I got a comment a few days ago from Nick that is a common response that people who are fat and do fat activism get, and I thought it would be fun to break it down a bit.
“I don’t mind that you’re fat. I don’t mind that you share your experiences with others. The thing that really makes me sad is that you and others like you actively promote obesity and try to convince people that it’s ok.”
First of all let’s acknowledge what a benevolent, selfless person Nick is that he doesn’t mind that I exist and that I tell my own story. I can’t say how touched I am, and when I say I can’t, that’s because I’m not touched at all. I’m not sure what kind of exaggerated sense of self-importance someone has to have to think that it’s their place to run around the internet giving other people begrudging permission to exist, but I am sure that Nick needn’t have wasted his time with all that on my account.
The second part of the comment illustrates a misrepresentation of Size Acceptance that people who don’t actually understand it often use (either on purpose or through ignorance) to incite “won’t-somebody-think-of-the-children” style hand-wringing about the idea that people, especially fat people, might actually like themselves.
The idea of “promoting obesity” is among the most ridiculous things that I’ve ever heard. As if someone will see a happy fat person and say “I want to be happy, I’ll bet the secret is that she’s fat, I’m going to get fat so I can be happy too!”. Like’s it the new V8 commercial: millions of thin people, who see the same 386,170 negative messages a year about fat people, will see one of us being successful, happy, or (heavens forfend) liking ourselves, smack their foreheads and say “I coulda been fat!”
Size Acceptance isn’t about promoting a body size, it’s about the basic right of everyone, of every size, to exist without shame, stigma, bullying, or oppression, regardless of why they are the size they are, what being that size means, and if they could or want to change their size. It’s about the fact that the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are not size dependent. Size Acceptance is not about promoting a body size, that’s actually the other guys – the dominant culture that insists that there is only one “good” way for a body to look and be.
I often wonder if the suggestion that Size Acceptance is about “promoting obesity” or “wanting everyone to be fat” is simply an expression of the fear that weight bullies have, that if we are able rise above the bullying, stigmatizing and oppression they enjoy perpetuating, fat people will treat our oppressors the way that they’ve been treating us. (Might this be why people like Nick want us to think that we should care about their approval of our existence?)
Now let’s deal with the idea that I try to convince other people that it’s ok to be fat. When I say that it’s ok to be fat, I’m not trying to convince anybody of anything – I’m simply stating a fact. It is 100% ok to be fat. I covered that in detail here, but the bottom line is that it doesn’t matter how fat someone is, or why they are that fat, or what the outcomes of being that fat may or may not be. They deserve to be treated with respect and it is completely ok for them to be that size.
Yes, even if they weigh 2000 pounds. Yes even if you think their weight is “their fault.” Yes, even if you would never ever want to be “that fat”. Yes, even if you can’t understand how they do certain things. Yes, even if they have problems that can be correlated with being fat. Yes, even if they have problems that can be causally related to being fat. Yes, even if studies show that they cost society more. Yes, even if they actually cost society more.
It is totally, completely 100% ok for someone to be fat because other people’s body sizes aren’t anybody else’s business. (And those who think it is because fat people “cost them tax dollars”, should check out this post.) Nobody requires anyone else’s justification, or permission to live in their body. Period. This is true whether or not people are able to, are trying to, or want to, achieve permanent weight loss – it is a matter of civil rights.
At the end of the day, no matter what your size, remember that you don’t need permission from Nick or anyone else to exist in the body you have now, to appreciate that body, or to make choices for yourself.
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21 thoughts on “Nick Doesn’t Mind That I’m Fat”
And after Nick was so veery generous as to allow you to exist so long as you are suitably (according to him) apologetic about it!
It’s just like the old argument that it’s okay to be gay so long as you don’t lure others into it by refusing to be ashamed, or that it’s fine not to be white so long as you know your place. IOW, it’s bullshit of the first water designed to keep people from making any attempt to make use of their human rights.
Sorry, Nick, but nobody here is falling for it.
So regarding the whole, “you’re fat and you cost me money” makes me wonder if that means that those who are childless by choice get to say to those with children, “you have children and that costs me money”.
