Fat Acceptance and Attraction

This is a response to the Ask Aunt Fatty post on Shapely Prose called “Ask Aunt Fattie: How do I stop feeling negative about my girlfriend’s fat?” where I was unceremoniously censored from what I thought was an interesting discussion. Then came the little pot shots after that fact. It’s her blog and she’s perfectly entitled to do that. We have one here, and we’re free to speak here as well.

We have full sensitivity to media and society conventions and the possible effects on body image, please note our poem “Insecurities of the Flesh”.

Now to clarify some issues:

The term “letting oneself go” is the affliction of many long term relationships where one or both partners take for granted that the other is going to be attracted to them no matter what change in appearance and behaviour may arise. This could include changes in hygiene, fitness and/or behaviour.

There were suggestions I was a “concern troll”, a straw man argument since the concern is the letter-writer’s in this instance as witnessed by the title of the Aunt Fatty post. I am libertarian in view, and if people overindulge, it’s their business, whether it’s drugs, alcohol, food or some other activity.

Attraction is a prejudice and I said that “I believe no one needs to apologize for what they are or aren’t attracted to”. Few would argue this is an unacceptable prejudice. This is a question of aesthetics and as the old refrain goes.. “its in the eye of the beholder”.Bigotry towards overweight people is also a prejudice, an unjust one. I believe fat acceptance is about respecting another person regardless of their size. This does not mean that one needs to be attracted to one.

Now it can be said that media and society do have some influence, but how much? How much was the letter-writer inherent affinity to some aesthetic? It’s hard to gauge, yet here Aunt Fatty’s advice falls short, suggesting the letter-writer keep her doubts to herself.ย  I’ve learned it is wise to share doubts and concern and have a debate, discussion or even an argument so we can come to an understanding and consensus to what we fear about change. Maybe at the end of it all, we fear being alone, so sometimes we do become complacent and leave out a few detail to “not rock the boat”. That is for each of us to explore both as individuals and as a couple.

We blame TV, books, magazines, other people and genetics. When do we start taking responsibility for our behaviours and actions instead of blaming society on how they perceive us? This is road to powerlessness, as it is easier to change oneself than society. But one need not change to accomodate society but to accomodate oneself.

UPDATE: New post on FA: Fat Acceptance: An intriguing idea gone wrong

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15 Responses to “Fat Acceptance and Attraction”

  1. An excellent post, and an excellent point.

  2. […] The Eye of the Beholder Jump to Comments 99ppp posted a response to the Ask Auntie Fattie column over at Shapely Prose. It seems a lot of his (her?) comments over […]

    99ppp: I’m afraid this pingback reaches a 404 page, but would have been very interested on your take.

  3. @boobsihazdem: Thank you for your feedback, it’s greatly appreciated as I didn’t get the chance to clarify some points in the “Aunt Fatty” comment section.

  4. I might see if I can retype it. I had some problems with the editor and deleted it in a fit of frustration. My posts do tend to go off on a tangent though, so it will probably better for me to ruminate over it a bit before I repost anything, so apologies for the false ping bank.

  5. Don’t sweat it, and thanks for passing by! ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. By learning to accept ourselves for who we are, can we then, and only then, accept other people for who they are. The fact that they would be overweight, short, tall, skinny, white, black ,etc.. would be a non issue. We have to stop blaming everything around us for how we perceive things and take responsibility for our own thoughts and actions.

  7. @nrbl: Indeed, self-acceptance comes first. Others might quickly attempt to pigeonhole one (we do it to ourselves personally often), yet we are each responsible for how we see ourselves. Undoubtedly, cultural currents can be powerful, it is up to each of us not to be swept away by them. Thanks for commenting. ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. @ 99ppp: Thanks for stopping by my blog earlier.

    I just finished my doctorate where my case study was obesity which I studied through a multidisciplinary lens (the kind of work nobody wants to fund!). So all things obesity have my ears perk up (even though my Obesity blog has been on a starvation diet for 4 months now).

    Fat acceptance as a formalised movement dates back only to the 1950s but prejudice against fatness is as old as sin, literally and metaphorically. Body shape acceptance varies hugely across cultures with black and other coloured (I use the word as a non-white woman myself) cultures more accepting of non-skeletal beauty than white cultures. One has to ask – given that when it comes to forcing morality down the throats of less willing cultures, it is assumed that the western woman is more liberated etc – how did this come to pass that white-male dominated media is controlling and directing the minds of otherwise perfectly-capable-of-cognition women? I do think the media line of logic is an over-egged pudding, if you will pardon the inevitable foodie analogy. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    On the other hand, yes, some degree of self-determination is required. But then a small yet not insignificant minority is predisposed to being overweight and fat, and people of course do not enquire after specific causes of obesity before discriminating, do they?

    A to-each-his-or-her-own stance is the most judicious in this case and I agree with you on that.

    Sorry about the long comment…

  9. @shefaly: All relevant comments are welcome here, even long ones! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    I concur with most of your comment, and add that body shape acceptance varies hugely across individuals as well. I suppose that’s the point I’m making in the specific of this post, where the letter-writer to Aunt Fatty seemed uncertain where her “concern” stemmed from.

    It is a perpetual struggle to find the harmony between individual and “cultural” affinities (whatever “culture/cultural” means.. a word that fascinates me as you can see from the rest of our blog here). Are we a product of culture, or is culture a product of us? Both? Neither? In what proportion? I doubt we’ll ever get any clear answers, but I believe that merely exploring these questions would benefit us tremendously, since culture may simply be described as what one believes others believe. By relating directly, we participate and add to the cultural currents, instead of passively being carried along like a piece of driftwood.

  10. These are EXACTLY the issues we have been debating at unfatblog, and over at http://www.myfatspouse.com for some time.

    “Attraction is a prejudice and I said that โ€œI believe no one needs to apologize for what they are or arenโ€™t attracted toโ€.

    Is a mantra at both sites. The fat acceptance crowd has attacked us relentlessly for two years for this, threatening the site and its’ sponsers.

    Thank you for taking a brave stand!

  11. @unfatblog: Thanks for your comments. Here we believe in being honest and kind in the context of relationships. Your site’s URL first took me aback, thinking it’s the other extreme of Aunt Fatty, but was pleasantly surprised by the content and the forum and see that compassion is not overlooked when dealing with this difficult issue.

    My lover/co-blogger and I are focusing on fitness and nutrition after years of neglect and overindulgence. We are doing it for ourselves individually AND for each other as a couple. We’ve just started recently, but we are gradually gaining consistency on both fronts. The line between supportive/patient and enabling can be blurry sometimes, yet we are gaining awareness at potential pitfalls.

  12. You make good points. Attraction is much more than physical. Culture may dictate the norm, however there is nothing that says we must fall into the norm way of thinking. We must view through the eyes of love and be honest with ourselves.

  13. @tobeme: indeed.. it can be tricky to delineate between cultural influence and personal aesthetics (nurture/nature and all that jazz). I do believe we can approach this sensitive issue with compassion. It is possible to be honest AND kind to oneself, and towards others. Thanks for your comment, and glad to see you pass by. ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. Wow, it is nice to see that I am not the only one who has had a negative run in with the fat acceptance crowd.

  15. @totaltransformation: I find it rather unfortunate that there wasn’t an opportunity for dialogue. Some in the FA movement have gone overboard in their militancy. They are wearing blinders to the shift they made from combating bigotry and challenging media’s often unrealistic standards of beauty, which I would have no problem supporting.. to the glorification of an unhealthy state of health, mobility and hedonistic overconsumption.

    Thanks for your comment.

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