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Fat/Size Acceptance

(337 Posts)
GothAnneGeddes Wed 07-Sep-11 18:21:57

I'm not sure if we have a thread on this yet, so apologies if we have and I've missed it.

I think of all the toxic, time-wasting shite women have to put up with, Diet Culture aka Be Thin and Win, is one of the most widespread. It is the unholy triumvirate of body policing, self hatred and bad science.

I thought this was a really interesting take on Jamie Oliver's new obesity campaign:

Would love to know what you all think

StewieGriffinsMom Wed 07-Sep-11 18:55:26

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Northernlurkerr Wed 07-Sep-11 19:07:25

I am profoundly troubled by our attitude to body size BUT I'm not wild about the views expressed in that blog either. The author seems to be embracing a view that some people are fat because of causes beyond their control. They are victims of their body size.

Wel - thing is - I'm fat. Why? Well lots of reasons probably but none of them make me their victim.

I expect I could be thinner if I tried. I just don't want to try at this point. I certainly don't want to be told by society how I should appear either but neither do I wish society to think fat = victim and I don't want to use being a 'victim' as my get out of being judged card.

There is undoubtedly prejudice towards fat people - and fat women in particular. The way the pregnant fat woman is treated in particular is staggering. The problem with society is not (just) that people are blamed for being fat when they may or may not have contributed to it. The problem is that we care at all what size they are. The problem is that we define normality and we hate things outside that. So very nearly everyone ends up with some sort of issue with food and body size.

STIDW Wed 07-Sep-11 19:24:33

As someone who is literally half the person she once was I'm afraid I'm a "holier than thou" when it comes to obesity, rather like former smokers and smoking. There is a big difference between promoting thinness for appearance sake and promoting a reasonable weight for health reasons. Some people may have medical reasons that make it difficult to maintain a healthy weight but on the whole obesity is preventable. It doesn't need to cost money to loose weight or exercise.

LRDTheFeministDragon Wed 07-Sep-11 20:07:41

There's a difference between obesity and what our culture reckons is 'too fat', though.

edd1337 Wed 07-Sep-11 20:14:00

Well LRD. Seems in the modern-day UK anything over size 6

CRIKRI Wed 07-Sep-11 20:16:43

I think to a degree, the blog reflects the incredibly hypocritical approach to the issue of obesity and size in the US that isn't quite as acute in the UK, imho.

I'll admit, when I read the list of people who'd signed up to Oliver's initiative, I thought nooooo, that's definitely not sending the right message at all.

GothAnneGeddes Wed 07-Sep-11 22:33:58

I think we need to remember the links between poor health and social inequality. Eating a healthy diet and exercising can be very difficult if you are poor.

I think this comment sums up the problem with Oliver's approach:

"Obesity is absolutely preventable. In fact, if we get rid of "poverty, racism, fat hatred, food deserts, lack of safe outdoor spaces, corn subsidies, (and) meat subsidies" the so-called obesity epidemic, and the media-associated epidemics of diabetes and heart disease, will vanish and we'll live in a world where some people are fat and some people are not and most people are just healthy.

So, Jamie Oliver, you're starting a shiny new campaign to end poverty and racism? To bring healthy options to food deserts, to reduce crime and institutional apathy so kids will have safe parks to play in outside? You're championing small family farms that grow a variety of foods, and grass-fed and pastured meat options at affordable prices while ending the corn subsidies that keep fatty meat and chemical sugars at our fingertips?

You're going to put arts and theatre and music programs back in schools to give kids things to be passionate about, build community resources so that kids and adults both have access to local networks of activities and support?

You're going to revamp the advertising industry to end unrealistic images of human expectation, so that we have honest and normalised ideas about what a healthy body is, and we learn to accept and love who we are?

Fabulous, sign me up, I will do whatever I can to...wait, you're just going to shame fat people for not eating the way that works best for your metabolism and maintaining an activity level suited to your lifestyle, while clucking your head sympathetically and condescending to those living without your advantages?

