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.)

Friday, November 12, 2010

Of Course, Maura Wasn't the First

There's been a lot of discussion regarding fat people In TV shows of late. Specifically Marie Claire, Maura Kelly, fat people in public displays of affection, and how those PDA's offend her esthetic sensibilities. Or, more accurately how many people find Mrs. Kelly's publicly stated disgust, with the PDA's of said fat people, offensive. While it is throughly gratifying to see people outside the realms of Fat Acceptance acknowledging that fat people are, indeed, worthy of Human affection, the messages have still been rather mixed. Apparently some have come to the conclusion that while overweight people deserve love, 'Obese' people are 'Unhealthy' and, well. . . . Something Has to Be Done About Them. Oddly enough, though they acknowledge that fat people might be human, there is still this attitude that we are a problem that needs to be solved. The point of view that fat people as things which need to be dealt with rather than people who are distinctly different persists. Especially amongst those who continue to view fatness as a disease (that we allow ourselves to be infected with like an STD and refuse to get treatment for) or an addiction (That we are to weak to resist or to stupid to realize is doing us harm). Now, WHAT should be done? Despite the abundance of 'experts' with every kind of theory imaginable, NONE of them really knows. I mean, if one has the sanity points to slog through the comments on most of these responses, it doesn't even seem like they can accurately define where the 'problem' starts

Who IS or ISN'T obese is often so nebulously vague and varies so widely from one POV to the next as to make most distinctions ludicrous. I've seen obesity defined by body shape, as BMI's of 28, 35, and over 40, without regard to muscle density or even height. I've seen it defined as body weights from 200 pounds to 600. People who appear to fall, well, over the official threshold for obesity (30 BMI= X >209Lbs @ 5ft-9in) according to the almighty Body Mass Index, have been deemed 'Not that fat' (Note: MORBID Obesity = BMI > 40 or 278Lbs @ 5ft-9in). It's like people. . . . Well, REALLY don't know what, the fuck, their talking about. And I'm not being even remotely sarcastic. It almost seems as if people have so many varying pictures and definitions in their heads, of what obesity really looks like / really is, that no one can even describe it accurately. Or perhaps, simplest explanations often being the correct ones, the official means by which we define obesity and maybe even peoples own perceptions of what it is or isn't, are totally FUBAR (Fucked Up Beyond All Repair). As for Maura's little faux pas? Well, as I am perhaps overly fond of saying, 'Folks, this ain't new.'       

In early May of 2008 there was an incident that could easily be descried as worse than Maura Kelly's apparent capacity for conveying insult. Oddly enough the incident was perpetrated by another young lady who later tried to blame her actions on a history of eating disorder and also produced a completely disingenuous, faux-appology when the heat of mass disapproval came down on her head. The Rachel Moss / WisCon Incident grew out of one woman's act of depraved indifference for the dignity of her fellow human beings (Unfortunately many links concerning the original post and the OP itself are long dead. Primarily, I believe, because the OP was so classless and distasteful. But also, I believe a lot of it faded away because the backlash against Mrs. Moss went way too far into Mob [and I don't mean Mafia] Justice territory). 

Mrs. Moss decided to post several pictures she'd taken at a Feminist/SciFi convention that was/is inclusive of transgender folk, POC, and fat people, with passions for writing, science fiction, social justice, and politics. The problem? Mrs. Moss posted those pics to the fortresses of troll masturbatory solitude, Something Awful and 4Chan. Along with droll, snark filled, commentary that tore down individual participants at the con for their gender status, race, and appearance. Then, in an apparent afterthought, she decided to photoshop in hand-drawn happy faces over those people (generally fat people) she deemed objectionable. Most probably in a half-assed nod toward preserving anonymity. I'll grant that this might be more consideration than current, cell phone, photo snipers are wont to display for their victims/targets of scorn. The, oh-so-classy, fucknecks at People of Walmart come immediately to mind, but there is a distinction here. One that might be irrelevant to the level of violation, arrogance and pure spitefulness that ANY act of photo sniping requires, but a distinction that should not be overlooked. That is; at WisCon as at any other convention of like-minded people, there is supposed to be a certain amount of solidarity. People who attend most conventions are there because they have an interest or enjoyment of the subject the convention is centered around. Thus, one would expect to be safe form ridicule by, at least, ones fellow attendees. People who are subjected to overt scrutiny in their daily lives often go to conventions for this very thing and come to view such settings as safe spaces where they can, not only meet like minded people, but get away from all the negative scrutiny. I mean, attendees at a Clown convention, people who sometimes make a living with humor at their own expense, would not expect their fellow conventioneers to walk around taking pictures and making comments like, 'Look at all the, big shoed, losers in here!'. Yet this is pretty much, exactly what Mrs. Moss did.       

One of the major differences between these two incidences? Rachel Moss got less media coverage. The WisCon Incident was virtually unknown and definitely unreported outside the spaces of Fat Acceptance, Transgender, and the of SciFi Convention community and Mrs. Moss's actions, arguably much worse than Mrs. Kelly's words, breed some pretty ugly reactions. She was subject to cyber-stalking, work place harassment, her home address was posted to the web, she was definitely threatened with violence, and she may even have received death threats. In Moss's case, some of that ugliness may have been initiated or encouraged by devotees of the two, so called, twisted humor websites she originally posted her pictures and hate-filled observations to. Both sites, in their perpetual anonymous mob solidarity, ended up turning on her and venting their bile not only on the convention / conventioneers she'd managed to draw their attention to, but on her as well.  But then, what about what Mia Freedman had to say?

