Weight Loss Support - The Politics of Fat Article

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11-08-2005, 11:20 AM
Has anyone read this article yet? I'd love to hear some discussion on it!


11-08-2005, 11:33 AM
I actually have read that article (over the weekend, I think). I find it mildly disturbing that people are trying to make it a legal issue. If someone is fat, they should lose weight--not because they should look like everyone else, but because it puts their bodies under more unneeded stress than those who are not overweight. Yes, overweight people can be healthy (I, for one, have been obese mywhole life yet have no weight-related health issues), but that luck probably won't last forever. I think genetics plays a role to an extent, but beyond that extent, it is used as an excuse. Yes, we may be genetically predisposed to carry our extra weight in certain areas (apple vs. pear shape), and we may not be able to control our bone structures (large vs. small), but I don't think ANYONE is truly genetically composed to weigh 300 pounds (unless they are 8 feet tall ;) ). Of course, I'm looking at this assuming that these people are obese and not just a few pounds overweight. I don't want to sound closed-minded or insensitive, but I certainly cannot blame my overweight grandmother or my my overweight mother for the fact that I have eaten hundreds of McDonald's value meals in my life :p

11-08-2005, 11:48 AM
Contesting the usual origin story about fat—excess calories, individual blame—is high on the activist agenda. The preferred account is that fat is genetic and/or glandular, thus not anyone's fault.

I'm sorry, but i think this is ridiculous. I think it is one more way for people to declaim personal responsibility for their own actions. I understand that there are illnesses that contribute to either weight-gain or difficulty in weight-loss, and I don't have a problem with making some concessions for persons who are obese. But should we make airplane seats wider? No, if you need two seats, buy two seats.

I would never denigrate someone for being overweight. If you are overweight and are not only healthy but are happy with your body image, then that is great for you. But don't tell me i am wrong, or wrapped in some diet-slave mentality because I want to be thin and healthy. I know how much hard work it is to not only lose, but to maintain. We all make our own choices in life, and we all have to deal with the consequences of our actions, whether negative or positive.

11-08-2005, 11:56 AM
I read that article this morning and was appalled. Like Jill, I think some people are using genetics as an excuse. Also like Jill, I've been overweight my entire life and have not experienced any major diseases due to being overweight, but that doesn't mean I never will. Yes, I admit that part of me wants to get healthy so I look good by society's standards (though I say I want to look good by my own standards, I realize that in part my standards were formed by society, blabedy blabedy blah), but I also want to lose weight to be able to chase after my children when I have them, I want to set a healthy example for them, I want to have control over food and not be controlled by it. It's not about what I weigh--it's about how I live.

Also, I think that compulsive overeating certainly CAN be a disease/pathology, just like alcoholism or drug abuse. If it's not, why is it that some people can't force themselves to stop thinking about food, can't have a normal relationship with food, and some people have no problems? I understand that a big part of it is our upbringing and lifestyle, but that's not all of it.

OK, so I'll never be a small person. I'm 5'10", and I don't have a small frame. But I'm not using that as an excuse to weigh 250, or whatever. I think the politicalization (is that a word?) of fat is just another example of victimization in a culture that doesn't want to take responsibility for anything.


11-08-2005, 12:29 PM
I read this article this morning. The thing that I found most interesting is the fact that on one hand it seems to mock those who (rightly or wrongly) try to justify obesity, while at the same time offering up another excuse (the food supply).

IMHO, my choices regarding how I live my life are my choices. If I want to carry extra weight, then that's my choice. I don not deserve to be demonized for my choices, but I also do not deserve concessions from the rest of the world. If I chose to carry extra weight and not concede to the "size" of the world, I also make the choice to do what it takes for me to "fit in", whether that be buying two airplane seats, having to buy specialty clothes, or accepting the health consequences of my decision.

So now the chatter is about what is "in" our food. The simple answer there is not to eat food that's been processed in the first place. If you don't know what's in your food, don't eat it. Problem solved.

11-09-2005, 05:05 AM
Thanks for the link to the article.

Fat should be political. All the factors that cause fat are, ahem, big issues. :p

The food industry, Western medicine, women's control over their own bodies, environmentalism, racial oppression, poverty, media, government regulation, education, values... on and on.

