Janey

Cosmo says you’re fat. Well I aint down with that. (Actually, I am! You rock!)

I am fat. I am relatively unhealthy. I do not exercise more than the occasional Zumba dance, and that’s because I find it fun and not exercise! I eat what I want when I want and I am happy being this way. Recently I have been unwell, and most likely will be for the next few months due to an extended convalescence. It sucks, but I have only just realised that having this extended down time has sent me into a shame spiral about my lifestyle.

I have noticed on more than one blog that being a “good fat” comes with a disclaimer of the “health at every size” mantra, which includes looking after your body by exercising and eating intuitively regardless of how you look. Now I love the concept of Health at Every Size, even if I don’t particularly follow it past intuitive eating. It’s important for me to recognise that people can be their own versions of healthy and happy whether they are a size zero or a size fifty. It’s a great idea that is being promoted, but it’s also frustrating when “bad fats” are ganged up for not following that lifestyle to the letter.

What I think is important to remember is this: if you are fat, unhealthy, eat what you want and never exercise then that doesn’t make you a bad person. You are you and that is just that. Being unhealthy and being fat are not synonymous but even if they were? It deserves no moral judgement. You may be fat. Society doesn’t want you to know this, but that’s a morally neutral place to be. It’s the same as having curly hair, or large feet. There is no such thing as a good fat person or a bad fat person any more than there are good thin people or bad thin people. We are individuals and should determine what is right for us and nobody else. The way someone looks should not determine what we think of them because that’s no better than discriminating against someone because of the colour of their skin, or their gender, or their religion. 

If someone is trying to tell you that you should look, think or act a certain way then try and discover their motives. Ask them why they think it’s important and really listen to their reasoning. Tell them the reasons for your lifestyle choices, regardless of what they are. And if they use the “we’re concerned for your health” comment, i suggest calmly stating that you are in control of your body and can do what you want with it. Be confident in your choice, but not defensive – you know what is right for you, and calmly stating that will help them see that you are in control. Don’t let anyone make you feel bad about your decisions, as they are yours and yours alone. Unless you are incapable of making those decisions for yourself, you have a right to choose your life.  You are the only person who knows what is right for you!

 

These are all just my opinions, obviously. What do you think?

 

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  • http://willdrawforcookies.blogspot.com Amanda

    I'm always glad when I hear this opinion espoused in the fatosphere. I am fat. I don't eat particularly well and I rarely exercise. There have been times when I've exercised frequently and eaten very well, and I was still fat. It bothers me that one is “okay” and the other is not. It's not anyone's business either way.

  • Patsy Nevins

    I think you are saying basically the same thing I have said in comments on various blogs over the years. Our lives are our own, our bodies belong to us, how we live in them is no one's damn business but our own, & we ALL deserve rights, respect, human dignity, equal opportunities & equal access. However, I would also like to add that not exercising & eating whatever you damn well please does not necessarily equate with 'poor' health, nor does exercising a lot & eating what the hell ever they tell us this week we are 'supposed' to eat guarantee perfect health or one extra minute of life expectancy. The so-called 'rules' are pretty arbitrary & often mostly plucked out of thin air, rather than being based on any real scientific food. We have a good idea that it is wise to eat a lot of different foods from different groups on a reasonably regular basis, but they don't actually KNOW that we need 1000 or 1200 or whatever mgs. of calcium per day, or that we require five servings of fruits & veggies, or that we all should eat enough fiber to clear out the colon of a bull elephant. However, they state it as if is truth & try to make us feel guilty & as if we are courting premature death if we do not comply. It seems to be a wise thing for most people to get some kind of moderate movement for 20-30 minutes most days, but not everyone can or wants to &, amazingly enough, many people who do nothing of the kind, including many close relatives of mine, manage to live to a ripe old age.

    I have been part of fat acceptance for over 30 years & I myself have done the whole 'good fatty' routine & I know that at the time I behaved that way, I hurt some good people & played a large part in driving some away from online fat communities. I have learned better & I often get fed up with all the healthism I see reading around the blogs & the at times almost self-righteous assertions of healthy lifestyles & great eating habits & the resounding denouncement of 'bad' foods. We are all part of the same thing & we should cooperate & respect each other & understand that no one of us is superior to another because of 'lifestyle'. I no longer expect to be nominated for sainthood because I have walked probably close to 60,000 miles in my life. It is my body & my choice & I do it for myself. I am past 60 years old, I have arthritis & cerebral palsy & considerable chronic pain much of the time; I suspect that the time is coming that I will be unable to do it anymore. I will still be the same person & I will still have as much worth. So you do…so does everyone.

