F is for F That!

28 Dec

It’s rare I have a rant against the FA community itself. The Fat Acceptance community have fought the good fight so that I could start to love myself and see myself as worthy of the confidence that other women who wear straight sizes are afforded without society batting an eyelash at them.  But recently there have been a handful of individuals within the FA community who have really challenged me to think hard about what it means to be a size-positive feminist.

These are the women who post snarky comments on weight loss blogs targeted at other women or who constantly and often judgmentally challenge women who are not comfortable with their bodies and seek to lose weight for whatever reason.  Where do we draw the line between hating on the woman and hating on the system?

In my opinion at least, is that we should respect the wishes of any woman who seeks to lose weight. Now, that seems kind of counter intuitive until I explain the grand master plan.  We can’t fight other women into seeing things our way.  Putting on the boxing gloves to challenge women to a fight they never asked for is going to chase them away from the cause and leave them more hurt and confused than allowing them to carry out their perhaps misguided plan. Instead of attacking the women who are simply repeating a learned habit, we should be attacking the foundations on which their motives are based.  That means doing things as simple as being confident, radient, fat women in the presence of adversity or as complicated as becoming a political advocate or working with non-profit empowerment organizations (or even creating our own!)

 

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2 Responses to “F is for F That!”

  1. Merry January 3, 2012 at 2:44 am #

    I think this a great post. However, I’m concerned about you tagging a woman’s desire to lose weight as a ‘misguided plan’. Being being underweight or overweight is bad, and neither is better than the other. We should not be judging people negatively on the basis of weight and physical appearance, but I will not hesitate to offer my genuine concerns to friends and family if they are overweight, just as if they were underweight, simply because both these conditions have series health impacts.

    So the slight suggestion that a woman wanting to lose weight might be misguided is repellant. A woman losing weight to improve her health is the most genuine and positive and NECESSARY action if you want a long healthy life. And if a woman wants to lose weight to feel better about herself? Well, what of it? Yes, it’s upsetting to think of the constrictions society has placed on women that dictate the desire for ‘thinness’ but we cannot all be martyrs to the cause. Some people simply do not have the self-confidence, fortitude or personal strength for that, and that is OK. So I find the idea of women attacking other women over their decision to lose weight just as ugly as the reverse and those who are doing it within the ‘FA’ should be utterly ashamed of themselves.

    You should be fighting for women’s CHOICE. Not just another restriction on body type.

    • fis4feminism January 3, 2012 at 1:23 pm #

      Thank you for your post. Yours is a common point in the counterargument against the size acceptance community and the work that they do. You say a lot here so I’m going to break it down and offer you my thoughts.

      “I’m concerned about you tagging a woman’s desire to lose weight as a ‘misguided plan’.”

      Actually I say a perhaps misguided plan. There are personal reasons to lose weight such as for a bad knee or through the discovery of a new hobby or way of enjoying whole foods. Losing weight for “health reasons” and to “look good” are not personal reasons. They are guided by an overbearing medical and media saturated society. Women are being brainwashed to believe that if they are “healthy” (read: thin) and “pretty” (read: thin) their problems will melt away. That is incorrect. So, yes, many weight loss regimes are very misguided!

      “Being underweight or overweight is bad…”

      There is an inherent danger in saying one’s body is good or bad. While you may say, “It is bad for you” it still makes women feel as if you are saying they are wrong for being who they are, therefore shaming their choices and their bodies. But wait, in the VERY next sentence you say…

      “We should not be judging people negatively on the basis of weight and physical appearance…”

      You just did, however, by saying that people are BAD for being overweight or underweight. You are saying their choices are wrong and that judgement can be witheld only for those who fit within a certain parameter of weight.

      “I will not hesitate to offer my genuine concerns to family members and friends if they are overweight, just as if they were underweight, simply because both of these have serious (sic) health impacts.”

      This is perhaps the most difficult part of your post to address. The issue is multi-faceted. First, the medical implications Western medicine has engrained in our minds from a very young age that being a “proper weight” is the only way to be healthy. Thousands of tests and studies performed mostly by clinics and companies funded by blood pressure medications, diet pills, etc. back up these hypothesis. So, in fact, we are spouting information from studies that we are not familiar with. We don’t know who performed them, under what circumstances, and in what ways, or who they were funded by. It’s dangerous business!

      Thinness is not a symbol of health. A woman can be more or less healthy at 250lbs than she can be at 120lbs. Weight is not an indicator of how someone eats, what their blood pressure is or if they exercise.

      Even if there are health implications of weight, which I am not qualified to suggest, whether or not it is any of your business is negotiable. It comes down to issues of authority and, unfortunately, in most cases dogging a woman about her weight does more harm than good. Thoughts of embarrassment, inadequecy, incompetency, etc enter her mind. Who are you to know what’s good for her body? Are you really giving her CHOICE as you demand or are you herding her along to the mindless hordes of women who believe it is necessary to be skinny, even at the cost of true health?

      Suggesting to someone else to lose or gain weight is as invasive to some women as shoving pills in their mouth or cutting them off after one cupcake. Is that really your place?

      “if a woman wants to lose weight to feel better of herself, what of it?”

      What of it? What of it? A woman losing weight to feel better about herself is problematic because it often DOESN’T WORK! She either loses the weight and realized her problems are still just as big or she fails to lose weight and she feels even worse about herself than when she began. Saying we should continue to allow society to make women feel shitty about themselves to the point where they are altering their bodies is kind of the opposite of the entire movement. Reread that. Do you really think it is okay to let this happen? If so, I really feel for you.

      “Some people simply do not have the self-confidence, fortitude or personal strength for that, and that is OK.”

      Actually, to suggest that any women shouldn’t be given to tools to have self-confidence, fortitude, or personal strength is kind of counter-intuitive don’t you think? The point of the size acceptance community is to give women these tools so they can feel empowered. Being a martyr suggests we die or that we suffer. We don’t. We feel empowered, unleashed, free. We want our fellow women to join us here in a place free of self-hate and self-loathing. We are not trying to sacrifice our fellow women on some alter.

      “You should be fighting for a woman’s CHOICE, (sic) not just another restriction on body type.”

      What we are fighting for is a shift in paradigm where every woman can feel comfortable in her own skin be it 90 lbs or 500 lbs. What you have suggested in this entire post is that there are limits. Being fat or thin is “bad” and women should be “ashamed” of themselves for trying to liberate others from the idea that health and weight are connected in some way and that you have any right to tell them differently.

      My post was about giving women a choice. It was about giving them tools and being at peace with the decision they make. I’m sorry to misunderstood, but I appreciate your response.

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