Archive for the 'Body Image' Category



Extreme fat hate in “Fat and Fatter”

UPDATE: As stated in my Comments Policy, “A range of views expressed in civil discussion are welcome – providing commenters adhere to the other guidelines.” However, as per the Comments Policy, please ensure your comments do not verge into the territory of Intolerance or Hate Speech or Concern Trolling.

I have just written the following feedback to the ABC in response to last night’s screening of “Fat and Fatter”, a tabloid program masquerading as a public health notice in which 2 young British girls are flown to Missisippi (“the fattest state”) to be terrified into losing weight by seeing fat black women (OMG!). It’s as bad as it sounds. No, actually, it’s worse. It’s exteme fat hatred with a side-serve of racism, and I for one will not take the ABC’s screening of it lying down.

If you truly want to see the carnage for yourself, “Fat and Fatter” can be seen on ABC’s iview replay. Two notes: 1. only plays in Australia and 2. Exteme fat-hate. As they say, sanity points required.

If you can’t view that due to your location, here’s a review of “Fat and Fatter” from The Age.

Here’s the body of my (somewhat hastily written) feedback to the ABC:

“Fat and Fatter” is the most offensively fat-hating program I have ever seen – and worse, it masqueraded as ‘helping’ two young girls, when in reality it was just a freak show with scare tactics thrown in. No doubt this was someone’s misguided attempt at a ‘public health notice’, but that’s not an excuse. Fat nd Fatter is just not up to ABC’s normally high broadcast standards, and I am appalled that the ABC even considered obtaining screening rights to this exploitative tabloid show, let alone actually going so far as to screen it.

Without even discussing whether or not the “you are fat, you are going to die” message in the show is accurate (ha!), exagerated or flat-out false, the ‘information’ shown in the program was presented in an extremely biased way. For example, just in the first 30 seconds we have some incredibly judgemental body shots – and it gets worse from there. Fish-eye camera shots of fat people eating. Cameras that pan up and down people’s bodies.

But there is also deliberate misinformation. An example is the scene with the woman on dialysis, where the necessities of hemodialysis are presented as being due to her weight and size. She tells the girls about the canula that was put in her chest and also gets the girls to feel the (possibly collapsed) fistula in her upper left arm (She doesn’t call it that, but it is when she says “can you feel the blood swirling in there”). The woman’s flesh around her upper arm is scarred and bumpy, which is at least partly due to the fact that a fistula has surgically been created for dialysis purposes. The girls’ disgust is visible when they have to touch it.

My layperson’s understanding of a dialysis fistula – based on my experience with my partner’s dialysis – is that it is a surgical procedure which splits an atery and a vein and rejoins them together to create a larger, stronger blood vessel which can withstand the dialysis needles and blood flow. Sometimes, over time, the fistula fails and alternate means of dialysing needs to be found – for example the chest canula or a new fistula created in another place (in this case, in the woman’s right arm which was attached to the dialysis machine.

What a fistula is NOT is – as it was presented on the show – something that has happened to this woman because she is fat.

By not giving an adequate explanation, that is, through ‘judicious’ (or convenient) cutting and editing, the show gave the impression that the paplable blood flow in the fistula and the raised flesh was the result of the woman being fat – or at the very least a ‘consequence’ of her ‘eating herself’ into diabetes and thus kidney disease.

There are so many other things wrong with this program, I don’t know where to start, but how about here:

  • Fat does not equal diabetes
  • Diabetes does not equal kidney disease and dialysis
  • Fat does not equal death
  • Fat does not equal glutton
  • Fat does not equal ignorant or stupid
  • Genetics plays a HUGE part in diabetes
  • Sneering at fat black women simply because they are fat black women is racist, no matter how you try to dice it.
  • Shame does not motivate weight loss
  • Fat people have not lost their right to be resepected simply because they are fat.
  • Terrifying young women into believing they will drop dead at any moment because they are size 16 is unethical – and inaccurate.
  • Terror does not motivate weight loss.
  • 95% of diets (aka lifestyle changes) result in a regain of the same weight or more within 5 years.

