All We Are Saying…Is Not What You’re Saying We Said

meowser-48.jpg posted by meowser

I don’t know if y’all have been following the latest “fatties are unhealthy! eleventyone!” dustup that hit the feminist blogosphere last week, but if you haven’t, Maia of Alas, A Blog and Aunt B. of Tiny Cat Pants have cogent summaries of what went on. And their pieces are well worth reading anyway, even if you’re caught up.

Like Maia, I’m heartened by the amount of pushback that’s going on now in response to such things, as opposed to just a few years ago, when only a few of us fatasses were raising our hands and saying things like, “Uh, excuse me, I haven’t eaten a whole box of donuts in one day EVER, and probably couldn’t finish one in a year, so you’d best come up with another reason for my mighty-mighty lardy-lardiness.” (Note the Good Fatty badge being waved in the air, as if anyone ever sees the damn thing but us FAs.)

And like Aunt B., I wonder about the feminists among us who still think policing other women’s bodies is okay in the name of “health,” especially when those same feminists are so quick to call out slut-shaming and drunk-shaming and blaming women for their rapes or beatings by criticizing the “bad” behavior that preceded them. I mean, I try to stay away from “Nobody would say X about Y kind of person” arguments these days (though I didn’t always), because if you hang around most people long enough, they will say X about Y type of person, even if the mores of their particular peer group compel them to do so in code. But Aunt B. is right on the money when she notes that many women who are otherwise fierce protectors of each other completely lose their shit when it comes to issues of food and weight:

If I can pick up a guy I don’t know at a bar and take him into the bathroom and fuck him silly and feminists can see how that’s my business, even if I might get a disease or get pregnant or slip and throw out my hip or some other outcome that would affect my health, why can’t I pick up a burger at a bar and not have it become cause for public fretting, especially by feminists?

Seriously. I will never be able to understand how the same women who (rightly) opine that women should have the right to drink like men frequently balk at the idea that women should be allowed to eat like men. Sure, you can inhale a thousand calories’ worth of Cosmopolitans or Coronas and fall off your barstool and that’s badass righteous, but gods forbid you should indulge in a cheeseburger. On a bun made with white flour. With fries. And a full-sugar soft drink. (You food slut, you.)

But what struck me, when reading all the posts and comments about this, is how many people set up the straw-FA, and attribute things to us ‘Spheres that we didn’t actually say.

We say, “Weight is, for the most part, not a very good proxy for health, and there are much better ones, like socioeconomic status.” They hear, “Being dozens of pounds over (or under) your baseline weight is just ginchy for you, and your doctor should never bring it up with you ever.” (So there’s a right way to bring it up, and a wrong way? And the wrong way involves the shame finger and accusations of lying and denial? Who knew?)

We say, “What causes people to weigh what they do is complex and multifactorial, and varies a lot from one person to another — and you can’t tell what people’s habits are by their pants size.” They hear, “Weight is purely inherited and has nothing whatsoever to do with behavior.” (Uh, no. Try the behavioral factors have been played to fucking death in the media, and we really, really don’t need to flog them yet again. Also, try dieting is a behavior too, and it makes most people who try it fatter, not thinner, especially if they take it up in childhood.)

We say, “Adults have a perfect right to have other priorities besides being a perfect goody-twelve-shoes about exercise and diet, and they’re still worthy of respect if they do.” (I mean, really, is this such a radical statement? If it is, then I am O-L-D; I can remember when admitting you liked bean sprouts would get you laughed at by everyone except ultrahippies.) They hear, “You must fuck fat chicks or you are a sociopath.”

We say, “Announcing you’re on a diet and giving a public blow-by-blow of your weight loss (as opposed to just eating the way you see fit without making a big deal about it) is pretty much akin to announcing you’re no longer a leader of our movement.” They hear, “You’re not drinking enough bacon grease, yuppiefuck; get with the program.”

We say, “Hounding kids about their weight is not likely to result in happier or healthier kids OR adults, for the most part.” They hear, “We don’t care if all the children lose their toes to dry gangrene by the time they’re 12, as long as we can eat all the baby-flavored donuts we want.”

We say, “The odds against permanent significant weight loss have always been pretty long, so if we care about health, we’re going to have to look at other parameters besides weight when measuring our overall physical and mental health.” They hear, “Nobody can lose weight at all, ever,” and proceed to tell us about how they lost 15 entire pounds by being “good,” and how they “know” they’d be the size of a barn if they let themselves go, which they’d never ever do because the God they’re too cool to believe in would smite them dead.

Got any others?