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Old 10-31-2009, 03:13 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by Fascinita View Post
So what I wanted to suggest by asking why fat is exceptionalized in ways that thinness and tallness, just for example, are not, is that we have to be careful, I think, not to remove fat from the sphere of normal, natural human conditions.
From my POV, though, it is not us who removes fat from the sphere of normalcy, it is the reactions and behavior of those around us who do so in our formulative years that informs, often, how we feel and think of ourselves and our place in the world. Until we get that bigoted feedback, we often DO feel normal. Very much of what I am personally discussing is the result of a childhood spent as a fat person in a fat-hating environment. I'm not at all trying to speak to the experience of a person who is 'average' size until adulthood and then who becomes fat and experiences these judgments and indictments as an adult who already has a more cemented and healthy sense of self.
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As your personal testimony suggests, being fat is expressed individually in every person. My post was intended as a critique of the idea that a fat person must accept and love herself and that self-love and confidence magically make her a more enlightened version of what she was before. And yet everyone is different. What lets one person feel at peace with herself varies wildly from what works for her cousin Marie, you know? So the idea that "self-love" and "confidence" in a fat person proves anything, and that it's a good antidote to self-hate, is a dangerous one, I think.
I know you're talking to Carrie, really, not me, but I have a perspective on this, too (go figure ).

Personally, I believe that self-love and confidence in a fat person is really removed from the norm, and rather than seeing it as being dangerous, I see it as being a step towards feeling normal, or at least feeling worthy of breathing air. I get the feeling from reading this that the perspective from which you write is one of not being very fat as a child, or that if you were you weren't all that stigmatized for it. I don't want to jump to conclusions here, or put words in your mouth, because I don't know what your situation was, but only know my own and some perspectives from others who grew up as I did, feeling in many ways the same, and how much of a relief it can be, and how important it is, to replace those fat-hating internal tapes with messages of self-love and confidence. It can feel like a form of enlightenment -- and transformation.

So self-love and confidence are not magical; they are often hard-won and consciously formed after living a life without it, but they very much do have the power to transform, even if said feelings are just an improvement and not examples of perfection in self-perception. It should be said that often confidence is not perfect or total, or completely consistent. I believe we all have our moments of self-doubt feelings of inferiority or like we're less-than from time to time. But that is just my O and not claiming it's anyone else's.
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Old 10-31-2009, 03:30 PM   #27
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You know, I feel like those weight loss-loving-gushing women are elated (for the most part) to finally fit into a societal norm. I do think some women have valid complaints, as it is always difficult when something hinders your mobility, but I don't know. I know I don't feel like they do-- the self hate, the avoidance of mirrors, food issues, etc.

Do I love being a fat girl? That's a complex question.

I wouldn't say I love it. I would say I have learned to do well within its context. I have learned to work with what clothing is made available to me, and health is something I work to maintain. I guess I, on some level, always felt that the problem did not lie with me. I never really had qualms about going out to eat, eating it all and ordering dessert, I never (past the awkward teen years) felt that I couldn't look in the mirror. I feel like the sobbing woman talking about how hard it is to be fat is so TIRED. Like, seriously, I feel like there are sheep and there are those who are ok standing alone or in a minority. I know that being fat on some level makes me stand out, and I am ok with that. I feel that on some level these women who sob about their size are not ok standing on their own.

Basically, I feel like, sometimes, they're just sad they aren't the paradigm of "standard attractiveness."

Dag, that sounded cold. Hope it all at least made sense, heh.
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Old 10-31-2009, 03:53 PM   #28
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You know, I feel like those weight loss-loving-gushing women are elated (for the most part) to finally fit into a societal norm. I do think some women have valid complaints, as it is always difficult when something hinders your mobility, but I don't know. I know I don't feel like they do-- the self hate, the avoidance of mirrors, food issues, etc.

Do I love being a fat girl? That's a complex question.

I wouldn't say I love it. I would say I have learned to do well within its context. I have learned to work with what clothing is made available to me, and health is something I work to maintain. I guess I, on some level, always felt that the problem did not lie with me. I never really had qualms about going out to eat, eating it all and ordering dessert, I never (past the awkward teen years) felt that I couldn't look in the mirror. I feel like the sobbing woman talking about how hard it is to be fat is so TIRED. Like, seriously, I feel like there are sheep and there are those who are ok standing alone or in a minority. I know that being fat on some level makes me stand out, and I am ok with that. I feel that on some level these women who sob about their size are not ok standing on their own.

Basically, I feel like, sometimes, they're just sad they aren't the paradigm of "standard attractiveness."

Dag, that sounded cold. Hope it all at least made sense, heh.
Tooz, this makes total sense. I just want to point out that when I say being fat is hard, it is not so much about standing out or being different as it is the treatment one gets from others. I realize not every fat person suffers discrimination based on their size, but I have and that part is not fun at all. Then there are just physical things that can be trying. The older I get the more I feel this stuff too. Granted part of that is just the normal aging process, but the other part that is the result of being fat isn't always easy to deal with either. So again, for me it has less to do with standing out than it does to do with physical aches and pains, and discrimination.
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Old 10-31-2009, 03:57 PM   #29
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Tooz, this makes total sense. I just want to point out that when I say being fat is hard, it is not so much about standing out or being different as it is the treatment one gets from others. I realize not every fat person suffers discrimination based on their size, but I have and that part is not fun at all. Then there are just physical things that can be trying. The older I get the more I feel this stuff too. Granted part of that is just the normal aging process, but the other part that is the result of being fat isn't always easy to deal with either. So again, for me it has less to do with standing out than it does to do with physical aches and pains, and discrimination.
Yeah, I definitely agree that being fat is a hard thing on many levels. I have definitely experienced at least the social side of it several times in my life, but I still am driven mad by sobbing women on tv, hah.

