Support Fat Community Projects!

This is a round up of current projects that need funding or support.

1. Abundant Bodies Track at the Allied Media Conference

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The Abundant Bodies track at the AMC this summer needs your help to support the work of fat activists with their workshops and activist organizing.

I’m part of two different sessions but there are so many amazing workshops and other activists who are coming to Detroit to talk about fat politics over the weekend. They all need financial support to not only get to the conference but also for lodging and other expenses over the weekend.

via the funding campaign,

Some of the most well-known fat activists (including Dr. Charlotte Cooper, Amanda Levitt, Virgie Tovar) will be sharing their brilliance alongside up and coming young qtpoc fatties. Some of the topics and issues folks are exploring include race & fat activism, the “dangers” of excessive selfie consumptions, exploring fat & kink, building an inclusive fat community, body autonomy vs. body positivity, reimagining desirability, fat activism for unruly people, and so much more!

From the program guide:

ln this track we will gather, share and celebrate the wisdom and abundance of our bodies. Abundant/thick/fat bodies are the target of so much hate, policing and negativity, even in our organizing communities. How do we unlearn mainstream ideas of what a body should look like and (re)-learn to celebrate the diversity, resilience, wisdom and beauty of all bodies? This track will explore these questions and create spaces to challenge the ongoing ways mainstream media shames and harms abundant bodies, to name fatphobia in our organizing and activism, and to create media and practical strategies for resistance, healing and community building. We will broaden the conversation around fat activism by centering this track on the voices of Indigenous, Black, people of color, dis/abled, super-sized, trans and queer fat folks. Through workshops, panels and skillshares we will transform mainstream ideas around abundant bodies and create resilient communities, media and art centered around abundant bodies!

Please support and share this campaign! There are a ton of awesome perks for donating too!

2. Suport a Fat Art Exhibition!

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Second Helping Exhibition and Performance Fatinee is raising funds for their event!

Second Helpings is a group visual art exhibition, a “fatinee” of multidisciplinary performance, and a queer intervention into American popular culture’s understanding of the fat body as a deviant body. Exhibiting artists fight the stigmatization of fat bodies, radically re-envision the notion of body diversity, and destabilize deeply embedded hierarchies of desire.

Second Helpings features works in many media by 20+ visual artists, and 8 solo and ensemble performances. Selected works deconstruct and reassess body politics to foster a collective understanding of fatness that empowers and heals fat-bodied people emotionally, sexually and politically.

A new theatrical work humorously addresses the correlation between body shame and cultural imperialism. A 5-piece band named after pastries snacks ritualistically onstage. A debut video work explores racialized and gendered experiences of fat-phobia. A chubby drag queen pushes back on the ways her body is treated as a dystopian object of desire. Come ravenous. Help yourself.

3. Help the Fat Nutritionist become a registered dietitian.

Michelle aka the Fat Nutritionist is raising money for an unpaid dietetic internship so she can become a registered dietitian. 

Becoming a Registered Dietitian will allow me to offer clinical nutrition counseling — as well as the Health at Every Size approach — and will also make me a powerful voice in the fight to end weight stigma. 

To become a dietitian, I must complete an unpaid dietetic internship. 

Internships are difficult to get into, require a more-than-full-time commitment, and offer no financial aid to interns. In March, I was lucky (THRILLED, ELATED, OVER THE MOON) to be accepted to a 9-month internship that starts in September 2014. 

Now I need to raise money to help me actually do it!

$7,000 is less than I need, but I’m trying to set an achievable goal. My stretch goal is about $10,300, which would cover the costs of the campaign itself, as well as my internship. The money is for tuition, transportation, professional membership/insurance fees, and 9 months of living expenses.

Any money raised over this amount (plus the cost of new perks and taxes) will be donated to an as-yet-undecided good cause.

She has already raised her original goal amount of the extra funds will help her time during the internship easier.

4. Support a fat positive movie about fat representation in the media

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The move Fattitude has been running a kickstarter campaign since the beginning of April and have already reached their funding goal. They could still use more funding to make the movie even better.

Support as many fat community projects that you can! If can’t donate with money, donate with your voice and share this post around your own social networks!

As always, connect with me on tumblr and twitter.

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Fat Shame Porn – Fed Up the Movie

It feels like every few years another movie comes out attempting to expose the root cause of the “obesity epidemic” making my life as an activist and a fat person even harder. Last night on twitter I was asked if I had heard about the documentary Fed Up that’s coming out next month by someone who saw it at Sundance in January. You can read their review here but after watching the theatrical trailer that was released this week, it only confirmed what my initial fears would be about the film.

