Contemplating electronic progress,
size rights, and our purpose

by Conrad H. Blickenstorfer Ph.D.

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I am one of the lucky people who truly love their job. As a lifelong admirer of the large figure, publishing a magazine like Dimensions is a real treat. Some say it could hardly be considered work. My other big love is computers, and since I also publish Pen Computing and Digital Camera magazines, I get to indulge in all the latest electronic gizmos every day.

As a result, perhaps 90% of my work is done using computers and the Internet. I've pretty much come to view the phone as a pesky intrusion into my work day and infinitely prefer e-mail, which I can save, organize, and respond to when I get to a logical break in my work, as opposed to dropping everything to answer the phone.

Every once in a while, I sit back and marvel at just how amazing all of this new technology is, and how it has changed the world we live in forever.

To produce a magazine like Dimensions, for example, would have required very significant personnel and financial resources only twenty years ago. Today, I produce the whole thing virtually all by myself, thanks to a powerful Macintosh computer system, direct connection to prepress filmsetting equipment, and permanent, high-speed access to the Internet. Even when Dimensions was started in 1984, cutting and pasting still involved copy machines and scissors and glue, not just clicks of the mouse. And it hasn't been that long since I had to labor over typing handwritten manuscripts into the computer. Today we get almost all submissions by e-mail.

But technology hasn't only improved the production process, it goes way beyond that. Thanks to the emergence of the World Wide Web, gathering information has become infinitely easier. Thanks to electronic mailing lists and web bulletin boards, like-minded people can stay in constant contact. And thanks to e-mail, reliance on the ever frustrating snail-mail has been reduced dramatically, and I feel good about saving a few trees in the process.

But even that isn't all. The electronic revolution has fundamentally changed the way information is disseminated, the way opinions are formed, and the way decisions are made. I have high hopes that those of us in the size rights movement will take maximum advantage of all of these new tools and capabilities to further our goals.

Electronic meetings, for example, would cut down on the enormous travel costs and enable a larger number of people to participate in a size rights organization such as NAAFA. There could be almost instant information and decision making, and all of this could lead to a global community of fat people and their admirers, a community that would band together and fight together, using technology to advance the rights of people of size.

Of course, it isn't all roses. If you're Internet-savvy, you may have joined a mailing list with great expectations, just to unsubscribe a few days or weeks later because of all that petty bickering and bashing. Or you may have decided not to post your opinion on a board for fear of becoming the target of one of those angry cyber trolls. Internet newsgroups have all but collapsed under the weight of commercial "spam." In addition, easy access to an electronic audience has spawned a whole gaggle of crusaders who form vanity splinter groups that, taken together, divide forces and resources, and play right into the hands of the diet industry.

Nevertheless, there is much reason for optimism. The continuing growth of Dimensions Online is most encouraging. Recently, our home page was downloaded for the millionth time since we started counting hits. Hundreds of messages are posted every day on the four Dimensions Online bulletin boards. And I think this is just the beginning. If we do this right, the electronic communications revolution can lead to massive advances for the size rights movement (And yes, note that I'm talking about the "size rights" and not the "size acceptance" movement. I've long felt that this isn't so much about being accepted as demanding to be treated fairly and with respect. I don't see why a fat person should have to beg for acceptance, this is about equal rights. I am for self acceptance and size rights.)

Unfortunately, despite all the progress achieved by organizations such as NAAFA that have been fighting for size rights for almost 30 years, we're still facing an uphill battle. For every enlightened person of size who accepts his or her body and demands to be treated equally, there are ten or perhaps a hundred others who would literally do anything to lose weight. Tens of thousands of people rather have their intestines surgically (and all too often fatally) rearranged than to seek happiness the way they are. And even within the movement, people often seem totally puzzled and shocked when confronted with the philosophy of Dimensions.

So let me reiterate once again what we believe in and what we're all about:

We believe that fat people can be beautiful and attractive, as evidenced by the fact that a certain percentage of the population has a definite preference for the large figure. We believe that the health risks of obesity are self-servingly exaggerated by the diet industry who sees fat people as nothing more than a golden goose. We believe that leading a reasonable lifestyle at a steady higher weight is healthier than the physical and mental stress of a succession of diets. We seek to help people understand, and enjoy, their preference for a large size partner. We also seek to help large size people understand and enjoy the attention from those who admire them. We don't do any of this to win a popularity contest or achieve commercial success. If that were our goal, we'd have to limit ourselves to featuring only models up to a certain size, we're simply not going to do that.

I think this is a worthy cause, and certainly one I deeply believe in.

Editor at Large