Acceptance Through Salad

10 01 2011

I feel strongly that women (and all size activists, really) should stick together, because unity will take us further than anything else in this world.  I say this because I am about to critique a blog entry I found in the Notes from the Fatosphere blog feed.  Everything I say is said with respect, as there are points I simply must raise.  Some of them have just been overlooked by the author, whereas some I feel are overlooked by the Fatosphere as a whole.  I can be overly idealistic when it comes to acceptance, too, I think, so take that grain of salt as you read.

While catching up on the Fatosphere blog feed this morning, I found an entry from over at Big Liberty called “We Do Not Revel In Fat.”  I am on the Fat Liberation blog feed.  I love this blog feed.  I love that it was started by fat libertarians, of which I am one (a fat libertarian, not a founder of the blog feed).  I don’t think I even asked to be on it, I just…showed up one day, and I am honored someone wanted to put my crap on a feed.  ANYWAY, back to this entry…

Upon reading “We Do Not Revel In Fat,” I felt a sense of unease creeping over my brain.  I could not figure out why, initially, but after turning it over a few times, it came to me: I feel that it separates the “Good Fatty” from the “Bad Fatty.”  For those readers who are familiar with SA blogging, these terms most likely need no explanation.  For those of you who clicked this from my Facebook (thanks!), I’ll briefly explain.  The “Good Fatty” is the fat person who is fat in spite of their active lifestyle and food pyramid-following ways.  The “Bad Fatty” is the one who, as Glenn Beck put it, “let their thighs grow into the couch.”  Man, did that little clip piss me off– that’s another can of worms, though.  It seems to me that the “I’ll be a Good Fatty!” mentality is a stop that many SA’ers make on their travels to body and/or fat acceptance.  I don’t dispute that many fat people fall more into the “Good Fatty” category than the “Bad Fatty.”  That is not my point here, though.

“We Do Not Revel In Fat” makes a series of blanket statements about the habits, diets and mental states of people who are…fat.  The author makes the assumption that all (via blanket statement) fat people or SA’ers do not choose to be fat, do not choose foods high in refined sugar, do not have food addictions, what have you.  I have issue with this.  There are people who choose to be fat.  There are people who eat a diet high in refined sugar, and in some cases, actually shun healthier foods.  There are fat people with food addictions.  On a less healthy and functional level, there are fat people who reject thinner people.  Why am I saying all this?  Because I think part of Size Acceptance means including these people.

To me, Size Acceptance is people getting respect and equal treatment regardless of weight and whatever personal choices that person may or may not make regarding their weight.  I feel like that last part is sometimes forgotten by SA bloggers.  Concepts like feederism, or people who wilfully eat unhealthy foods I have seen oft chastised by SA bloggers.  I have news for you, Size Acceptance: society sees a fat person eating a salad and a fat person drinking gravy from a can as the same exact thing, and will discriminate against them equally.  Well, the fat person eating the salad might get a bundle of sympathy clucks from other people, but the pity, disgust and discrimination will still be present.

Do I agree with it when I see a fat woman write a lesser-fat woman’s experience off because she can buy clothing off the rack?  Absolutely not.  As I stated in my first paragraph, I have a strong belief in unity bringing strength.  I guess my point is, ultimately, that going to the gym or playing video games for 14 hours straight does not make it any more or less okay to be fat, so we should we separate the two?  In every group, there will always be those who smash stereotypes as well as those who perpetuate them.  We should not villify those who perpetuate stereotypes– that will detract energy from what we all actually want, which I thought was acceptance and respect.

As for me?  I’m probably like most people, I fall somewhere between “Good” and “Bad” on the fatty scale.  I really don’t spend too much time worrying about it.

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Barbies!

8 01 2011

I’m not going to write a post about Barbie and how damaging she could be– it’s been done approximatwly seven trillion times.  I will, however, say this: has Mattel made Barbie thinner?  I was reading a completely SA-unrelated blog the other day, where I saw a photo of a Barbie in a plastic car with what looked like a Disney Little Mermaid doll.  Her arm looked eerily similar to Isabelle Caro’s:

I cropped the image and added an image of Miss Caro’s arm for comparison.  Now, Barbie has never been anything but impossibly thin, but this seems ridiculous to me.  I haven’t rooted out any of my Barbies from the 80s to compare, but I clearly do not recall any concave places on the arms of my dolls.

