Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Standing Politics? Or Moral Standing?

There's been a lot of discussion, both in and out of the Fatosphere, about the politics of food. 

Although any fat-neutral (as opposed to the usual fat-hating) discussion of America's most contentious topic might be viewed as a good thing and I find myself, generally, in a agreement with that sentiment. However, (and you knew there was gonna be one of those), it's still got problems. For, damn fine, analyses on why, I'd enthusiastically recommend the recent post by Marianne Kirby at The Rotund and a nuanced discussion hosted by Michelle at The Fat Nutritionist that revolves around a recent NYTimes editorial on obesity.

Here's why I find all this talk about HFCS, healthy eating, whole/slow/local foods, and the Food Industrial Complex so frustrating; It all seems to be predicated on this countries self-abusive obsession with obesity and the crisis that doesn't exist will (might, probably) destroy The Future (tm). Everywhere I look the language has been muted, there's a lot less hostility or abasement, and there seems to be much more civil discussion. Encouraging in and of itself. But there's still the disconnect that only seems to occur when discussing why people are fat and what needs to be done about it. Less shame & blame but still not enough inclusion. Not enough inclusion and not enough comprehension. In all fairness, I don't expect comprehension to be complete and instantaneous. There is FAR too much dis/mis/mal-information floating around out there for that to even be a wild dream. It's going to take a lot of discussion to ward off the foolishness fronted by very interested, and Money Obese, parties (Big Medicine, Big Pharma, Commercial Diet Industrial Complex, I'm looking at you). This is all before we get to the folk lore, the scienterrific pseudo-fact spouted in the name of health ('Health' being the dog whistle code for fat since all fat people are unhealthy and thin people, of course, aren't), and the ever present passive-aggressiveness of concern trolls or the active-aggressiveness of outright haters. Nobody said this would be easy. Unfortunately, what it is, is subtle. That's right; fat is subtle. It's complex and deep. It never was and probably never will be so simple as calories in / calories out. Yet, even as evidence that this 'simplicity' is anything but, moves from overwhelming into the realms of patently obvious, there is complete and utter denial.

So how much of being fat is about HFCS, whole foods, or healthy eating? Well, who are you talking too? No, really -who are you talking to? Because the answers you get in ref to the first answer, absolutely depend upon the answer for the second. Depending on 'who' those answers could run from 'a lot', to 'not much', right on through to 'none at all' and I'm not talking opinion here. I'm talking about practice and experience. If we are allowed to be part of the conversation (As opposed to being dismissed as part of the problem. See; inclusion, above) people might soon discover that there are  fat people out there who have already maximized their consumption of whole foods while decreasing their intake of processed foods. And yet, they remain fat. There are fat people out there who prepare their own foods and consume copious amounts of fruits and vegetables. And yet, they remain fat. There are fat people out there who have, to whatever extent possible, eliminated HFCS from their diet. And yet, they remain fat. Very odd. 

Now if we could just avoid having these new 'quick fixes' turn into the new code under which the state of ones body is judged or moralized, it would be interesting if fat people became indirectly responsible for improving the quality of food in this country. It would also be just peachy if we could knock the national disconnect between 'Fat' and 'Health' one slot over to the space under 'Weight loss' and 'Health' . I'll believe either, if / when, it happens. 

This optimism stuff is kinda cuddly, fuzzy, pufflesmoosh. But I could get used to it.  