The one thing I don't like about being fat-- and this is more because society does this to me-- every time I have an injury or sickness or whatever, I wonder if it is somehow because I am fat. Logically, I know that's crap, but emotionally, I wonder sometimes.
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Old 10-31-2009, 04:06 PM   #30
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Yeah, I definitely agree that being fat is a hard thing on many levels. I have definitely experienced at least the social side of it several times in my life, but I still am driven mad by sobbing women on tv, hah.

The one thing I don't like about being fat-- and this is more because society does this to me-- every time I have an injury or sickness or whatever, I wonder if it is somehow because I am fat. Logically, I know that's crap, but emotionally, I wonder sometimes.
Ah, I feel you now. I know exactly what you mean on both counts. I used to wonder that too when sick or injured, less when sick but more when injured. Thing is tho sometimes it's true. Like with my arthritis, I know it's because of my size. That and weight lifting....what I wonder is quite the opposite actually. I wonder if I'd have gotten such severe arthritis if I were thin when I had done the weight lifting. If I were thin would I have had to stop? It was the first time I had experienced an activity I actually loved and having to give it up (doctor's orders) was truly devastating. Tho I also wonder if I were thin would the two doctors I saw about my knees would have recommended a less vigerous regimine rather than suggesting I stop altogether. I'll never know.
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Old 10-31-2009, 05:13 PM   #31
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From my POV, though, it is not us who removes fat from the sphere of normalcy, it is the reactions and behavior of those around us who do so in our formulative years that informs, often, how we feel and think of ourselves and our place in the world.
Tina, I hear what you're saying. While I was not really fat until I hit puberty, when the fat hate eventually started to rain on me, it poured. It was devastating. I have horror stories.

The thing of it is, for me, whatever the antidote is to the messages that were internalized has to be something found by the individual. That's why I'm not comfortable with the idea of "codifying" fat self-acceptance, or with suggesting that "self-love" really is going to get 'er done. At some point, then, what appears to be on the surface a good idea offered in the name of support becomes a mantra that is just one more burden the fat person has to bear.

I think we do sometimes remove ourselves from the sphere of normalcy, as when we focus exclusively on what sets us apart from the rest of humanity. I understand the need to form groups that offer opportunities for mutual support, but I'm wary of any idea that seems to prescribe any particular "medicine" that guarantees healing.

Where I'm coming from, ultimately:

Color me anti-authoritarian. I resist authority over my understanding of my body, from either direction. And I resist that not only on behalf of fat people, as I see how thinner people suffer, too. Anyone who is thin but who lives in terror of gaining two pounds is not wallowing in privilege. Fat-phobia is essentially a means to controlling bodies--those of the thin AND of the fat.

When we're terrorized for "being fat," I think we deserve support and the right to speak back to the hate. Speaking back to hate is our political civil right. But none of this actually puts fat in a category of sub- or super-human or extra-human. I know that some of us internalize these messages, and that it's important to support and empower one another. But I think that when we turn ideologue in support environments, when we start identifying fat as a monolithic category that exists as something "wronged" and "outside the norm," something that has to be rescued and restored, we run the risk of understating the perfect humanity of fat people. Fact is, outside of individual embodied experiences of it, "Fat" doesn't exist. And ideas about fat have equal potential to be beneficial or harmful. Better, IMO, to talk to and about individual people as such.

And if we divide ourselves into categories at all, let it be between those who are for letting people be as they are, and those that would control people--anyone--by applying manipulation through ideas.

I don't think that what divides us, you and I, is such a huge gap in experiences. Fat suffering is human suffering. I'm not interested in comparing suffering in the context of this thread, so I'm not going into my horror stories for the moment. If there is a component of your experience that I haven't participated in, of course it means I can't know what that was like for you. But neither, then, can anyone say that what's helpful for one is going to necessarily help another. The best we can do is to offer real support to one another, as human beings who all know suffering and who share individual knowledge of some set of experiences. We can learn from our experiences of existing in groups of mutual support, too, and use what we learn to offer better support to newcomers. But that support always has to be tailored to the individual. And while I imagine that replacing those negative tapes is helpful in many situations, we can't take a position that this is absolutely true in every case. Then it becomes ideology, and ideology has the effect of crushing individuals beneath it.

So that's what I was getting at. I hope that clarifies what I meant.
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Old 10-31-2009, 05:37 PM   #32
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I feel like the sobbing woman talking about how hard it is to be fat is so TIRED. Like, seriously, I feel like there are sheep and there are those who are ok standing alone or in a minority. I know that being fat on some level makes me stand out, and I am ok with that. I feel that on some level these women who sob about their size are not ok standing on their own.
Perhaps sometimes, but not all the time. I have frequently sobbed about my fatness, but not because I hate standing out or even because I always wanted to be conventionally attractive - I've NEVER been or looked like everyone else, thin or fat. I will always be the strange girl and I'm at peace with that, generally speaking. That said, I *do* have a fairly set comfort zone when it comes to my size and shape. Outside of that zone, I don't look or feel like myself anymore. I look hideous TO MYSELF, and it really doesn't matter if 99 out of 100 My Moms or Hot Boys try to convince me otherwise.

