Diane Wants to Slap Me

I can explain it to youMy blog about ending body bashing got re-posted by one of my Facebook friends. One of her friends, Diane, responded “I’m sorry..that woman on that blog pisses me the hell off. I know she’s trying to bolster the self-esteem of fat people/women, but to say that if you are fat, you are also healthy is LUDICROUS! I just want to slap her.”

This is not an uncommon reaction to my work, though sometimes people replace “I just want to slap her” with “punch her in her fat stomach” or “I’m going to be at your talk at the Reitz Union at 6:30pm and I’m going to shoot you in the head.”  Diane is but a small example of what you can find it all over the internet – people talking about how the very idea that fat people could like themselves or claim health makes them want to commit physical violence against fat people – especially involved in Size Acceptance or Health at Every Size, and it often comes with a gross mischaracterization of the work.  If you do activism around Size Acceptance and/or HAES it’s possible that you’ll deal with it, so let’s look a little deeper.

When it comes to people who claim to want to hurt me in some way (credible or not) I’m generally equally upset at the threats as I am at the fact that people don’t understand my work despite my best efforts to explain things clearly.   Obviously I never said that if you are fat you are also healthy, just like I would never say that if you are thin you are also healthy. I have said many, many times that weight and health are two different things, that there are healthy and unhealthy people of all sizes. Of course there are those who truly disagree, those who truly misunderstand, and those who misunderstand for profit, but that’s not all that is at work here.

I think there are people who are so absolutely steeped in our culture of “everybody knows that being fat is the same as being unhealthy, that they simply cannot look at the situation objectively.  I imagine this is how lots of people felt when they first came across the idea that the Earth revolves around the sun – they were so certain of what they believed that they just couldn’t conceptualize any other option.  There are some people who can be upset enough about that to become angry.

In my experience, though, the greatest anger reaction comes from those who have put all their self-esteem eggs in the thin-is-better basket.  People whose identity is based on the idea that they are healthier/more attractive/better than those who are larger than they are.  So when fat people refuse to be complicit in our own stigmatization, stereotyping and bullying – when we stand up for ourselves – these people’s self-esteem hangs in a precarious balance.  So they lash out.

While I think it’s important to realize that these things drive part of the conversation around weight and health, I am in no way suggesting that they apply to everyone, or that any of us can guess someone else’s reasons for the way they act or react.  It’s not our fault but it becomes our problem, so I think it’s worth it to have some strategies to deal with it.

When I’m dealing with this it helps me to remember that the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are inalienable, not contingent.  They are not based on size, health, habits, or the approval of others.  I don’t need to prove anything to anybody in order to claim these rights for myself.  They are absolutely mine and nobody has the right to take them away. Those rights include the right to live in the body I have now without shame, stigma, bullying, oppression or people threatening to do violence against me because I claim them.  The fight for fat civil rights is not about asking someone to confer them upon us – they aren’t anyone else’s to confer –  it’s about demanding that people stop trying to keep these rights from us through an inappropriate use of power.

It also helps that when it comes to the science, health, and medicine aspects I’m basing my case on evidence, which doesn’t automatically make me right, but does allow me to shrug off ALL CAPS FREAKING OUT EVERYBODY KNOWS arguments, whether or not the person making them wants to slap me.

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49 thoughts on “Diane Wants to Slap Me

  1. “when fat people refuse to be complicit in our own stigmatization, stereotyping and bullying – when we stand up for ourselves – these people’s self-esteem hangs in a precarious balance. So they lash out.”

    Absolutely. That comment was way more about Diane/Diane’s headspace, than you. Even if D is the LAST one to realise that.

  2. There’s no excuse for people who say they want to bring you physical violence. To me, that completely invalidates their entire point for disliking you or your blog.

    I have posted your link and discussed your blog a couple times in a few female populated forums I contribute to, and I’m happy to say that no one came in to reply anything along those lines.

    1. “There’s no excuse for people who say they want to bring you physical violence.”

      I absolutely agree.

      There are plenty of people I’d like to slap or maybe even shoot, but those people do things like abuse children or animals. I can’t imagine wanting to do someone harm just for a having a body that maybe I don’t consider beautiful*.

      *Not saying that I have a problem with bodies of size, but some people do.