My cynical view is that in America, consumerism will win. People like sugar-fat-salt, so they will pay for it. Sugar-fat-salt providers will profit, and do everything in their power (e.g. lobbying) to continue to profit. People will eat more and gain weight. Then they will want accomodations -- bigger clothes, cars, chairs -- and, when people are willing to pay for those things, they will get them.

For example, look at clothing sizes -- a certain size today would have been a bigger number not too long ago. Americans have grown bigger, so we want to buy bigger clothes, so the marketplace provides bigger clothes.

Clothing size is the most visible change, but there are others. Have you noticed how newly constructed theaters and stadiums tend to have more spacious seats than older theaters and stadiums?

The more overweight Americans we have, the more money there is to be spent on accommodations for size. Businesses have already started meeting the demand for these accommodations. Soon accommodations for size will be widespread enough so that a business or government entity that does not have accommodations for size will not be able to compete. There will be pressure for every industry, every sevice provider, to accommodate size. Then our culture will change, because our culture tends to change depending on what people are willing to pay for.

11-09-2005, 10:31 AM
TBJ, I completely agree. Capitalism will give us whatever we want to pay for, and then some (and we'll pay for that too). I just think it's sad and a bit discouraging. Am I going to be in the minority for wanting to get healthy? We're so proud of our long life span, but if we continue heading in the direction we're going now, we're going to eat ourselves into a life our bodies cannot sustain without medications and surgeries and procedures that could have been avoided by eating a little less and exercising a little more.
What about *quality* of life? Losing weight does more for your quality of life than larger clothes and wider chairs at the movie theater ever could. Being healthy gives you a better life, and isn't that the whole point?


11-09-2005, 02:24 PM
What an interesting article...agree with a lot of what's been said. I think a group of overweight people trying to make it akin to race, or a disease like cancer, is a bit misguided.

I do however think that maybe treating overweight in the same way AA treats alcoholics is a bit closer to a solution. Treating it as a pathology to overcome makes sense, and while I'm not trying to compare overweight people to alcoholics, I think it's a bit close. People don't make acceptions for alcoholics, and an important step in both of those cases is that people admit it's a problem and try to overcome it.

Instituting things in society or in our food habits that would help to overcome it, or things that will 'protect' children (i.e., fewer vending machines in school, healthy cafeteria choices, maybe even healthy food and exercise education) would be a good plan in the same way we protect children against underage smoking or underage drinking. Just because eating a lot is legal all the time doesn't mean we can't do something about it. I guess the activist group just strikes me as foolish by not doing anything about it. Even cancer patients hope for cures and treatments, and the overweight would be foolish if they didn't at least consider options. But I guess since we are all here, we are all on the right side of it looking at options. :)

11-09-2005, 03:21 PM
This portion of the article caught my eye:

The irony is that while overconsumption may be encouraged, all bodily
evidence of it is stigmatized, especially in the romantic sphere. Activist
organizations are now stepping in to rectify the problem. NAAFA doubles as
a dating site, and Dimensions, a magazine and Web site that celebrates "the
fat-positive lifestyle," gears itself to fat admirers (FAs)—those who buck
social trends by preferring fat partners.

I think that it's nice that they are trying to help people hook up
with others who dig their body type. Still, I'm curious to know what
the ratio of fat preferrers to fat partners is (yeah, I know, my grammar
is whack). I have to think that given the fact that such a large
percentage of people in America are fat, the number of people who are
into that look has to be smaller than the demand. And not all fat
people are attracted to other fat people, either. I have been, and
indeed still am, quite heavy, but it's the trim guys that turn my head,
not the heavy ones. I can only imagine that there are fat men out there
that also prefer slim partners.

It's all very well and good to fight for equal rights for all body
shape types. But if the fat acceptors are trying to make contemporary
American popular culture more accepting of the obese in a romantic
sense, well, I just think this is going to be a very difficult endeavor.