As you say, "liking your fatness" and even "liking yourself" is a lot more complex than yes/no/forever. BDD and other, non-size-related self-loathing issues were always in my mix and contributed to differing extents during each stage of my life. I'm pretty sure it's some degree of same for most others.
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Old 10-31-2009, 06:29 PM   #33
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Tina, I hear what you're saying. While I was not really fat until I hit puberty, when the fat hate eventually started to rain on me, it poured. It was devastating. I have horror stories.

The thing of it is, for me, whatever the antidote is to the messages that were internalized has to be something found by the individual. That's why I'm not comfortable with the idea of "codifying" fat self-acceptance, or with suggesting that "self-love" really is going to get 'er done. At some point, then, what appears to be on the surface a good idea offered in the name of support becomes a mantra that is just one more burden the fat person has to bear.

I think we do sometimes remove ourselves from the sphere of normalcy, as when we focus exclusively on what sets us apart from the rest of humanity. I understand the need to form groups that offer opportunities for mutual support, but I'm wary of any idea that seems to prescribe any particular "medicine" that guarantees healing.

Where I'm coming from, ultimately:

Color me anti-authoritarian. I resist authority over my understanding of my body, from either direction. And I resist that not only on behalf of fat people, as I see how thinner people suffer, too. Anyone who is thin but who lives in terror of gaining two pounds is not wallowing in privilege. Fat-phobia is essentially a means to controlling bodies--those of the thin AND of the fat.

When we're terrorized for "being fat," I think we deserve support and the right to speak back to the hate. Speaking back to hate is our political civil right. But none of this actually puts fat in a category of sub- or super-human or extra-human. I know that some of us internalize these messages, and that it's important to support and empower one another. But I think that when we turn ideologue in support environments, when we start identifying fat as a monolithic category that exists as something "wronged" and "outside the norm," something that has to be rescued and restored, we run the risk of understating the perfect humanity of fat people. Fact is, outside of individual embodied experiences of it, "Fat" doesn't exist. And ideas about fat have equal potential to be beneficial or harmful. Better, IMO, to talk to and about individual people as such.

And if we divide ourselves into categories at all, let it be between those who are for letting people be as they are, and those that would control people--anyone--by applying manipulation through ideas.

I don't think that what divides us, you and I, is such a huge gap in experiences. Fat suffering is human suffering. I'm not interested in comparing suffering in the context of this thread, so I'm not going into my horror stories for the moment. If there is a component of your experience that I haven't participated in, of course it means I can't know what that was like for you. But neither, then, can anyone say that what's helpful for one is going to necessarily help another. The best we can do is to offer real support to one another, as human beings who all know suffering and who share individual knowledge of some set of experiences. We can learn from our experiences of existing in groups of mutual support, too, and use what we learn to offer better support to newcomers. But that support always has to be tailored to the individual. And while I imagine that replacing those negative tapes is helpful in many situations, we can't take a position that this is absolutely true in every case. Then it becomes ideology, and ideology has the effect of crushing individuals beneath it.

So that's what I was getting at. I hope that clarifies what I meant.
You realize of course that what you are saying here is a type of ideology....I know you are addressing this to Tina, but the way I interpret this is that well then there is no point to sharing experiences or forming groups because of the tendency to form a herd mentality or because of the possibility of an authoritarian figure popping up to impose rules. If that is what you are saying then I have to disagree...makes me think of solitary confinement. People go crazy if left alone for too long. Some rules are necessary to prevent chaos. There has to be some balance between the two. A way to coexist without resorting to extremes in either direction.
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Old 10-31-2009, 06:45 PM   #34
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First, I would like to say that I am not surprised that so many people identified with what Tina has said. This community is a place where most people have had to deal with the pressures of dealing with labels, being "different" and trying to fit into a mold that didn't fit us (both figuratively and literally).
Growing up as a fat kid, I was MISERABLE. I just wanted to have friends, be happy, and have people love me for me. That's not how things work. As young as 8 or 9 I found myself feeling the need to prove myself, desiring affection, and always feeling like I was standing on the outside looking in at a life that was wonderful--but wasn't mine.
My self-esteem--what little I had of it--was waning, and as my teenage years bounded forward I withdrew into myself and became an awfully shy young girl who walked with her books in front of her and avoided looking at anyone for fear they would unleash a verbal assault on me for no more than glancing around. It was very hard for me to make friends...as when I was a child, no one wanted that fat kid to be in their group. I didn't learn much about socialization except that the fat kids get left out simply because they are fat. That left me with distrust, anger and bitterness about always being the stand out. and believe me, for a shy girl..being the stand out was not a good thing. I found that if I made fun myself before they did...it was easier to assimilate and be accepted, so I joked about being fat, called myself names, and allowed people to think it was okay to belittle me...all for the sake of being part of the in-crowd. All-the-while I felt this incredible pain inside from every cutting word. I felt guilty cos of the jokes and because I let people talk to me in a demeaning way, but at that time I felt it was the only way that they would accept me.
It took me YEARS to see that I had become the problem by allowing and participating in such behavior. Even now I sometimes crack a joke about being the big girl in a little world. I've learned in recent years that people are going to be who they are. They are either fat bigots, or they aren't. I prefer to have people in my life who arent. (sadly I have run into people who claim NOT to be..but really are and just wont admit it because they dont want to be thought of in a negative light).
Over the years I have learned that I can be me..a beautiful,engaging,entertaining, intellectual,funny, kind,thoughful, sweet person...without having to explain that fat is not part of the definition of WHO I am. Fat is just a descriptor...its not a definition.
I don't love being as big as I am. I have aches and pains from carrying around so much weight. I suffer leg edema, arthritis, and hip bursitis. I'd LOVE to be able to just walk into a store in the mall and buy the latest fashion, or be able to go to a restaurant without having to ask about seating accomodations. I'd love to travel and not have ot pay for a second seat. I'd love to be able to ride rides at an amusement park, or go on a date that involved tons of walking without tiring out. I'd love to be able to eat all I want and not gain a single pound. This is just not going to happen. As an adult, I don't feel the need to conform who I am to fit into what society thinks is "normal". I think I am normal. God isn't unhappy with me..so why should I be? I have a good friend who tells me all the time that, "God don't make junk"...I tend to agree with her. I think that people's bodies are masterpieces..and we chose our own ways to paint our own canvases. Some like tattoos and peircings,some dye their hair, some bodybuild, some (like me) enjoy food.
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Old 10-31-2009, 08:26 PM   #35
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I love my size and hate my age. I used to hate my size. Since when did Oprah Winfrey say anything real in 10 years of television. Excuse me, Oprah is a slave to her sponsors and her sponsors want women to feel bad about themselves so that they will go shopping for retail therapy. Female self-hatred makes the capitalistic world go round.
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Old 10-31-2009, 11:13 PM   #36
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You realize of course that what you are saying here is a type of ideology....
It's an ideology of removing all ideologies of control. It's one of resisting, rather than imposing. The critique that an ideology that calls for annulling ideologies that try to impose controls on people is not a valid one doesn't hold here. You may as well say that one isn't allowed to resist anything.