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(Photo from the Fed Up press kit)

At the 45 second mark commentary on the trailer states “this is the first generation that is expected to live shorter lives than their parents,” which first started circulating in 2002 and was again reinforced in 2005 by a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The lead researcher later backed off his assertion (downloads pdf), as did the first author in 2002, after he admitted that this statement was a prediction and not based on empirical evidence. Since then, especially after the study F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future was published in 2011, the idea that children today will live shorter lives than their parents is continually presented as fact when that simply isn’t true.

While the movie is focused on how policy changes have allowed for the food industry to create products that make it all but impossible for people to eat well, the way they frame it as fat being inherently unhealthy is harmful and doesn’t actually help fat people. By them following around fat teenagers to find out more about how they live, they have participated in the exploitation of the fat shaming they experience and reinforce the dehumanization fat people deal with from a very early age. The girl featured in the trailer talks about how her doctor has told her she could become a statistic, a grim outlook on her life, but frames the problem as being based on her body and not the society we live in. This has been a main tactic of the diet industry in general, where they have continued to imply the experiences fat people have due to fat stigma is not based at an institutional or structural level but instead on individuals for having the audacity to exist.

Furthermore, the fat children and the shots of headless fatties that are flashed throughout the trailer, in-between shots of grocery store isles and spoons in sugar, are not a true representation of what this “epidemic” looks like. All of the images show bodies that most people would visually identify as fat or “obese” yet people of that size take up 6.3% of the US population. This kind of imagery creates a false idea of what this “epidemic” looks like and creates an even less safe society for fat people to live in by removing them from what this reality looks like. This in turn creates a heightened focus on people who are visually labeled fat.

One positive from the film appears to be them trying to combat the idea that willpower has anything to do with body size, but even then by blaming sugar and Michael Pollen talking about how sugar is a drug they are counterproductive in their attempt to challenge this misunderstanding. Most fat activists are well aware of the argument that too much sugar causes fatness and diseases like diabetes. By comparing sugar or food to a drug like heroine, I already know that people will continue to push the need for fat people to have the willpower to fight their sugar addiction and only eat foods who don’t have added sugar.

While the film apparently talks about the structural and class issues related to food access I am unaware of is how they talk about those issues. The inclusion of Bill Clinton in the film seems counterproductive within itself when his presidency gutted welfare and made access to health behaviors in general even harder for people living in poverty. When the Clinton Initiative and their Alliance for a Healthier Generation’s main goal is to end “childhood obesity” by only focusing on the food children have in schools, free time out of school and healthcare, but doesn’t try to build a social safety net for their families or communities they are setting themselves up for failure. This is even truer when we simply don’t know how to make fat people thin people long term and again focusing on people’s bodies not structure doesn’t help much.

The food industry does need to be reformed but focusing on one industry as the root cause for an “epidemic” that many people don’t believe exists is harmful. The health of our society is not purely caused by the food industry but overwhelmingly is related to social conditions created by poverty and inequality. It harms people regardless of body size who desperately need structural changes in our society to create more access to health behaviors and for people to find real solutions other than focusing on individuals to overcome the constraints of their lives.

It’s harmful to the incredibly small segment of fat people with a BMI over 40 who are continually shamed for their bodies and face a higher risk to their health due to weight based stigma. That higher risk is more directly correlated to social conditions like inequality and poverty than biology, as no research has found a causal link between fatness and disease. While fat people are more likely to live in poverty they are also more likely to be a Person of Color and female forcing them to navigate the constraints of fat stigma, racism, classism and sexism while attempting to access health in whatever way they can.

All of this is why I won’t be giving my money to a film that attacks an industry in the name of fat people existing. The experiences fat people are not pawns for filmmakers to use and exploit anymore. If people were seriously invested in creating a healthier society, they would be fighting to end stigma and inequality, not using fat people to point fingers at one industry when there are many other people / industries who need to be pointed at as well.

As always, connect with me on tumblr and twitter.

#NotYourGoodFatty – The Performing Fatty

Last night I got an email from a friend asking for my advice on how to respond to an acquaintance who viewed fat positive blogs on tumblr. After looking at a few blogs on tumblr they came away with the idea that fat stigma is an issue that only impacts white cisgender middle class women while also being horrified that we clearly disregard our own health. The first point, while being completely untrue, has far more to do with the hierarchy that has been created in fat spaces where fat people with the most privilege due to gender, class, race and even body size are given the most space.

That does not mean the community is a true reflection of fat people, as much as I wish it were, because if that were true the community as a whole would look drastically different and if this person looked a little further they would see that there is a good portion of the community that reflects that reality. The issue I’ve found are people disregarding the reality of who is impacted the most by fat stigma because they ignorantly believe that fat community is a true reflection of our society. This is part of the reason my own tumblr will rarely have anyone that looks like me and is filled with content that moves outside of the archetype created by fat community.

