Sunday, May 28, 2006

Why I don't think I'm part of a fat acceptance movement

There's quite a few different things I want to say about this discussion on feministe. But first I want to go off, sort of on a tangent. In her post Zuzu said:

Some of the reaction to the “pre-pregnant” guidelines by people in the fat acceptance movement focused on the granting that all the guidelines in themselves were fine, including maintaining a healthy weight, but the idea of only addressing them because of potential pregnancy was infuriating. The reaction was one of outrage that the notion of a “healthy weight” should be accepted, not one of outrage that any health advice should focus on reproductive potential.
I had criticised the idea that doctors should tell women to maintain a 'healthy weight', and the use of the term 'healthy weight' unquestioned. But I thought Zuzu must have been talking about someone else, since I'm not a member of any fat acceptance movement. I idly wondered who else had said it, made a half ass attempt to find who it might have been (this actually just involved checking big fat blog). But then, later in the discussion, Zuzu indicated that it was me she was talking about. I was surprised that she had given me a label that I had never taken. But also surprised at the label itself - which just seems irrelevant and innacurate to me.

In part it's the word 'movement'. Three times in my life I've felt part of a movement, when I was involved in student protests against the privatisation of education in 1997 and 1998, the anti-globalisation protests of 2000 and 2001, and the anti-war protests of 2003. They felt big and they felt like I was part of something much larger than myself, sometimes even much larger than the people I know.

Even so I'd hesitate before I'd call anything that's happened in New Zealand over the last 10 years a movement. We've had large protests, but they haven't been part of sustained organising. There hasn't been that much education - we haven't been radicalising people and we haven't been growing.

What I write on my blog, that has nothing to do with movements. I'm one person alone, late at night trying to figure out what I think. I do think it has a purpose, and I love doing it. But writing certain ideas on my blog doesn't make me part of a movement that may (or by my definition probably isn't) happening in another country. There is no fat acceptance movement in New Zealand, therefore I can't be part of it, even if I wanted to.

Fat acceptance?

The word 'acceptance' means nothing to me. It just reminds me of a conversation I was once having with a friend of mine where he talked about 'tolerating people' - and pointed out how patronising that is, what a low standard tolerance is. I don't want acceptance; I want transformation.

More specifically these are some of the things I want:
  • To never again sit at the bus stop and see a 10 year old girl, who is skinny in the way only a 10 year old girl can be, talk about how fat she is, and how she needs to lose weight
  • To go a week without hearing any woman I know and care about making a moralistic comments about food.
  • Not to have to worry about where almost all my female friends are on the eating disorder spectrum, and whether what I might say could make things worse.
  • To be able to talk about longevity and quality of life in a way that doesn't reinforce the ideas being promoted by those in power.
  • To live in a culture where food is something that nutures us - but is not burdened with all the power women don't have.
  • Not to be bombarded with images of women that are constructed to try and sell me stuff by making me feel bad about myself (the Dove campaign for Real Beauty is first up against the wall - as it is it may just cause me to ram a bus with my car in my fury).
  • Not to live in an eating-disordered culture
  • To live in my body, not some object that I'm supposed to be carry around for men's pleasure and convenience.
  • To live in a society where women are treated as people.
  • To live in a world that is built in way that acknowledges that people's bodies are different, and allows people with all sorts of different bodies to enjoy the same freedom.
  • To live in a society where food is created for nutrition not profit. To be able to get good nutritious food whenever I want it.
  • To live in a world where everyone always has enough good nutritious food to eat.
  • To live in a society where my useful work is part of my life and where people don't have to work a ridiculous number of hours a week to survive.
  • An end to capitalism.
Oh and to meet Joss Whedon.


  1. I read Twisty's post about Morphing into Mama and all the comments, and the whole thing that bugs me is:

    Why is everyone bashing everyone about their weight/ideas about it? Thinking being obese is bad is different from going up to every slighty overweight person and telling them they will die.

    but I get ahead of myself, and you may have forgotten that blog. (I know I would-my memory sucks)

    I'm assuming the people commenting are full-grown men and women, and that I've been educated properly on obesity (my mother has been overweight/borderline obese for as long as I can remember) and I'm kind of surprised how hostile they are to those who are recovering anorexics, and to those who've witnessed a quick and dangerous weight gain in a loved one (140 lbs is never okay, no matter what the start weight is)

    I'm all for being kind to your fellow man, but harrassment and concern for health (mental and physical) is entirely different.

    Le Sigh

    People enfuriate me and if that blog entry wasn't 2 months old already, I would have commented.

  2. Hi,

    I'm writing an essay on the way that blogs/citizen journalism have influenced mainstream media - wondering if i could get an opinion from you?
    Thanks if you can!

  3. Perhaps you need a Fat Power rather than a Fat Acceptance movement.

  4. > how patronising that is, what a low standard tolerance is. I don't want acceptance; I want transformation.

    Word. And on all the rest of it as well. definitely including the bit about meeting Joss Whedon...

    I am open to concerns about health, but am really leery of people who *start* their concerns for my health with my weight, without even knowing anything else about my weight (i.e. am I getting exercise? how's my cholesterol? my blood pressure? my heart rate? and so on) Sadly, that has included some doctors.

  5. ah, that should read: "anything else about my body/situation"