Arguably, the question Mrs. Freedman posses in the title of her initial post on family weigh-in's could be seen as an innocent one. In the world outside of F/A, obsession with weight fluctuation, no matter how minute in some cases, is still seen as a good thing. However, when a few people from the growing F/A community in Oz (G'Day Austrailia!) postulated some reasonable alternatives in comments? Well, things went, generally, south from there
The problem here? Apparently Mrs. Freedman who, perhaps coincidentally perhaps not, has freelanced for Marie Clair, also holds a chair on the  National Advisory Group on Body Image to the Australian Ministry for Youth and she clearly, doesn't get it. Now, I don't mean that she doesn't get that the worlds current 'Obesity Epidemic'  (Scare quotes are and always will be appropriate with this moral panic, far as I'm concerned) is a complete crock of shite. The bullhorns and barking dobermans are still a bit too loud on that one to expect anything other than irrational fear. No, apparently what Mrs. Freedman doesn't get is the possibility that all this panic, this myopic focus on weight as a proxy for health, is doing more harm than good to both fat and nonfat kids everywhere. Well, that and the possibility that Mrs. Freedman might not be the best candidate for ANY health advisory panel. She does, after all, have some rather unusual views on what is, or isn't funny, where disability is concerned.      

That all of these incidents share common elements, outrageously offensive acts/statements followed by patronizing fauxpology before they, inevitably, fade into the mists of non-memory, hasn't been lost on me. I've seriously considered the possibility that Maura may have modeled her attention getting OP on one or both of the previous two. It's not entirely impossible that Marie Clair's editors had prior knowledge of them and decided to cash in on the media furor. Especially since Mia Freedmen has / had a working relationship with that publisher. I mean, Mia survived and look at all the publicity she got out of it. My Conspiracy Brain senses a disturbance in the Force. 

With the world, now concerned about the very real effects of bullying and it's probable roots in self-shame, the past act's of those who engage in shaming others as a coping / deflection / survival tactic, should not be glossed or passed over. And they should never be used as a means to garner attention or drum up publicity. In my experience the best way to prevent that sort of thing is to remember when, where, how it all happened before. As a wise, old, magician from one of my favorite movies, Excalibur, quotes; "Fore it is the doom of men, that they forget."  

Muzak Therapy:
Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble / Little Wing (instrumental)    

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

In Todays Fat Hate Pages. . .

We have an article from Marie Claire. In which the author has some rather pointed dislikes of, even the idea, that fat people might do, yah know, things that 'normal' human beings do. 

So anyway, yes, I think I'd be grossed out if I had to watch two characters with rolls and rolls of fat kissing each other ... because I'd be grossed out if I had to watch them doing anything. To be brutally honest, even in real life, I find it aesthetically displeasing to watch a very, very fat person simply walk across a room — just like I'd find it distressing if I saw a very drunk person stumbling across a bar or a heroine addict slumping in a chair.
Now, don't go getting the wrong impression: I have a few friends who could be called plump. I'm not some size-ist jerk.

Yes. You just read a classic 'I'm not ___ist! I've got friends who are ____' dodge attempt. Classic because when it's used in attempts to excuse other types of bigotry it usually gets, immediately, called for what it is and stopped cold. But when your talking about fat people? Well, THAT'S not bigotry. That's motivational

So the gist of this article is that the author is disgusted by the sight of fat people. Walking across rooms, displaying affection (. . . maybe, having. . . Sex!! OMG!!!), aping human behavior, and subjecting innocent 'Normals' to actually witnessing them living their obese lives (As the Fat Quasi-Dead, of course). This vitriolic rant brought on by the audacity those objectionably obese people have shown in actually appearing on TV. In a show about fat people. Worse; WITH fat people. Doing things fat people aught not do. Sure the show is comedy and, properly, laughs AT them in almost every scene (what else are you going to do with fat people in comedy?), but then it tries to show them doing other things. Human things. Why, it's Pro-obesity / Healthcare depleating / anti-health and, according to the authors Oppression Olympics ethics, exacerbates her eating disorder. It must be stricken from existence (and, more importantly, sight) immediately. 

This isn't hate. This is concern for our health. Or anger at the healthcare waste we represent. Or, maybe, something about addiction or disease or HFCS despite the fact that, for most fat people, none of that has anything to do with being fat. But it sounds more compassionate than 'EWWW FATTIES!!1!1!!!1' so just go-with-it (See; Bigotry Dodge- above)          

Four words; 'Fuck that' and 'Fuck you'

The author is getting and will continue to get white-hot responses to her asshatery. Good. Gone are the days when you could disparage and belittle people simply because of their size or because their bodies don't meet your, arbitrary, standards. Fat Hate exists and you are part of the problem. We, the fat, have known this all along but now we are all about pushing it back into peoples faces. Making SURE they CAN'T deny it's existence, others can't laugh it off as insignificant, or still others can't excuse it because their 'concerned'/it's 'traditional'.  Welcome to the badgers den, Dear. Hope you brought plenty of bandages. 