And I can’t go on any more.

Simply put, I strongly raise my objections to ABC showing this program, and I would like you to assure me that no further episodes of this tabloid program will be shown on any of ABC’s channels and that it will be pulled from iView.

Why do we hate ourselves at 15?

Me at 15

Why do we spend our teenaged years hating ourselves and our bodies so much? Is it universal that we look back at photos of ourselves and realise that we were actually pretty and not the hideous mostrosities we thought we were?

I posed for this photo very reluctantly at my mother’s insistence. I was about 15 at the time this photo was taken in 1986.

At Australian size 12-14 this was the thinnest I got. Ever.

But there was no triumph, only shame that I wasn’t thin enough. I was right in the middle of my worst body-hatred cycle (and undiagnosed Major Depression). I had been dieting under supervision (and restricting without supervision, although my mother, doctors and diet counsellors did not know it) since I was pre-teen. I had, in fact, lost a large amount of weight, but the weightloss goals that had been set for me and by me were unacheivable. My weightloss had plateaued, which really wasn’t suprising following 4 years of pretty much constant dieting and restriction. In despiration, I had latched on to a diet (recommended by a doctor!) that allowed me one boiled egg with one piece of unbuttered toast for breakfast and a small piece of grilled chicken with cabbage for dinner. I could eat all the cabbage I liked! Since I loathed both tuna with iceberg lettuce and no substitutions were permitted, I did not eat lunch at all. I remember there were some kind of tablets and a herbal solution I had to put under my tounge, as well. The lack of food made me nauseous, but I embraced that as an excuse not to eat anything else.

In short, I was well and truly in Disordered Eating Land.

I was miserable – not because I was fat, but because I was told from every side and at every moment that my body was unacceptable and that I did not deserve to eat or to have happiness until I reached some hypothetical ‘goal weight’. Because I was told that losing weight was more important than caring for myself.

I have written previously about this period in my life, as part of a series on my awakening to Fat Acceptance.

Another 5am post: Why I don’t like the term HAES anymore

Just posted a lengthy response to a post on HAES at Inner Thoughts, Inner Soul, but I thought I’d post a slightly edited version of it here, too. (Why the hell not?)


Rather than following a strict Health At Every Size philosophy, I now practise just listening to my body (or you could simply call it self-care or being kind to myself) which is what I believe was the core of the original HAES/intuitive eating concept.

In recent months, I have seen:

a) people in the medical community who supposedly support HAES assert what amounts to a moral obligation for fat people to practice HAES, and

b) people whose underlying medication conditions don’t allow them to be in perfect health, feel excluded or judged by the moral imperative they believe is inherant in the term Health at Every Size.

I’m sure neither of these things were the intention of the people who coined HAES, but somehow it has been co-opted or twisted into an alternative diet philosophy with side-serve of puritan morality.

There is no moral imperative for health, nor is there a moral imperative to eat a certain way or exercise at a certain level.

I am a firm believer that one’s body knows what works best for it, regardless of your base level of health. There is nothing you ‘should’ be doing, only what you could be doing if it fits with what your body and soul needs.

So, I listen to my body about what and when I eat, and how and when I exercise. And I also to factor in my emotional and mental well-being into those decisions.

The goal then becomes not perfect health (or perfect compliance, because some days your body and soul WILL tell you to lie on the couch and eat chocolates), but living in the here and now in the healthiest body FOR YOU, which means the best health you can have with your underlying conditions.

I hope this helps.

Her crime? Eating while fat.

Over at MomGrind, the blogger is making unfounded judgements about a fat girl “overdosing on sugar” or some such nonsense. (Thanks Bri, for the pointer to the discussion). The comments on the post are now closed because some uppity fatties have been taking her to task (yay, team!) but I will not be denied my 2 cents.

Uh, this might get a bit lengthy, because I have a LOT of spare change.

Are you listening, MomGrind?

Continue reading ‘Her crime? Eating while fat.’

Fat women, self-denigration and social rituals

Sady at Tiger Beatdown has an interesting discussion about how female self-promotion (or lack of it) and the social practice of self-denigration (including Fat Talk) interplay with each other.

