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Congratulations

Yesterday I was reading some posts on a web forum regarding seat belt extenders, and one poster interested in purchasing some made a quick point of stating that while he was fat ("chubby", "overweight", "a big guy") he had lost 50 pounds. There were a number of posts afterwards whose content solely consisted of congratulations, and those that answered his questions still threw in things like, "Hey, that's hard to do! Good for you! Great job!"

I'm not sure exactly when I became uncomfortable congratulating people on their weight loss endeavors and "milestones", but I do know it's been a difficult thing to do if only because it's expected in many situations. Here's an example. If you're at work and a coworker decides to open up about her or his diet, it's expected in turn that you'll either a) congratulate that person or b) share your own negative feelings about your body. ("Oh, I hate the size of my blank and wish I could lose x pounds.") Thus, even when you choose to do something that may be small - like not congratulating people for losing weight - it is in reality a very, very big thing.

I do not feel that people who have gone on weight loss diets nor have had weight loss surgery should be congratulated for their tasks. Offering up a positive retort only serves to reinforce the idea, ultimately, that it is bad to be fat. The simple congratulations - even if stated in a meaningless fashion, even if you really don't care, even if it's awkward to say nothing - means that one supports the status quo.

This goes hand in hand with why I hate (yes, hate) the "fat acceptance lite" idea, which suggests that weight loss and fat acceptance can co-exist. When people lose weight for weight loss purposes, they're saying that they are more willing to support society's limited views on size than fight for broadening those views and definitions. When those same people later tack on "support" for fat acceptance, it feels hypocritical.

If you're a visitor here and find this site too radical, deciding instead to find a community that allows you to complain about size discrimination and talk about your diet, that's your choice. We may end up working together in some fashion to advance fat rights, who knows. But don't expect me to congratulate you.

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secondhelpinglaura's picture
secondhelpinglaura
May 22nd, 2008 | Link | And how does any of this

And how does any of this make me a homophobe or a misogynist? I didn't know that's what we were talking about.

AnnieMcPhee's picture
AnnieMcPhee
May 22nd, 2008 | Link | SecondhelpingLaura, yeah I

SecondhelpingLaura, yeah I know you're diet-positive and all that. Do you have any idea what you're saying? That those of us who don't celebrate others' weight loss are in fact bitter, not decent people, and jerks.

I think Paul has made his position pretty clear, and there are people who heartily agree, and want to be in such a place. It's in fact where we come to get away from the baseless fucking accusations that we're bitter, indecent jerks. Which you just said we are. So why do you want to be here? I mean it's not my place or anything, but I certainly support the blog owner for creating ONE place in the fucking universe where we can get away from all that shit. Where we don't have a social expectation to hand out diet cookies to people who lose weight. Jeez. What's your point? There are plenty of blogs out there that love fat acceptance lite; you can find them.

Zero isn't a size, it's a warning sign. - Carson Kressley
The Kevin Pease Beer Fund Foundation - Won't Someone PLEASE think of the psychology students?

FatShepherdess's picture
FatShepherdess
May 22nd, 2008 | Link | I don't get offended or

I don't get offended or bitter by someone losing weight. What annoys me is when they hold up that weight loss as a *mora*l issue and to do anything less then lose weight makes them "bad." Obviously the unspoken implication is that *I* am also "bad" unless I achieve weight loss as well.

I think this is one of the cruxes of the "obesity" issue ~ fat and thin have been turned into moral issues. You are "bad" if you are fat and "good" if you are thin and it's perfectly legal to discriminate against, harass, and publicly humiliate a fat person because they are considered "immoral" and therefore deserving of punishment. You know, just like it was perfectly ok to trash on "loose" women back in the day when everyone was expected to be a virgin until marriage? It's the same thing!

Body size should *never* have become a moral issue! And every time someone brags about having lost weight they are making a point about how *moral* and *good* they are ~ with the inplicit or even explicit implication that those who do *not* lose weight are "bad." This has become the norm of society and each individual that brags about their saintly weight loss is adding fuel to the fire that is used to burn fat people at the stake ~ in the media, in the hospitals and doctors offices, in the child welfare cases, in the fertility clinics... (the list goes on and on...)

This the reason so many of us fat people get angry when friends and family brag about their wonderful saintly morality when they go on about their weight loss. We are being told directly and indirectly that we are *not* part of the Elect, that we are *not* good people ~ but instead we are shameful sinners that should repent and join in the weight loss. Who cares what you are doing to **help serve a hurting world**! Who cares if you are feeding widows, building houses for those living in shacks, sending orphans to school... oh no, none of that matters. All that matters is that you are not fat becasue to be fat is to be a dirty sinner!! You can be fat and supporing the Poor and the Hungry and the Homeless and you are nothing but the scum of the Earth. But if you lose weight ~ oh well, now you're a Saint!