Because it’s just as absurd.
well, for “just as absurd” – I’ve heard that a lot already. And the other way round, too – “you have no children, so you cost society because no one can care for you when you’re old”. In the end it seems to me that many people don’t want to be responsible for anyone, don’t want to see anything they don’t like and never ever be challenged to – o my god – think new thoughts! But if they need help or they themselves don’t meet the standards of our society, then all of a sudden they cry out for help and whine how unjust it all is …
Nick, if you’re reading these comments, I’m going to teach you a new adverb: syphilitically. It rather accurately describes the way in which I would invite you to go fuck yourself.
I would totally buy your word-a-day calendar.
I am anorexic with bulimic tendencies. I’ve been this way since I was around 10 years old. I’ve spent 2/3 of my entire life measuring my self worth in numbers including but not limited to weight in pounds, calories consumed in a day or week, weight watchers points consumed in a day or week, and truly unhealthy things like ratios of red to green food items consumed in a day or week. I need size acceptance because it’s a tool that helps me remember that I have value beyond those numbers. I need size acceptance because it’s a tool that helps me remember there is more to life than those numbers. I am underweight. I can’t stand the feeling of fat moving on my body. Maybe with more exposure to size acceptance I’ll move past that that some day. Maybe I won’t. But I do know that without size acceptance blogs like this one, I won’t have the resources I need to help pull me out of my most dangerous body hate and compulsive food restriction spirals.
I too spent 2/3 of my life with an anorexic mind, and behaviours. No one believed I was in any danger though, as I don’t “look” anorexic. But 2 yrs ago I began my journey of healing, thanks to these blogs. I hope they can help you too.
I hope so. Thank you for comiserating with me. Im glad youre no longer trapped in ED hell.
Reblogged this on Kate Is Rising and commented:
Once again, Ragen says all that needs to be said.
Maybe some of you can help me here. This article really rings bells in my head about standing up for myself. As of 12/31 I am at the heaviest I have been in my life. I am 55. I am not bothered by it because I know that I am taking care of myself as best I can right now. But everyone else in my life is worried about it for me! I am 55 years old and due to unforseen circumstances I am having to live with my parents right now while I try to get back on my feet. I am disabled and not able to work outside the home any more. My doctor and my dad and sometimes even my mom are always on my case about my weight. Mainly about the idea that I am not “really trying” to lose it. The doctor has taken steps to “punish” me for it by cutting down on my pain medication “because it’s not helping me” even though my pain has nothing to do with how much I weigh. I am stuck with him right now, so I accept that this is how he is and what he doesn’t know is that by increasing my level of pain I am more likely to get approved for social security, so fine! My dad is another story, he is passive-aggressive about it. He was more overtly aggressive until I finally told him that I don’t talk about my weight or food intake with anyone but my doctor. (yay me!). NOW he just gets silently pissed when I don’t go the pool, makes snide comments if he finds food in my room, compares what I choose to eat with what he chooses to eat, ignores my pain by insisting that I do things I am unable to do like stand up for however long it takes to cook something – even though my inability to do that has nothing to do with my weight! I feel like his eyes are on me every second and that makes me feel like a child! I have tried to block it out, I have tried to talk to him. I wish I had somewhere else to stay but I don’t. I wish I didn’t care what he thinks but because of how he ACTS that is hard. I know that I can’t change him, I can only change myself, but at this point I really do not know how to stand up for myself without causing a major confrontation. ANY advice will be appreciated!
You’re right. You cannot change him and right now circumstances are not within your control.
What you can do is provide yourself with safety valves. Do you have a friend you could stay overnight with once in a while? Go to dinner with? Is there somewhere you can get to and from on your own for at least a couple hours a week? Do you keep a journal? Can you tune him out for a while with an iPod and headphones?
Anything you can do to reduce the stress on yourself is a good thing. Be aggressive about finding ways to shut out the negativity and care for yourself.
I know I need not add ‘move like a bat out of hell the nanosecond circumstances allow’ because I am keenly aware that’s already very much your plan. All the same, I’m giving said plan forty-two thumbs up.
Oh, and remember that everyone here is wishing you well. We’re in your corner.