  3. I will never understand the desire to harm someone just because they believe something different. It’s … mindboggling. I hope she gets it one day. I’m so sorry you have these kinds of comments to deal with, Ragen. *hugs*

  4. I hope Diane reads this entry. I doubt she will change her mind but I do hope that she gets embarrassed to realize that her comment was just heard and we are all calling her out.

  5. I was thinking about you–and precisely this issue–today.

    I was stuck at an intersection that had been blocked off by the police for our town’s annual Christmas walk/run. And I was thinking about you, because after the first four runners went by, all men and all built like, well, runners, the next couple of hundred people came in all colors, ages, shapes, and sizes.

    There were fat people ahead of average people: In fact, there were fat people walking faster than some of the average-sized and thin people were jogging. There were some average-to-thin people who appeared to be more awkward and/or in more distress than some of the bigger folk. The fat women, interestingly, appeared to be mostly ahead of the fat men, but that was about the only reliable difference I saw in 40 minutes of watching the townsfolk stream by, and that appeared to be more about gender than size anyway.

    I saw a number of participants well out on the fat end of the size spectrum who weren’t doing discernibly better or worse than anyone else, be it for speed, grace, or apparent strength and endurance. A few extremely thin folk, ditto.

    The last dozen or so folk to pass the intersection–the slowest, in other words–I noticed were of a stereotypically “healthy” (average) build. All the fat folk were ahead of them!

    I wish I’d thought to get a little video on my phone to show to every person who makes assumptions in my presence about what a fat person can or cannot do based on appearance alone.

    1. I do 5Ks with my son for fun. We try to join in all the fun themed runs, like the Zombie Run, Color Run, The Great Santa Race. In a week we are participating in the Ugly Sweater Run. When we first started, I was intimidated and scared to go. Running a 5k had always been a goal of mine. I’d like to work up to at least a half marathon. But I do not appear to be an athlete. Sure, I do yoga, kickbox and walk/run pretty regularly but you wouldn’t know it to look at me, thanks to the our stereotypical idea of what an athlete looks like.

      Anyway, I was so nervous that first 5k. I was so sure I’d stick out and people would wonder what I was even doing there. I was so shocked to see that all the participants came in absolutely EVERY shape and size. And like you observed, size seemed to have no real bearing on who was fastest, or had more stamina, etc. I had envisioned a group of people with that athletic, runners look that we’re told runners are to look like. But, just everywhere else in life, it was a hodgepodge of bodies. 🙂

  6. And just to be clear, it was that other Diane, not this one.

    I imagine you mostly shrugged this one off after writing about it, but how do you handle the threats that are so specific? “I’m going to be at your talk at the Reitz Union at 6:30pm and I’m going to shoot you in the head.” In all seriousness, do you call the cops, wear Kevlar. You are a stronger woman that I…

  7. I saw – and was upset by – something like this recently. (Not aimed at me – the poster doesn’t know me, and doesn’t know, or care, it seems, that I saw it.)

    A friend’s son in law posted on Facebook that he told a woman at the health club he works at that she Must Lose Weight. She told him that a) she’d never been able to, and b) she was, in fact, healthy. He posted on Facebook that he “wanted to punch her.” I saw it because his MIL commented (agreeing that she couldn’t possibly be telling the truth – ignoring the threat of violence.)

    Now – this wasn’t intended for me, and theirs is a new relationship – I did not feel it appropriate to get into that conversation. But it was long, as he continued to vent his incredible anger against someone who had refused to accept his unsolicited opinion about her own body.

    Mind you, the woman was a member of the club, and so presumably exercising… but he didn’t even seem to be able to “give her points” as it were for that. (Not that he should have to – but you’d think it would mean something in his worldview…) The reaction was entirely about what he saw when he looked at her. And I found it quite distressing.

    Now – I admit, some of this is just a figure of speech. I have said, on occasion, that I wanted to “smack someone.” But I say it only of someone I know well (usually family) and to people who know me well enough to know that I’d never consider *doing* it. This seemed more… public.

    1. So the MIL responded to him, agreeing about this woman neither of them know, making a judgement about her, yet the MIL doesn’t seem to be to be concerned that her SIL wants to punch a woman and seems to have anger issues. That says a great deal. I wonder what would happen if her daughter, his wife, gained weight. Would he punch her?

      1. “Now – this wasn’t intended for me, and theirs is a new relationship – I did not feel it appropriate to get into that conversation.”

