the C (which may have been an autocorrect thing) made me chuckle, cuz now it’s referring to the sneaker brand and has nothing to do with correct verb usage.

  2. here. this made me SO FORKING ANGRY that i tried to respond to it. i used time i really needed to spend on other things to do it, because i wanted to smack this woman just so much.

    apologies, then, for the anger in my post. and the sarcasm. it IS, make no mistake, sarcasm. and it’s NOT about anyone here. she’s playing the game of “as fat as me is good, fatter than me is revolting” and i thought i might clean her clock with it.

    it’s long, though. who knows if it will post:
    [ps. it is okay for here. i am falling asleep so it’s not my best writing but i was determined to hit this one where she lives. she had—& i’m sure still has—no problems doing that to anyone else.]

    —–cut here—–

    You & i are about the same size, shapewise—mmmm— you’re maybe a little bigger. Okay, yes, apologies, just a smidge. Okay—a little more than a smidge, especially in the shots sans clever lighting [and clever graphic designers and their exquisitely clever graphic design programs]. So— wait! That means i’m supposed to care more about my health than your health based on a trend created from what the majority of contemporary western culture’s media personnel have decided, within the last few years, is important science! Because it’s all over the internet, and the internet knows best! Think of the #hashtags!

    And, of course, think of all the people thinner than i am—and there are plenty, anorexia affects us all differently—we have to love them SO MUCH MORE! Pound for pound, all those skinny girls’ feetprints must size down quicker than a milkshake through the smacking lips of a fat girl on a great big hot old blistering disgusting day! Woopsie! i just know you didn’t mean that. A ‘fat activist’ could never possibly mean that. All you mean is that we have to love all the skinny girls WAY MORE BETTER THAN WE LOVE ME and, especially, WAY MORE BETTER THAN WE LOVE YOU. After all, they’re what keeps this planet running. You & me, we don’t ever do much more than just lay around and take.

    And eat cake! Apologies for forgetting the first time. Otoh, lastly, and before i get too wrought up in my chocolate brown study [dreaming, as i am, of rivers dripping from grease-thickened pillars of gravy all down the sides of the mashed mountains of potatoes, slathered in chipped beef, i have chewed since yesterday’s breaking dawn], i should note that you CAN’T mean only girls. Meaning only girls would be mean. i mean, i’ve seen some paunchy porkers on all of the sides. We’d better get Rick Santorum on the double, in a skinny minute, and into the race again as soon as possible. i’m pretty sure he was the thinnest candidate. His carbon footprint is clearly no larger than that of the toenail upon the tiniest toe of the tiniest foot of the tiniest [vegetarian, ostentatiously recycling] mouse on our [obese, and becoming morbidly obese] planet.

    i’m done; i’m handing this to you now. i’ve clearly been outmanned. i was wrong about the compassion thing, the conscience thing, the commitment thing. How could i have ever believed that what people need to create a decent world is to care about others: figuring out what desperately needs doing and then doing it. And of course i was wrong when i thought economics had any importance in the race to fight environmental, not to mention sociocultural, destruction. i should, instead, have been worried about how the broadness of our beams created a world where in some places the average age of death is still lower than forty [and this is for {and heaven knows i hate to say it}], fat and thin alike]. My concerns were improvident; i have now been appropriately chastised and HAVE LEARNED. Poverty doesn’t even come before plumpness in the dictionary, for heaven’s sake. But eating does come before fat, and carbon even precedes eating. We’d better watch ourselves before our thighs cause total annihilation.

    ps. i have been a vegetarian LONGER THAN YOU HAVE BEEN ALIVE. i will be a vegetarian LONG AFTER YOU DECIDE YR BORED WITH THIS FAD. For approximately the same length of time i’ve bought NOTHING firsthand other than food & paper products. Not to mention that i rarely drive but if i do, it’s my first year, first gen, 17-year-old hybrid. Sometimes i’m fattish & sometimes i’m thinnish; a major diversion from set point in either direction generally has to do with stress. i’m ALWAYS shortish, this has more to do with purposeful and foolish starvation, begun when i was very young, and which—along with thirty thousand dollars [$30,000] worth of liposuction [you heard it here first!]—COULD NOT MAKE ME THIN BECAUSE MY GENETICS WOULD NOT ALLOW IT. Nevertheless, i’m still a bit thinner than you [which obviously REALLY MATTERS, something else i hadn’t known until today’s enlightenment], and my carbon footprint, if you will, is thereby smaller. Clearly, honestly, and assuredly sincerely, as i’ve said, this makes me the better person. Money should, thereby and therefore, flow, and that flow should be in my direction. As you are fatter than am i: you first. Open pockets, check it in. i will be waiting.