Thank you Twistie! Yes, i do get to stay overnight once a month at my son’s house. It is always a happy experience where I can be myself and nothing is expected. I do get away from the house as much as I can, I spend time every couple of weeks visiting others who are shut in and worse off than I am and need the company and APPRECIATE my presence! I do use my headphones on an almost daily basis. I do write a blog but I can fully express my thoughts on this topic there because my parents both read my blog…and I can’t bear the thought of hurting their feelings or causing a confrontation or sounding ungrateful. I wish I could just be myself ALL THE TIME. I don’t have the courage because I am so dependent on them for a place to live and food to eat that I am afraid they would kick me out with no where else to go. Even though my mom says that would never ever happen, somehow I don’t believe her.
I don’t know how agreeable your father will be, but I know Ragen has advice for talking with doctors on this site. Here is one of her posts:
Hopefully others will add more and one of them will be of help to you.
that’s got be so hard for you. while i do think your best long-term cause of action is to teach yourself to let this sort of crap roll off you, i know that is much easier said than done, and is more of a work in progress. so here’s some advice for right now: vent online. you say in another reply that you have a blog but you don’t want to tell the truth there because your parents read it. well, nothing keeps you from starting another blog and join other forums under an assumed name, and don’t tell them about it. also, seek out online groups of size acceptance folks, and start to engage there — you will find a lot of people who understand where you’re coming from, who will be supportive, and who will provide an outlet for your frustrations, and quite possibly more detailed advice than you can get from a single comment here. in my experience, having a safe outlet to blow off steam helps a lot when you can’t change your external circumstances.
on the parent and doctor front i would probably calmly present some size acceptance facts, slowly, one at a time (ragen posts a lot of resources). and evidence of how damaging constant stress is, which is what they all are subjecting you to — it’s not like you need extra stress in your situation. if they’re unlikely to listen to scientific reason, maybe show them how much they actually hurt you emotionally by their pressure. you might need to use baby steps since you can’t protect your boundaries by walking out. if you can get some local professional help (mental health care), that would also be good — and it might count as “doing something” for your folks.
a question — do you like going to the pool in general, and it’s only your father’s expectations that make it a chore? i am asking because for me immersing myself in water has always been an escape; the water buoys my body up, and it deadens sound and makes everything more peaceful. if you can find something like that for yourself, that might also help — creating an inner space of peace where you can restore your emotional energy. the more outside forces press in the more valuable such a space becomes. maybe you’re looking at the pool through “must exercise” eyes — try to look at it from the perspective of how you can enjoy being there; maybe it’ll work. and your father doesn’t need to know you don’t go there for exercising to exhaustion. it’ll get you out of the house, get him off your back, and give you some gentle physical activity, which isn’t a bad thing when it comes without demands for performance. yes, i think some mild subterfuge is in order when people don’t respect one’s personal boundaries.
best wishes, and i hope you find some things that lighten your load.
I never understood the idea that being something in public is somehow ‘promoting it.’ If I walk around with a cast on my arm, am I promoting broken bones? If I walk around sneezing am I promoting the common cold? This idea that being a successful person who is also fat, or discussing how society fails us on a daily basis is somehow encouraging other people to be fat just defies logic.
If you were to follow my Tumblr or LJ (which is sorely neglected, d’oh), you would probably gather that I encourage people do things like:
* accept their med and psych disabilities and apply for public assistance
* take opiate medications if possible, ahead of NSAID, neuroactive, or other alternate forms of pain relief, including opiates not adulterated with acetaminophen
* live to the fullest extent of the law (and occasionally beyond)
* shake up the government in such ways that they understand they’re in serious danger of being removed from power the hard way
* question authority figures and their privilege of said authority
* write porn.
In all cases, you would be right. You probably think this means I need serious help. Well, sunshine, I’m already getting serious help, and that help seems to think I’m onto something. Know why?
I cite specific reasons for why things need to happen, and I can back them up with scientific, historic, or other facts.
You are speaking from a position of majority. However, the majority is not always correct. For instance, the only reason the FDA did not approve Thalidomide for prescription use in the 1960s is because one woman working there demanded proof that it worked. There was none. The stuff was being hyped and approved for sale worldwide on the word of, essentially, a snake oil dealer. In the US, it was only ever provided as a sample. This is why the US had the lowest percentage of Thalidomide-affected infants of any country where it was distributed. As it later turned out, one isomer of the formula does in fact work reasonably well as an antiemetic. The other is one of the most potent teratogens ever discovered. (The stuff does, however, suppress the immune system like nobody’s business, and the drug Thalomid is available for something like two life-threatening conditions.)
