Invasion of the Fat Police

I remember reading about this just recently, before Coffee Catholic was removed from the Fat Liberation feed.  I remember thinking at the time: it’s only a matter of time before we see them here! A) Because that’s how these things work: they start it in one area and then expand it everywhere else.  And B) because the NorthEast – where I live – is infamous for being the fattest area in England (note I said England; that’s different from saying Britain as a whole.  As a whole, Scotland is infamous for being the fattest in Britain).

The time?  Has come.

I was in the town centre today, doing my shopping.  I had to walk from one far end of the town centre to the other, and there they were, smack dab in the middle.  Big ole trailer, with huge signs saying:

WHAT’S YOUR LABEL???

Luckily for them, they didn’t approach me. (I say luckily for THEM, because if they had?  They’d be shitting out of two holes by the time I got done with them.  I’m SO not in the mood for this kind of shit today, and I’m filled with enough righteous indignation AND information to back me up that I wouldn’t be surprised if there were tears.)

But how bloody obvious?  What’s your label? Yep, that’s right, because EVERYBODY has to have a fucking label, right?  Oh no, can’t have people walking around without them!  They might think they’re…. *gasp!*… normal!!!!  Labels for this, labels for that… we’re all made to feel like we’ve got to fit perfectly into these tiny holes that the great mysterious “they” have set forth for us.  And if we don’t?  We’re WRONG.  We have to be FIXED.  CORRECTED.

It just pisses me right the fuck off.  We’re bombarded with images and information every fucking day of our lives telling us that WE’RE the abberation.  WE are what’s wrong in the world.

Wars, disease, terrorists, poverty, famine, child molesters, murderers… and WE’RE what’s wrong with the world?  All because we take up just a little bit more space than what “they” think we ought to?

Yeah.  Slapping a label on it is SO going to fix it.

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The girl on the street.

While walking down Fawcett Street Friday, I saw her.  I’d say she was in her late teens/early twenties.  Way on the small end of fat, she looked cute.  Black jeans that fit her perfectly, the most adorable black & white striped (horizontal stripes!!!) top, and a bright red jacket.

But it wasn’t her clothing that drew my attention to her.  It was her smile – that trepidatious smile that I know so well.  I’ve worn that smile myself many a time.

You could see it on her face.  The fear, the nervousness.  You just knew that she would rather be anywhere than in such a public place.  Please, her smile said, please just leave me be.  I’m scared and you’re armed with the vicious words that cut like a knife.

Part of me wanted to run after her.  To say something nice to her, something that would transform that nervous smile into a genuine one.  Something that would show her that not everyone in the world is a fatphobic idiot.

But I didn’t.  I can’t really explain why; I have become less and less outgoing in the past 5 years, and I would guess that that’s the main reason why I kept silent.  But as I walked in the opposite direction from this girl, I couldn’t get her out of my head.

I know that smile.  As I said, I’ve seen that same smile on my own face more times than I could count.  To be honest, most of my life I’ve hidden behind that smile.  And it’s only been in the last year that I’ve come out from the shadows of that smile.  It’s only recently that my smile, as I walk down the street, is a genuine one.

And it hit me:

This is why I believe FA is so important.

Not just for me, but for every girl that walks down the street, hiding behind a nervous smile because she knows how cruel and twisted the world can really be.  For every normal-sized girl that cries in secret because she’s convinced that she’s fat, and fat is the worst thing she could possibly be.

For every healthy fat person who is constantly bombarded with the notion that they’re going to die for no other reason than that they happen to be fat.

For every unhealthy fat person whose ailments continue to go undiagnosed – or ignored/disbelieved – because their doctor has bought into the fatphobic fairy tale.

For every person that has become convinced to hate themselves because of the way they look – fat, thin, and everywhere in-between.

Their religion – or lack thereof – doesn’t matter.  What side of politics they support doesn’t matter.  None of that matters when a young, beautiful girl can’t walk down the street comfortably for fear of being verbally and emotionally abused.

That girl on the street was a living, breathing reminder of why I won’t give up on FA.  For myself, for her, and for every person out there.

I honestly believe it’s one of the most important things we can do for ourselves.  All of us.

What *I* want for Fat Acceptance.

Quite a few blog posts have had me thinking about this.  One of which I have to admit, I sparked And because we’re not a monolithic group, because we’re made up of many different people from many different walks of life who have many different personal goals regarding FA, I decided I needed to be completely clear about my wishes for FA.  These are my opinions only and do no reflect on FA as a whole.  Please do not read this as me speaking for the whole group.  This is just me, one person in that group, saying what I want to happen.