        Actually, since you saw this posted, you should warn the owner of the gym, who can warn the woman to stay clear of someone who wants to assault her – I think you have an obligation, new relationship or not. Do you really want to maintain a relationship with people like this, anyway? Just saying.

  8. I posted your “what you can tell about a fat person by looking at them” pie chart on my Facebook, and I ended up getting in an argument with a friend who said that MAYBE fat people can be healthy but for the MOST PART they’re just so susceptible to all these physical problems and diseases that it just made him SAD to see me listening to “some blogger” and risking my health.

    I already know – and said so in the comments – that at least part of my weight probably comes from the fact that I don’t eat the best food and I’m not very active, but the weight itself really hasn’t caused any health problems for me. My friend refused to listen to that.

  9. I think the whole self esteem thing is really interesting. I completely agree with the main thrust of your work. People of all sizes should be free from discrimination and bullying and people’s heath is their own business. There’s also a lot of what you say that I disagree with because I assess evidence differently to you and I have a different understanding of causation and of what constitutes sufficient evidence for a point to be worth considering.
    I do, however, have quite a strong reaction to a lot of what you say that is based in my own self esteem as you suggest this woman’s reaction is. I don’t base my self esteem around being thin, in fact I dislike being thin in a lot of ways. I don’t feel that sexy and I don’t think, given the evidence, that being underweight is healthy. I do derive some esteem from it, though, in that I think it means to me that I’m not ‘high-maintenance’ – I can very easily go without eating for a long time and not care.
    I was thinking about whether that was why some of what you say makes me angry (rather than it just being something I disagree with) and I realised it really is, but not in relation to being thin. I find the self esteem displayed by you and in particular one or two of your regular readers really… I think I’d describe it as upsetting? In your last blog, for example, you wrote that you were an activist in kindergarten. That line made me really angry because to me it sounded arrogant, like you were saying you’re inately interesting, rebellious, clever, and important. Equally a lot of readers on blogs such as this are always asserting that they are amazing people, that they’re kind and a good wife/friend/whatever, or that they’re talented etc. etc.
    What I realised is that for a lot of people (since I think a lot of the vitriol leveled against you and others like you probably comes from the same place mine does) it’s likely that it’s not so much that they’re upset because their self esteem is solely tied up in being thin, but that they have such poor self esteem that anyone expressing self-love, in particular if there’s a very obvious reason society thinks they should hate themselves, riles them.
    I find a lot of what you say upsetting because I can’t say I’m intelligent, amazing, beautiful, or that I have a great personality, because if I did that I would be shot down for being arrogant, as I was from the first moment anyone noticed I was doing better than other people in school, despite my never really speaking as a child, let alone praising myself. I think in many ways it’s become acceptable for people who aren’t ‘typically’ accepted by society to proclaim that they’re awesome and beautiful all the time, but as a kind of standard person I’d just sound like a t*** if I said that.
    I also have a sense that the kind of self-esteem your promoting is stupid, since it seems totally unconditional. Beauty generally is something reserved for the people who are the most attractive to the most people. Not everyone can be beautiful. I think it’s because ‘beautiful’ has come to mean ‘a worthwhile person’ in so many contexts that it’s the natural way for people to affirm their worth as a person, but it lessens the term if you’re going to say everyone is beautiful. What are the legitimate sources of self esteem? Being intelligent? Being successful? Being kind? How do you know if you’re being kind or sensitive enough? What gives all of you the confidence to say you’re amazing and beautiful and a great friend/girlfriend/daughter or whatever… Half of me feels like it’s a really hollow chant, since it just isn’t really the case that everyone is equally awesome, or that everyone is awesome at all, but the other half of me is just really jealous that everyone on here gets to talk about how great they are all the time while most people don’t get that kind of self esteem despite having a ton of real, objective things they can say are great about themselves….
    Though I also think this is slightly skewed by the fact that I’m in England, where saying out loud that you have self-esteem is taboo in a lot of circles.

    1. My heart really kind of hurts for you because it sounds to me like you don’t see your own worth. At the very least it sounds like you don’t think you have the right to say that you have worth.

      I think there’s a lot of honesty in what you say, and as a reader I appreciate your being willing to put your feelings out there. I’m sorry that you are in a place where you would feel judged by speaking such things about yourself.

      It no longer bothers me much what people think about me because if they have a problem with me, then the problem is theirs, not mine. Likewise, if someone doesn’t like that you might say you’re beautiful, the problem is theirs, not yours.