OH!!! On a side note; there has been an excellent suggestion by Definatalie, that fat folks engaged in the very human activity of loving one another, send the author examples of their capacity for affection (SFW only of course) along with letters detailing how little we appreciate her public attempt at humiliation. 

To that I would only add 2 things; 

1) CC your letters to ABC Family as an example of why a show like 'Huge' is necessary.

2)  Drop that The Museum of Fat Love link right in.

Muzak Therapy:
Curtis Mayfield / Pusherman

Friday, October 22, 2010

Media Errors / Salt, Peppa, and a Little Suger in Your Bowl.

Looks like this is starting to turn into one of those once-in-a-while, type, things. Well, que sera, sera. 

SOOOOO much has gone on in the Interwebz of Fat since I last found my way here. It looked, for a minute, like Big Media might actually have something relevant to say in re; fat people having Emotions, Feelings, Problems, and ya know, Lives. Basically all that good shit most folks just assume fat people don't  have because all we ever see on TV is this and this. But not this,. . . 


Or, oh Grod never, this. . .

[On a, tenuously-related, note; Screen caps here because these images seem to have been scrubbed from the interntz. If they ever existed anywhere but the episode in the first place. See; The Google Proof for further examples of the marginalization of fat people]. 

Unfortunately, it seems we are unlikely to see where this TV show could have taken us as that it's been canceled. Despite having out-rated other new shows on the ABC Family line-up and the positive buzz it generated.

I encourage anyone who might be reading this and able to appreciate what the show was really about, to let the networks know. Sign the petition or hit Facebook. Now, onwards to the subject at hand, but first a message re; our inspiration- 

I've mentioned before but not nearly enough how, fucking, amazing The Rotund is. When it comes to what living fat in a fatophobic world really means, MK is a total pyromanic. Lighting fires with her remarkable eloquence, and incredible intelligence. I really wanna be her when i grow up.  Case in point; Fatties Have Sex.


As MK, notes, this ain't an easy subject to broach for a number of reasons, not all of which are particular to being fat. After all, as puritanical in it's mores as this country still is, and despite our varied perversions, we'll probably never be fully comfortable talking about sex or sexuality in any way, form, or fashion. Hide it from the from sight, shield the children from any concept of it's existence, block all thought involving the probability that everyone you know, is having, will have, or HAS had sex with someone else. That they have, occasionally, pleasured themselves at some point as well (Yes, even Tea Party members do it. Well, except for, maybe Chistine O'Donnell who seems to get off on stroking her own ego instead). However, the disgust society reserves for fat people in general does not play an insignificant role in making it that much harder for us to talk about anything, vaguely, sexual. Brian at Red No.3 relates how complete exclusion of fat people as sexual beings from societies awareness has even effected our language. To the extent that we may not even have the ability to express or discuss it properly. He touches on how people, particularly men in my experience, who are drawn to or have a preference for fat partners are often described as 'fetishests'. A term which, like 'obesity', adds an almost clinical spin to any conversation and is most often associated with deviance. 'Cause, as everyone knows, anyone interested in a fat sex partner, must be just, fucking, strange -full stop. MK actually dropped one of my favorite posts on this subject over a year ago and I find it still very powerful today.   

All of this as a means to point out how difficult it can be for fat folk in general, to actually get over the hump of actually talking about humpin-. . . (No, not going there). Well, that, and as a personal stalling tactic too. See because, difficult as it is for fat women to venture into this sometimes, completely unexplored conversational territory, for men it can be much like getting a bad molar pulled. Hard for the puller and really uncomfortable for the pullee.    

Sex is GOOD. FSMDamn, is it good when we can get some of it. And I suppose that this might be seen as one of the problems that crop up when you consider the complexities of gendered relationships in humans. For men it's often a preoccupation bordering on obsession (can you say; The Porn Industrial Complex? It's been around since the dawn of history [Oh look! She's fat!] so I figured you could) and we sometimes tend to view it as a thing we can possess with the 'winner' being the One Who Gets the Most. A goal to be achieved (GOT it!. . . Next!) or as a tool / strategy / weapon to be used against The Other (Thus completes my vague, half theory half opinion, on one of the possible drives behind rape). Take it up a several levels, add the extremely powerful variable of fat to any part of the equation, and things get kinda nutz. 