My point is, the majority were very, very much in the wrong, and the pressure they inflicted upon the worldwide medical and pharmaceutical communities altered or ruined countless lives.
The same applies to your assumption that you have the right to pressure anyone to change their size.
Now, please, go and study stress. I doubt you’ll understand it at its most fundamental levels, but you’ll see what it does to the cardiovascular system. Being fat does not cause that in any greater rate than being thin. Your demand, however, that we conform to your wishes does, just as surely as drug testing exists for a damned good reason.
I will tell “Nick” that I absolutely want people to be fat. Absolutely.
I want to see fat doctors. They are people.
I want to see fat CEOs. They are people.
I want to see fat police, firepeople, lifeguards and military. They are people.
I want to see fat children out and happy and proud. They are people.
I want to see people who look like me, act like me and think like me so this world is not such a fucking horrible place for me to live. Because the last time I checked I don’t have any other options so its time for you and others like you to get YOUR SHIT IN LINE AND ACCOMMODATE ALL OF US!
put that in your pipe and smoke it Nick. You really pissed me off today.
Well, since Nick has brought it up, I might as well admit it, Ragen. I was only 100 pounds when I first visited this site. But you made being fat seem so attractive and fun (especially when you talk about how poorly fat people are treated — hey, attention is attention, amirite?), I thought I’d try it. Now that I’ve put on the extra 100+ pounds, my life is absolutely perfect, just like you said it would be! I’m even garnering all kinds of male attention that I wasn’t before — and it’s from real gems, just like Nick! I’m like a fat version of the old Charles Atlas “Ninety-Pound Weakling” ads!!!
Except, wait — none of that happened. Because it’s a really, really stupid thing to think.
The truth is that Nick (are you sure you got that first consonant right?) and others like him aren’t the least bit concerned that Ragen or any of us will make being fat look fun. They’re upset that fat people might realize they don’t need approval or permission to exist, or to be happy, or might even say “screw you” to their bullying.
Well, Nick, I say screw you, your permission to be fat, and your permission to speak out. (I was going to add “and the horse you rode in on”, but the truth is, I’d probably like the horse a lot better than I like you.)
I was listening earlier to day to NPR about bullying. A guy was thrown in a lake when he was a teenager, and at a high school reunion talked to one of the guys who did it.
The bully claimed that he remembered it was all in good fun and everyone had ended up in the lake.
Later, after the victim had left, the bully revealed he’d thrown the guy in the lake because the victim was being a pain in the ass.
While Nick is being more circumspect about it, he and all other bullies are simply reacting to something they don’t like, usually with some kind of negative behavior.
I realize this isn’t a surprise to anyone, but it occurred to me that in addition to telling victims they don’t have to apologize to anyone, we need to get rid of the knee-jerk outward reaction many people have to something they do not like. Nobody has to like everything, but everyone needs to learn that just because they don’t like something, doesn’t mean they can or should punish whatever/whoever they don’t like.
Not sure how do do that, especially when my initial reaction to bullies is to smack them with a two-by-four. At least, I realize that is not helpful. From what little I have managed to learn, if you can teach kids when they are young about their feelings and how to express them in a healthy way, these sorts of bad behaviors are reduced.
I’d fund the shit out of stuff like they mention in this program.
“(are you sure you got that first consonant right?)”
(Warning: spleen-venting with some profanity)
I don’t mind that you’re a fat-hating concern troll with an exaggerated sense of your own importance. I don’t mind that you share your bigotry with others like a never-ending online circle-jerk. The thing that really makes me sad is that you and others like you actively promote shaming, discrimination and violating fat people’s personal boundaries and try to convince people that it’s ok to do the same, and worse.
I occupy the same planet as bigots like you under protest, and I am
managing somehow to soldier on despite the head-shaking of people like you.
Looking forward to the day when bigotry like yours is a cause for widespread confusion and “sadness”,
PS.–Shall I send you a note when I go back to belly dancing class so you can start shaking your sad head just a little harder? 8P