      Beauty, to me, is not some absolute thing; nor does it define our worth. I try to find some beautiful thing in every person I meet.
      We all define beauty in our own way. To me, beauty is not physical; it’s what comes from inside a person. I can meet a woman who is considered the most physically beautiful around, but if she’s mean, or nasty, or a liar, then to me she is ugly. All that external beauty means less than nothing without the internal beauty, and I pity her if that’s all she has to offer herself.

      You mentioned being jealous, and I can hear that through your words. More than that, I can hear the longing to be able to say things like “I am a beautiful woman,” or “I value myself.” I hope that instead of admonishing others not to say those things that you will, instead, think of our boldness and let it inspire you to be bold yourself. As a woman who started out where you are now, I can say that you will not regret learning to love yourself more fully. The risks can be high, but the rewards are unmatched.

      Pippy, I wish you peace and love in your heart, and bold courage to know – truly KNOW in your heart of hearts – that you are a beautiful, strong woman. *hugs*

      1. Thanks very much for your comment, it’s really touching. I will think about what you’ve said and I don’t really admonish others for saying they’re beautiful, it just upsets me because I don’t know how they know they can say it. But thanks for appreciating where my comment came from and I do think it’s awesome that you can stand up for what you think and know when something is someone else’s problem not yours.

        1. It wasn’t without a LOT of soul searching, maturity, and growth – many, many years’ worth. I’m 42 and I’ve just gotten to that point in the last couple of years. It’s hard work to believe these things about ourselves in a world that insists on telling us how our worth is bound up in our appearance. We’ve forgotten that our mere existence is enough. 🙂

    2. “I think in many ways it’s become acceptable for people who aren’t ‘typically’ accepted by society to proclaim that they’re awesome and beautiful all the time, but as a kind of standard person I’d just sound like a t*** if I said that.”

      If I just went around spouting off to people “I’m beautiful and wonderful and just the best, tra la la”, it wouldn’t matter one bit that I’m “not typically accepted by society”. That would not make it acceptable, not any more than if you, as a “standard” person (whatever that means) said it. What does make it acceptable (at least in supportive places) is when it’s said *in context of having been devalued or demonized*. That goes regardless of whether you’re “standard” or “non-standard”. If there were some aspect of yourself that was despised (especially if that viewpoint was assumed by the attacker to be objective) and you didn’t actually feel that way about that part of yourself, would it really be arrogance for you to say that? And would it then be good and reasonable for people to be angry about you doing so? Arrogance, to me, is about bragging about something that you are already praised for or benefiting from or making up in your desire to be better than others. It’s not about defending your value against a cultural attitude that says, over and over and loudly, that you’re crap. It’s not arrogance in that context to say, “Actually, I am happy/proud about these parts of myself, and I love myself.” To the contrary, it’s crucial for mental wellness.

      Given that, it’s seems only logical to conclude that the anger is really about something else entirely.

    3. “Beauty generally is something reserved for the people who are the most attractive to the most people.” << Yes, it is, but since a thing doesn't magically become objectively and absolutely true simply by virtue of being felt to be so by the majority, I don't know what your point is. Not everyone can be beautiful according to the majority, that's true, but there are countless differences in what individuals perceive as beautiful.

      1. Sorry, I don’t think I made this point very well. I didn’t mean to imply that beauty is objective. I think what someone can describe as beautiful un-subjectively is something that’s culturally determined, but that of course there’s a different sense of the word which is used only to describe an individual, subjective view. that’s what I meant by beauty generally as opposed to beauty subjectively.

  10. I don’t know if you saw this particular one on ecards, but I posted it on my own wall: it’s a picture of a woman sitting at a desk and smiling, saying, “I refuse to lose weight because it wouldn’t fair to all the skinny girls if I were this good-looking, intelligent, funny, awesome, AND thin. It’s a public service, really.”

    1. I’ve seen that.

      I have to point out though, it seems to imply that thin is better than the alternative. Like she’d be EVEN better if she were thin.

  11. Threats of violence, even low level violence, surely can’t be just about somebody defending thin privilege. I’m sure all of us know thin people/medium build people who would never, never threaten to slap somebody for challenging the weight paradigm. There’s something much nastier and creepier going on across the internet, where ordinary people suddenly start spouting violence at the drop of a hat. As society gets more hyper-competitive and nasty, all sorts of people are being pitted against one another. Women against women, the young against older people, the well-off against the less well-off. It’s all being amplified by the internet, where the reasonable, moderate voice gets drowned out by the loud, obnoxious voice.