The lack of diversity is a huge issue in the community and that even harms the reality of what it means to be a fat person in regards to health, because when everyone thinks that fat people are white and middle class they falsely believe we all have access to health behaviors. This places soul blame on individual fat people for performing health in a way our society deems acceptable. For fat positive people that means preaching about health and proving to others that we may be fat but we are healthy. I’ve rejected this argument over the last few years for numerous reasons. People who demand we conform to an inaccessible performance of fatness, one that is based on proving health, are not actually interested in the humanity of fat people but in us performing for them and their comfort.

Those demands also harm fat people in the community who don’t perform fatness in a “socially acceptable” way due to numerous reasons but overwhelmingly you see that it has more to do with lack of access to health behaviors than just purely not caring. The emphasis outsiders place on fat people to perform fatness for their comfort is based within a neoliberal politic that demands individuals overcome whatever constraints on their lives to meet the demands of society. This was applied to the concept of health in the 80s by Robert Crawford when he coined the term healthism and the expectation that people can be healthy, transcending whatever barriers to health they have, if they have the will to do it.

I’m not here for that. My politic starts from the bottom up, so I’m not interested in performing fatness in a way that is socially acceptable to make other people comfortable. That is why I tweeting about the email I was sent and it turned into my dear friend @mazzie tweeting back with the hashtag #NotYourGoodFatty. I’m not interested in performing fat positivity in a way that harms other fat people by letting outsiders know I am meeting their demands on my body. I want to challenge those demands. I want people to work harder. I want them to think more about how if they were seriously concerned about the health of other people they would be fighting poverty not people.

Check out the hashtag here but here are a few tweets to get you started.

https://twitter.com/mazzie/status/451915334048813056

As always, connect with me on tumblr and twitter.

Supporting Friends through Eating Disorders

Below is tumblr question that was submitted to me and I thought it was a really important topic that should be spoken about. So often as fat people we have thin friends in our lives who are going through disordered eating patterns and negative thoughts about their own bodies. We want to support them but many times it is without thinking about our own mental health or how their negative beliefs about their body can be a direct attack on our own.

Not only does this touch on people believing that feeling fat is the same as being fat but it also discusses how someone doesn’t necessarily have the right to seek support of friends if they are in the middle of an eating disorder. Particularly if they are not trying to stop the disordered pattern of behavior. Far too often are we expected to shoulder the burden of others, when we need to create space for ourselves. When we need to support our own mental health and wellbeing first.

While I don’t know if that is what is truly going on within this friendship, the reality is that many people have the expectation we take on or support their behaviors even if it is destructive to everyone involved.

TRIGGER WARNING: Eating disorder / weight loss talk

This was submitted anonymously but I wanted to have a trigger warning on it as the person talks about disordered eating behaviors / weight loss.

So I’m in a healthy weight range and I’m talking to my best friend who is overweight about how I’m going to try to loose weight through diet and exercise cause I want her support. She starts getting upset saying how I’m not fat and don’t need to loose weight and I explain that it’s because I’ve been going to an old habit of not eating for three or four days at all then binging and purging (and repeat) and I’d like to loose weight the healthy way, because I feel fat. And she takes this as criticism to her. Yes she has fat and is overweight and by no means has a healthy lifestyle but I’m just trying to make sure I’m being healthy and not doing something I’d regret. She said I’m just trying to be the skinny friend and trying to make her look bad, so I told her that I just want to get in shape and she can come workout with me if she wants and it could be fun and she said I was calling her fat and not accepting her. Why is it wrong for me to want to be skinny?

What did I say that offended her and how can I fix it? I’m not trying to fat shame I’m just trying to be comfortable with myself and healthy while doing it.

So you’re in a healthy weight range, performing disordered behaviors and want to lose weight? TBH there is nothing wrong with wanting to live in whatever body you want to but you’re friend doesn’t need to support you, particularly if she is reacting to the harmful behavior you’ve outlined. I would seriously suggest seeking help to normalize your eating behaviors before attempting to diet or lose weight, because it sounds like there is something else going on other than your friend not supporting you. I mean this seriously, if you are not eating properly you need to regulate that and work toward having a more normalized eating pattern first and foremost. This includes healing your own self image because feeling fat and being fat are two totally different things. There are people who can support you through this.

It’s probably really hard for your friend to see you in the middle of this pattern while you are bingeing / purging and feeling like your body is wrong. You are saying that you feel fat while your friend is fat. I don’t know how there is any other way than to respond as hurt when your best friend is telling you the body you live in is wrong. She may not feel comfortable or safe being around you if you are in this pattern, especially if you are talking negatively about yourself and saying how you feel fat when she is fat.