  3. hi there.

    i wrote this in reply to today’s HORRID PERSON OF THE WEEK [i hope it’s the week, not the day]. because it is so long, i don’t know if it will go through on instagram *or* on yr site. so i am sending it to you here & below. i think it may not pass wordcheck on yr site either—i understand why not, but it’s NOT like that. you read it, you will see. as i said before my comment disappeared into the ether: i can see what she’s doing—playing the insufferable game of “as fat as ME is okay; as fat as YOU is grotesque” —& *that* is something i think is grotesque. so i worked to clean her clock with her own game. in order to do that, i had to use words she pretended were not [but which so obviously were] in her mind.

    okay done. i am very tired. it must have taken me two hours, more, to write this. i needed to get other stuff done & i have to do it now. i didnt expect to see this, & it really hit home. if you read my comment, you will know why. i was also someone who wanted in to fashion before there were ANY famous plus-sized models, & there was nothing they could do with me. “get every ounce of fat off yr body” was something i thought i’d already done. there simply was no less i could eat. at this point? i dont even remember HOW normal people eat. it gets really bad. it did NOT, otoh, make me thin. didnt make me care about the world less either.

    as ever, i hope you are doing well and if there is anything i can do, just let me know. i’m well enough to design again, so if you need something along those lines, i’ll do it pro bono, just ask. i am once again

    yr weariest subscriber, +edi+

    ​

  4. She wants to have a rational discussion? Why start now?😛

  5. How can you call yourself a body activist and then bash bodies? Lack of common sense irritates me.

  6. She’s five cans shy of a six pack (Of whatever canned libation you choose) and the sixth can has holes in it.

    • I love it!!!

  7. Thanks for this post as it thoroughly outlines how ignorant people have become about the difference between a civilized, intelligent debate and uninformed antagonism.

  8. “I do have a problem with her throwing carbon stones from her carbon house.”

    BRB. Laughing forever.

  9. This is one of my favorite posts that you’ve written. Well done!

  10. Oh, Ali, please go to Logics-R-Us, and stock up. You’ve clearly run out of logic, and whatever you’re using as a substitute in your recipes is just not working.

  11. This one caught me in an uncharacteristically good mood, so…

    “While some people are genetically obese and are vegetarian, and eating relatively low carbon foot print foods, most obese people are not. ”

    “If I am wrong and wrote a false claim please, by all means, tell me why it is wrong and engage in rational discussion?”

    What you’ve done here, Ali, is called a Negative Claim fallacy. You made a claim you didn’t cite a source for – that overconsumption is being done solely/mostly by fat people – and then placed the burden of proof upon us to prove it’s NOT true before you’re willing to acknowledge it’s unfair to single us out as a special evil deserving a special loss of civil rights. This is like saying I have to provide definitive evidence there’s no such thing as Krampus before I can ever vote again.

    Just because it’s interesting, here’s a study conducted between the 70’s and 80’s on the types and quantities of food consumed by “obese” and “normal weight” people which found no significant difference between the two and came to the (non FA-friendly) conclusion other causes and cures for the “disease of obesity” must be investigated. This one is self-reported, which does present a problem, but it’s FAR FROM the only study to get these results – I picked it specifically because it cites some of the others (well, that and because I already had it laying around my computer collecting digital dust).

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0021968185901146

    Here’s some more at Junkfood Science:

    http://junkfoodscience.blogspot.com/2008/02/how-weve-came-to-believe-that.html

    TL;DR

    But none of this stuff is actually relevant to the discussion. It’s bigoted, unethical, and just plain wrong to have a different set of standards for thin people that you have for fat people or to suggest fat people be singled out and penalized for things people of all sizes do. That doesn’t depend on my or any other fat person’s debating ability or access to information. There are no excuses to treat people like shit because of the way they look.

  12. I love how Ali, who’s SO concerned about the environment and animals not only flies around the world to engage in the surpassingly important job of modelling, but also shows off her body activism in fur coats on leather couches. I can tell how much she really cares about both, the environment AND animals. How much she cares about body positivity was pretty much cleared up by the whole, sad exchange.

    “I do have a problem with her throwing carbon stones from her carbon house.”

    *grin*. Very nice.


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