We’ve thinned and sexualized Rainbow Brite and Strawberry Shortcake.  Cookie Monster eats vegetables.  Santa himself has gone on a diet.  Where does this end?  How far are we going to take this?





A food rant.

6 01 2011

Every time the obesity epidemic (media’s words, not mine) comes up, there will be at least one person claiming fast food is the real, ultimate villain, making everyone’s BMI shoot sky-high.  “Why, if it weren’t for the fact that fast food is just so much cheaper than fresh produce, poor/middle-class people would be so much healthier!”  This seems to be a popular way to rationalize higher average weights in lower-income social brackets.  Terms like “food deserts” get tossed around in a bunch of high horse bloviating that financially comfortable people seem to excel at. (On a side note, “food desert” makes me lol.  I think of the Family Guy episode where Stewie and Brian are in the desert and they see the soda machine mirage.  Also makes me think of a Tiny Tim-esque little kid on the corner in New York City screaming, “HELP!  HELP!  I CAN’T FIND ANY BANANAS!”)

So, this attitude has always bothered me.  For the past two and a half years, I lived on a very tight budget.  My income was under nine grand a year, and a shocking portion of that went to my monthly rent.  My food budget was very low, so I was forced to be mindful of prices on everything I bought.  What did I find during my time of highly controlled spending?  I found that produce is far and away cheaper than meals at McDonald’s. That’s right, getting a burger at Wendy’s was a treat for me.  I can tell you the prices on foods I liked to have when I went to these places: a Mcdonald’s 10-piece nugget combo is 5.79, before meal tax and/or sales tax.  A 1/4 lb. single combo at Wendy’s is 5.69.  At Burger King, I’d get a two cheeseburger value meal (no cheese, please), and after tax and student discount, that was 5.24.  I would finagle the people to give me my boyfriend at the time’s 10% student discount.  Fifty cent actually made a difference for me.  Even value menu ordering is somewhat expensive.  True, a McD’s 10-piece nuggets is 3.69 while three 4-piece orders is just three bucks, but once you factor in a soda and some fries (or the admittedly delicious apple dippers), it’s still going to run you quite a bit.  5.50 for one meal is quite expensive.

To further my point, I pulled up this week’s Wegmans (a Western NY-based upscale supermarket) flyer for my area.  Let’s see what’s on special!

  • 8 lb. (!) Club Pack Navel Oranges, 4.99
  • 5 lb. bag Florida Grapefruit, 2.99
  • 8 lb. (!) Club Pack Apples, 5.99
  • 3-pk. Cucumbers, 3.99
  • 6 pk. Wegmans-brand whole wheat english muffins, 2.69
  • Club Packs 80/20 Ground Beef, 2.49/lb.
  • Club Packs 90/10 (ooh, lean!) Ground Beef, 1.99/lb.
  • Wegmans-brand in-pkg steamable frozen veggies, 16 oz., .99
  • Wegmans-brand fruit on the bottom low-fat yogurts, .40/ea

Some of those prices may seem high at first glance, but when you think about how many apples eight pounds actually is, it’s dirt cheap.  “Club Pack” is basically a family pack– I believe 3+ pounds.  Ground beef is excellent for freezing in small packages.  My mom, my boyfriend and I will sometimes brown two pounds of beef for tacos, and we almost always have enough left after taco night for a complete second meal.  We buy the 90/10, so at 1.99/lb., that’s about 67 cents per person.  I abosolutely love the steam-in-package veggies, too.  We’re big vegetable eaters, so we’ll go through a pound package in a meal, but that’s only 33 cents per person.  So even with the beef and the veg, the tally’s only at a buck per person.

I enjoy the occasional fast food meal, but one cannot deny that what I just described beats the pants off of McD’s in both price and flavor.  So why is it, then, that people constantly claim fast food is a cheaper alternative?  I will admit that I don’t know what other parts of the nation pay for their groceries.  I know that, at times, in Maine, it could get pretty pricey (especially the meat and milk).  Even at the highest price point, though, it was still noticeably cheaper than grabbing a burger somewhere.

And through all my delicious (and oft low-fat/carb) meals, I am still fat.  When I moved from Western New York to Maine, my eating habits drastically improved, due to my limited income, and yet I lost no noticeable poundage.  So, media, chew on THAT.  I had less money, so I ate better, AND I lost no weight for doing it.