    I don’t really know where it’s all coming from, but I’m astounded and disturbed that ‘Diane’ – who is probably a nice enough person in real life – would threaten to slap someone else, even if she thinks she’s joking.

  12. I’ve been on Tumblr a lot lately, and now I have a really strong desire to post a “Come at me, bro” gif in response to Diane. Too bad I don’t think you can do that on this site.
    Good for you, Ragen, for handling this so well. I know you’ve heard way worse, but I would still have found it so triggering.

  13. “I don’t need to prove anything to anybody in order to claim these rights for myself.”

    Forgive me, but your *entire blog* seems to be about “proving” that being fat isn’t a person’s own fault. You’re constantly saying that you can’t tell what a person eats by their size (true) and that diets don’t work (likely true), and that exercise won’t make a person thin (also likely true)… so it all seems to boil down to “it’s not my fault!!”.

    IMO, it doesn’t matter whose “fault” one’s body size is. Everyone has the right to exist in their own body on their own terms, thin, fat, healthy, unhealthy, whatever. I don’t care if someone is fat because it’s in their genes or it’s because s/he is singlehandedly keeping McDonalds’ in business… either way, s/he has the right to exist in his/her body without being shamed and/or stigmatized, *period*.

    It’s amazing to me that people don’t scream about healthcare costs when it’s a smoker who needs a lung transplant or a drinker who needs a new liver. No, people only seem to complain about fat people being a burden on our health care system… and yet the lung patient and the liver patient also “brought it on themselves” because “they just couldn’t control themselves”. Funny, but no one needs cigarettes or booze to remain alive, but I’m pretty sure we all need to eat.

    Sorry I’m rambling. And maybe as a thin person, I don’t have the right to say any of this stuff. It just seems to me that you’re constantly saying, “I’m fat, but it’s not my fault because diets and exercise don’t work and I’m a fit fatty so give me my rights!” when you should be saying “I’m fat, and my body, my diet, my exercise habits, and my health are none of your business. I deserve my rights just as much as you do, and you can go screw yourself if you don’t agree!”.

    1. I can’t speak for Ragen, but I have been reading her blog for close to two years and have gone through the entire archive.

      It seems from this comment that you haven’t read much of Ragen’s writings. She addresses many aspects of our society’s treatment of fat people, including rights, health vs. weight, the realities of dieting, HAES(tm), how to emotionally deal with prejudice, etc. Different posts focus on different areas, so you might not see a particular topic addressed for a while.

      The issue of rights not being body size or health status dependent is an issue addressed by Size Acceptance, which is a civil rights movement Ragen has promoted quite a bit. This movement can largely be summed up by the statement of rights Ragen makes in her second to last paragraph in this post.

      “…you can’t tell what a person eats by their size (true) and that diets don’t work (likely true), and that exercise won’t make a person thin (also likely true)…”
      These statements that you take to mean “it’s not my fault!!” are not part of Size Acceptance. They belong more to HAES(tm) which Ragen has also mentioned numerous times on this blog. HAES(tm) essentially says that the best pathway to health for each person is to engage in healthy behaviors, such as eating well and finding joyful movement. It also completely removes weight as any kind of health indicator.

      Ragen posts information that is largely ignored by the media. Many people coming here know nothing about studies that have been done that show dieting doesn’t work for long term weight loss for the vast majority of people, or the many other scientific facts that she has posted.

      This blog is not just about proclaiming “Fatties have rights!” It’s about trying to educate people who don’t understand scientific reality, and arming people for living in this world where the majority of society seems to disagree about our rights. It’s a place where people can see that they aren’t alone in living large, and that it is actually OK for them to love their bodies as is.

    2. Hi Kittenmommy,

      Thank you for your comment. I cover a number of topics on this blog and I think that you may be confusing my work around Size Acceptance (a civil rights issue) with my work around Health at Every Size (an evidence-based method of approaching health and healthcare.) I wrote a blog post explaining my perspective on the difference between the two here: https://danceswithfat.wordpress.com/2012/09/28/are-health-at-every-size-and-size-acceptance-the-same/

      It includes the passage “I don’t think that we should use HAES as a platform to do size acceptance activism because I think that we should avoid even the intimation that some level of health or healthy habits is required for access to basic human respect and the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. There is absolutely NO health requirement to demand your civil rights. You don’t owe anybody “health” or “healthy habits” (especially not by their definition, and not by any definition at all.) You do deserve, and have the right to demand, respect and the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in the body you have right this minute – whatever your size, health and dis/ability.”

