Archive for fat acceptance

Ricky Gervais: “You just like eating, don’t you?”

Posted in Culture, Media, Vids with tags , , , on January 7, 2009 by 99ppp

Ricky Gervais, a portly fella himself, cuts through the bullshit and gives his thoughts on obesity. He’s also been critical of surgical weight-loss methods.

Vid: 4:50min

Fat Acceptance: An intriguing idea gone wrong

Posted in Culture, Media, Philosophy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 3, 2008 by 99ppp

I stumbled across Shapely Prose (a Fat Acceptance (FA) blog) as it was a WordPress featured blog. At first, I thought it was a good idea for larger people to have a community where they can get support, as often they can get alienated by media and society at large, saturated with unrealistic body expectations, which we recognize at our blog. Suddenly, I found myself censored at this prominent FA blog, simply due to challenging some of the premises in their advice column (more details here). It got me interested in the movement in general, visited a few other FA blogs, and began to see an ideology and culture crystalizing around it, bordering on dogma. Below are my impressions.

Identity: Fat acceptance as Replacement to Self-Acceptance.

I’ll touch briefly on the word “acceptance” which merits a post of its own. Identifying oneself deeply with fat, and hoping others to overlook it and/or accept it, will create mixed results. This is the problem with pride which often leads to arrogance. This is what seems to happen to some of the FA bloggers more than their readers whose responses tend to be more nuanced.

“…grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.” – Serenity Prayer

I believe much of the FA ideology is rooted in comfort. It is easier to accept than to change. Easier to surrender to sensory hedonism than mindful consumption. Pure unquestioned acceptance leads to stagnation. Pure unquestioned change leads to stress. Both can lead to a loss of self esteem. Fat is just one characteristic of a person, and no one is its full incarnation. It’s OK to have some dissatisfaction, as it helps us grow as people.

There is no conflict in saying I like who I am but dislike some of the things I do (or fail to do). Self-worth to me comes from a sense that I can stretch my limits in a realistic fashion. This has occurred to us through exercise and applied LONG-TERM nutrition not quick fix diets.

Distortions of valid social issues

We are against bigotry, and believe that people should be respected and granted basic human dignity regardless of their particular nationality, sexual orientation, “gender”, “race/ethnicity” (will elaborate on the quotes in a future post), AND size. I believe this may have been the initial premise of FA, which is admirable. Militancy in extremes can flip upon itself, thus turning feminism into sexism, unconditional love to an expectation of unconditional attraction, and empowerment into victim mentality.

Intuitive Eating

There’s a mantra that is heard so often, which ironically is one I agree with: Diets don’t work. An extension of that is something called intuitive eating. Reading the principles, they sound reasonable except # 5 “Respect your fullness”. Many people (including myself before I began learning about nutrition) use fullness as a gauge to end hunger. This can result in bloating, lethargy and consuming more calories than needed for sustenance and well being. I was using food as a sensory playground, rather than a source of nourishment. I don’t believe in denying myself any type of food, yet one can indulge with full awareness of the caloric density of the food, and consume accordingly.

The term “intuitive eating” itself is a problem, as it suggests honouring the wisdom of the body forged through the millenia of evolution. It overlooks the fact that we don’t live in hunter-gatherer days where food was scarce, it took more body energy to get it, and was unprocessed unlike many calorie-dense, packaged foods we find in our supermarkets.

What can be more intuitive and innocent than a child? I was fairly overweight as one, and I ate what I wanted when I wanted. I was fortunate to have my parents notice my overindulgence and began to practice mild portion control and serve healthier foods. Some parents unfortunately use food as a pacifier. Below is a tragic example of what can happen when a child is permitted to eat “intuitively” in these days of low nutrient calorie dense packaged foods. (Vid: 2:39 min)

Our brain is also a remarkable organ that’s evolved through time. It’s ok to use our knowledge in nutrition in harmony with our stomachs and our palate. Feels right, AND makes sense. Not one or the other. BOTH.

Fat Acceptance and Attraction

Posted in Culture, Love, Media, Relationships with tags , , , , , , , , on June 24, 2008 by 99ppp

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.  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