I wound up having a conversation just now with a feminist I know on Twitter. Her point was that it was “narrow-minded” for people to reject feminism whole-cloth when there are so many different schools of it. My point is that lived experience generally trumps theory; when you are hurt by people who call themselves feminists, it is not then incumbent upon you to go and find MORE FEMINISTS who may or may not hurt you based on their interpretation of and development of feminist theories.
But, really, her point seemed to be that collaborations are more powerful than solo efforts. I don’t know how to get across to people of this mindset that a) folks are rejecting feminism because they experience exploitation and injury rather than collaboration and b) rejecting feminist label does not mean you are working alone in a vacuum to have a conversation about gender.
More and more, I wonder at the insistence of some feminists that feminism is the only context in which to have these discussions in a powerful way. I cannot dismiss the experiences and hurts of other people for the sake of a label — nor can I say that anyone not using the label is alone. There are so many people working in a genuinely intersectional framework. That framework doesn’t really have a name like “feminist,” not for everyone. But that doesn’t mean collaboration isn’t taking place.
Hell, it doesn’t even mean that collaboration with feminists isn’t taking place.
The anger and defensiveness of almost every feminist with whom I have had a discussion about the validity of people rejecting the label of feminist certainly does nothing to make me believe that the issues driving people away from feminism are being respected and addressed. Instead, it simply drives those who have been hurt by feminism further away.
So I went and looked because I don’t know why actually since it was just as ridiculous as I thought it would be and I could have spared myself the confirmation that once again some feminists are so busy defending their existence that they can’t see that no one is attacking them by walking away. You are a better one than me, because I would have asked exactly what she thought mainstream white middle class feminism was doing that is collaborative with well…anyone. I need receipts on her assertion that feminists are doing more than any other group for equality & by receipts I mean a chance to bludgeon her with facts and logic.
She was very insistent that she didn’t have time to talk about it anymore - I guess she didn’t expect argument?
It’s a position that seems very counter to what I think of as feminism actually theoretically being about - respecting the identities and experiences of all kinds of women (and I’d expand that to include people who do not identify as women as well since gender is not a binary). Like, yes, there is power in numbers. But I don’t think expecting people to stick around in feminism for the betterment of feminism at personal cost to themselves makes any damn sense at all.
And the idea that by not being part of feminism people are not part of a collaborating group at all just demonstrates a total ignorance of how people are already working together outside of the feminist movement.
The act of labeling oneself as a “feminist” should never be made an expectation or obligation. I will admit to having thought this way before, that taking on the title was like, a thing I HAD TO DO. But I didn’t - I waited, I learned, I became comfortable, and then it just happened. Maybe I’ll want to stop calling myself a feminist one day, maybe I’ll want to call myself something else, WHO CARES.
Trying to begrudge anyone the right to that process of finding their own foothold on feminism (or any form of identity for that matter) or scolding women for not doing it a “certain way” is just fucking counterintuitive and infuriating to me.
Let people find their own voice and create their own labels, that’s what I’m about.
Redefining Body Image: This trend of people actively looking, judging, and making commentary…
This trend of people actively looking, judging, and making commentary on the eating and food-shopping habits of others is really fucking classist, healthist, and shaming - Not to mention, pretentious as fuck.
Food-shamers all up in my internets making me want to hurl my uber-processed fast food…
This post got me so mad that I had to blog about it. Food shaming someone while getting mad about people who food shame is pointless and ridiculous. Stereotyping vegans and, more so, making threats just because their food choices threaten or offend you is bullshit. There are lots of vegans into body acceptance and lots of non vegans who are food shamers- so stop putting them in the same fucking boat. You’re not helping the fat acceptance community by throwing hate around to people who eat differently than you do.
Vegan food choices do not threaten or offend me, in fact I eat vegan foods quite often, but there are plenty of vegans who DO food shame, and that post was inspired by the rage I felt toward those types of foodies who look down their nose at anyone who eats differently or “less healthy” than them.
When my own personal food choices and shopping habits are being used as a weapon against me and my fat body - I think you can understand why I feel that rage and why it is valid for me to resort to expressing that frustration. I realize I went about it in a less than PC way and will hold myself accountable for that - I often let my emotions get the best of me.
I am not the only person who has ever felt personally ostracized by some vegan communities and people judging my personal food choices. But at the same time, I realize now how my words can perpetuate stereotypes that can effect all vegans and I apologize.