      You said in your comment “You should be saying “I’m fat, and my body, my diet, my exercise habits, and my health are none of your business. I deserve my rights just as much as you do, and you can go screw yourself if you don’t agree!”.

      While I don’t think it’s anybody else’s job to tell me what I “should do”, I agree with your sentiment which is why in this blog – the one you are commenting on – I said “the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are inalienable, not contingent. They are not based on size, health, habits, or the approval of others.”

      This is a sentiment that I express so frequently on this blog that I often get complaints that I say it too much. I get the same complaints about how often I say that health is multi-dimensional, not entirely within our control and not a barometer for worthiness. The reason I say them so often is because of people’s tendency to become confused about this.

      Now, the fact that civil rights are not contingent on anything does not mean that I think we shouldn’t discuss health, healthcare etc at all. I explain my views on that in this blog https://danceswithfat.wordpress.com/2012/10/30/why-talk-about-health-at-all/ which includes this passage “Health is multi-dimensional and includes things within and outside of our control including genetics, environment, access, and behaviors. Health is not an obligation, nor is it a barometer of worthiness. Nobody owes anybody else “health” or “healthy behavior,” and those who aren’t interested in health are not better or worse people than those who are interested in health. Prioritization of health and the path that someone chooses to get there are intensely personal and not anybody else’s business. The rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are not health or healthy habit dependent. People who have health issues should be given options for care and accommodation as they wish, not judged or asked to prove that their health issues are not their fault.”

      You said in your comment “It just seems to me that you’re constantly saying, I’m fat, but it’s not my fault because diets and exercise don’t work and I’m a fit fatty so give me my rights!”

      While I do often point out the lack of evidence showing the long-term efficacy of weight loss methods, I can’t find a single instance where I’ve suggested that I deserve rights only because my fat is not my fault, or that if someone’s fat is their fault they don’t deserve rights. I did write a blog called “What if my fat is my fault”. https://danceswithfat.wordpress.com/2012/04/25/what-if-my-fat-is-my-fault/ which includes the passage “The first conclusion that I came to was that even if I could have been thin, even if being fat was my fault, wondering how I got to be fat and who I should blame for it does not serve me in any way. This is the body that I have. It is fat.”

      I talk about the evidence around health, weight, and dieting because it’s not getting covered in the media (in fact the media is telling us the opposite,) people believe that the evidence does exist, and doctors prescribe weight loss despite the fact that it does not meet the requirements of evidence-based medicine. I also discuss it because diet companies make a ton of money taking credit for the short term weight loss that almost everyone experience and blaming clients for the long term weight regain that almost everyone experiences and therefore many, many people who have failed to lose weight long term blame themselves which is affecting their self-esteem and causing them to go on diet after diet not understanding the likelihood of success based on evidence.

      Just to clarify – my discussion of Size Acceptance is a demand for my civil rights which, as I said in this blog, are inalienable – not contingent. My discussion of Health at Every Size is articulation of an option that people can choose for their path to health and wellness including discussions of the evidence on which it is based.


      1. “While I don’t think it’s anybody else’s job to tell me what I “should do””

        Sorry, I should’ve worded that better.

        And yeah, I’ve obviously confused HAES with Size Acceptance. They’re obviously two different animals (with some overlap, but still.).


  14. I’ve had people say they want to slap me, too. It’s always incredibly unnerving and jarring (and no, it is not in response to me saying something violent.) It’s amazing how making what seem like such basic points (that health and weight are not equivalent, and that people have the right to do what they want with their own bodies) inspires such rage in people. It shows that those things touch a nerve in people, because there is an underlying assumption that those things cannot, MUST NOT be true.

    1. Hi Michelle, can I first say that I love your blog. I wonder if sometimes the anger doesn’t come exactly from what it is that HAES is saying, but from seeing other people accepting themselves. I know sometimes I feel a sort of (admittedly pretty nasty) anger when I see people ‘letting themselves off the hook’ and accepting themselves even though they’re not perfect, since I have a hard time accepting myself. It’s not a nice emotion but it’s something I can’t help. I can only work at not letting it influence my actions.

