Fat and Not Afraid

Respect and love are for EVERY body.

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Fat People Don't Exist to Validate You

January 30, 2013

Fat people get a lot of 'but I did it, so you can too! It's not easy, sure, BUT I DID IT!' comments, especially if they're fat and blogging or otherwise out in public about not hating their bodies. Today while doing my best thinking a.k.a having a shower, I think I figured out where this comes from; other people who are dieting or exercising to lose weight want us to join them so they feel better about themselves, and so they don't feel like they're wasting their time, energy and dollars on something vain and unimportant (and let's face it, in the race to be the most beautiful noone wins).

By not participating in the diet and body-shame talk that's so common at work, school, home, on tv and in magazines, in music and movies, we're doing more than just not participating for ourselves; we're setting an example for everyone around us. By whole-heartedly rejecting the thin=healthy and fat=unhealthy narratives and substituting our own real lived-in stories, we're probably scaring the shit out of people who are deeply invested in what Naomi Wolf called "The Beauty Myth" and what Kate Harding described as the Fantasy of Being Thin. If so much of a person's life is wrapped up in counting calories or steps, standing on the scale, getting to and from the gym, cooking or buying and eating special meals for something that's so unnecessary, what does that say about their priorities and goals? What does it say about them as a person? 

Do what makes you happy, but leave me out of it. Your body is your business and mine is mine; I'm not here to validate your behaviour.

I don't know if this does count as "diet talk", so feel free to erase my comment if it bothers you or goes against your commenting policies.
I count calories and work out because I gain weight very easily, I can maintain my weight if I don't eat everything I want and If I exercise more than I want.
When you say: " I think I figured out where this comes from; other people who are dieting or exercising to lose weight want us to join them so they feel better about themselves, and so they don't feel like they're wasting their time, energy and dollars on something vain and unimportant". I don't give a flying shit about the people who doesn't diet, I don't need fat people to feel special or thin, or to feel better about myself. I diet because I like myself better when I am thinner, and there is a small sacrifice that I am willing to do, it takes me very little amounts of time and almost nothing of money. I am not sacrificing myself in the altar of thinnes. And I don't think that it is something vain and unimportant, being thin for me translates into being comfortable with myself and betters marks in my sport, so perhaps it is not the most important thing in my life but feeling comfortable is important for me.

You also say: "we're probably scaring the shit out of people who are deeply invested in what Naomi Wolf called "The Beauty Myth" and what Kate Harding described as the Fantasy of Being Thin." Why do you think that I feel threatened or scared for your not dieting? In the wise words of Regan Chastain "you are the boss of your underpants, and I am the boss of mine", I don't mind if you are a proud fat, or a proud gay, or a proud smoker, or a proud treehugger. I know that I can let myself go, abandon the diets and the exercise and gain a bunch of weight, I will be the same person, only fatter, worse climber, worse runner, needing a whole new wardrobe and feeling uncomfortable with my body. I don't buy the Fantasy of being thin because I have been fat and I have been thin, and I feel better being thin.

I don't need you to validate my behaviour, and you don't need me to validate yours, we have chosen what we think is better for us.

Eleng-

I also read "Dances With Fat" and I'm a big fan of the Underpants Rule. I think she would agree that the choices you described are your underpants and no one else's business.

However, I think you missed the point of this blog post. The problem is not the personal habits themselves, it's the way some people talk about them. In fact, it's not usually about personal habits so much as weight loss - the "If I can do it, anyone can do it!" rhetoric. They insist that if something works for them, this is proof that it will work for everyone, and if it doesn't, you must be lazy and pathetic. They insist that their experience is everyone's experience. This is definitely a violation of the Underpants Rule.

Here's a link to one of Regan's posts that I think addresses this issue very well. (I'm sorry that I'm not very good at putting links into comments):

http://danceswithfat.wordpress.com/2012/03/30/your-experience-is-just-that/

Coincidentally, the current magazine cover at the grocery store that's making me want to vomit is the "People" story about how Paula Deen talked her whole family into losing weight, displaying Paula's quote "If the Deens can do it, anyone can!" I used to like her before she succumbed to the pressure of all the horrible comments about her diabetes and jumped on the diet promotion bandwagon, and I find this terribly sad. But I do not object to the dieting itself; that's her business. I DO object to her telling everyone else that they should do it too. THAT is the kind of thing that I think the author of this blog was writing about.

*applauds*

Great post, Jen.