I want Fat Persons to be given the basic human rights they deserve. No one should have to worry about discrimination or harassment.  No one should have to be fed fatphobia in such quantities that it makes their lives miserable.  The bullying, emotional torture, and harassment needs to stop.

I want this for every fat person alive. Able-bodied and not.  Black, white, and every color and shade of color in between.  Neurologically normal or not.  Whether you exercise every day or prefer to spend your days reading (as an example).  Whether you eat a “good, balanced” diet or you eat junk food.  Whether or not you have an ED of any kind.  There is no reason on earth that you should be subjected to having your basic human rights taken away from you just because you happen to be fat.

I want to dispel the misconceptions and unfair stereotypes of fat people. That doesn’t mean that if you are lazy and do over eat that you don’t have a place in “my” movement.  Not at all.  But just because _______ fat person overeats and doesn’t exercise doesn’t mean it’s true for all fat people.  But those of you that do overeat? Don’t exercise? Are lazy?  You all deserve respect, too.

I want the world to wake up to the realization that thin =/= healthy and fat =/= unhealthy. Being fat in and of itself does not make one unhealthy.  There is a wide spectrum of fat and health, just as there is with thin and health.  But being healthy is not a moral obligation.  Whether you are fat and healthy or fat and unhealthy, it is no reason for you not to be treated like a human being.  It simply does not matter.

I also want the world to wake up to the realization that diets do not work. Even when you don’t call them “diets.”  Telling me to call Jenny Craig is not going to magically make me thin.  Assuming I eat like a glutton all day and telling me “just try eating less, fatty” isn’t going to work either.  There is absolutely nothing on this earth that is guaranteed to work in making a fat person permanently thin.  The key word here is permanently.  Sure, some diets work in the short-term.  I personally have known quite a few people that went from VERY fat to thin on a diet – I’ll use my Aunt D’s best friend K as an example.  Guess where her body size is now?  Yep, you guessed it – even fatter than before.  I honestly believe, had this woman never dieted in the first place, she’d probably be fat, but she’d probably be around the size I am now (which I admit is on the smaller end of the fat scale).  As it is now, the last time I saw her she was somewhere near the vicinity of 500 lbs.  I truly believe all the dieting she’s done is what has brought her to this point.  I’ve known her all of my life and have seen her go up and down and up and down.  Diets don’t work.  And she’s a great example of that.

Saying that I want all fat people to be accepted as human beings is not the same thing as saying I want the rest of the world to find us all attractive. You don’t have to be attracted to me, or any other fat person.  A person’s level of attractiveness should not factor in to whether or not you treat them with basic dignity and respect.  You don’t have to like me to be respectful to me.  Shit, I can’t stand my mother-in-law, and yet I still treat her with respect and courtesy.  Why?  Because she’s a person.  I don’t have to like her to be polite to her.

However, beauty and attractiveness are two different things. You can find the beauty in a person without wanting to jump their bones.  It might not even be physical beauty.  And you know what?  That’s okay!  It’s okay to say that you can find a person beautiful for one reason or another and not find them attractive.  It’s a good thing, even.

I want the world’s governments to stop trying to “regulate” our bodies. People are designed to come in all shapes and sizes.  And if you bureaucratic anal-retentives would get your collective cranium removed from your collective colon, you’d realize that what you’re being spoon-fed by the mainstream media is being dispelled left and right.  It’s just not being advertised as much as the bullshit you’re swallowing.  Obesity is not a disease, and there is no epidemic.  You can’t catch it, and you can’t “cure” it.  It doesn’t need to be cured.  All the regulations you could come up with are not going to get you the results you want.  It’s just not going to happen.

I want BMI thrown out with the bath water. BMI is an antiquated, arbitrary, ridiculous standard to which no one should be accountable.  It simply doesn’t measure anything except for height and weight.  Human bodies are much more complicated than that.

That’s all I can think of right now.  This is, by no means, a complete list.  This is just what I’ve come up with in one sitting.  I may decide to edit this later on, I don’t know.

WTF ever happened to “ooh, your baby looks so fat & HEALTHY”????

Yeah, apparently now the quacks that brought us the (nonexistent) Obesity Epidemic are now finding “obesity” in infants.