Generally speaking, being fat and seeking / having sex / a sexual relationship for men can be, very much, like the difficult experiences I've seen described by many fat women. Now, I realize that to relate them as equally difficult is to ignore the power of a male dominated society which is, at best, privileged or ignorant and at worst willfully ignorant (read; stupid) or malicious. But we do suffer many of the same hang-ups (She/he CAN'T be into me. I'm FAT.), performance anxieties (What if I can't go-all-night / pretzle myself into THAT position or start sweating / drooling / whatever?), and body issues (No jiggling. S/he'll get grossed out. My beer gut will get in the way. They MUST be gay / experimenting / desperate 'cause my butt/thighs/tits are bigger than theirs. Lights out! Couldn't handle any laughter when/IF I take off my boxers / briefs). As with women, these things often matter less than we think they do. Men are just, culturally, trained to think / care about them less. That is, until The Moment of Truth. Usually right after mutual interest has been confirmed for the first time or we suddenly find ourselves alone in a room with an, obviously aroused, partner. Then it's Panic Time. Believe me, the Romance Novel version of a guy who can sweep a sex partner he's only just met, off their feet, into a bed, and straight to the peak of Mt, Ecstasy like it was opening a can of soda, is just that; Fiction. Those that have the appearance of being able to do it that easily are either very good at concealing their emotions or are so self-obsorbed that none of this even occurs to them. If your into that, knock yourself out. Here's to hoping you don't wake up to something unpleasant/ expensive / you could do without.   
For most human beings* sex is a necessity and, since fat people are human beings, we have sex to (Radical, no?). Fat women and fat men have sex with thin people, inbetweenies, and with each other. You might not like this but Reality really doesn't require your approval. So, wether you'd rather not think about it or are so fatophobic as to believe that it shouldn't be, there is really only one thing you can do here; Deal with it. However, as fat people living our lives, our options are much more varied. You get to deal with that too. Unfortunately, so much of sexual tastes re; men is bound up with bonding amongst each other. To me, this seems so counter-intuitive. I mean, get ten guys into a group, and no two will concur on the single 'hottest' media packaged 'Babe'. All that says to me is that diversity in preference not only exists, it's ubiquitous. 'Mousey, blue-eyed, brunettes, with perky breasts, skaters calves, porcelain skin, and pierced, but no Tatts.' are not attributes ALL men are going to find appealing. The amount of variation within this LIMITED set of, purely physical, attributes is enough to insure that no two men will find any two models similarly appealing. Yet, the whole equation changes when you add 'Fat' to the mix. Why? Because certain individuals don't like it. When has that EVER mattered? And why do we, as men or as people really (there are women who think fat admirers, male / female, weird), LET it influence us to such an extent? These are some of the questions I'd like to have answers to in re; sex & attraction.  

REF DESK (Or; People who are MUCH better at talking about all of this then I am) 

Big Big Love by Hanne Blanke
Not exactly the Karma Sutra for fat folk (Primarily because it's not illustrated. Damnit!) but one of the THE BEST books I've ever read on the subject. The author deals with positions, hang-ups, and many of the concerns / questions surrounding sex and love for larger bodies in a frank and sincere manner. A must-read for Fat Lovers and Lovers of fat everywhere.   

I've been reading Shannon's stuff for years and she does not mince words. The occasional Troll or three perhaps but minced words? Never. From what I've read there aren't that many things occupying the higher orbits of sexual enquiry, that she wouldn't, at least, be willing to discuss (I've never run across any scat chat but, of course, the illegal or physically / mentally damaging needn't bother entering the room much less trying to sit at the table). She gets that fat people have sex (duh) and runs something of an question / advice column through the site. As, I think she would say, 'Ask your sexytimes questions, Lovelies. Answers may inform / titillate'.    

*(there are also people who can live without sex entirely but, since I'm not one of them, I'm can't speak to that. At least, not beyond acknowledging the reality of asexual or nonsexual people completing the diverse spectrum of human sexuality)

Muzak Therapy:
Dire Straights / Tunnel of Love

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Yes I'm Fat, But Am I Huge?

I've pretty much reserved judgement on the TV show 'Huge' up until now. Mainly because Life (with the Big 'L') seen fit to make sure I've got less and less time to actually sit down and write anything these days and, well, I guess you could say I've been a little gun shy about it. 

See, I'm one cynical son-of-a-bitch. Show me a cloud with a sliver lining and I'll start asking how it could carry something so much heavier than water vapor. Gift Horse? Open wide so I can get a good look at those molars. 

So, when I become aware of something as potentially awesome as a show that seems to portray fat folk with much the same kinds of feelings, passions, thoughts, and failings as other human beings (Cause, ya know, that's what we are). A smart TV show that seems to get it. I tend to start looking for the construction crane that's about to drop a whole shoe store on my head. I just didn't want to start hollering about falling sky because, well, it is quite a nice sky and we all know what happened to the last guy that did. Still, is that what appears to be happening with 'Huge'? At this point, it takes an actual, conscience, effort for me to believe that it MIGHT not be. Considering how, frustratingly, often this has happend in the past we, as fat people, would have to be idiots not to think, 'Here it comes again'. And despite what some True Believers in the 'Healthist' Camp might think (with their dogmatic creed's about what is and isn't healthy), we are not idiots.

Hope is generally a positive failing though. It can and has been argued that, without it, the entire species would have joined dinosaurs on the 'Nice Try. NEXT!' list a long time ago. As such, I can hope that this is, maybe, a blip. Just some exec at the Network insisting that the writers let people know that being fat is, yah know, bad (OMGZ!1!!1! Why didn't anybody TELL us?!7!). I can hope that, as potentially ruinous as Network/Exec Interference can be, it isn't the actual writers (Winnie Holzman [Exec Prod/Write] and daughter Savannah Dooley [Prod/Write], of whom I've heard so many good things) trying to inject the standard 'Weight loss=The-Only-Way-To-Health' rhetoric. 