  • ladyneeva

    When you get right down to it a lot of times, many of the FA blogs are nothing but the same fat shaming rhetoric repackaged with a new trendy name. The only difference is that instead of promoting a beauty ideal that everyone *must* attempt to adhere to at all costs, they're promoting their own version of a health ideal that everyone *must* adhere (or attempt to adhere) to or they're “bad” people. And worse than being merely bad, now they get to shoulder the blame for making all the good fatties look bad too.

    It's a freaking no win situation. Either we're “bad” because we're this huge drain on health care and resources because we're fat, or we're “bad” because we're making other fat people who aren't a selfish drain on society look bad by not being good fat people ourselves!

  • http://www.skinnyemmie.com skinnyemmie

    I completely agree with this post- thanks for writing it.
    I've gotten some flack from some in the FA community who are shunning me because I'm trying to lose weight. I always am baffled at this because it's my body and I'm doing what I want to it. I don't judge anyone else for the way they choose to treat their bodies. I've been 455 pounds before and I'm working to a place where I feel my body needs to be- not because it's what society tells me to do or because I am being pressured into it. If I accept them and their choices, I don't know why they would get up in arms about my choices.
    In the end, we all just must have personal accountability. We make our own decisions for ourselves and the only one those decisions need to satisfy is yourself. Treat others as you want to be treated- it's as simple as that.

  • http://www.skinnyemmie.com skinnyemmie

    sorry- double post- disqus got stuck.

  • http://fattiesunited.wordpress.com Whaliam

    Agreed. As good as HAES is, it can be used as a line between good and bad fatties, and I ain't down with that!

  • http://www.fatlotofgood.org.au bri

    Just out of curiousity, where are these blog posts that gang up on 'bad fats' or fats that don't subscribe to HAES? Genuine question because someone else asked me the same thing and I couldn't (off the top of my head) come up with a post on a FA blog that said other fats were bad if they didn't subscribe to HAES. I understand it isn't always that blatant, sometimes things come through in tone etc but am now totally intrigued as to where these posts are that everyone keep mentioning. My Fatosphere reading tends to take a backseat to life sometimes so I easily miss things, which is why I am asking if you can point me in the direction of that sort of post…

  • nitrojane

    Thanks for bringing this up, Bri. I think it's important for me to clarify that the content I have been seeing is not necessarily from posters but usually from comments. Ah, internet comments – bane of my existence. One of the articles that spurned this post was specifically the nightline faceoff between Marianne Kirby, Crystal Renn, Meme Roth and Kim Bensen. The question was whether or not it was OK to be fat. There was particular mention of “healthful” living on both sides of the argument, with Marianne and Crystal saying you didn't need to be skinny to be healthy and Meme Roth and Kim Bensen saying it is impossible to be fat and healthy. One person in the audience questioned why we are penalising fat people instead of penalising the inactive/unhealthy. Now I don't agree with penalising fats, but I also think that society needs to stop finding one particular group to blame for whatever the problem of the week is. In mentioning being “healthful” it automatically goes after people who aren't. (Well, from my perspective anyway. Let's face it, it's all going to be about individual perspective here.)

    In terms of actual blogs I must admit my view is narrow – I read mainly for the fashion and less for the politics. And I definitely don't think it's as blatant as “you're bad because you don't practice HAES”, it's more an attitude I occasionally see in places such as the fatshionista livejournal community. I hope I don't come across as blaming anyone in my post – I don't think blaming is what it's about here. If a person is healthy and fat then that's great! I am worried though that unhealthy fats in particular will become the new scapegoat in whatever cause is next coming.

    Thanks for your comment!