These feelings do come from somewhere. There’s a reason I subconsciously chose to throw the word “vegan” in my rant, even if in retrospect I can recognize that it was wrong. I can’t speak to more on that yet. I’d love to know where I can find more resources about veganism and fat acceptance so that I might learn.
I now realize my ignorance about veganism and food cultures is apparent and I will refrain from going into those areas until I can better educate myself.
I should have chosen different words and I do apologize, but what can I say - such is the nature of the internet. The words are already out there, all I can do is try to right them.
The notion behind “glorifying obesity” does not equate to “glorifying poor health” - it is a battle cry.
It does not choose one body type over another - it is a celebration of fat bodies, a validation of rights.
It begs you to question why a public health crisis targets one body type. Why…
The thing about ‘obesity’ is what is it for? It’s a bit like when gay people were branded ‘homosexual’ whilst everyone else was allowed to go about their business.
If fat people are to be units of ‘obesity’ then every other weight category should have it’s own unit of bullshit branding-formed from the stereotypical assumption of them.
If we are all equally disease, an epidemic of slim, an epidemic of chub, and epidemic of thin; then we’re all in it together aren’t we? No one is being set apart.
Seriously though, the essence of the problem with “glorification of obesity” is it is predicated on the notion that the norm for fatness is the hate fuelled hysteria set by the authorities and their tools.
Anything less than this i.e. a healthy balanced sustainable reaction is ‘glorification.’
I do not feel I’m glorifying anything merely because I do not accept that the absence of hate soaked hysteria as a problem.
It’s not the word, it’s the power relations behind it. That because someone wears a white coat, they can just brand anyone anything they damn well please. Everyone, regardless should be considering just how much power should be invested in those people to socially categorized others and change the status of physical, mental and intellectual health and well being.
They aren’t priests, or are they?
White coats are not elected, they do not have to consult their targets, nor answer for their actions to the people they affect. They don’t even have to be accurate, tell the truth or represent the facts they uncover in an unbiased manner.
There needs to be some discussion and ethical parameters set at some point.
I don’t care what they call others or myself, I don’t want to know. It is nothing to do with my identity unless I them it is. The same as it would be for what I’d call them, if I gave a shit.
Love this. ”Obesity” is a junk term, arbitrary, and holds no meaning to me once I strip it of its ability to correlate fatness with health, which in itself is an untruth.
There is a tongue-in-cheek attitude to the notion of embracing the term “glorifying obesity” - it’s a sassy jab, an effort to debunk and challenge, for all the very good reasons you’ve outlined and more. At the very least, it’s kick-starting a lot of real and necessary conversations and I fucking love it.
I’ve seen people DIE from complications of being obese and people want to glorify it? Fucking shit man. I know someone close to me who is suffering with heart problems because her obesity clogged almost 95 percent of the valves in her heart and the fat around it was constricting it from functioning properly. She needed a surgery with a 20 percent survival rate. She lived but still struggles because she can barely carry her own weight now. And people want to tell me that obesity should be glorified? Not everyone focuses on appearance, ya know. I find her beautiful, and so does she but she still understands that her weight has had negative implications towards her health. I am not going to glorify that obesity almost killed her and is the cause of her current suffering. It is her health that matters most. Her doctors did not mean anything rude and them mentioning that she was obese did not matter to us when he told us the chance of her survival. The last thing through our minds was how he was supposedly “fat shaming” because what mattered to us was that she lived. It Was that they helped save her life that day. I am not going to deny what was killing her. It was her own body.
Healthism prioritizes health and fitness over everything else. It turns levels of health and fitness into worthiness and morality. Society’s accepted definition of “health” is super vague and non-inclusive to those with chronic/mental health issues and disabilities. Basically: there is more to life than the pursuit of health, so let’s focus on it in a different way. Let’s focus on redefining what we think we know about it and how it relates to fat bodies and experiences.
“Glorify Obesity” is a statement meant to instigate thought about what “obesity” truly means, how it is defined, and how it is used to systematically oppress and discriminate against fat bodies.
I am very sorry to hear about your loved one, but I’m quite sure “obesity” did not clog 95% of their heart valves. It is more likely that a culmination of genetics and lifestyle choices are what caused that kind of damage.