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I know you are addressing this to Tina, but the way I interpret this is that well then there is no point to sharing experiences or forming groups because of the tendency to form a herd mentality or because of the possibility of an authoritarian figure popping up to impose rules.
Not at all, olwen. I'm not sure you've read my post entirely. This isn't at all what I was saying.

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Some rules are necessary to prevent chaos. There has to be some balance between the two. A way to coexist without resorting to extremes in either direction.
I don't think we're really talking in the same rhetorical categories. I'm talking about how people relate to themselves and to one another as people, advocating individual considerations in every case. You seem to be addressing ways to govern groups. I think we're speaking at cross purposes. Authority is perfectly appropriate in some situations, and perfectly inappropriate in others.
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Old 10-31-2009, 11:27 PM   #37
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Yeah, I definitely agree that being fat is a hard thing on many levels. I have definitely experienced at least the social side of it several times in my life, but I still am driven mad by sobbing women on tv, hah.
I don't care for it, either, because it's so planned and there is such an agenda to it. It pisses me off when fat people are portrayed as pitiful.

My perspective was and is informed by my experiences and my childhood and growing up years, in which there was a lot of verbal, physical and emotional abuse and negation. I was a victim then, but I certainly am not now, so yeah, that pisses me off, too. There's so much more to me than my fat, and more to me than my past, too. I don't talk about it here for several reasons, but one of those reasons is that I don't want to focus on it. It's part of who I am but not even close to being all of who I am. I personally think that the producers, hosts and whomever cherry pick their guests and not only those fat people who hate their fat, but maybe who also grew up with abuse, and likely really took out the meat tenderizer on them before the show to soften them up and bring them closer to their emotions just for ratings' sake, which, to me, makes those assholes in charge of the show scum.
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The thing of it is, for me, whatever the antidote is to the messages that were internalized has to be something found by the individual. That's why I'm not comfortable with the idea of "codifying" fat self-acceptance, or with suggesting that "self-love" really is going to get 'er done. At some point, then, what appears to be on the surface a good idea offered in the name of support becomes a mantra that is just one more burden the fat person has to bear.
I believe it can be found by the individual, but I also think that people can help each other. I'm also not sure there is any one antidote, or an complete, perfect antidote to the likely lifelong effects of abusive childhoods. One can feel one has moved beyond it -- and maybe most often they have -- but it's also not uncommon to have those bad days when it all comes back and it just is what it is until one feels better. Parts of our foundation never goes away, but I do believe that we can re-build as we choose, and that it takes more than self-love and building some confidence in a person who has been traumatized by their growing up years, but that those factors can be important in the re-building. IMO, it's a combination of abuse and focus on a child's fat that does the most damage. I think that it's hard enough when the outside world is hard on a child for their size, or whatever their 'difference' is, but when it becomes a negative family focus, too, and the child has no safe place, that makes it a lot worse. Because of that, I do believe that building a positive self-perception is a big help in the person re-evaluating who they really are as an adult. One would hope it would come sooner, but it doesn't always. It didn't for me. Groups can be helpful with that; they can also be harmful. Any babe in the woods is open to possible predators who are only interested in their own agendas, whether the person is in a SA atmosphere or in any other kind of group.
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I think we do sometimes remove ourselves from the sphere of normalcy, as when we focus exclusively on what sets us apart from the rest of humanity. I understand the need to form groups that offer opportunities for mutual support, but I'm wary of any idea that seems to prescribe any particular "medicine" that guarantees healing.
First off, what is normal and just how healthy is it actually? "Normalcy" within society would like to pathologize fatness, and often do. Any extreme one way or the other is dysfunction and balance is generally found at or near the middle, IMO. I think that certainly it's not healthy to close oneself off and only mingle with people who are like oneself, whether it's fat people or any other group. It can really skew one's perception of the world and we cannot cocoon ourselves in cotton batting in order to protect ourselves from the world anyway. But if you're saying that diet plans and the 'health and beauty corporations are whacked for trying to sell us a bill of goods guaranteeing us some sort of illusion of "healing" that is really just an effort to pad their pockets and give fat people some illusion of the ability to 'heal' us of fatness and social stigma, I agree. Otherwise I'm not sure what you're meaning, because I'm not sure I see anyone here who isn't in favor of fat people casting off the mantle that those who would profit in any way, shape or form by us forming a line outside of Jenny Craig like cattle would wrap us in, instead of focusing on seeing ourselves more accurately and honestly, faults and all, rather than hate the way we look enough to want to empty our pockets, or souls, so that greedy bastards and manipulative people can make money or further themselves in any way. Total run-on sentence, but it's late and I'm tired. Hope it's at least somewhat clear.