  • Patsy Nevins

    I think it is more general tone, with a lot of people talking about how people SHOULD live & yapping on about how it isn't JUST fat people who should live right, ALL people of ALL sizes should follow HAES. There is quite a bit of talk here & there showing that a lot of people are convinced that it really makes a HUGE difference if we eat this, that or something else, that we will be healthier & live longer if we do, & that if they MUST discriminate against people, it should be against the 'unhealthy' of all sizes, or at least that we must make a huge public effort to get everyone eating a certain way & getting a certain amount of exercise, whatever their particular needs, tastes, lifestyles, physical abilities, or whatever may be. I am always amazed at how many people can be informed & enlightened about how much of the 'fat panic' is about prejudice & marketing, yet still buy in to whatever the message is THIS week about the 'right' way to live & who sarcastically point out that it isn't JUST fat people, but also lazy, gluttonous thin people who lie around & eat 'junk' or 'crap'. To the best of my certain knowledge, NO human being actually eats 'junk' or 'crap' & there are plenty of foods which get thrown into that class which actually, if you analyze them or read the labels, do have reasonably significant amounts of some nutrients. I don't want to see ANYONE become a scapegoat & as an aging disabled fat woman, I may have a larger stake in not wanting that than some of the younger bloggers. However, I would like to again assert that, just as you cannot tell who is 'unhealthy', doomed to an early death, or likely to have serious, expensive health issues by looking at a person's size, you also cannot actually predict that by his eating or exercise habits. No one lives forever & no one gets any guarantees. Plenty of those (often somewhat self-righteous) souls who do everything 'right' die young, sometimes while working out, & plenty who do everything wrong (as with most of my relatives & many others around me here in Maine) manage to live to a ripe old age.

    I would also like to add a short reply to an earlier commenter about dieting. It is indeed your life & your body & you can choose to do with as you please, despite the fact that diets do not work, are bad for your health, you are likely to end up fatter in the long run, etc. However, FAT ACCEPTANCE is about accepting your body as is, fighting for rights & acceptance for all of us, & not dieting. I do not care what you do with your life or body in private, but dieting has no place in fat acceptance.

  • http://www.generousfashions.com/ Plus Size Clothing

    This really sort of struck a cord:

    “It's important for me to recognise that people can be their own versions of healthy and happy whether they are a size zero or a size fifty.”

    For me that is the message. Make the choices for yourself that works for you to enjoy a happy healthy life and not based on size. I recently entered into some yoga classes. Yes I am the most “Generous” woman in the class but so what. I can't do many things because my stomach gets in the way, but I enjoy it. I believe the more confidence I have to go out there and show my pride in size – acceptance will come slowly.

    You can choose your cake and size too!

  • http://www.generousfashions.com/ Lisa Plus Size

    This really sort of struck a cord — “It's important for me to recognise that people can be their own versions of healthy and happy whether they are a size zero or a size fifty.”

    For me that is the message. Make the choices for yourself that works for you to enjoy a happy healthy life and not based on size. I recently took some yoga classes. Yes, I am the most “GENEROUS” woman in the class, but so-what?! I can't do alot of the poses because my stomach gets in the way, But I enjoy it. I believe the more confidence I have to go out there amd show my pride in size — acceptance will come slowly.

    You can choose your cake and size too! (And I love carrot cake.)

  • http://www.comfortinfashion.com/ Plus Size Dorita

    After years of torturing myself with low self-esteem because I am big; I finally have found peace with my weight. It took some time but I got there. I have a twin sister who is the carbon copy of me and I LOVE her! Together our motto today is: Big Girls Rock!

  • http://www.comfortinfashion.com/ Plus Size Victoria

    L=love your choices
    O=own your body
    V=victory over low self-esteem
    E=exercise at your pace

    This is my mantra!

  • Caitlin

    Well, if we are looking at fatness as a solitary way in which oppression manifests you are correct in saying it shouldn't matter one lick whether someone is a “good” or “bad fatty”. Body policing is uncool. However, what I think FA misses, and some HAES advocates get is that we do have a serious problem in our society with food insecurity. I don't mean not having enough food, but I mean that people aren't easily able to access a healthful diet and that in and of itself is a social justice issue, independent of weight. People aren't able to access healthy eating for a number of reasons, one of which is the diet industry that perpetuates a cycle of bodily distrust, another reason is accessing more natural foods is hard in today's modern society, and people are constrained by time and other factors like SES.

    Further, while we may not know how to make eating into a perfect science, and nor should we, we do know that eating a lot of foods with unnatural additives in them isn't great. I personally think living in a world where our bodies natural cues to eat healthfully are subverted is concerning. I think it's hard for some people in FA to see this because of the rage they have against the oppressive forces that hold up the dominant social order, and their desire to reject anything associated with the oppressors. But I think the movement could in some ways be strengthened if we were able to link it to HAES social justice principles more.

    But, actually, as I write, I change my mind. I think it's great that we can have all different perspectives on this. I don't think we need to feel the same way. I think both the HAES and the my body is my business perspective bring strength to the FA mov't, but in different ways.

  • Anonymous

    This is a great place for me. It is rocking post. Different people have different choice. In my opinion doing yoga is awesome exercise and It gives us perfect posture and reduce weight without any side effects. It is also good for metabolism and increase immunity system. The main things are reduce stress and drinking much water because they give us good health.

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