So far the show has demonstrated a fairly insightful awareness of the fact that there is NOTHING simple about being fat in this society (ie; the calories in/calories out crap-spiel and associated garbage). It's shown a unique vision in depicting fat people as more than objects of humor or scorn, and, so far mostly, resisted the almost auto-reflexive messages of 'your not good enough until you lose weight/are trying desperately to lose weight' or the ever patronizing 'Love yourself! But lose the weight 'cause fat's not healthy' *insert: Waggling Finger of Disapproval*. If 'Huge' does start sliding down either of those slippery slopes or any of the numerous other 'Just lose weight, Fatty!' excuses used to try and denigrate fat people into becoming unfat, then it'll just be par for the course. A very disappointing slice on a course where all the greens are covered by sand-traps and holes have been plugged with concrete. I can only hope that the Network / Execs can be convinced of the unique opportunity they have here and that the writers / producers don't get hooked on Obesity EpiPanic Cool Aid.  

But right now, I've got the next Fairway on my mind. Just in case this one ends up turning into the Same, Old, Game. 

Muzak Therapy:
Pink Floyd / A Pillow of Winds

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Why, yes. Yes I am. Thank you.

That would be two things, actually- 

1) Fat; But I think we've established that some time ago. Still, recent events seem to have necessitated re-iteration. We'll get into this in a few.  

2) Back; (see what I did there with the 'Fat' and the 'Back'?. . .  Ok, it's been a while, cut me a break) I know those of you might actually follow my meager rantings haven't heard from me for a minute, I've been unusually busy these last few months. Up and down the east coast dealing with Family Drama. Driving  cross country for Vaca / a Family Function. Which, of course, involved a lot of planning, prep, Family Drama, driving, some sight seeing, More Family Drama, function attendance and A Lot More Family Drama. Then some Unexpected Family Drama once we got home. Did I mention the Family Drama? Yeah, everything goes better with a little FD sprinkled on top. Or so I've been told. Now on too this Fat thing.

Cheese-O-Pete! Talk about your ridiculously clumsy, blatantly obvious, attempt at Mind Fucking! It seems there's this new, fledgling, movement amongst rabidly Anti-fat Medical Folk. Well, actually, I'm not sure that we CAN call them Anti-Fat since, technically, they now appear to be Pro-Fat. Only not for the reasons, or with the intents, one might expect. You see there is this 'Health Minister' in the UK who is of the mind that the word 'Obese' shouldn't be used to describe people who are larger than the, rather arbitrarily, accepted standard (sounds like a production line issue to me but what do I know about unit / model specs? Oh wait, we're talking people. My bad). No, instead the larger / heavier than average human should be described as 'Fat'. Umm. . . Ok. I'm all for it. I mean, that's what I am after all. If the physical state of my body needs description, then the word that gets the job done nicely, thank you, is 'Fat'. So much so that a lot of fat people, myself included, have put years into trying to reclaim this particular word. Working to remove the infantile, pejorative  connotations most are used to using by pointing out just how childish and dull-witted an insult it really is. I mean, if I already identify as fat, how insulting can it be to call me something that I already, unashamedly acknowledge I am? And what are we, anyway? 6 years old?. . . Well, some of us might be. Mentally if not pysically. Anyway, this new attitude from the medical community couldn't be anything but good, right? Yeah, not so much, actually

This is the medical community after all. It's their job to remind us, over, and over, and over, and over, and. . . Well, you get the idea- that being fat is nasty, bad, morally incorrect, unclean, and can be associated with terminal eyestrain amongst many, many, MANY other medical conditions on an ever growing list, that Includes cooties. . . I think (So hard to keep track). What's more, it's not acceptable. So, in this particular case, we get a 'Health Minister' trying to convince others in the medical community to call us fat because. . . 

They feel that this will hurt our feelings and, of course, make us lose weight. 

I know. . . I know!!. . .  It's ok, I'll wait until your finished laughing so you can catch your breath. Only took me about 20 minutes but then I'm DETHFATZ and either on the verge of expiring or completely incapable of physical exertion at all (this would be an 'Everybody knows' thing). Unfortunately there's another side to this story that, frankly, isn't so funny. A few things actually, but one of the things that stuck-out for me was Professor Steve Field of the Royal College of GP's statement- 

. 'I think the term obese " medicalises" the state,' he said. 'It makes it a third-person issue.

AGREED!!!! Fatness is NOT a disease. No matter how BADLY some people want to believe it, try to rationalize it, or wish it were so. Trying to MAKE it a disease with technical language isn't going to do anything more than stigmatize a certain group of people and single them out for ostracizing. By Jove, I think he Gets It! . . . Well, let's not start patting the Good Prof on the head just yet. Because it appears that this is EXACTLY what Prof Field wants to do-

'I think we need sometimes to be more brutal and honest.
You can be popular by saying the things people want to hear and in the NHS we too often do that when we should spell things out clearly.'

'Honest' brutality in the name of 'helping' people. I am SO sure. That this guy is either an idiot, an ass, or has sadomasochistic / control / ego issues. Yeah, I said that. They want to use, prognosis-by-chimpanze, reverse psych tactics on me, I should get to examine the oatmeal between their ears with a dirty magnifying glass. And that's, pretty much, what this recommendation represents; Chimp Counter-Psych Warfare; co-opt the targets language or ideals, and then try to use it against them.