Muzak Therapy:
Muse / Hysteria

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Fuck Jamie Oliver and the Shiny White Horse Horse He Rode in on

I should have known that nancy git wouldn't just leave it alone. NO! When rebuffed, self-righteousness requires that one sputter in outrage, simmer in ego-wounded denial, and depending on ones motivations, come back with a simpering, teary-eyed, whiney, they-done-me-wrong, demeanor to declare 'But-but-but. . . How could they DO this too me?! I mean, I'M RIGHT, after all!' *Climb-up onto your pre-fab Cross and hang your head at the appropriate angle for maximized martyrdom* 

Melissa at Shakesville hit's all three nails on the head for Jamie's little Media Self-Crucifixion Extravaganza. Why it's so pathetic, so plastic, and so lovingly fortified with plenty of fat-hate baked right in. The one thing she missed though- the one thing that's pretty easily missed as that EVERYBODY seems to miss it, is the fact that Jamie Oliver is a Chef. NOT a nutritionist. NOT a Doctor. NOT, in anyway, qualified to dispense medical advise to ANYBODY! It's the 600Lbs Gorilla eating cupcakes in Jamie's room. The 3 ton Mastodon in Jamie's head would be his belief that HE knows what's good for everyone and what everyone needs. Not all that uncommon anywhere these days. You might even call it an epidemic if you where so inclined. As far as that warm and buttery feeling of well known Food-Rock Star Personalities who, just, don't like fat people? Well, Little Jamie, ain't the only one. There's whole servings of formerly-fat-now-just-hating-ON-fat and plain old, [*WARNING* Possibly triggering link ahead->]  outright, fat-hate going on in the FoodTV world. And to think I used to think Anthony Bourdain was interesting. Now he's just a classist prima dona, with an overinflated sense of self-importance. I refuse to have anything he's ever done leave slime trails on my website, including that YouTube clip. 

As for little Jamie? Here's what I had to say about THAT Bobby Flay, never-could-be-but-still-wanna, two months ago in a private forum- 

You know what? Screw Jamie Oliver. He of the 'Scared Straight' camp. TELEVISING the autopsy of a man who he feels "ate himself to death"? Asinine zipperhead. Oh, but Jamie knows what it's like to be fat too. How? Well, he wore a fat suit once. But let it not be said that he doesn't have a sense of humor about the whole thing.-

He clutched a brace of burgers in his sausage-like fingers before climbing aboard a motor scooter which duly buckled under his weight.

-So, did wittle Jamie feel like an outcast? Was he ignored and vilified? Told to get out of town? And did it make him feel like shit? Good. Welcome to the world of 'Other'. Lots of the 'waddling lard-tub(s)', as your promotion machine (The Daily Fail) puts it, already live here and, being fat, we don't like to share. So when you get to the city limits, do us a favor and keep going. Cry your way to a nice airport and get on a plane. Bu-bye

Jamie. . . . Bubbie. . . . You. Are. Not. All. That. Important. 

Now wipe your nose and get back on the plane before one of us big, brutish, Yanks bumps into you and bruises your tender little ego some more.  


As a relief from all the pretentiousness, I present the Charlie Brooker's thoroughly brilliant analysis of Jamie's pushy, nose-in, priggishness in UK.-


Muzak Therapy:
Chaka Khan/ Any Love

Friday, March 19, 2010

Brain Quake

Ran across two recent posts that have the potential to rock a lot of small minded peoples tiny little worlds. If they've got the stones to think outside their boundaries, the civility to ask outside their experience, and the ability to listen without preverication-

Proposed via Shakesville

Fat is Love via Fashionista Stiletto Siren

They speak to perceptions and misconceptions that have been around for years but seems to have been enflamed over the past few with all this talk about what's wrong with fat people. World views that presume to ignore or forget that we are people. People who, in past, where simply living one possible aspect of human existence. Now, in a world that appears to have finally gotten a glimpse of the bill for all of it's past excesses, we sit in accusation of wanting too much, taking too much, being too much. Because we're easier to pick out of the crowd of free spending, free using, throw-it-out-and-buy-another people, we are the ones upon which rage can be re-focused, guilt can be assuaged , and responsibility can be displaced. In an age of 'It-wasn't-us!' we are the Easy Scapegoats.  

Scapegoats with minds. With thoughts, feelings, and voices. Scapegoats that will not sit still. 

Invariably not Scapegoats for long. 