As a mother of 4, this totally pisses me off.  For one thing, for thousands of years it’s been known that a fat baby usually equals a healthy baby.  Obviously not all of the time, but a good majority of the time.  It’s one of those things that we didn’t have proof of, it was just something we knew.  Like we knew the sky was blue before somebody went to the trouble of finding out the scientific reasons why.

But it gets worse.

The findings are based on two studies. The first involved 2139 infants not older than age 2 who were admitted for any reason to the Bnai Zion Medical Center in 2004 and 2005. The second study was community-based and used parental interviews to assess the problems seen in 79 overweight infants and 144 normal-weight infants.

The infants were considered overweight if they had a body mass index (BMI) above the 85th weight-for-height percentile on 2 or more measurements taken at least 3 months part. This means that 85 percent of children their age and gender have a lower BMI, which is a measure of weight in relation to height.

In the first study, the researchers found that infants between the 85th and 94th weight-for-height percentiles actually had fewer hospital admissions and repeat admissions than normal-weight infants. However, higher than expected admission rates were seen in the most overweight infants (95th or higher percentile).

In the second study, overweight infants were more likely than their normal-weight peers to have developmental delays and snoring. There was also evidence that asthma and other breathing problems were more common in overweight infants.

When surveyed, only about 32 percent of mothers with an overweight child believed that their child was overweight.

Parents need to be aware that even infants are at risk for problems related to excess body weight and, therefore, should strive to achieve a normal weight in their young children, Shaoul and colleagues conclude.

Emphasis mine.

So because the infants in one particular area had a higher than “normal”rate of developmental delays and breathing problems, the rest of the world faces the same fate??

What, babies should now start looking like those Ethiopian children the media liked to plaster all over our televisions in the 80s and 90s??  And since when did starving our babies putting our babies on a diet sound like a good thing?  There used to be a word for that.  Neglect.  You got your children taken away from you for that.

Where is this “community” used for the second study?  Why do I get the feeling it’s probably either a low-income area or one based near some sort of industrial site?  One where either the residents don’t have access to the kind of medical care that could catch and prevent these sorts of problems (and probably don’t have access to proper nutrition, either), or one where there’s something in the air or water that’s causing these problems.

Obviously I have no way of knowing that, but it just seems odd to me that one study showed that fat babies ARE healthy babies – the one study that probably had a broader range of subjects from all walks of life.  And then they do another study, in an isolated area, and the results are dramatically different.

Something smells fishy to me.

*Credit should go to Sarah at Big Fat Dynamo.  She found the story first.  🙂

Mother, you’re breaking your Daughter’s heart.

nuff said.

'nuff said.

I wasn’t sure how I wanted to write this.  I knew I wanted to write about it, from the moment I had this conversation with her, but I just didn’t know how to approach it.  I’ve decided to make it an open letter to my mother.

Mother,

My heart is breaking for you.  This year has been terrible – first the thing with Baby Sister and Nephew, and then Stepfather died in the Spring.   I’ve been amazed at how strong you sound every time we talk on the phone.  I wouldn’t blame you if you just broke down, but you just keep going, no matter how hard things get for you.  You truly are an inspiration.

But then you talk about having lap-band surgery.  And my heart breaks even more.

You say that you “need” it.  That your health is just “so terrible,” and it’s the only thing that’s going to save you.

But Mommy, you’re going to do yourself more harm than good.

You say that it’s going to cure your diabetes, high blood pressure, and back problems.  All of which you know are inherited.  Grandmother had every single one of those problems, and Grandfather has at least two of them that I remember.  You say Grandmother was once as big as you are now – and honestly, I haven’t seen you in 5 years, so I don’t know how much you’ve gained – and you use that as an excuse to prove to me that you have to have this surgery.

But Grandmother wasn’t always very heavy.  I remember her being roughly the size I am now.  And I know that when she died, she was pretty small.  Just because she was heavy at one time in her life does not mean that one time caused all those health problems.

Having the doctor close off part of your stomach is not going to do you any good.  You’re going to become malnourished.  Sure, your diabetes might get better.  Because you’ll be starving yourself. Your body needs more than just a few ounces of food a day.  And it would even if you were thin.

I know it’s hard to fight the fatphobia that you see every day.  Even people who are well meaning are a lot of the times, unknowing fatphobes.  It’s institutionalized and it’s almost impossible to get away from.  I understand that, I really do.

