We get a bit of mail at Axis of Fat through our contact form and a lot of the messages we get are wonderful, supportive and thankful and make us feel really good about our writing and motivate us to continue to blog about being fat Aussies. On the odd occasion there are media requests too, and Nick fields those because I’m not really interested in making a fool of myself in print or on air and he does such a fantastic job speaking as a fat advocate. I’m really proud of our blogging efforts, and even though I haven’t been blogging as much due to being busy with my other endeavours, I’m really chuffed to see the blog chugging along and continuing the conversation about being fat in Australia.
Today Nick got a media request from a current affairs program requesting one of us appear in a story that involved swapping “lifestyles” with a “gymbunny” for a period of time. The opportunity (and I use that word ever so loosely) was turned down straight away by those of us on the Axis team who have access to our emails during the day, with much booing. We found out that the journalist has approached a number of fat acceptance bloggers today regarding the same story only to be met with similar responses. No thank you. We’d prefer not to consent to being demonised on national television. But thanks. Besides, I would feel awfully dishonest pegging myself at the fat/ bad end of the good-fat lifestyle paradigm because while I am fat and I just ate lemon pudding, I also go to the gym and eat vegetables!
This kind of “lifestyle swap” story is tired and hackneyed, and I really question the value of stories like this – other than acting as stocking stuffers on slow news days. I follow Source Bottle on twitter and at least a few times a week there are call outs for fatties to participate in “lifestyle swaps”. I’m starting to think that there are very few fat journalists and producers in Australian media, because you’d have to be completely unobservant or even mired in your own thin privilege to fail to see that people of all different shapes participate in different lifestyles. Unless they’re only observing what’s published by mainstream media – in that case you’d go for months (maybe even years) without seeing any kind of positive representation of a fat person’s lifestyle.
I wrote a FA101 post on my blog just the other day and I said, “The truth is, healthful and not-so-healthful behaviours are performed by EVERY sort of body.” I guess that’s just not an interesting enough news story for these journalists, when they get more ratings out of pumping out manufactured stories that fuel hurtful assumptions about people’s body types and the kind of lifestyles those bodies lead. The media characterises fat people as lazy, disorganised and unattractive and a “lifestyle swap” story would only serve to make a fat person complicit in this characterisation, something we think is dishonest, reprehensible and irresponsible. It’s just not an accurate reflection of society. I guess “URGENT BULLETIN: WE’RE ALL DIFFERENT. In related news, fat people have heads and feelings.” is the kind of headline I can only envision in fits of mirth and delusion.
We at Axis of Fat are, sadly, rare kinds of publicly and unashamedly fat individuals, and it’s natural that we’d be approached to represent fat people. When the angle is as damaging as this, we will not be complicit. What kind of person would submit to having their character slighted in such a way? To the current affairs program we turned down – we aren’t regretful not to take part in this story, and we hope that no fat person agrees to participate in this “lifestyle swap” segment. I’m pretty sure you’ll have terrible luck scouting talent from fat acceptance blogs anyway. However, if you’ve got time to fill on a slow news day we’d love to talk to you about producing a fair and positive story about visible fatties fighting social injustice.