I have serious issues with people bringing up diet talk in my space -- it's triggering to me, and dieting itself causes a relapse of my eating disorders. I started counting calories the summer before last, and went into a tailspin, wildly veering between starving myself and then, when I felt guilty for starving myself, binge eating. It was really bad.

And that's what happens to me if I even LOOK at the calories on what I'm eating. I immediately go into the self-shame spiral that triggers the disorders. I can't diet because it destroys my mental health.

So every time someone pins "STAY SKINNY!" advice to their otherwise nothing but pictures of tasty food pinboard, every time someone tells me that I can do it because they did, every time someone tells me "It's easy! Just diet and exercise!", I feel like either curling up into a little ball and crying or turning into Sekhmet on a bender.

And sheesh, my life is tied up enough with the business of eating already -- I have a dozen food sensitivities, not least of which is gluten. Most of them have sprung up recently and randomly, to the point where I have NO IDEA what's going to make me sick. Eating is a minefield for me, both mentally and physically.

"Dieting" can take a hike. I will not diet to validate those who do.

(Also can I just say -- I HATE that the word "diet" has been co-opted to mean "food you eat that'll make you thin." HATE HATE HATE. Diet is just supposed to refer to WHAT YOU EAT. "The usual food and drink of a person or animal." A wolf's diet is mostly meat. This does not mean she read in CosmoBitch about how all the big Alphas are eating only Elk and Rabbit this season so they can get their bodies ready for running across the tundra this summer. WORDS MEAN THINGS. *rants and rambles, muttering like a madman*)

Hi there, I'm Natalie and I created the "No Diet Talk" image that has been photoshopped inside your badge graphic. While I appreciate that you might like the image and the cause is definitely one I agree with, I must alert you that the Creative Commons license I released the image under states that it needs to be attributed to me, and must not be altered.

This is the license and outlines how the image may and may not be used:
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/

This is the link to my original blog post that my image must be linked to for attribution purposes:
http://www.definatalie.com/2011/11/18/no-diet-talk-a-badge-for-your-blog/

Thanks for understanding.

Natalie, thanks so much for the links and info! I'll fix this up right away.

Hi JeninCanada,
You asked me: "I diet because I like myself better when I am thinner..." Why is that? I feel lighter, my thighs don't rub one with another, I can run better, and climb better, my clothes fit, and I feel more energetic. I suppose that it is because in my neverending dieting life I am more used to be thinner, so when I am fatter my body is not used to be fatter. The things like levels of energy, clothes or thighs rubbing are irrelevant and I could buy new clothes or get used to my new thighs, and I am sured that once I get use to my fatter self I could feel my usual levels of energy, but I really like to run and climb, and
the weight here is esential. If I have to choose between eat as much as I want and climbing better I will choose climbing better, dieting is part of my training.

"I know that I can let myself go" Letting your body be it's natural weight/shape is 'letting yourself go'? In the sense that I am restricting myself, leaving the restrictions will be letting myself go, but I am not a native speaker of english, so perhaps this is not the best choice of words. My body can have a natural high weight, like my eyes can have a natural bad eyesight, but as long as I can I will try to have the weight that I want and the vision I want, with glasses and diet.

"I think if you do some self-examination you'll find that you ARE deeply invested in all the wonderful *sarcasm* baggage that comes along with trying to fit into the current hegemonic norms".
I am not conventionally pretty, my biceps are huge for a girl, I have callouses in my hands, and I don't wear make-up, dresses or high heels, I don't think that I am even trying to fit in the hegemonic norm.
Anyway thank you for the conversation, and greetings for a dieting person who doesn't need you to validate her choices, neither is scared of you or your choices.

I think this is very true. Only a very insecure person would feel the need to get validation from others to support their own choices. I kind of think of it this way: you know when people show up at your door trying to convert you to a religion and they are just SO convinced that they have the answers? They are so sure of themselves and just don't understand why on Earth anyone wouldn't want to be in on what they have. I think people are often equally Evangelical about their own life choices and don't realize that a) not everyone wants the same things they do and b) not everyone is in the same place in life. I've found a way to deal with my health that works for me (vigorous exercise + reduced sugar and starch = reduced depression and anxiety for me), but I know that what works for me is just what works for me--not for everyone. Being respectful of one another means supporting each other's own healthy choices and not trying to solve each other's problems or offering unsolicited diet advice. Thanks for the post.

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