Muzak Therapy:
Smashing Pumpkins / Eye

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Nanny, May I; Permission to Be Precious.

It occurs to me that the recent rise in the media profile of Fat Acceptance and the Fatosphere might be a good thing as far as raising awareness to the fact that fat people are, yah know, people. However there is another aspect of all this attention that also has me a little concerned. Well, not just a little actually. 

Realizing that the 'War on Obesity' is wracking up actual casualties is an excellent thing when you consider that, so far, it's been all about 'doing something' about the 'problem'. Mainstream society is finally coming around to the fact that human beings are not only inextricably involved with this but are central to the very issue. And we're starting to hear it in the small changes. A lessening of the dismissiveness in news articles and TV reports, an apparent decrees in the, at one time almost prerequisite, inclusion of blatant fat 'humor' in journalistic pieces. Written news that was supposed to be covering serious topics but always managed to get in that one fat joke. I'm even seeing a certain amount of push-back from people who don't consider themselves fat. People who are, apparently, now familiar the concept of F/A, and are in growing realization that you can't hate someone thin. And they are showing up in the hotbeds of fat hate; the comments sections of internet articles. Perhaps only a handful in any given article but, when compared against comments past, this is progress. Previously, all you could expect to find was derision, disgust, savage denial, blatantly backhanded concern trolling, and ample cheering sections for more of the same so this may be more than progress. It could very well be improvement. Still, there's a problem and that problem would be the continued perception that fat people are things or, as recent media noise seems to indicate, children in need of discipline.

'Is It Ok to Be Fat?' That's a joke, right? Really? Is it ok to be an inept journalist? How about six feet tall? Is that ok? Is it ok to be Jewish? It seems that while the idea that Fat People should be allowed to exist might be gaining some traction, we'll probably have to continue going to strenuous lengths trying to justify that continued existence with some people. Don't thinks so? Well then, what about this; 'Do the Obese Really Deserve Contempt?' Now, it's entirely possible that the article, written by Mary Mitchell, a published etiquette author, was meant to point out a disservice being done to people because of their size. The title/question may be rhetorical and the article itself might be an attempt at some kind of satire but, 'The Obese'? I don't think that name means what you want us to think  it means. You sure your not talking about 'The Unterklasse'? Actually, I couldn't give less of a frak what the authors intentions were. The tone of the article is condescending, patronizing, 'others' faster than a visit to a mountain village with one dirt road, and reeks of 'won't you pity those, poor, 'fflicted folk?'

I mean, really lady. Just. Don't.

As far as etiquette is concerned- 

Merriem Webster has the definition as- 
Pronunciation: \ˈe-ti-kət, -ˌket\
Function: noun
Etymology: French étiquette, literally, ticket 
Date: 1750
: the conduct or procedure required by good breeding or prescribed by authority to be observed in social or official life

Cambridge Online has-
etiquette noun
/ˈet.ɪ.ket/ussymbol.png/ˈet ̬.ɪ.kət/ [U]
the set of rules or customs which control accepted behaviour in particular social groups or social situations

As *I* understand the word, etiquette is born of the forbearance and respect one should give to another regardless of perception or assumption. It's one of the pillars of civilized behavior which, eroded as it may be, is necessary for continued social interaction. Don't learn how to act right & your gonna end up beefin' with 'erybody. Which is why I'll be sticking with Miss Conduct and, if I should ever find myself in need of advise, there's always Carolyn Hax at The Washington Post. Such is the beef I've got with Mary Mitchell and anyone else who couldn't be bothered to treat fat people with the kind of deference they willingly afford almost anyone else. This would, most definitely, include Howard 'I-hate-myself-so-much-everyone-must-suffer' Stern.