So basically, I would suggest you get help and support to normalize your eating / thoughts about your body. Don’t expect your friend to support your disordered thinking and behaviors, because she is also trying to make sure she is ok. She is trying to feel better about her own body and to be really frank, as someone whose been friends with someone who is very similar to you, it is really hard to love yourself when your friend is telling you that they are terrified of being you.

I can also bet that if you stopped talking negatively about yourself and worked toward normalizing your own behaviors your friend would be supporting you to the best of her ability.

March 25th Presentation at Oakland University

Dissenting Bodies Flyers

 

Come listen to me talk for a really long time. It will be fun I promise.

As always, connect with me on tumblr and twitter.

Detroit Free Press and USA Today Article

The past 24 hours has been an overwhelming outpouring of love from so many people within the fat positive community as well as new people who have found my blog.

If you aren’t already aware, I was featured in an article at the Detroit Free Press and it was picked up by USA Today. Since then I have been contacted by CNN and will be appearing on the show at 8:30 am eastern today (December 30th). If you aren’t able to tune in I will be posting the video later, as long as they put it up online.

Wish me luck!

As always, connect with me on tumblr and twitter.

Just No Jennifer Lawrence

For those of you who own a TV and would actually spend time watching Barbara Walters’ interview people her yearly special on people she thinks are fascinating is airing soon, mind you she’s interviewing famous people. I’m pretty sure she isn’t interviewing activists, community builders and others who spend their lives helping people in need (but that’s another post entirely.) If watch her yearly special you will be able to see an interview with Jennifer Lawrence, where she talks about how Jennifer has been critical of the way the media talks about the bodies of women on red carpets and elsewhere.

If you aren’t aware Jennifer has made comments about body policing quite a bit in the past and continues to make comments that appear on their surface to be body positive. Though overall her career she has also made quite a few problematic statements that make me wary of almost anything she says.

This is what she had to say,

Because why is humiliating people funny? And I get it, and I do it too, we all do it. But I think when it comes to the media, the media needs to take responsibility for the effect that it has on our younger generation, on these girls that are watching these television shows and picking up how to talk and how to be cool. So then all of a sudden being funny is making fun of the girl that’s wearing an ugly dress or making fun of the girl that’s, you know. And the word fat. I just think it should be illegal to call somebody fat on TV. If we’re regulating cigarettes and sex and cuss words because of the effect it has on our younger generation, why aren’t we regulating things like calling people fat?

Most of what she said about how the media creates and participates in a culture of body policing is true. They are pivotal in the way women in the media are spoken about and continue to create new media that feeds off of promoting white cis heteronormative thin beauty ideals. The issue with her statement is the way she is blaming this kind of climate on people using the word fat and not on how they use it as a weapon.

This kind of thinking has been around for awhile, particularly within body positive spaces where discussions about “fat talk” or negative body talk are being discussed. The framing of fat as a negative word, a word that hurts people, is completely ignorant of how the word is being used and the context of the statements being made. The word fat is nothing more than a description of someone’s body type, but when someone like Jennifer Lawrence is telling the world it should be illegal there is a huge issue.

When people are calling someone who looks like Jennifer Lawrence fat we shouldn’t be telling them that they shouldn’t use that word. We should be thinking about how fat phobia and stigma is so pervasive in our society we body shame people who live in thin bodies by making them fear fat people, appearing to be a fat person or becoming fat themselves. It’s not a coincidence the people who are telling others to not use the word fat are more often than not never going to be defined as “overweight” or “obese” and revel in a thin privileged reality by being able to frame words like fat as something that should be considered illegal. Nor is it a coincidence that the people who face the real harm are fat people, not the thin people being called or taught to fear fatness.

Their bodies will never be pathologized or thought to be inherently diseased like fat people’s bodies are. They will find no problem in denying how fat positive communities have used the word fat to build spaces where fat political identities are empowering fat people daily. That’s why when I hear statements like the one Jennifer Lawrence said; I know that those words are not for me. They are only for the people who look just like her.

If we wanted to actually challenge the media to create a landscape where white cis heteronormative thin beauty ideals aren’t able to thrive, we need to deconstruct how body policing isn’t just about saying mean words but a structure that denies people with specific bodies access to it. We need to question why we fear the word fat but are completely comfortable with using medicalized terms that imply pathology like “overweight” and “obese,” in all of my years dealing with the media they fear using the word fat but will drop o-words in a second. We need to question why we are only talking about the media being critical of the bodies of women who already have access to those spaces, but not the people who are regularly denied jobs within the industry due to issues with racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, fat phobia etc. (the list continues).

Once Jennifer Lawrence starts talking about that, I may take the time to listen.

**A reader reported Jennifer decided that it would be awesome to dress up like a fat person for halloween. Not surprised at all.