I have to wonder how these social rules intersect with the bullying and shaming of fat kids (and adults). Is it because we are too confident (not shamed enough) in our fat bodies? How does the social requirement to engage in the “naughty me, I want cheeseburger” request for permission ritual work for fat people? We certainly don’t get the conspiratorial “Go on. I will if you will” as often – and are more likely to feel pressured to have a salad or forego the cheeseburger. So if we have the cheeseburger without the socially condoned permission, are we then giving our women friends the big FUCK YOU?

Hmm.

But I will say that I have, recently, been reading a book called Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls, by Rachel Simmons. One passage in this, which grabbed me and blew my mind and suddenly made about a thousand troubling incidents way more easy to understand, was about how female bullies pick their victims. The author interviewed a whole bunch of girls about this, and she came up with a really good, really obvious answer. So, do you want to know how they pick their victims?

They pick the girl who seems the most confident. [My emphasis]

Yes, that’s really it! In the particular seething cauldron of insecurity, unhappiness, and fear that is female adolescence, girls tend to feel shitty about themselves for about a million reasons, and to think that they need outside approval – from friends, from boys, from the culture at large – in order to be worthwhile. But if a girl seems not reliant enough on outside approval – if she doesn’t hate her body enough, if she’s too successful at getting guys to like her, if she’s not interested enough in getting guys to like her, if she thinks she’s smart or cool or worthwhile or pretty (or if she just is smart or cool or worthwhile or pretty, and it’s pronounced enough for the people around her to take notice) – then the wolves start circling. [My emphasis] Because they’ve all been bullied, too; they’ve all been undermined; they’ve all made the mistake of standing out, at one point or another, and they’ve been punished for it. And now, because they feel like shit about themselves, you have to feel like shit, too. A girl who doesn’t feel like shit is a threat to the entire social order, the extensively complicated and crappy system whereby women have to earn their way into a pretense of self-esteem by getting enough approval from other girls or from other outside sources in general.

and

Or: the Fat Talk. You know about the Fat Talk, right? Lots of people have written about the Fat Talk already. For years, I thought this was some grody stereotype that you only found in male stand-up comedians’ routines about how women are awful. But then I met women who actually did it: the thing where, before ordering dinner at a restaurant, you all talk about how you should order this and you absolutely cannot order that, because you are so disgusting and you cannot stick to your diet and eating a cheeseburger will literally send you right straight to hell, and if you are the girl who straight-up says she wants some nachos so covered in cheese and guacamole and various meats that they might as well not even have any chips involved – just a big mess of meats and milk fat and squished-up avocados, that is the experience for which you are aiming, and also it would help if the entire thing had sour cream all over it – well, you just might have earned yourself a Complinsult about how brave you are with your dietary habits, young lady.

The weird thing is that, in this scenario, it seems not to ultimately matter whether you get the cheeseburger or the nachos or whatever: what matters is the extensive ritual of saying bad things about yourself, and contradicting other ladies about the bad things they have said about themselves, and giving each other permission to order the nachos, before they’re ordered. And if you don’t get permission to order the nachos, if you’re the one girl at the table who doesn’t get contradicted when she says she’s fat and shouldn’t be allowed to eat what she wants, then you know something is up. You know someone at the table, or maybe everyone at the table, has a problem with you. Which is why you don’t place your order without doing it: for a long time, I thought I was just demonstrating my good body image by ordering a cheeseburger and not participating in the Fat Talk, and then I sort of figured out that I was straight-up declaring that I was so hot I got to do whatever I wanted and was too insensitive to appease the body insecurities of my friends, who were (my actions declared) less hot than myself. [My emphasis] I still think the Fat Talk is destructive and body-hating and stupid, and I don’t want to do it, but the way I get around it is to talk with the girls I have lunch with about why I think it’s destructive and body-hating. Not to just bypass it. Because that’s how self-esteem, and self-promotion, and social status, tend to work with girls: it’s a series of very subtle interactions in which you say you’re not good enough so that other girls can tell you that you are. [My emphasis]


Fatadelic

 

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