Gabourey Sidibe missed getting her golden statue on Oscar Nite (Mo'Nique DID'NT! and ROCKED her acceptance speech, thank you!!) but, you know what? It didn't even, fucking, matter. She scorched the Red Carpet, she mixed mingled, hobnobbed, and out-did quite a few of the 'beautiful people' Hollywierd holds in such high regard. She flashed & sparkled so, damn, hard they didn't get the chance to sputter 'Yeah, but she's Fa-fa-fa-fa. . . .' By now I'm sure it sounds cliche, but the truth bares repeating; Her self-confidence was inspiring and her raw personality dominated every interview she did. This woman knows who she is and had no intention of ALLOWING anyone else the opportunity to define her. Muthafucka, THAT is Sexy. Watch it, learn it, know it. There will be a test. 

And yet the jackals do circle. 

They wait, watch, and listen. Sniffing for any sign of weakness because she represents the antihisis of their most strongly held beliefs about what it is to be fat. Therefore, she must be brought down. Something a long tradition of celebrity society etiquette has insured they can do very well and that makes me worry for her. However, Ms. Gabourey Sidibe is, obviously, an extremely strong woman. Hopefully she'll be able to maintain her sense of self in a town where being anyone but yourself is a valued trait. I pray that the price of fame or, more likely the hammering pressure of disapproval, won't turn her against herself and cause her to lose the Center she seems to have forged. And 'forged' would be the operative word here since we now seem to have graduated from a 'problem' that needs to be solved, to people who's existence must be throughly examined and questioned. Gabourey or, basically anyone living fat in todays society, will need the strength and integrity of Damascus steel to hold onto any sense of self they can maintain in the face of this societies questioning lack of decorum. And yet they will tell us that we have no self control. Nice.

Muzak Therapy:
Akira - Original Soundtrack / Dolls Polyphony

Sunday, March 7, 2010

No Pain, No gain. . . Wait, Why Again Exactly?

There has been a current of excellent discussion running through the 'sphere of late concerning exercise and I figured I'd chime. 

OK, well, Transparency here?: I know why I'm fat. I get very little exercise. Thing is, I don't eat all that much either and that is where the main disconnect most mainstream people have comes down. Not to mention the outright denial of the Obesity Panic Advocates. See, according to them (and their thermodynamically absolute scale), to eat as little as I generally do and maintain my current weight, I'd  either have to be strapped to a bed expending practically no energy at all, or I'm lying about how much I eat

Concern Trolls and PC Psych people would have me believe that I'm either somehow unaware  of what I actually eat or what normal eating is (aka: It's not your fault. Your just stupid). While hard core Obesity Hysterics and Physics Wonks will except no other answer but the latter. Mainly because no other possibility might even be discussed lest the very fabric of the universe unravel (aka: we know everything there is to know about physics AND biology. Can't happen. Full stop). Ergo, as such, in as much, and thusly, I must be lying. 'Cause, yah know, I care so much about their judgments of how much I eat. Obviously. (Funny thing is, they'll tell you the mind-body interface of intuitive eating is a crock of shite then, in the same breath, spin around and tell you your an unconscious overeater. Or in conscious denial of how much you eat)  

In any case, with the flurry of posts on exercise flitting around the 'sphere over the past week, it brought back one of the weirder aspects of Americas' attitudes towards physical fitness. Well, at least for me it's weird. And that would be the 'No Pain, No Gain' philosophy. 

You see it everywhere. From the warm and fuzzy group hugz of Richard Simmons to the sadomasochistic stylings of The Biggest Loser. Beyond the conventional wisdom that dictates exercise, for fat people, should have no valid purposes other than weight loss, in America and most other countries on this planet, if it doesn't hurt. If your not suffering or, at least, sweating profusely. Then your not doing it right. And this attitude pervades across the gender spectrum. I've made the comparison before but, sometimes, it almost seems like we're reliving 14th Century Flagellantism