Yeah, fuck you too then, Jamie Oliver. "

Also, I agree with Liss's point that it is wrong to want fat people not to exist anymore. In fact it's really bloody creepy.

edd1337 Wed 07-Sep-11 22:36:09

Look at The sun newspaper sometime

Headlines about "fatties this" and "fatties that"

LeninGrad Wed 07-Sep-11 22:39:58

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

mymumdom Wed 07-Sep-11 22:40:43

If you are interested in fat ( or even just body) acceptance, this is as good a place as any to start.

hmc Wed 07-Sep-11 22:51:05

I think her blog is unmitigated tripe - in most cases obesity is preventable. Not saying it is easy to maintain normal weight - just take issue with the contention that some people are just 'destined' to be fat and have no means of addressing it. However I do detest the vilification and moral censure of fat people - to be fat does not make someone subhuman or less worthy. I don't think it is necessarily a feminist issue any longer - I suspect that fat men are suffering increasing amounts of disapprobation too

GothAnneGeddes Wed 07-Sep-11 22:54:19

Thank you Mymumdom - I meant to link Kate Harding and it was remiss of me not to. She is awesome and further to the point about what fat looks like, here is her BMI project:

LeninGrad - That was Caitlin Moran and a very good point too. However, it's important to note that there is a difference between being fat and having disordered eating. We need to get away from the concept that fat = doom, hence I really like the concept of Healthy Eating at Any Size.

timidviper Wed 07-Sep-11 23:03:31

I don't think anyone is saying obesity is unavoidable and unaddressable but an average is made up of a range of sizes from very large to very small. Society expects us all to fit into the small end of that distribution which, by definition, is not possible as the average would change IYSWIM.

I am fat but do not think I would be more talented, charming or generally adorable if I was thinner. Size is not relevant to my worth as a person.

BTW I can't stand Jamie Oliver. He is a knob of the highest order IMO who just looks for social issue bandwagons to jump on to self-publicise.

sunshineandbooks Wed 07-Sep-11 23:47:41

My best friend is clinically obese. Her diet is fine, it's lack of exercise and medication that's the problem. Her diet is a model of what it should be but she is still overweight.

I have another friend who smokes, drinks, hardly ever exercises, eats an appalling diet and is a size 6 (if that).

I am quite happy to accept that body weight is in part a matter of genetics. Some people are naturally slim, some naturally more solid. I find it appalling that someone who is 9 stone can be considered overweight by the media. From a feminist perspective it annoys me even more, since women are subjected to far greater scrutiny than men when it comes to body weight.

However, within a certain amount of weight either way, I think it's silly to pretend that any size is perfectly ok. Being more than a couple of stone over or underweight carries serious health consequences. I wouldn't dream of punishing people or telling them what to do because it's a basic human right to do with your body as you will, but acceptance and tolerance is not the same as endorsement.

i think we've got a completely backwards approach to nutrition in this country though. We've lost the art of preparing a balanced diet on a low budget. Eating healthily costs time and money unless you have quite a lot of knowledge about food and where to get it from. And it needs to be balanced by regular exercise. You can have a great diet but if the only walking you do is around your house and to your car you're still way more likely to suffer from cholesterol and high blood pressure, etc.

One way we could tackle this is through sensible home economics classes (for both genders of course). I am horrified that my local secondary school has HE classes that each week involve ingredients to the value of about £10-£15. For one dish! My diet is excellent and I can feed 3 of us for about 3-4 days on that.

I can't help feeling that if food was more about nutrition as part of an overall healthy lifestyle than about appearance and being 'good', a lot of the problems would magically disappear.

jasper Thu 08-Sep-11 00:00:54

that blog is tosh

GothAnneGeddes Thu 08-Sep-11 01:01:12

Sunshine - I really don't think knowing a bit more would do that much when healthy food is not just expensive but inaccessible to many people. If you don't live near a big supermarket, decent greengrocers, you don't have a car, public transport is bad, can't buy in bulk, can't make frequent trips to the supermarket either...50 ways with lentils is not going to overcome that.

I agree with your last statement. If only the powers that be were more committed to ensuring access to quality food and places to excercise, but it's far easier and cheaper to demonise people.

JodieHarsh Thu 08-Sep-11 01:07:54

I like some 'fat blogs' - Kate Harding is v. interesting.

But that's an absurd blog post.

2 particular absurdities - calories in/out isn't fat hatred: it's science. No-one's arguing that there aren't many, many other factors, but denying the primary one helps no-one.