11-09-2005, 03:32 PM
Yes, we may be genetically predisposed to carry our extra weight in certain areas (apple vs. pear shape), and we may not be able to control our bone structures (large vs. small), but I don't think ANYONE is truly genetically composed to weigh 300 pounds (unless they are 8 feet tall ;) ).

I read the article this morning and I agree 100% with this comment. I'd kind of always assumed I was a fat person and would never be thin. It took me a long time to realise that there are different degrees of fatness, and I was beyond where I should be.

I may find it easier to gain weight than other people, whether it's because of genetics or other causes, but that doesn't mean I have to. If I eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly I can be at the most slightly overweight (where I am now) or in all likelihood smaller still.

I'm no body fascist thinking that everyone should be stick thin, and I like the fact that people have a range of weights. But equally I really don't think that, other than in exceptional circumstances, people are meant to be as fat as they are becoming. The timing issue is the big one. Genetics hasn't changed so dramatically over the past few decades that people are naturally getting fatter, the food supply has.

11-09-2005, 04:58 PM
In the war on fat, fat isn't just winning, it's crushing the opposition.

The article starts right out with a fat joke. I just don't like that and I always feel like I have to apologize for it.

While I know I'm personally responsible for my weight, I do believe genetics plays a role. My husband comes from a thin family. He can eat 3x the amount I eat and still keep his skinny 145 pound frame without having to exercise. If this isn't genetics, then I don't know what is or how DNA works.

However, I don't think a person has a right to blame ANY food industry for their size. Regardless of portion sizes, we don't have to eat everything on our plates OR in the bag.

That said, I do believe every person has the right to be proud of who they are NOW and not at some magic number down the road. There's nothing wrong with a group of overweight Americans gathering together to say, "We're fine with our bodies." It's people who have a problem with their bodies who have a problem with these groups. JMO.

Furthermore, I remember when I truly accepted my weight and felt good about who I was as a person, as a human. I had friends who thought I was in some kind of denial because God forbid you could like yourself if you're overweight. That's simply not true for all people. For me, acceptance and self-love is what gets me to change it. Wanting my body to work efficiently and wanting my body to do more ... NOT wanting to win some insane beauty contest that only exists in your head.

I don't feel like I have the right to speak for anyone. If you are obese and proud of it, great for you. I do have a problem with fat jokes and belittling the obese. It truly is the last acceptable prejudice in our society.

11-10-2005, 12:58 AM
While I am not comfortable at my current weight, I decided a long while ago that it was important for me to love and value myself regardless of my weight. I will not apologize for my size. And I would hope that anyone would be able to respect anyone, regardless of size. Discrimination of any group is ugly.

Nonetheless, I think the FA movement goes too far, in valuing fat, in blaming the diet and fast food industries for fat, and in devaluing OTHERS choices to lose weight.

Great thread!

11-10-2005, 07:08 AM
If you are overweight and happy with your body, then that is absolutely wonderful! However, I don't think society should have to adjust their standards to accept those who are overweight as being normal. I am certainly not saying that discrimination is okay. The way some people treat those who are overweight is repulsive, and there is no excuse for it. Widening airplane seats and such, however, I do not agree with. I don't think I currently fit into a roller coaster seat/restraint, but I wouldn't want the world to make those seats bigger because then smaller riders would probably be at risk in such a large seat. You can't make all the people happy all the time, and since (for those of us without medical issues that cause weight gain/retention) we can change our bodies to "fit" everywhere (unlike those with physical handicaps that cannot be changed), I think it is our responsibility to become a weight we are satisfied with. I am certainly not saying that everyone needs to be a size 2, but I don't think anyone is really genetically predisposed to be a size 32, either. I'm talking in circles, I think. At least I know what I mean :dizzy:

11-10-2005, 01:51 PM
I know what you mean too, Jill. I agree with you 100%. Wyllenn's post also hits the nail on the head as far as I am concerned as well.

The only thing I will add is that not only do I think the FA movement goes to far in valueing fat but that it is very irresponsible of them to suggest that being overweight doesn't pose as big a health risk as has been suggested by doctors, media, etc. It is one thing to teach obese people to accept themselves as they are. It is quite another to suggest that staying oveweight is not going to have a negative impact on their overall health and quality of life.