Monday, March 21, 2011

Acronyms Mean Things

Edit to Add: With apologies to Shannon. Posted  then looked at my feed and "Hey look at that!" GMTA?

There is a post-thread currently running on Tumblr that's had a turn or two. . . Maybe three or four, on the regular blog circuit. 

Every now and again the 'inclusion issue' comes up within the online F/A community. Like the Good Fatty / Bad Fatty kerfuffle and the Diet Talk brawls that tend to flare up. This time it was an inbetweenie, someone who has experienced, remembered, or feels that they've experienced weight based bias or fat shaming, someone who now feels segregated within fat acceptance for not being fat enough. The issue has come up before and, if I'm not mistaken, the last time originated with a person or group who felt marginalized within F/A for being TOO fat. It can foster in depth examination of the messages we might be trying to send. Generate frustrated missives calling for and end to the divisions and button-holling typically caused by such discussion, and a general irritation at the seeming need for Fat Acceptance advocates to explain, re-explain, review, clarify, and re-clarify forever and ever, Ramen. All this is enough make folks wonder what message, if any, is actually getting through.

Perhaps there's a simpler explanation for why this happens so frequently. Maybe the simplest explanation is; 'It's not about you.' Really? It's about us as fat people. This would include you, if you want it to. 

Dealing with body issues is a deeply personal thing. It shapes how people feel about themselves and can effect one's sense of self-worth (As if we didn't know this already) to the extent that a lot of us are constantly searching for ways to improve, modify, or completely change our bodies (This we know as well. There's a point here. It's coming). When something new comes along (like, say, accepting  your body as is) many people will dive in head-first looking for The Apocryphal Revelation that will Change Everything. . .  For Me. Unfortunately, after getting around some skepticism over the initial message, I think many find. . . Not something that is focused like a laser on their specific situation, but something spread out across a broad spectrum of situations. Hence the feeling of betrayal, "This Movement said  it was about Fat People but it's not about what I want to do / feel / think or how I am / want to be. BUT I'M FAT TOO!!". Ummm, yes. 

And, no. Social Justice Movements generally aren't about individual people. In fact, they tend not to focus on rigidly defined types of people with exclusive attributes. Or, at least they TRY not to. This, then, would be the point; If you're looking to join a movement that's concerned with changing things for a loosely defined group of people solely to see what YOU can get out of it, you might not be going in with good motivations. There is also the distinct possibility that you're not going to come out with anything resembling what you were looking for.  

"But what about the 'Lifestyle' part? I thought Body Acceptance was supposed to be about being inclusive of everyone." Yes, Fat Acceptance should be all inclusive, and I would argue that it's made valiant efforts in trying to do just that. But we also have a long history of ACTIVE appropriation from Diet Culture (The primary reason for the 'No Diet Talk' philosophy many adhere to). Where Blogs, Forums and Community Spaces have been overrun by people seeking to give or receive diet advise. With a little open minded reflection one might understand a little nervousness about growing trends that seem to be headed in the direction of erasing or undermining the experiences of those who don't just feel fat but are, in fact, actually fat. Still, Inclusion might not be IMpossible.     

As the questions of who's not fat enough and who's too fat circle around for yet another pass, I find myself fighting my own 'divided = conquered' issues. Not quite comfortable with the idea that BODY Acceptance and FAT Acceptance might not always be the same thing. It has been a discussion we've had before and, personally, I've always had a problem with the implications of internal segregation. This movement however, like most organisms, is evolving and the possible interpretations of what Body / Size / Fat Acceptance means must evolve with it. So, perhaps now, these are distinctions we should start working to define. And this might well be a good place to start.

Muzak Therapy:
Billy Corgan / Mina Loy (M.O.H.)


  1. The debate over fuckyeahchubbyfashion, was about that tumblr in particuar. That tumblr, does not stand for FA as a whole. At all.

    I'm a little exhausted from all of this stuff coming up over and over again.

  2. Yeah, I know the FYCF dustup seems to be isolated to that particular stream but the Inbetweenie argument has popped up, pretty much, all over Tumblr.

    I've noticed that one of the main aspects of this kind of microblogging is that it is fast. Ideas, trends, memes, anything can pop up long enough to cause a stir but then most things tend to get drowned out by the next wave. Does anything really last long enough for most people to really think about what their reading? Does any of it make an indelible impression? I don't know.

    No, what happens on Tumblr doesn't represent ALL of F/A. But then, neither does the Fatosphere, really. No one place or person does. But the 'Sphere can be said to be the loudest, most prolific, and possibly most powerful in terms of influence. The one thing the Fatopshere HASN'T seemed to be able to do of late, is expose a WHOLE LOT of people to the messages of Fat Acceptance. Yeah, initially, the Fatosphere fairly exploded into general conciseness, causing all kinds of commotion. But it seems to have plateaued. While Tumblr seems to be attracting all kinds of new people, new questions, new thoughts, new insights. Unfortunately along with them come repetitions of the same old arguments.

    And, yeah, it is exhausting. Maddeningly frustrating, and overwhelmingly irritating. However, 'Those who do not learn from history, are bound to repeat it'.

    It can make for a pretty good mantra sometimes.

  3. I don't know though. I'm thinking part of the repitition is the fact that new people are discovering FA all the time. 101 conversations come up constantly because new people are encountering fat acceptance as a concept for the first time. FA is still a really radical idea, it has virtually no support in the mainstream.
    I see the same arguments come up over and over again that were essentially resolved three years ago on shapely prose BUT that blog is down, and there are all these new people may have never heard of it.

  4. Agreed with silentbeep. Btw, just randomly stumbled onto your blog through Google Alert. Hi :)

  5. @silentbeep-
    Oh I agree, totally. Unfortunately the 101 is an artifact of the blogosphere. Even if Tumblr HAD the facility for 101's I doubt, seriously, if anybody would take the time to even peruse them. The reaction times are just too, damn, fast. Tumblr has been great for widebanding the concept of FA and it may make for a great primer or Intro, but I think it lacks the depth for real understanding. Would be cool if there was some kind of 'Read My Blog' pointer option on reblogs or posts but who knows if there's a real desire for that? Or maybe those who blog / know a bit more about FA can post ref's (Shapley Prose IS still up as archive). But, bottom line? N00b faux pas will always be just part of the discovery process and Tumblr may never be slow enough for deep discussion. I just posted something unrelated to FA today that was probably old news as of three days ago (Read: ancient history) so maybe I'm just too old and slow for the current social media. I mean, Ivan barely keep up with my twitter acct. Now it's time for a nap. And maybe I'll blog this Tumblr thing-a-ma-bob later.

    Hey, thanks for the comment and welcome.