“Poor nutrition and a sedentary lifestyle do cause health problems, in people of all sizes. This is why it’s so fucking crucial to separate the concept of “obesity” from “eating crap and not exercising.” The two are simply not synonymous — not even close — and it’s not only incredibly offensive but dangerous for thin people to keep pretending that they are. There are thin people who eat crap and don’t exercise — and are thus putting their health at risk — and there are fat people who treat their bodies very well but remain fat. Really truly.”
- Kate Harding
Fatness does not equate to unhealthiness. People of all shapes and sizes are capable of poor health. Health is multifaceted and varies from person to person. To assume poor health when looking at a fat body is pure ignorance. To assume a person’s fatness is a direct cause of their poor health is also pure ignorance. End of story.
Want to learn more? Check out my resources. I promise, I’m not making this shit up.
You are correct in saying that lifestyle choices are what lead to her poor health. It was those lifestyle choices that lead to her obesity. It was not staying fit and not practicing healthy nutrition that contributed to her obesity. Genetics may have also played a role, along with her age. However, obesity could have been prevented had proper measures been taken. Obesity is NOT entirely uncontrollable and out of ones’ hands… Of course their are other factors. Not every persons’ body is the same and they may deal with situations differently. There are health conditions that may lead to obesity if gone unchecked. There are genetics that effect it, as there are diets and controllable aspects. It is the same with thinness. No one is going to try and deny that and no one should.
What I do not understand, is what is with people bringing up “thin people” this and “thin people” that whenever obesity is mentioned? It is as if they are trying to point fingers childishly and make everyone that does not agree with them out to be the bad guys. To make thin people into enemies as if every thin person is against them. I personally find it irrelevant to compare the thin with the obese. Just as I find obesity dangerous to glorify, I find thinness dangerous as well. I would never even dare to make a false claim that being thin is good or to make a false claim that it is always healthier to be thin rather than to be obese. Just as being obese can have serious implications on ones health, so can being underweight and malnourished. Both can lead to serious health risks. To say otherwise is not only foolish but severely ignorant. It is also extremely dangerous and any person in their right mind shouldn’t advocate either, and certainly not glorify them.
Yes, you can not assume a person healthy or not simply due to their body size or weight. You can not assume a person who appears “too thin” are unhealthy just as you can not assume a person who appears overweight is unhealthy…HOWEVER, a person who is underweight or overweight may or may not have serious health issues related to their weight. Whether or not their weight is the cause of their health issues or vise versa is really something no one but a trained and educated medical professional can say and it should be left to them to determine not to some social justice bloggers who know nothing about health. So far, obesity and undernourishment has been medically linked to a series of complications and that should NEVER be ignored. EVER. I am not being albeist. I am not weight shaming. I am being realistic.
My issue is that whenever someone says something about obesity being negative on health, they are met with harsh retaliation by people who obviously know nothing about their own health and throw words around accusing them of albeism and being discriminative towards them for being “fat.” They accuse them of fat shaming, without even trying to understand the true concerns of obesity; and when they do at least listen, they find ways to sugar coat it or twist it around to fit what they want to believe despite whether or not it is factual.
You CAN be happy with your body; with advocating the redefinition of body image, while at the same time, glorifying body image in itself rather than a specific body size. Glorify neither thinness nor obesity. Why can that not be an option? You simply can not expect to redefine body image with any other mind set. Would it truly be redefined?
I find it amusing how you imply that I don’t know anything about my own health, or rather, that I’m a “social justice blogger” who knows nothing about health in general. Your assumptions are fucked (as most assumptions are).
The whole fucking point is to learn. It’s why I started this blog and these projects I put out into the world. It’s the reason why I’m engaging in conversation with you right now. It’s what I fucking do every day.
I do not claim to be an expert on everything, but I DO claim to be an expert on my own health. It is something I am deeply invested in learning about and cultivating an awareness of because it is my own. You don’t get to decide how much I do or don’t know about myself.
You are obviously not grasping the concept behind the image that sparked this discussion that is meant to be taken as a tongue-in-cheek statement.
By “glorifying obesity” I am giving fat bodies prevalence over thin bodies, yes - Because fat bodies are so often silenced. Because “obesity” and “health” have become greater signifiers of worthiness and morality than being a good person and decent human being. Because fat bodies ARE SHAMED, every day, multiple times, on multiple and widespread levels. There is a fucking “epidemic” coined for our bodies that is nothing but a vessel for this shame. Our health is assumed, our habits are assumed, simply because of our body size. Shaming fat bodies is encouraged by our society and thinness is put on a pedestal on a daily fucking basis.