I don't really think our takes on this are at odds, but I'm not sure I totally understand what you're saying when you talk about authoritarianism. Who is it that is being authoritarian about how a person sees and feels about themselves, Lizzy?
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Fat-phobia is essentially a means to controlling bodies--those of the thin AND of the fat.
Agreed, wholeheartedly.
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When we're terrorized for "being fat," I think we deserve support and the right to speak back to the hate. Speaking back to hate is our political civil right. But none of this actually puts fat in a category of sub- or super-human or extra-human. I know that some of us internalize these messages, and that it's important to support and empower one another. But I think that when we turn ideologue in support environments, when we start identifying fat as a monolithic category that exists as something "wronged" and "outside the norm," something that has to be rescued and restored, we run the risk of understating the perfect humanity of fat people. Fact is, outside of individual embodied experiences of it, "Fat" doesn't exist. And ideas about fat have equal potential to be beneficial or harmful. Better, IMO, to talk to and about individual people as such.

And if we divide ourselves into categories at all, let it be between those who are for letting people be as they are, and those that would control people--anyone--by applying manipulation through ideas.
I think I'm not getting this as it applies to this space or those of us participating in this thread. Are you saying it does, or are you talking about something in general 'out there'? I admit I'm confused and would like to understand.
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I don't think that what divides us, you and I, is such a huge gap in experiences. Fat suffering is human suffering. I'm not interested in comparing suffering in the context of this thread, so I'm not going into my horror stories for the moment. If there is a component of your experience that I haven't participated in, of course it means I can't know what that was like for you. But neither, then, can anyone say that what's helpful for one is going to necessarily help another. The best we can do is to offer real support to one another, as human beings who all know suffering and who share individual knowledge of some set of experiences. We can learn from our experiences of existing in groups of mutual support, too, and use what we learn to offer better support to newcomers. But that support always has to be tailored to the individual. And while I imagine that replacing those negative tapes is helpful in many situations, we can't take a position that this is absolutely true in every case. Then it becomes ideology, and ideology has the effect of crushing individuals beneath it.

So that's what I was getting at. I hope that clarifies what I meant.
I'm not really sure it does. I hope I'm not coming off as someone who has a cure-all or who knows it all, or who is trying to tell anyone what to do or how to live their lives. I'm just talking about my own experience and giving my opinion based upon it. Beyond that, it's up to others which path they take to whatever destination they want to reach. Again, I'm feeling confused about just what you're getting at, though, Lizzy.
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Old 10-31-2009, 11:46 PM   #38
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Again, I'm feeling confused about just what you're getting at, though, Lizzy.
lol Tina, I was testifying. Stating my beliefs about what it means to be a fat person in the world, in the context of "self-acceptance" presented in this thread.

You responded to my post, and I replied to that. I'm sorry it isn't more clear, what I mean. I've tried to use my best skillset of rhetorical and theoretical training in expressing myself and, if that falls short, I'm not sure I can do better for the time being. Maybe we'll have better luck another time.

Thanks for your thoughts!
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Old 10-31-2009, 11:47 PM   #39
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Carrie, I appreciate your pointing this out.

I guess I would say, in response, that I feel we all have to make peace with our bodies, whether fat or thin. Being fat, whether a little or a whole lot, is a human condition.

I can imagine states of thinness or tallness that might also be something to make peace with, whether because of physical or psychological impact. Personal physical and psychological challenges come in as many flavors as there are people. That is simply the human condition.

So what I wanted to suggest by asking why fat is exceptionalized in ways that thinness and tallness, just for example, are not, is that we have to be careful, I think, not to remove fat from the sphere of normal, natural human conditions.

Sometimes I feel like, in the rush to get everyone onboard with "accepting" their fat, something is getting lost: the fact that fat is not a category that makes fat people exceptional or apart from others, and the fact that not everyone who is fat will have the same experiences or the same "need" to "accept" anything.

As your personal testimony suggests, being fat is expressed individually in every person. My post was intended as a critique of the idea that a fat person must accept and love herself and that self-love and confidence magically make her a more enlightened version of what she was before. And yet everyone is different. What lets one person feel at peace with herself varies wildly from what works for her cousin Marie, you know? So the idea that "self-love" and "confidence" in a fat person proves anything, and that it's a good antidote to self-hate, is a dangerous one, I think.

Does any of that make sense?
I confess I also don't quite follow. I thought self love and self acceptance is what all people were striving for, and that attaining that contenment and peace within yourself is one of the main things that the size acceptance movement is about? And what is self love and confidence meant to be a proof of? I always figured just having them, attaining that joy in yourself, was a testament to a life really well lived.