But I hate to see you taking all of that fat hatred in and turning it on yourself.  Don’t you get enough hatred pointed your way from others?  Do you really have to hate yourself, too?

Part of my reaction is our relationship.  Since finding each other again six years ago, we have developed the kind of relatioship I only thought we could have in my dreams.  I have been able to turn to you when things got bad, and you supported and encouraged me.  I never thought I’d have that.

Part of it is my own rising self-esteem.  I can hear the self-loathing in your voice even when you don’t outwardly express it – because I’ve been there.  And I know how good it feels now to be able to say I like myself just the way I am.  I want you to know that feeling, too.

And part of it is that I’ve learned so much in the last few months, and hearing that you’re seriously contemplating surgery – to fix one thing that’s not broken, and to fix others that it simply won’t work for – seriously terrifies me.  You just don’t know what you’re getting yourself into.  And while I know that there are serious statistics – X amount of people have serious health problems, X amount of people actually die as a result of the surgery, X amount of people will actually end up gaining all their weight back – I never thought to save the URLs of the blog posts/studies/news articles I read, so I can’t “prove” it to you.  I know what I know, but without that “proof” I know you’ll just dismiss me as being a worried daughter.

And I am a worried daughter, no question.  But I also know that what you’re contemplating doing is going to be so much worse for your health than doing nothing at all.

And it makes me want to cry.

Want to preach FA? Get drunk!

I’ll give you a minute to stop laughing….

Done?

Okay then.

Here’s the thing: as I said in the comments on my last post, I’m not very good at articulating my FA stance to people I know and love, let alone total strangers.  Hubby is the only one that really knows how involved I am in FA, and as a naturally thin person, there are a lot of things that he just doesn’t get.  What he does know is that since finding FA, my confidence has soared, I have begun accepting myself, and my self-loathing (the one thing about me that he really didn’t like) has all but disappeared.  (It still rears its ugly head every once in a while, but not very often, thank FSM.)

Well, I went out drinking last night.  The second time in 2 weeks, but only my 3rd time this year (I don’t go out much, obviously).  I had run into my best friend May’s sister Carol, her daughter Gemma, and her son’s girlfriend Debbie when I was on my way back from Number One Daughter’s school on Tuesday.  They invited me out, and when I mentioned it to Hubby, he was all “go ahead!”  So… I did.  🙂

One thing you need to understand, though: May’s family – even her extended family – are like my second family.  Shit, Little Miss Naughty calls Carol “Auntie Carol”.  When they were younger, The Little Chatterbox and LMN kept getting confused, thinking that May was their aunt and her children were their cousins, so what did that make Carol and Gemma and the rest of them?  They’re only now getting to the point where they understand that no, they’re not REALLY family, they’re just REALLY good friends to us.

So the relationship between us and them is… complicated, sometimes confusing, but altogether a good one.

Well, as we were making our way between one nightclub and another, talk between Gemma, myself, and Gemma’s cousin (can’t for the life of me remember her name right now; she doesn’t go out with us all that often) turned to body image.  Carol’s diabetic and so is Gemma, and Gemma related to me the horror of a doctor’s appointment.  It was the usual fatty horror: you’re going to die if you don’t lose weight; you’re going to have a heart attack by the age of 23 because you’re too fat; etc, etc, etc.  I looked at her and told her “BULLSHIT!”  I was just drunk enough that I could say what I was thinking without worrying about the consequences.

At a UK size 12 (US 10-ish), Gemma is not only NOT fat, but she’s smaller than the “average British woman” (which, IIRC, is a UK 14).  Her cousin?  Even smaller, at a UK 8-10.  And yet they were both talking about how they need to lose weight.  I looked at both of them and let them have it, from both barrels.

Oh, I wasn’t nasty.  I wasn’t all “shut up you skinny bitch”.  I simply told them that this “obesity epidemic” bullshit is just that – bullshit.  I told them that not only do they not need to lose weight, but they need to stop thinking in terms of “dieting” and “good food/bad food”.  I asked Gemma, “if you had never been told that fat was bad or disgusting, or any of the thousands of horrible things people like to say about fat people, would you have still wanted to lose weight?” (At one time, she was a lot bigger than she is now, at a size 18/20 – basically, the same size I am right now.  She has lost weight and managed to keep it off for now.  Either she hasn’t hit the 5 year mark yet, or maybe she was meant to be this size.  You know, set-point.)  Her answer?  “No!  I was fat and happy!  I didn’t care what size I was, until that doctor scared me into losing weight.”  How many fat people are there in the world that know exactly how Gemma felt?  A hell of a lot, I’m sure.