This is not new Health Minister. Perhaps you should give Weight Watchers International a call and ask them how their 'Diets Don't Work' (but we're not a diet. *snicker*) campaign is working out for them. Could turn out to be an enlightening conversation. Then, maybe, go check out the Fatosphere for a little more enlightenment on what kind of people rate as actual human beings with thought processes, experience, and the ability to think for themselves. But be careful, we wouldn't want your tiny little worldview to get rocked too hard. This IS for your own good after all.

Muzak Therapy:
Tool / Lateralus

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Play Ball. Get Paid.

Pretty much follows, doesn't it? Once again we are shown the true, caring, altruism of the diet industry in their attempts to push into an under-exploited market. That market would be; men. Via what they perceive as the most reliable route into the male psyche; sports and Sports Figures. 

You want evidence that the Diet Industry has a definite, profit driven, interest in mind-fucking the worlds populous? Here ya go. They've been doing this little dance with women for YEARS and -well, I was going to say , 'getting away with it', but actually it's more like, 'making oil tanker loads of money'- based on societies twisted ideas about what women 'should' look like and what is 'expected' of them. However, so far they haven't been able to figure out a reliable enough avenue into male body insecurity to make a decent profit. Undermining self image ain't gonna do it, a fashion / trend 'centric approach was never gonna work, even piggybacking onto the FATZ = DETH!11!! terror mongering of the Obesity EpiPanic hasn't proved all that profitable. What's a stalled-out Industrial Complex to do? Work the Youth / Adonis / Sports angles, obviously. They're about the only avenues left to try.

'Adonis' (The, so called, Perfect Body / Six-pack Ads / Gym Butt) angle has been around for years and is based on undermining body image. Your thighs aren't cut, your butt is huge, you've got a gut, you should hate your guns-of-jello biceps, and your bitch tits are disgusting (sound familiar ladies?). The 'Youth' angle is fairly recent, capitalizing on America's throw-away attitude towards anyone over 45. And nothing gets under a mans skin like being perceived as useless. Hence the steady increase in male body implants, face lifts, hair coloring, and the hair replacement business. It's not enough to be a 50 yr old driving an expensive sports car. Now you have to LOOK 25-35 or your just a silly old guy being pathetic. But worry not! Nutrisysdumb is on the case! Working that comfy, familiar, 'Sports' angle!! 

Personally, I noticed them starting to nose in on the market with this angle about 5 years ago and, from a business standpoint, it's only logical. Most guys dream about being just like ___________ (Fill in Blank with designated Athlete) Unfortunately most Athlete's who are still playing already enjoy 'Perfect Body' status, so no joy there, but the retired guys? The Desk Jockeys, Talking Heads, Legends-gone-soft? Pure bankroll. The occasional working athlete who might be 'carrying a little too much' or the Coach on the Sidelines running the show? If you can get a hook in 'um, it's a potential gold strike. So, yeah, PutridSystem is all about pushing up on former sports figures with bags full of money and truckloads of Hokey Meals. And maybe they make a few suggestions about how to pile on some extra Lbs. while waiting for the delivery truck full of patented pseudo-food. Yah know, for those all-important 'Before' photos. Makes the 'After' shots more. . . . Dynamic.  

Right. Just don't try to convince me this clown car full of asshats is out working for the betterment of mens health. Not buying that sentiment or their product. Haven't got time or interest for either.

Muzak Therapy:
Blur / Song 2

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Moving is Good. Destination is Important Too.

So, we now have an action plan from the First Ladies 'Lets Move' program. First blush; It would seem that Mrs. Obama and the Childhood Obesity Task Force have been listening. To whom? I couldn't say. However, the one thing that I did noticed while listining to the Press Conference is the distinct lack of the phrase 'weight loss'. 

There is a focus on nutrition in both schools and home which, in my opinion, is fine and well. Efforts to improve the quality and nutritional value of school breakfast / lunch programs, real and realistic efforts undertaken locally by nutritional / medical professionals and backed by the Fed Gov (Unlike those fronted by a certain Celebrity Chef who just plays one on TV) are more likely to improve HEALTH across the board for children. Most importantly for children with intermittent access.

There is also a lot of focus on food manufacturers and advertisers. Again, this would seem a necessary effort. Particularly in the advertising arena. I can remember when children's cartoons where silly entertainment and when they became nothing more than half-hour commercials for toys. It was almost inevitable that the food industry would get in on the act and equally inevitable that the whole thing would get out-of-control. There was / is FAR too much money to be made. Now, it would be the height of naiveté to believe that this doesn't effect children but does it mean we should start banning toys with kids Happy Meals? Ummm, No. We're doing pretty good so far. Lets not start back-sliding into EpiPanic rhetoric, K? 

One of the other things that this Action Plan seems to address is the Food Desert phenomena. Recognition that it DOES exist is an important first step and it, obviously, isn't something that's going to be easy to resolve. As that it is a recently recognized problem I wouldn't expect guaranteed, sure-fire, solutions. I'm not sure that putting a lot of the burden of insuring proper nutrition for ALL kids (which is pretty much how I'm viewing this entire program) on schools is going to work. There are strong, market driven, reasons why these deserts exist. The impetus to supply cheap, high-calorie, 'pseudo-food' in low income area's is akin to a gravitational effect and reversing or mitigating that is going to take something on the level of creating anti-gravity. First we've got to find out if it's even possible. Within the framework of a universe where Big Business is one of the driving forces behind it's physical laws, I'm not all that sure that it is. It's entirely possible that this might be one of those things that requires CULTURAL change before we see any positive movement. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't try.     