For a myriad of reasons, the family sitting down to a meal together is mostly a thing of the past in the States.  People don’t buy McDonald’s for their kids because it’s cheaper, they buy it because it’s all they have the time or energy to do after their longer-than-average work day, or in between jobs.  Maybe they don’t care about their kids.  Maybe they care immensely about their kids, and their kids are begging them for a Big Mac.  There is no one answer as to why people give their kids fast food.  I don’t even really find it to be all that much of a travesty that people feed their offspring fast food.  I do think that we should be honest, though, when we complain about all of this stuff.

Cooking at home is cheaper than fast food.  Sitting down to a meal as a unit can have positive effects (not talking about weight here at all).  If people are going to complain, can’t they at least complain about it in the right way?





“It’s not okay to be fat.”

6 01 2011

I got out of bed to write this.

I haven’t written here in a while, my life has been upside down in all kinds of ways and I just have not had it in me to write about anything lately.  There has been something that’s been eating at me all the while, though.  I’m sure, by the title of this, you know what I’ll be discussing.

On the rare occasion media attention is given to anything weight-neutral (or even, dare I say, size-positive?), one will, without fail, encounter a comment from a reader/viewer that expresses “worry” that anything less than staggeringly negative protrayal of fat people in the media will lead the unwashed masses to believe that it’s okay to be fat. If this sentiment does not come from a reader/viewer, it will most likely come from the article/news clip/media bit itself.  If it’s not TLC’s BRITAIN’S FATTEST MAN in which we witness an impossibly large person simpering and sobbing for their very life, somehow this will lead the sheep that we all are into donut-plaqued oblivion.  Fat kills, I’m sure you’ve noticed.  How anyone above 300 pounds has not yet dropped dead is beyond our entire medical profession, it seems.  If we have a show like Mike and Molly (which I do not care for), eventually we’ll wake up to our five-year-olds in scooters.

Naturally, when it is spelled out in such a fashion, these notions look ridiculous.  They are ridiculous.  The reality is that having a fat person or two on television might actually be an okay thing, and it might not have an effect on our society.  Ultimately though, this is not my point.  My point is this whole validity of being fat thing.

I don’t care if being fat is okay or not.

I’m sure this is not what you expected me to say.  “This girl blogs about size psitivity and size acceptance!  How can she say she doesn’t care if it’s okay to be fat?!”  It’s a simple thing. It doesn’t matter if it’s okay to be fat or not. The reality is, people are fat, just like people are gay, straight, and are of various races and ethnicities.  It is foolish not to accept reality.  It doesn’t matter what you think of a fat person– be they the “good” fatty, who can fit into pants at Lane Bryant and eats according to the food pyramid or be they the “bad” fatty, who has to use a scooter because they chose to gain weight to the point of impaired mobility.  These people exist.  Are we really a society that will shun people based on something like this?  I ask this, but I’m not sure I want to know the answer.  Once upon a time, women could not vote.  Once upon a time, black people had to use separate water fountains.  Once upon a time, an interracial couple could not get married.  We’re still working out the whole gay thing.

You don’t hear people say “it’s not okay to be Hispanic.” Well, maybe you do, but I surely do not spend my time talking to racists.  I’d like to think that, for the most part, people who would say that are considered the dregs of society now.  So, if people who would say that are on the lower rungs of our lot, then why on God’s green Earth would it be okay to tell someone it’s not okay that they are fat?  It’s not any less hateful than discrediting someone due to the color of their skin.  If you sit back and think about it, how many people would put themselves through this scrutiny willingly, if all these oh-so-great diet plans work?  Man, if the only thing standing between me and acceptance was a few months at Jenny Craig, don’t you think I’d have done that by now?

When I worked for the Census Bureau in Maine, our local office mantra was “it is what it is.”  Reality might not always be a savory thing to come to terms with, but it is what it is.  Fat people are here, just as we always have been and always will be, barring some kind of government-sanctioned mandatory barriatric surgery.

If that happens, I’m buying an island and making the sovereign nation of Joeyonia with my cat.

Disclaimer: I’m somewhat groggy, so if my point is muddled, please excuse.  This has been ping-ponging around in my head for what has probably been months now.