Now this might work for some people. Different strokes for different folks and all that (no pun intended. Or not much of one, anyway), but why would anybody expect it to work for everybody? We accept that there are a million different ways to do just about anything, but this? Well, talk about Yoga or Tai Chi. Tango, ballroom, jazz, belly or any other kind of dance that ISN'T considered aerobically taxing in under five minutes or less. Talk about the walking one must do to get to work while using mass transit or the walking one might have to do to shop locally and that, patently, isn't exercise. It must be scheduled, done daily or semi-daily and, with a few grudging exceptions, it must hurt. With this attitude we wonder why some people refuse to have anything to do with exercise at all. Now add the moral implication of being told 'you just need to stop eating so much' when you know that's not the case. And being called a liar when trying to explain that you don't need to put down the Big Mac because you eat less of that crap than most of the people you know (then you must be eating too much of something else!), that you eat an average of 2 meals a day OR LESS (then you must be eating two whole cakes for that one meal. Fatty!), or that you might even eat less than your skinny friends ('Liar, lair, Fatties pants are on fire!' So much maturity for, supposed, adults). Why even bother? 

Well, because your not doing it for them. Your doing it for you. Screw anybody who has a problem with what your doing, how your doing it, how frequently or infrequently, or how much it DOESN'T hurt. If you've never done it before, try it. Give it enough of a chance to really determine whether or not you actually like it, and if you don't then there's no law that says you HAVE to (not yet anyway). But if you do, then don't let anyone stand in the way of doing it as much or as little as makes you comfortable. 

Again; Exercise (or 'Movement', if even the word tends to stroke a nerve) has NOTHING to do with them and everything to do with YOU.  

Muzak Therapy:
Crystal Method / Bad Stone

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Back of the Bus: The Fat Menace

The Rebellion struggles against an unjust Empire. 

Here we are again. it seems that the Kevin Smith vs. Southwest Airlines situation may have brought quite a bit more attention to the bile and sanctimonious hate that's been spawned by the less than warm and fuzzy 'Obesity Epipanic'. Perhaps all it takes is an incidence of, fully public, out-right stupidity for people to start thinking about what their being sold. And, yes, 'sold' is exactly the word I was looking for. 

In a post from Confessions of a Fat Femme Stiletto Siren comments on the noticeable change in her self awareness after two weeks without the decidedly non-passive aggressive subtext that runs throughout the tormentainment extravaganza that is The Biggest Loser. It became obvious to her that the guilt, shame, ridicule, and degradation, so eagerly doled out by the 'trainers' and host of this game show (Bottom line? That's all most pseudo-reality TV is; Re-packaged game shows) in the name of 'motivation' was actually impacting her negatively. Despite her ability to maintain a subjective distance from the show, it was causing her to question herself and her state of being. THIS is what's being sold and, by any standard you care to name, it's a hard sell. We are ALL getting these messages 24 - 7 - 365 and it's effecting us ALL because that's what it's been designed to do. Why else would advertisers spend whole truck loads of money to find out what sounds are most likely to grab peoples attention? But like most slight-of-hand illusions, if you know there's a trick behind the gag, it tends to lose a lot of it's effectiveness. Especially when the gag is on the par of a, less than brilliant, moose pulling a rabbit out of his hat. 

Scream and holler about how fat people are going to drop dead any second now and you will get a reaction. That is, unless it doesn't start happening, like, soon. You can keep pushing the Doom Date back or use all kinds of nebulously vague 'time of reckoning' language but ultimately, if the Mothership carrying comet doesn't show up to start beaming the faithful up to safety, people are going to start asking questions. And this is not something any cult hierarch self righteous crusader diet industry grifter. . . . . Umm, Obesity Crisis Advocate?. . .  Wants. When people start looking around them and observing, 'Kate from my office is actually fat and she's not like what their saying.' 'My neighbor who's fixing up that classic chevy is a pretty big guy. He gets around fine.' 'My friend from High School is large and he/she is a pretty fun person to hang with.' They may even start asking themselves that singularly most critical question- 

               'Why am *I* so worried about how fat or thin they, 
                or anyone else for that matter, is?' 

Muzak Therapy:
Moby / God Moving Over the Face of the Waters