God forbid I suggest we celebrate fatness for once.
Health is not simple. None of this is simple. Are you even familiar with my blog, with this project, with what I do? I encourage you to look through the archives, tags, and content here before you come back to me with another misinformed answer.
Discussions here on RBI sometimes become quite heated or involve opinions that are near and dear to our hearts. We are passionate people, it’s true, and I encourage that passion.
But please DO NOT LET YOUR PASSION FOR THE ISSUES WE DISCUSS DRIVE YOUR HATE.
I have had a number of people come back to me after a heated discussion or a critical comment I’ve made turns into a barrage of hate mail (from my followers) flooding their inbox. It worries me how my intentions can be turned around and repurposed in such a way by others.
It’s kind of a huge problem that I’ve been trying to figure out how to address because I mean, I don’t have the power to control the actions of others - but I shouldn’t feel like I have to! I can only insist that we not spread hate or bombard others with harmful words.
Bottom line: I do not support internet bullies, I support authentic conversation.
Rage is sometimes appropriate and I fully support a person’s right to feel anger, but keep it within your own space or at the very least try to stop that rage short of turning to hate before you send a message to another person.
There is nothing constructive about being intentionally hurtful. Please stop.
This is EXACTLY how I felt about the whole Lady Gaga eating disorder thing put together in the way I wish I had been able to put it together.
First of all, let’s call fat people what they are - FAT - not “fluffy” :)
Sure, Lady Gaga’s heart is in the right place. Anything that motivates discourse around body positivity is a good thing. It’s not what she’s saying or doing that’s the problem - it’s what’s NOT being said or done that’s the problem.
When thin-privileged people become icons for body positivity, there is often little opportunity to bring authentic discourse about fat rights into the discussion. The oppression of fat bodies in society is more prevalent than ever, but fat voices and experiences continue to be erased or deemed irrelevant.
Basically, it’s a different approach than I would take. Gaga is speaking more to people in recovery or struggling with eating disorders, promoting general outcry against societal norms, which is wonderful, but is very one-dimensional. She is still defending her weight gain in the press by saying she is in the process of dieting and trying to lose weight. She’s still entirely misinformed.
It’s a highly public statement coming from a place that basically says “Your body is a good body and you should love yourself…AS LONG AS YOU’RE NOT FAT, IN WHICH CASE YOU SHOULD STILL BE TRYING TO LOSE WEIGHT, BECAUSE FAT IS STILL UNHEALTHY.” Which is wrong, wrong, wrong.
Not to mention, I prefer messaging that focuses less on “loving” ourselves as it shifts responsibility onto the individual (as if a lack of love within oneself is the real problem), when responsibility actually lies with the fucked nature of society.
Considering all of these things, I know it’s unlikely there will be any opportunity for her to bridge the gap between her message and fat positive or fatty-political issues. Ending fat discrimination is often left out of the discussion to remain palatable for the masses, or just not embraced altogether. It’s kind of a problem.
Until fat rights issues become the focal point of high-profile body positive discussion, I will remain unimpressed.
I think it is also important to point out that people need to actually LOOK at the state of her message board right now. 80% of the posts are before / after weight loss photos. There is also a huge OUTCRY of people trying to prove that she isn’t fat. There is as much distancing from being a big ol’ fatty as a person could make going on right now. This isn’t helpful for the people who want to be able to live in their body right now without being bullied, harassed or shamed into changing our bodies. Her message about embracing your “flaws” is undermined by the rampent fat phobia that is all over her site.
This week, the media has been especially brutal toward fat bodies. Not that it isn’t always brutal, but still.
We have advertisements blaming fat parents, shaming fat bodies, shaming fat CHILDREN, and goddamn military officials proclaiming that fat kids are the next national security problem.
We have a whole culture of people who think it’s okay to hate and shame fat bodies, who are TAUGHT to do these things. We’re told our bodies are part of a fucking epidemic. The entire fucking world is out to silence fat voices and experiences.
Gaga isn’t about to take that shit on - therefore, her message to me becomes null and void.
Put a fat body and a fat voice in the spotlight with something to say about this shit. Hell, give me a goddamn megaphone.
Like every other fat activist, I’m brimming over with things to say that DESERVE to be said and heard - but we will never get as much media attention as Gaga’s “Body Revolution” mediocre mixed-up internalized fat-shaming “body love” bullshit.
Can you feel my rage? I can certainly taste it.