'the fact that fat is not a category that makes fat people exceptional or apart from others, and the fact that not everyone who is fat will have the same experiences or the same "need" to "accept" anything.' I totally get what you're saying about fat people not having the same experiences. What i don't agree with though is the statement that fat does not make fat people separate from others. It does. the stories I've read on this board, the experiences shared by people here and on other forums, the fact that forums like this exist at all, bears testament to the fact that fat has made many, many people separate, apart or exceptional from others. I'm not trying to claim a better quality of joy/suffering or anything, not trying to say being fat is way better/harder than being gay or being handicapped, but it does make us different. It does mean that there are experiences shared that are seen and repeated time and time again no matter what part of the world you are in, it does mean that our fatness often sets us apart. For me saying that fat isn't a category that has made difference in our lives and so caused us to be apart in some way, different in some way, with valuable experiences that must be shared and discussed and just felt, is as dangerous as people who claim to be colour blind and that every racial woe would be solved if we all just pretended that race doesn't make us different.
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Old 10-31-2009, 11:57 PM   #40
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I confess I also don't quite follow. I thought self love and self acceptance is what all people were striving for, and that attaining that contenment and peace within yourself is one of the main things that the size acceptance movement is about? And what is self love and confidence meant to be a proof of? I always figured just having them, attaining that joy in yourself, was a testament to a life really well lived.
Tau, you know those times when you feel rushed to be something that someone thinks you should be, because they think it's good for you? Have you ever felt frustrated by anything like that? Like someone saying you should get over the death of a loved one already, because they can see that you've been depressed for "too long." They mean well, but really, they may be putting on inappropriate pressure. Who's--other than a qualified professional, of course--to say how long it should take anyone to mourn?

Similarly, who's to say that "self-love" and "self-acceptance" are what any single fat person needs to "fix" everything that's wrong.

Of course we all need a basic level of self-acceptance. But I'm advocating letting people decide for themselves how and when they get there, especially given the informal nature of any support we are able to offer one another online. And I'm advocating not adding to people's burden and isolation by setting up some new hurdle that they must clear in order to arrive at some mythical state of wellbeing.

In terms of the world of fat acceptance, these pressures can take the form of requiring people to feel "confident" in themselves, to show themselves off with confidence and to "dress" with confidence (and other kinds of directives). I'm afraid these are not appropriate for every fat person. What's worse, they may sometimes be really about controlling fat people's behavior and steering them in directions that are more comfortable for the people doing the steering than for the fat people themselves.

So, in essence, I'm saying the fat person deserves all the support we can give her, but that support shouldn't turn out to burden the person more than it helps.
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Old 10-31-2009, 11:58 PM   #41
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It's an ideology of removing all ideologies of control. It's one of resisting, rather than imposing. The critique that an ideology that calls for annulling ideologies that try to impose controls on people is not a valid one doesn't hold here. You may as well say that one isn't allowed to resist anything.



Not at all, olwen. I'm not sure you've read my post entirely. This isn't at all what I was saying.



I don't think we're really talking in the same rhetorical categories. I'm talking about how people relate to themselves and to one another as people, advocating individual considerations in every case. You seem to be addressing ways to govern groups. I think we're speaking at cross purposes. Authority is perfectly appropriate in some situations, and perfectly inappropriate in others.
Lizzy, I read your post several times...I kinda had to...I guess I just didn't quite understand what you were getting at if it seems I misunderstood....were you not taking about how individuals should behave in groups and how groups should consider the individual and that individual needs should always trump group needs? Instead of the needs of many outweighing the needs of the few, you want it to be the other way around no?
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Old 11-01-2009, 12:07 AM   #42
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Lizzy, I read your post several times...I kinda had to...I guess I just didn't quite understand what you were getting at if it seems I misunderstood....were you not taking about how individuals should behave in groups and how groups should consider the individual and that individual needs should always trump group needs? Instead of the needs of many outweighing the needs of the few, you want it to be the other way around no?
Thanks for taking the time, olwen.

I was saying that the primary reason support groups exist is to support individuals. And that ideology sometimes doesn't mix real well with a mission of interpersonal support. I was suggesting, too, that ideology is oppressive when applied in exactly the same manner of ideology it claims to oppose.

In the end, it's just one person's considered opinion. I'm loathe to take up this thread with too-lengthy explanations. Maybe I, or someone else, should start another thread? Lemme know.
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Old 11-01-2009, 12:08 AM   #43
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Tau, you know those times when you feel rushed to be something that someone thinks you should be, because they think it's good for you? Have you ever felt frustrated by anything like that? Like someone saying you should get over the death of a loved one already, because they can see that you've been depressed for "too long." They mean well, but really, they may be putting on inappropriate pressure. Who's to say how long it should take anyone to mourn?

Similarly, who's to say that "self-love" and "self-acceptance" are what any single fat person needs to "fix" everything that's wrong.

Of course we all need a basic level of self-acceptance. But I'm advocating letting people decide for themselves how and when they get there. And I'm advocating not adding to people's burden and isolation by setting up some new hurdle that they must clear in order to arrive at some mythical state of wellbeing.

In terms of the world of fat acceptance, these pressures can take the form of requiring people to feel "confident" in themselves, to show themselves off with confidence and to "dress" with confidence (and other kinds of directives). I'm afraid these are not appropriate for every fat person. What's worse, they may sometimes be really about controlling fat people's behavior and steering them in directions that are more comfortable for the people doing the steering than for the fat people themselves.

So, in essence, I'm saying the fat person deserves all the support we can give her, but that support shouldn't turn out to burden the person more than it helps.
Okay, I didn't see this post until after I responded and I'm guessing this is what you were getting at.

I see what you are saying here - that we shouldn't offer feel good prescriptions to people because they could do more harm than good. That makes sense but at the same time it sounds kinda depressing, like it isn't possible for fat people to ever feel good about themselves. At this point it's probably splitting hairs, but isn't it just easier to say, "everyone gets to self acceptance at their own pace, and even if they don't that's okay too?"
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Old 11-01-2009, 12:11 AM   #44
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Tina, I hear what you're saying. While I was not really fat until I hit puberty, when the fat hate eventually started to rain on me, it poured. It was devastating. I have horror stories.