Now granted, we didn’t go into a whole lot of detail, but I was glad that I had the chance to say something to both of them, and also glad that I was drunk enough that I didn’t worry about what they were going to think.  These people are my friends, they love me for the person I am – even if they don’t agree with me, they’re going to at least listen to what I have to say and not make me feel bad for having the convictions I do.  It’s silly of me to even worry about it, but worry about it I do.  When I’m sober.

I definitely was NOT sober.

And in this case?  I think that was a GOOD thing!  😀

Fatphobia Scarily Close to Home

Angel of the North, GatesheadAs Sandy reported last night, Gateshead City Council is joining the Fatphobia Brigade and thinking up the most ridiculous measures they can think of to fight OMG TEH FATZ!!!11!!!ELEVENTY-ONE!!. I’ll get to what I think about that in a moment.

But what really scares me?  Gateshead is the next city over from me.  Yup – I can walk out the door right now, hop on a bus, and be there within 20 minutes.

I mean, granted – none of us is immune to The Fear of Teh Fatz.  We see it everywhere we go – in movies, on television, in the media, walking down the street… but a lot of the time, it seems like it’s something that happens over there – where “there” is an intangible place, that just isn’t “here.”  To know that the stupidity of fat fear is coming this close to home… it’s very disconcerting, to say the least.

But Oh. My. God.  Can these people really get any more stupid?  Forcing chip shop owners to change their SALT SHAKERS in an effort to “trick” customers into consuming less salt?  Can they not think of a better plan?

As Sandy pointed out, it’s a ridiculous idea anyway.

Another local chip shop owner, Carol Ackerman, who runs Carol’s Plaice in the suburb of Acklam, said: ‘People will just put on more salt if they want more.
‘In fact, we have had some people unscrewing the lids to do so.’

If people like my grandmother* – who like a little salt with their salt – want more, they’re going to FIND a way to get it.  Putting fewer holes in the damned shaker isn’t going to make one bit of difference one way or the other.

And I’m not alone in my indignation.  Just check out these comments from the Daily Mail article:

So the Health Gestapo have decided that a recommended amount has suddenly become an enforceable allowance. If these interfering busybodies have enough time to exercise their minds with such rubbish they obviously have too little to do and should be got rid of immediately to save the public money.
People such as them do far more to damage my blood pressure than any amount of salt.

When I buy fish and chips and find inadequate salt when I get them home I shake on some more. Are these imbeciles going to have people following customers home to make sure that they don’t do the same? After all, they have all sorts of other totalitarian rights under “anti-terrorism” measures that they can use. Still, it’s good to see that UK local governments are continuing to fulfill their major function, namely render a once-great nation the world’s laughing stock.

I’ll let these brain dead morons into a secret. If it ain’t salty enough, just shake for longer and add more. P.S. Where’s the firing squad?

Now, educating people on the over-consumption of salt?  Fine.  Seriously, folks, you’d be surprised the number of people out here that actually don’t know that too much sodium can contribute to high blood pressure and kidney disease.  (Hell, there are ADULTS out here that can’t name vegetables when they have them right in front of them.  No joke.)  But this is going beyond ridiculous.

And the worst part?  The fact that they spent loads of taxpayers’ money to do this.  I could give you a LIST of things better suited for that money… but we’d be here all day.  So I won’t do that.  But this? *headdesk*

If I didn’t know better, I’d swear these people got their brains sucked out by aliens.  It’s a better thought than the alternative.

* – I used to nag my grandmother to death about the amount of salt she used.  My other grandmother’s husband (not my actual grandfather, her 3rd husband, I think) died of a heart attack, and the one thing I always remembered was that he couldn’t have too much salt, because of what it would do to his heart.  So it made me a little paranoid.  I didn’t let up on her until she came home from the doctor and told me that her blood pressure was perfect – even with the amount of salt she eats (and yeah, it’s a lot – more than twice what I eat).  So again – there is no one-size-fits-all equation of good health.  My step-grandfather?  Too much salt = death.  My grandmother?  Too much salt = nothing.  Get it straight, all you fatphobic pricks… THERE IS NO “ANSWER” TO YOUR SO-CALLED “OBESITY EPIDEMIC.”  It’s all in your fucked up heads.