  15. Yeah, people really do fall prey to that “fear and attack anything different that I don’t understand” thing.
    Threats of physical violence used to really freak me out. Now I just sort of quirk an eyebrow and think “okay, if you really want to get thrashed that badly…” I mean it’s not really gratifying to beat up an untrained fighter. What’s that prove? Nothing really, they’re a “civilian.” But I don’t care for bullies either.
    Attacking me physically is just generally a poor life choice, haha.

  16. The reactions of these people, Diane, the man in the gym wanting to punch a woman he feels must lose weight, those who make hateful and threatening comments on this blog – their comments and hatefulness have nothing to do with the people they direct their violent feelings and communication at. It is all about them, their lack of self-esteem, their inability to deal in facts, their cowardice hiding within the internet. These people who threaten to kill, assault, wish harm upon, a fat person, a gay person, a person of some other race, religion, etc., any person who doesn’t agree with them; they are cowards, empty and, obviously, bitter.

  17. Of course there is NO reason for violence. I read most of the comments etc. I would like to say that during my research and observations, I find that people tend to put the cart before the horse. If the public say fat people are unhealthy there is some truth in that. Hear me out. If a person is born insulin resistant, then one would have to say they are born unhealthy. The insulin resistant CAUSES weight gain. Then in a lot of cases, diabetes. After that, all sorts of things happen to the body. Being fat in and of itself isnt a cause of a health problems. Health problems such as mentioned above, Cushings, PCOS, Addisons, etc. all cause weight gain and if one has these problems then one can consider themselves unhealthy. So I really believe that most, if not all fat people, have an underlying health issue for the reason they are fat. This may anger some of you and the public, but if you could understand why we are fat, my hope is the blaming will stop. Also, if it is known that being fat is not a ‘fault’, it will be upsetting to the egos that Ragen mentioned above, but it can bring some clairity to the fat issue. This is why I believe food has nothing to do with being fat or thin. This is why diets dont work.

    1. A man that Kittendaddy works with is very, very fat. He’s a disabled veteran, and the medications he’s on plus the fact that he’s not very mobile has contributed to this weight gain.

      So yeah, he’s very fat and extremely unhealthy, but the unhealthy part is *not* caused by the fat part… it’s actually the other way around.

      In this case, of course. YMMV, as always.

    2. Insulin resistance, insofar as it reduces thermogenesis (which can be wasteful) and promotes fat gain, would not have been a “health problem” for our hunter/gatherer ancestors. And in the technical, evolutionary sense of the word, it isn’t even maladaptive in our current environment, unless it causes or promotes infertility (which does sometimes happen, e.g., PCOS). I do acknowledge that insulin resistance can cause health problems, most often in middle or old age…but maybe we shouldn’t call something that enabled our ancestors to survive a “problem.” It isn’t something that needs to be eradicated like cancer or Cushings. We just need to be aware of what it is, how it affects our bodies, and how to temper it (if necessary).

      1. “Insulin resistance, insofar as it reduces thermogenesis (which can be wasteful) and promotes fat gain, would not have been a “health problem” for our hunter/gatherer ancestors.”

        Yeah, because they’d be dead.

        1. They would be dead WITHOUT some degree of insulin resistance, because gaining lots of fat during times of plenty was essential for surviving famines. Insulin sensitivity occurs on a continuum. It tends to decrease when there is an overabundance of calories (particularly carbs), which promotes weight gain. People can be “insulin resistant” according to the current standard, and not develop diabetes for 10 or more years. In fact, some people with insulin resistance NEVER develop beta cell failure, and thus never become diabetic.

          In other words, what I’m trying to say is that chronically high insulin sensitivity (particularly of peripheral muscle cells, which are energy hogs) would have been a “health problem” for our ancestors, NOT the moderate kinds of insulin resistance that lead to weight. The most severe forms of insulin resistance, which are rare and caused by major defects in the insulin receptor, or autoimmune diseases where the insulin receptors are destroyed, cause wasting rather than weight gain. But when we talk about “insulin resistance,” we are not usually referring to this level of severity.

    3. What the public has to say is meaningless. If John Q. Public says the world is flat then does that so? If John Q. Public says that blue eyed people, with moles under their left arm are more intelligent, does that make it so? Anti-intellectualism rears it’s ugly head again. I read it on the internet so it must be true.