The thing of it is, for me, whatever the antidote is to the messages that were internalized has to be something found by the individual. That's why I'm not comfortable with the idea of "codifying" fat self-acceptance, or with suggesting that "self-love" really is going to get 'er done. At some point, then, what appears to be on the surface a good idea offered in the name of support becomes a mantra that is just one more burden the fat person has to bear.

I think we do sometimes remove ourselves from the sphere of normalcy, as when we focus exclusively on what sets us apart from the rest of humanity. I understand the need to form groups that offer opportunities for mutual support, but I'm wary of any idea that seems to prescribe any particular "medicine" that guarantees healing.

Where I'm coming from, ultimately:

Color me anti-authoritarian. I resist authority over my understanding of my body, from either direction. And I resist that not only on behalf of fat people, as I see how thinner people suffer, too. Anyone who is thin but who lives in terror of gaining two pounds is not wallowing in privilege. Fat-phobia is essentially a means to controlling bodies--those of the thin AND of the fat.

When we're terrorized for "being fat," I think we deserve support and the right to speak back to the hate. Speaking back to hate is our political civil right. But none of this actually puts fat in a category of sub- or super-human or extra-human. I know that some of us internalize these messages, and that it's important to support and empower one another. But I think that when we turn ideologue in support environments, when we start identifying fat as a monolithic category that exists as something "wronged" and "outside the norm," something that has to be rescued and restored, we run the risk of understating the perfect humanity of fat people. Fact is, outside of individual embodied experiences of it, "Fat" doesn't exist. And ideas about fat have equal potential to be beneficial or harmful. Better, IMO, to talk to and about individual people as such.

And if we divide ourselves into categories at all, let it be between those who are for letting people be as they are, and those that would control people--anyone--by applying manipulation through ideas.

I don't think that what divides us, you and I, is such a huge gap in experiences. Fat suffering is human suffering. I'm not interested in comparing suffering in the context of this thread, so I'm not going into my horror stories for the moment. If there is a component of your experience that I haven't participated in, of course it means I can't know what that was like for you. But neither, then, can anyone say that what's helpful for one is going to necessarily help another. The best we can do is to offer real support to one another, as human beings who all know suffering and who share individual knowledge of some set of experiences. We can learn from our experiences of existing in groups of mutual support, too, and use what we learn to offer better support to newcomers. But that support always has to be tailored to the individual. And while I imagine that replacing those negative tapes is helpful in many situations, we can't take a position that this is absolutely true in every case. Then it becomes ideology, and ideology has the effect of crushing individuals beneath it.

So that's what I was getting at. I hope that clarifies what I meant.
Sorry chick, my computer spazzed out and I hadn't seen this response when I posted my question
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Old 11-01-2009, 12:16 AM   #45
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Tau, you know those times when you feel rushed to be something that someone thinks you should be, because they think it's good for you? Have you ever felt frustrated by anything like that? Like someone saying you should get over the death of a loved one already, because they can see that you've been depressed for "too long." They mean well, but really, they may be putting on inappropriate pressure. Who's--other than a qualified professional, of course--to say how long it should take anyone to mourn?

Similarly, who's to say that "self-love" and "self-acceptance" are what any single fat person needs to "fix" everything that's wrong.

Of course we all need a basic level of self-acceptance. But I'm advocating letting people decide for themselves how and when they get there, especially given the informal nature of any support we are able to offer one another online. And I'm advocating not adding to people's burden and isolation by setting up some new hurdle that they must clear in order to arrive at some mythical state of wellbeing.

In terms of the world of fat acceptance, these pressures can take the form of requiring people to feel "confident" in themselves, to show themselves off with confidence and to "dress" with confidence (and other kinds of directives). I'm afraid these are not appropriate for every fat person. What's worse, they may sometimes be really about controlling fat people's behavior and steering them in directions that are more comfortable for the people doing the steering than for the fat people themselves.

So, in essence, I'm saying the fat person deserves all the support we can give her, but that support shouldn't turn out to burden the person more than it helps.
This i get and agree with 100% Thanks for clarifying. I think its also a case of allowing people to feel what they feel when they're feeling it - and also Olwen's earlier point about people owning and living in their own bodies with a right to change and experience those bodies as they see fit.
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Old 11-01-2009, 12:19 AM   #46
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At this point it's probably splitting hairs, but isn't it just easier to say, "everyone gets to self acceptance at their own pace, and even if they don't that's okay too?"
Sure. I agree. One reason I was so long-winded is that a number of other ideas were presented to me--about what constitutes a norm, for instance. And so I just wanted to go more in-depth into why I feel it's important to resist seeing fat people as belonging in a broad category that excludes them from the rest of people--whether by their hand or someone else's--or to assume that we all, as a class, benefit from the same things.

I know it's a bit academic , but I think if we're going to claim to have something good and helpful on offer in this informal setting, we have to be clear on where our own limits are--whatever those are. So I feel it's helpful to talk about these things openly and not assume we're all on the same page. To whatever extent we do have a community here, it's bound to be naturally diverse. My own views are just part of that diversity.

I hope I haven't completely derailed this thread. Oy.
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Old 11-01-2009, 12:41 AM   #47
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Sure. I agree. One reason I was so long-winded is that a number of other ideas were presented to me--about what constitutes a norm, for instance. And so I just wanted to go more in-depth into why I feel it's important to resist seeing fat people as belonging in a broad category that excludes them from the rest of people--whether by their hand or someone else's--or to assume that we all, as a class, benefit from the same things.