Secondly, equating being fat with being gay, and therefore equating fat-'hatred' with homophobia, is downright offensive. No-one ever became straight by an effort of will or by succumbing to basic science. But it is possible to become slim by both of these means.

And I'm speaking as someone of decided heft (currently calorie counting to lower my BMI for a specific medical reason!)

TeiTetua Thu 08-Sep-11 02:37:37

Every time this topic comes up I think of The Road to Wigan Pier, where George Orwell wrote about living among miners (often unemployed) in northern England in the 1930s, and his chapter on their budget and diet is fascinating. He has an odd mixture of affection and frustration when he talks about how they spend the little money they have on expensive food that's guaranteed to keep them in poor health--but then he says
And the peculiar evil is this, that the less money you have, the less inclined you feel to spend it on wholesome food. A millionaire may enjoy breakfasting off orange juice and Ryvita biscuits; an unemployed man doesn't... When you are unemployed, which is to say when you are underfed, harassed, bored, and miserable, you don't want to eat dull wholesome food. You want something a little bit 'tasty'. There is always some cheaply pleasant thing to tempt you. Let's have three pennorth of chips! Run out and buy us a twopenny ice-cream! Put the kettle on and we'll all have a nice cup of tea!

Someone always mentions the difficulty for some people of getting to a place where they can buy decent food cheaply. But if that's true, anyone who lives round the corner from a supermarket should be eating a healthy diet, and I bet it doesn't work that way. It's just like in Orwell's time, the cause of poor eating choices (and they most often are choices, not compulsion) is social or psychological more than anything else.

And there really is an "epidemic of obesity". More of a problem in America at the moment, but Britain is catching up. It is a fine thing not to demonise fat people, but it's a genuine public health issue.

GothAnneGeddes Thu 08-Sep-11 03:38:52

TeiTetua - No, because living around the corner from a supermarket doesn't magically give you money to buy the nicest food in there and many people in poorer areas really don't live round the corner from supermarkets anyway. There's also the little fact of crisps and orangeade being cheaper then orange juice and ryvita. Not just tastier - cheaper. This is a very interesting link about food deserts:

The problem with "obesity epidemic" talk is not only is it wagging a finger at anyone deemed 'fat' often using that laughable tool known as BMI (see link above) , by focusing on the supposed 'end result' it's glossing over the issues of malnutrition and lack of access to excerise.

Every national health report, from Beveridge, to Black, to Acheson and beyond will tell you that being poor is seriously bad for your health.

GothAnneGeddes Thu 08-Sep-11 03:42:11

Also, having come from a thread elsewhere on here where someone saw fit to put 'FAT' in block capitals and state that apparently all size 16 people are fat, I really don't think we are even slightly close to endorsing fat people.

weegiemum Thu 08-Sep-11 04:04:25

I'm officially obese.

I also have Rheumatoid arthristis which makes it hard for me to type let alone run!

There are some of us with little option (illness, drugs etc)

ProfessionallyOffendedGoblin Thu 08-Sep-11 07:16:40

'Read an excellent comment on here recently about how carers overeat as a form of self-medication because drink and drugs aren't an option. They put it better than that but was very interesting.'

I'd agree with that, if you are the only one responsible for a vulnerable individual 24/7 anything that you can't drop in a second and be instantly alert is no good as a form of relaxation or comfort.
So food, rather than drugs, drink, activities that require any sort of timetable, a lover, holidays...
But you can stuff an eclair in your mouth whilst running down the road to the next crisis.
That's me.

carminagoesprimal Thu 08-Sep-11 08:30:48

GothAnne; - I'm a size 14/16 and I hate it. Dh loves me being 'curvy' ( as he puts it ) and keeps telling me I look great and to stop worrying. I'm putting pressure on myself. It's the same with shaving legs etc, Dh doesn't give a toss ( and wouldn't even notice ) it's me who thinks it looks awful. It's women putting pressure on other women ( although I think fat men look awful too )

I'm just responding to where you said "all the toxic time wasting shit women have to put up with' - I wouldn't say women are putting up with it, clearly a lot of them don't care ( see obesity statistics ) but some of us like being thin for our own self esteem.
Women are the biggest critics of other women. In my experience anyway.

dittany Thu 08-Sep-11 08:36:46

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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