Exercise infrastructure / safety; How could this be anything but good? Insuring that kids have safe places to play and be active is a no-brainer as far as what should be happening. Why it isn't is a WHOLE 'nother question. Theories for that particular question run from 'blame-Nintendo/Xbox' to crack vial littered basketball courts and, again, answers to any of these problems won't come easy. Dealing with crime is a function of law enforcement. It's not like we've been ignoring it over the years but the world, it seems, has changed. Have Criminals become less discriminating? Willing to hurt, maim, kill anybody that gets in their way? Maybe. Maybe not. Are there more abnormal individuals out there targeting children than before? Yes. And no. Is the media instigating fear of the world outside our doors with sensationalist reporting. Yes. . . Unfortunately the options for passive, sedentary, entertainment are also much more pervasive than they've ever been in the history of humanity. I'd argue that not only is it possible to believe it's safer indoors but that staying inside, for kids at least, is the more attractive option.   
Again these are, primarily, attitudes that need to change. Take it from those of us in the fight for Fat / Size Acceptance; this ain't easy, but it can be done. 

Speaking of FA/SA, it would seem that the low whistle from those of us tired of being judged / penalized for the size of our bodies has been heard (Or, at least, one can hope). As one of the rallying cries of FA/SA states- 'Nothing about us, without us'. In my review of both the Mrs. Obama's speech and the task forces Q & A afterwards, not ONCE, was there mention of weight loss as a proxy for 'good health'. This is significant. 

Could it be that Michelle Obama and her Task Force have gotten, at least, PART of the message? Weight loss Good Health. A radical, oft decried, concept that can illicit completely irrational reactions from a LOT of different people. Reactions so ingrained they're almost predictable ('But being fat isn't healthy!1!1!). Perhaps FLOTUS and her Team have come to realize that if you want to seriously address the issue of HEALTH in regards to Fat People in this country, it might be a good idea to consult with the people who are, indeed, fat. Find out what we have found to work, what doesn't, isn't likely to, and what goals might be deemed more realistic than others. Experience, after all, is usually considered a fairly good teacher.    

That being said, there are still problems with this program. It seems to leave a lot of the usual stigmatization of weight out of it's practices but still manages to be antagonistic in it's intent. And this is probably due to it's focus on 'fighting obesity' rather than on the overall health of ALL children.  There's no such thing as a program that's gotten everything perfectly right, straight out of the gate. However, imagine for a moment, what could be achieved if the focus were really on health. Cardiovascular fitness, flexibility and strength, balanced and varied nutrition. Imagine if more fat kids turned out to be living healthier while more underweight kids and more normal-appearing-UNhealthy kids became more healthy as well. As fewer of ANY of those types of kids become likely to show signs of the body warping image or psychological issues that run rampant in their parents now.       
I mean, I'm not seeing a down-side here. So. . .  When do we get around to dropping this 'obesity' nonsense and start concentrating on real Health? Are we still listening? 

Muzak Therapy:
Dire Striaghts / Once Upon A Time In The West

Monday, May 3, 2010

Big Questions? Big Science! . . . More Questions.

A funny thing happened on the way to the Doctor.

              He said; 'The Patients are revolting!!
              I said;     'In know. Fewer and fewer seem to think you guys actually  
                              know what your doing. It's almost like their ready 
                              to take up arms or something.'
              He said; 'No, no. I mean, they're revolting. I really don't like them 
                              very much.'
              I said;    'Oh. . . Well, hope you can work that out then.'

One might think the members of the Medical Science Community would know the potential harm that comes from shooting one's self in the foot, but. . . 

Science, or one of it's basic tenants, is supposed to be non-biased integrity. The pursuit of fact has long been the doctrine of, really, any kind of science in it's quest for the incontrovertible 'truths' about that which has, previously, been unknown. Unfortunately, we humans love our biases. especially when they make us look good.

This particular article focuses on medical science and it's relationship to pharmacological research. However, one might argue that there has been a certain amount of. . . Scientific obfuscation in matters pertaining, obesity and the frenzy of 'crisis' news that surrounds it.

We've seen this before. Checking our friendly media providers we find a new 'death scare' health report about the 'dangers' of obesity almost every month (Ok, well that last one is a ringer but you get the idea).
We are virtually inundated with so much information pointing toward the shear lethality of fat, one almost wonders how there could possibly be ANY fat people walking around anywhere. Or, perhaps, there's less to all of this than we're being led to believe. Less fact and perhaps too much agenda. 

One might wonder; What would be the purpose of disseminating all this bad information? What would be the purpose? Well, like fat itself, the answer to that can get a little complicated. As the HuffPo article on medical research suggests, Medicine has traditional momentum to account for some of it's entrenched attitudes. However, in the case of obesity, we've also got a 40 - 60 billion dollar diet industry, a media machine capable of shaping societal perception, Insurance concerns who's bottom-line interests revolve around paying out as few claims and disqualifying as many people as possible, and WLS? If the revenue generated by that particular medical specialty is a fraction of what the diet industry pulls in, we are talking about a lot of money. As it turns out, money is a pretty good motivator.  But this phenomena in the scientific community is not just powered by greed and industry specific interest. There are also powerful social / cultural components facilitating and often directing this mis/disinformation. In a society where it's quite simply acceptable to hate fat people, how can it not? Now layer on a general ignorance of how / why people become fat, why it's nearly impossible for some to lose weight (Umm because some of us are supposed to be fat? Just a guess.), and add irrational beliefs about how individual bodies should work or how they should look and you get a toxic environment in which, even incorruptible Science, is not immune to influence. As a caveat, the last Presidential Administrations attitudes about what science is and what it should say, didn't help any. Still the question of why researchers and those who do the Big Science thing might be compromising their own integrity, really isn't the most significant one. 