      “Being fat in and of itself isnt a cause of a health problems. Health problems such as mentioned above, Cushings, PCOS, Addisons, etc. all cause weight gain and if one has these problems then one can consider themselves unhealthy.”

      Now, based on your logic, how do I go about finding said disease which has never been discovered by any of the medical professionals I have seen that will finally allow me to be “acceptable” since I will now have a “valid” “excuse”, according to John Q Public, why I am fat. Perhaps I should scour the internet for answers (cause we all know that what people write on the internet must be true).

      “So I really believe that most, if not all fat people, have an underlying health issue for the reason they are fat.”

      Not to be rude but did it ever occur to you that perhaps fat is just part of our natural physiological makeup? Why do you feel the need to justify someone’s SIZE with assumptive opinions?

      I don’t need to justify why I am fat, what SIZE I am, nor have anyone else do it for me either. I am fat and I like how I look to boot. Just like I don’t I need to justify why I am 5’4″, have size 8.5 feet and my hair is prematurely grey. It is part of my UNIQUE being that makes me who I am. I need not justify why I exist in any way, shape or form. To anyone.

      “This may anger some of you and the public, but if you could understand why we are fat, my hope is the blaming will stop.”

      Actually, I find it amusing. Thank you. I don’t need to understand why I am fat. I am. As for the blaming, that will stop when people take responsibility for and learn to love themselves. Wen we can own our shit, not toss it at everyone else. When we develop self esteem based on who we are, not who everyone else is. When we stop needing other people to make us feel good. When we realize that we are mortal, we can differentiate fact from fiction, teach our children that life is wonderful. When we stop chasing the younger, better, more expensive, bigger, fancier ideals and realize that everything we have is within us. Etc.

  18. When our dominant (social/cultural) discourses begin to demonstrate overt or widespread rhetorical distortions as we are seeing now in correspondence with the rise of FA, HAES movements, and Fat Studies—cracks in dominant social denial mechanisms inevitably begin to appear whereby the formerly unquestioned forces of social control and social domination of fat persons and fat bodies (e.g. a fat person’s socially constructed requirement to feel frightened, and ashamed, and inferior, and powerless) are no longer so widely accepted as “normal”.

    Rather, the false assumptions and the crumbling so-called evidence offered by dominant discourses (which have been used to construct the shabby foundations of fat bias and stigma) are finally being brought out into the open (on blogs such as this) and are being highlighted for their glaring lack of critical examination and for their pathetic beliefs (ideology) that human body size is a worthy target for their three greatest values (and illusions): efficiency, prediction, and control.

    Facing so much threat to their status quo, indeed—to their worldview—and to their blissful ignorance, true believers (convinced of their holy trinity—efficiency, prediction, and control—their prime directive to believe in the efficiency, predictability, and domination over human weight/size ) may perhaps be falling victim more frequently these days to painful cognitive dissonance.

    Sadly, without the capacity or willingness to attempt critical discourse, some may belief they have only one recourse left: the threat of physical violence.

  19. It matters not whose fault it is that a body gets fat (meds, emotions, genetics, lifestyle..etc), NO ONE should be denied their rights due to body shape/size. HAES is what it is… and I agree with Reagan that if you don’t read carefully, you might blend the two (rights protection and HAES) and be interpreted by others as promoting fat.

    As for the threat of slapping… as much as I find it immature and shameful, I’d rather someone speak/type it and leave me prepared that to just get slapped. Of course, if they just hit me, I’d likely retaliate and then we’d both be in trouble.

  20. Violence is absolutely unnessecary, and that includes the threat of violence. I understand the feeling of upset and rage when the ideas and beliefs you have held so close are being challenged, and disproven. But that does not in any circumstances make the threat of harm ok.
    And You don’t say all people are fat and healthy. You are merely saying that Fat and Unhealthy don’t run around in life’s playground holding hands and clotheslining people. Skinny people are sometimes unhealthy, skinny people are sometimes healthy. Fat people are sometimes unhealthy, fat people are sometimes healthy. Health is not exclusive to the Thin and Elite (unless we’re talking health care and preventative care options, but thats a different soapbox) and Unhealthy is not exclusive to the Fat and Poor.

  21. Beavis has some advice for Diane.
    Diane needs to say a thousand Hail Marys. Then she needs to slap herself. Harder!
    Because Diane is a bigoted jerk.

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