**blowing dust off blog** First off, greetings, and I know it’s been a while. I was moving and had very sporadic connectivity (both mental and pipewise) for a while.
Anyway, if you found this post, you already know about Hanne Blank and her weight-loss blog, so I won’t repeat the details here. I posted something on Big Fat Blog about this and several people requested that I turn it into an “official blog post,” so here goes.
First, though, I’ll preface what I’m about to say by saying Hanne Blank doesn’t owe me or anyone else a damn thing. She’s already done plenty for the fat-rights struggle even if she never does anything else. If Gloria Steinem, after all the hard work she’s done to fight for women’s equality, wanted to marry Joe Blow and change her name to Gloria Blow and become a submissive housewife living on an allowance and asking permission to leave the house to touch up her blue hair dye, I’d be sad, but you know, feminism doesn’t live or die with her. She can do what she wants.
Same with Hanne. If you’ve never read Big Big Love: A Sourcebook for People of Size and Those Who Love Them, you simply must. Get it through interlibrary loan, order it used, do what you must do to get your mitts on this sadly-out-of-print paperback, because you will feel like Large and In Charge Sex Deity of the Universe after doing so even if you’re sitting around the house in filthy Dr. Dentons without having washed your hair all week. It is full of YES, I am telling you. Of course, she has written other books, but this one is what size-acceptance advocates will always remember her for. That, and the letter to a new doctor boilerplate that has been such a lifeline for fat people desperate for fair and decent medical care. She did all that for us, and I am forever grateful.
But whether or not someone has the right to do something, to my mind, is a whole separate issue from that person’s credibility as a spokesperson on certain issues. “Gloria Blow” is not going to be who I turn to for advice on how to have egalitarian relationships and fight for my rights as a woman, and a dieting Hanne Blank is not who I’m going to look to for guidance on how to kick ass as an unrepentant fat chick. Sorry, but that part’s over for me, although of course others’ mileage may vary. Fortunately for them, and for us, we will not be lost without them — they have trained their protegees well, so to speak, and their lessons will not be lost on us regardless on how they conduct their lives from now on.
Anyway, here’s the BFB post, cleaned up slightly for readability purposes.
Here’s the punchline of the whole thing. It could apply to Hanne Blank, or really, to anyone I don’t see on a regular basis, which is almost everyone on or lurking about these boards.
If you never said anything about trying to lose weight, but just quietly went about your business and lost the weight, and I saw you a year from today weighing, say, 50 pounds less than you do today, and you said, “Yep, been eating more of that broccoli, I guess,” I’d probably just shrug and go, “Oh, okay.”
But when you announce to the world that you are dieting, especially if in the past you have been a passionate advocate for the idea that “every size body is okay,” then it feels a little squicky to tell everyone, “I was wrong, my body is NOT okay as is.” Because that means that maybe mine isn’t, either, even if you think you don’t mean it that way. It’s the announcement part that’s the problem, see? Otherwise I’d just think, hm, well, maybe she’s not eating the chocolate cake because her stomach just can’t handle chocolate cake anymore like it did when I saw her eating it a year ago, and that’s fine.
Look, the diet culture is, to borrow 12-step terminology, cunning, baffling and powerful. Very few of us, especially women, especially American women, can retract its talons from us completely, for good. We hear “lose weight live longer lose weight live longer lose weight live longer” on more or less a repeating 24/7 loop if we connect to any media whatsoever at any time or even leave the house to go to work. I barely ever turn on the television and even I feel completely saturated with it. For all the people who snark that “nobody wants to talk about all the Problems of Obesity,” all I can think is, “OK, Henry David Thoreau there in your cave with no electricity, maybe the bats in your cave aren’t particularly discussing the Horrors of Obesity today, but I can guaranfrickingtee you everyone else is, and repeatedly, ad nauseum, no getting away from it. Maybe they haven’t QUITE gotten to throwing rocks into all our windows with pieces of paper attached saying LOSE WEIGHT NOW OR DIEDIEDIE FATASS, but give them time.”
And then of course there’s that nattering little gnat-voice that so many of us hear in our inner ears: “Have you really TRIED? I mean, really, really, no kidding around, have you made every attempt to be as super duper healthy as you possibly can, and not taken precious hospital time away from some innocent 2-year-old with bird flu because of your relentless dietary indiscretions? Hmm? Are you SURE?” Anyone who has no vulnerability to that, congratulations. I want your childhood and your brain chemistry.
And yeah, hovering around 200 pounds doesn’t exactly get you treated like Cleopatra by the world, but if someone who weighed 350 or 400 said, “I don’t care about being thin, I just want to be your size,” I’d have to be a complete asshole not to understand that, especially if they have the dreaded “comorbidities.” Under those circumstances, you don’t even get treated as well as the damn snake. I never blame anyone for wanting to be thinner. I blame the “lose weight live longer” Wurlitzer, always. But I do think that if you are going to consider yourself a public advocate for fat rights, you can’t be telling the world, “Well, except for me.” Just eat your damn broccoli, if that’s all you want.