It seems that some of the most important questions in all of this often go unaddressed: What is this doing to the reliability, the reputation, the dependability, of Science and, by extension, medicine in general? How will this willingness to 'sell out' fat people for a quick buck, for an entrenched bias, or for a perceived 'societal good' while ignoring inconvenient truths or passing off junk science as cannon, effect what we 'know' in the future? Obviously these would be questions that could potentially effect, not just fat people, but everyone. However, we'll need to get over our general dislike of a certain class of people before we can even address them. For those skipping ahead, that would be; Fat People. Not impossible but as history has shown, often not a very easy thing to do. If we don't want the Scientific Process to become short-hand for 'just another rumor mill', perhaps we should get started.  

Muzak Therapy:
Cars / Bye Bye Love

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

When DEATFATZ Isn't Just a Stupid Rhetorical Term

Lets talk about fat and death for a minute, shall we? I was reading a recent article linked  from SilentBeep regarding a man who died tragically after having WLS in an effort to better his position at his job. Before we even get into the twisted psychology of a world where people are practically forced into changing the state of their bodies just to get ahead. Lets talk about that death thing.  

See, because not only is life  different for fat people. Largely due to forces outside their control (that would be other peoples perceptions and attitudes) but so is death. We've talked here and other places about the disdain, dismissal, and out right hatred fat people often experience from the medical community. Well, there's this little thought-about fact that people commonly overlook; Coroners are Doctors too. 

One line from the WLS article stood out for me and brought this back into stark recall- 
"Three days later, Brooks was dead. At the autopsy, a Riverside County coroner found stomach contents leaking around the edges of the lap-band and more than a liter of pus in his abdomen. On her report she listed the cause of death as "peritonitis due to lap-band procedure due to obesity."   
*Emphasis mine*

My Immediate thought; 'Yes. Most thin people don't bother with Lap-band surgery so, of course, he was fat. Why the redundancy? Especially on a Cause of Death? Perhaps because Coroners have quite a habit of including 'obesity' on COD's. Even when the actual COD had nothing to DO with the decedents weight. Willie Brooks wasn't killed by 'obesity'. He was killed by an infection due to a botched lap-band surgery.  If Joan Rivers were to die during a botched botox injection (Surgical procedure according to Med Coding guidelines) would 'vanity' be listed as a contributing factor on her COD?  

Is this kind of thing rampant? Is it something that happens occasionally or in isolated situations? Who knows. The decedent in these kinds of cases isn't likely to complain. Less likely in fact, than fat living patients confronted with medical stigma who don't really have anybody they can reliably complain TOO.  So it gets left to the Coroner or family members. Unfortunately family is often inclined to, either go along with whatever, or in some cases, they may actually agree with the assessment no matter how invalid it might be.    

There are, of course, those who would question the possibility of people in the medical community actually doing these kinds of things / having these kinds of attitudes. To them I would only say-  
*REAL Trigger Warning*
  Following is a link who's comments are toxic in the extreme. 
  The post from which they thread is, quite possibly, worse.
*REAL Trigger Warning* 

If this is any indication of how some Emergency Medical personnel actually feel about fat decedents, what are we to think about anybody else in the field of medicine? Including Coroners. 

There is one other thing people might consider when thinking about this truly sad state of affairs. Beyond the theft of any dignity a person might be accorded after ones demise, there is the skewing of statistical data that could, in fact, effect the living. How many fat people have died in car accidents, been killed by falling objects, or after falling from heights? How many have been shocked, burned, murdered, or simply died inexplicably and had obesity or some tenuous relation to obesity included in their COD's? And how would that effect the calculations for the overall rate of death due to obesity which is taken directly from any mention of obesity in each COD? I mean, it's not like this kind of mathamatical / statistical inaccuracy hasn't happened before.       

So, yeah, I'm gonna have a little trouble trusting all those sparkly statistical pronouncements of the future perfect doom that might be (Unless somebody's got those winning Lotto Numbers for next week. I keep asking. Email me). More importantly I'd rather think about what's definitely happening right now. Like how there are Surgical Mills exploiting people in much the same way the Diet Industrial Complex has for years. Taring up peoples insides with what amounts to human experimentation (Now THERE's some statistics I'd be interested in seeing. If only we could get some clean numbers), pushing false hope (30% body mass loss on average?), lies (Ummm, remission of diabetes is NOT a 'cure'. That remission thing? Yeah, that's your clue.), and commercial disinformation (Watch any lap band Ad and Realize that you don't need WLS to do any of those things). All this just to get that check deposited, put you on the table under the knife, and get you out the door. Oh! Of course, because their concerned about your health

Mustn't forget about that.  

Muzak Therapy:
Hum / Stars