Fat Bashing

Zuzu has some thoughtful points about the recent fat bashing comment-fest at Feministing. She observes that in the face of the fat-kills-you-unhealthy-fatty rant that people begin to try to absolve themselves from the sin of Fat (be a “worthy fat person” by listing their diet and exercise regimes along with their health stats, and that the impulse to do so is counter-productive.

And then a funny thing happens: in the face of this intractability, people start buying into the Obesity Crisis™ Watchdog’s frame. They start to offer their diet and exercise routines along with their sizes to show that THEY ARE TOO HEALTHY, DAMMIT.

That’s always really, really bothered me. And it wasn’t until I started thinking about frames that I realized why: offering justification for your weight (in the sense of, “See, I’m healthy because I eat right and exercise, but that hasn’t made me thin) is just buying into the worldview of the Obesity Crisis™ Watchdog. It puts you on the defensive, and shifts the debate from the initial topic of discussion — typically one either of maltreatment of fat people or of efforts by fat people to fight back against maltreatment — to why you’re a worthy fat person due to your healthy habits.

Zuzu’s very sound suggestion is to call the fat-haters on their bullshit, but refuse to accept their terms of framing the argument.


7 Responses to “Fat Bashing”

  1. 1 Rachel Monday, 19 November 2007 at 4:01 pm

    I totally agree with Zuzu. It’s that whole “good” fat person versus “bad” fat person mentality. Even if you are fat, a natural inclination for many is to distance themselves from those “bad” fat people who eat too much, don’t exercise, and give fat people a bad rap. By buying into the mob mentality, you’re only tacitly and passively endorsing further stigmatization of the “sin” of gluttony and overconsumption – both of which are commonly associated with fatness.

  2. 2 fatadelic Monday, 19 November 2007 at 4:59 pm

    Agreed. I do understand, though, the temptation to use one’s self as an example of health when the fat-haters are telling us we will all be dead soon (eg. “but I’m this weight and I’m healthy”). However it’s certainly not the best tactic to use for the reasons you state above.

  3. 3 Sykotaboy Monday, 19 November 2007 at 7:00 pm

    I wish people would stop trying to hurt “each other”…dream-on…. We have way too many “oppotunities” to get hurt, without ever trying.

    This is gonna sound REALLY stupid to you and probably way out of topic.

    I’m kinda the extremely silent, and modest, mega-pale little whimp (5’5″, 112 lb ) that’s usually beaten or stomped on by the jocks and the “cool” crowd.

    Anyhow, she weighs like 354 LB.@5′-0″ But almost NOONE, including her OWN sisters care to look really inside.

    My absolute confidant, and one of THEE only people I actually ever “talk” around much less “TO” lives across the street. Her parents also constantly travel on biz as live-aboards to Delta and American Airlines. She’s thee greatest people on earth. We E-mail each other and continuoously IM in ICQ,

    I’ve recently gotten a lot of crap cause one of my closest and long-time (since we were in diapers) BEST friends (someone I “can” actually talk-to or even just ring her bell without saying anything if I’m ever feeling sorta-down, or dunno what to do. She’s beyond the very best.

    She sometimes gets real badly hurt by all the joke and put downs. quite a LOT of which are from OTHER GIRLS, believe that of not(You probably seen how cold the Barbie-Doll-Types can be, just for what they “call” a humorous form of fun.

    She’ll get so depressed sometime, she won’t answer either Her or Her Parents’ phone. She mades me feel real bad when she’s not in the classroom (she’ll more often lately just skip school and Never really leave her room, much less even come “outside” for days at a time, REFUSING all company.

    Just kinda watches TV, stays to herself (something I’m constantly accused of, except around herm which gives more reason to the rumors about us) and never speaks. I WISH I wasn’t so gutless and just told her strongly to ignore them. and realize they are meaningless pollution to this planet.

    But everybody gives me endless crap about hanging out with “blimp girl” and “pup-tent”. If we even hang out in the same area, someone on campus always has “some” thing to say.

    I just wish they “could” ever know anything about how angelic she really is. She recently even comes by, knocking on my sliding door, sometimes really hurt to a point of near suicide, crushed by people she foolishly. yet needfully calls “friends”. Even when they’re not.

    She somehow deeply believes, without THOSE girls, she may as well be dead, non-existant or some sort of an alien??

    Is there anything I can do with her, show her or say to her with sny hope of bringing her OUT of that bizarre shell? is there a webpage link I could fire at her in ICQ or E-mail that is not PURE crock, SYMPATHETICS of the Well-meaning, but inexperienced “wanna-be”, gossipers or worthless spam promo?

  4. 4 fatgirlonabike Tuesday, 20 November 2007 at 10:32 am

    This is the big reason that I have a strict rule on my blog about no numbers. If you post your ‘stats*’ in a comment, it will be deleted.

    I just haven’t been able to express it that way.

    *stats meaning: height, weight, clothing size, eating habits, your general workout routine (unless it is on topic,) or anything else similar. I don’t discuss mine unless it’s related to my blog (which because it’s a training blog, exercise is a big part of things)

  5. 5 Thene Wednesday, 21 November 2007 at 11:31 am

    Crazy how we can all judge each other’s bodies over the internet, isn’t it? For all we know, the trolls on that thread are unhealthier than any of the rest of us.

    It’s really damn sad how much body-hate you can find even in this world without bodies. Not just wrt fat, not by a long shot.

  6. 6 zezebelle Thursday, 29 November 2007 at 8:21 pm

    I’m a bit late to this discussion, but I agree.

    And Sykotaboy, the first thing to do is to try and get your friend some help. She sounds like she could be depressed, and if she is talking to her about it is a good start and suggesting (not nagging) that she talk about what is going on with a doctor or school counsellor or someone she trusts who can help her get help.

  7. 7 Joey Monday, 8 June 2009 at 5:08 am

    Oh,how I ONLY wish people would look far more inside the soul.

    Cause, then she would be absolutely beyond beautiful. Period.

    Unfortunately, she does not trust anyone at all. I’ve tried the school counselors, but they can’t get her to come out of her “shell” much less “to” campus any more.
    So, the only way of getting ANYONE to speak with her now is either e-mail or some form of surprise visit(where the dr. or person somehow came with me to her house, and I first ring the bell, (with them somehow hidden from her sight for a few minutes)then somehow introduce whoever it is to her and leave.

    I Just don’t want it to be real embarassing for her. She may be large, but she is really a mega-angel deep-down inside, and she’s my very best friend and the ONLY person I trust enough to “actually” talk “TO” about anything…


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