I know it's a bit academic , but I think if we're going to claim to have something good and helpful on offer in this informal setting, we have to be clear on where our own limits are--whatever those are. So I feel it's helpful to talk about these things openly and not assume we're all on the same page. To whatever extent we do have a community here, it's bound to be naturally diverse. My own views are just part of that diversity.
Hmmm...i suspect this is related to the feeling some fat people have expressed - that they are more than their fat; that they are people who just happen to be fat. If people feel that way then it makes sense to not want to be put in a box....nobody wants to be put in a box really. But I confess that idea seems odd to me as I've always identified as fat and I feel I am who I am because of my size, so I am my fat and I want to have ownership of that, and I want it to be a category of people who get acknowledgment and respect. The good thing about being in a separate category is that it forces people to acknowledge/recognize your existence. As Ursula Leguin says, naming a thing gives it power.

Everything I know about the world has always been filtered thru a fat lens. Whether that lens has been imposed on me if or I have chosen it I couldn't say. That's just always how it has been, and that seems normal and okay to me. I try to imagine who I would be if I were not fat or if my size didn't matter but I truly find that difficult to imagine.

I don't know that we can be on the same page about everything since fatness is soooo personal...Hell we can't even agree on when fatness starts. And yes, everyone does have their own personal limits on what their bodies can handle and what their coping skills are. Isn't it enough for someone to just say, "hey X is my limit," and everyone just respect that or is that what you actually are saying here?
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Old 11-01-2009, 12:42 AM   #48
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Tina, I hear what you're saying. While I was not really fat until I hit puberty, when the fat hate eventually started to rain on me, it poured. It was devastating. I have horror stories.

The thing of it is, for me, whatever the antidote is to the messages that were internalized has to be something found by the individual. That's why I'm not comfortable with the idea of "codifying" fat self-acceptance, or with suggesting that "self-love" really is going to get 'er done. At some point, then, what appears to be on the surface a good idea offered in the name of support becomes a mantra that is just one more burden the fat person has to bear.

I think we do sometimes remove ourselves from the sphere of normalcy, as when we focus exclusively on what sets us apart from the rest of humanity. I understand the need to form groups that offer opportunities for mutual support, but I'm wary of any idea that seems to prescribe any particular "medicine" that guarantees healing.

Where I'm coming from, ultimately:

Color me anti-authoritarian. I resist authority over my understanding of my body, from either direction. And I resist that not only on behalf of fat people, as I see how thinner people suffer, too. Anyone who is thin but who lives in terror of gaining two pounds is not wallowing in privilege. Fat-phobia is essentially a means to controlling bodies--those of the thin AND of the fat.

When we're terrorized for "being fat," I think we deserve support and the right to speak back to the hate. Speaking back to hate is our political civil right. But none of this actually puts fat in a category of sub- or super-human or extra-human. I know that some of us internalize these messages, and that it's important to support and empower one another. But I think that when we turn ideologue in support environments, when we start identifying fat as a monolithic category that exists as something "wronged" and "outside the norm," something that has to be rescued and restored, we run the risk of understating the perfect humanity of fat people. Fact is, outside of individual embodied experiences of it, "Fat" doesn't exist. And ideas about fat have equal potential to be beneficial or harmful. Better, IMO, to talk to and about individual people as such.

And if we divide ourselves into categories at all, let it be between those who are for letting people be as they are, and those that would control people--anyone--by applying manipulation through ideas.

I don't think that what divides us, you and I, is such a huge gap in experiences. Fat suffering is human suffering. I'm not interested in comparing suffering in the context of this thread, so I'm not going into my horror stories for the moment. If there is a component of your experience that I haven't participated in, of course it means I can't know what that was like for you. But neither, then, can anyone say that what's helpful for one is going to necessarily help another. The best we can do is to offer real support to one another, as human beings who all know suffering and who share individual knowledge of some set of experiences. We can learn from our experiences of existing in groups of mutual support, too, and use what we learn to offer better support to newcomers. But that support always has to be tailored to the individual. And while I imagine that replacing those negative tapes is helpful in many situations, we can't take a position that this is absolutely true in every case. Then it becomes ideology, and ideology has the effect of crushing individuals beneath it.

So that's what I was getting at. I hope that clarifies what I meant.
Can't recall the last time I was so aggravated at my depleted repservoir? Can someone kindly honor Liz's sincerity and lucidity for me here? Thank you
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Old 11-01-2009, 12:44 AM   #49
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I hope I haven't completely derailed this thread. Oy.
It all seems related to me since we are taking about how we all feel about being fat whether as individuals or as a group, but Tau started the thread, maybe she should weigh in too.
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Old 11-01-2009, 12:48 AM   #50
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Tau has a ton of rep. Literally. As in over 2000!Tau has a ton of rep. Literally. As in over 2000!Tau has a ton of rep. Literally. As in over 2000!Tau has a ton of rep. Literally. As in over 2000!Tau has a ton of rep. Literally. As in over 2000!Tau has a ton of rep. Literally. As in over 2000!Tau has a ton of rep. Literally. As in over 2000!Tau has a ton of rep. Literally. As in over 2000!Tau has a ton of rep. Literally. As in over 2000!Tau has a ton of rep. Literally. As in over 2000!Tau has a ton of rep. Literally. As in over 2000!
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I hope I haven't completely derailed this thread. Oy.
Dude! No way! I've loved all the responses. Please keep posting
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