How is it crapping on people because we refuse to play along and stroke the egoes of those who cannonize themselves based on what they *look* like??? This whole making a "goal" out of weight loss for moral purposes is nothing short of self-centered "I Love Me" worship that elevates certain people to positions of self-imposed superiority based on their saintly morality of weight loss. Pardon me if I don't feel like being looked down upon by society because I'm not out there dieting and emaciating myself in order to be considered a "good" person!! I'm kinda busy trying to address some of the *real* problems in this world that have nothing to do with worshipping my own body and stroking my own ego ~ and then shamelessly fishing for compliments from those around me for my selfish achievement! How incredibly vain! I can't respect that kind of crap. If that makes me a bad person then so be it! I'd rather feed a widow then bow at the altar of the Weight Loss Gods.

Think about it:

How many times do we hear our friends saying, "I'm so concerned about the little girls in the third world countries who are going without educations and being sold into marriage at the age of 11..."

How many times do we hear those same friends saying, "Oh my GOD I'm soooo fat!"

...and then obsessing about their weight and what they eat and what they wear and all the money they spend on trying to achieve a perfect body... "I pay for gym memberships and buy diet food and...." Me, Me, Me, Me, Me... that's all this morality based weight-obsession is about and it's absolutely DISGUSTING!! So we have all this weight loss. That's great. Hooray and freakin' congrats on making *yourself* the center of the Universe. Pardon me if I don't fall over in awe and kiss your feet. Meanwhile how many people are starving in this world, sleeping on mud floors, going without clean water, sanitary toilet facilities, educations, being forced to marry and bear kids while still young girls, and uh... going without proper nutritious food?? (Did ya know they are eating mud cookies and grass in Hati?? I'll bet their daily calorie intake is pretty low. Does that make them saintly and moral?)

Weight loss for moral purposes is self-worship at its worst and I have no time for it. The real morality comes from **helping others** ~ not focusing so wholly on our body shape and our weight that we forget about the *real* issues in the big wide world around us!!

"If you judge people, you have no time to love them." ~Mother Teresa

secondhelpinglaura's picture
secondhelpinglaura
May 22nd, 2008 | Link | I'm just saying that I've

I'm just saying that I've been down the diet road, and I'm sure a lot of people here have, too. Yeah, it does seem bitter and jerky to put a bounty on someone's head for being proud of losing weight. These people are our parents, our siblings, our close relatives, our friends. Some of them may be our annoying coworkers, and we still have to work with them. I don't see any luxury or benefit in being shitty to them. That's JUST MY OPINION. You may be "strong enough" to do that, but I lack that level of resolve.

I want to be here. This site sheds light on all aspects of fat discrimination. But it also has a way of generating its own brand.

I thought all of these items were up for discussion. I am a 330 lb woman who's been fat all her life, so I think that I have some insightful things to say on these BFB topics that are all so near and dear to my heart.

I will not be bullied out of my opinions. If it makes you feel better, Annie, then go ahead.

DeeLeigh's picture
DeeLeigh
May 22nd, 2008 | Link | I think there's a big

I think there's a big difference between choosing one's words carefully and being shitty to people. Anyone with social skills can avoid fawning over someone's weight loss without being negative, let alone mean or offensive. All it takes is a little shift in focus. And, that shift in focus is a kindness. When you praise someone for losing weight, it's ultimately going to make them feel worse if (when) the weight comes back on.

levye May 22nd, 2008 | Link | I don't think

I don't think Secondhelplaura that you really want a conversation. People have raised a number of good points, perhaps among the best the fact that one is not being "crappy" to someone just because they don't compliment them, but you still keep on using the same morally charged language. I see that you think you're the only "nice" person here and that others are just being jerks. If you really want to be here, at the very least, you should engage in a dialogue rather than unilaterally telling people that they are strident, extremists, and jerks. It's easy to stand on principles and to repeat those principles when you don't address other people's thoughtful responses. To repeat one of Meowzer's excellent questions, would you compliment a friend, who was proud of himself for having gone through gay conversion therapy, complete with electro-shock? If you don't, does that make you someone who is "crapping" on a friends' dreams?

eliza May 22nd, 2008 | Link | Who is being bitter and

Who is being bitter and jerky? Who is putting a bounty on anyone's head? You're using very loaded language and calling people names, so it's no surprise when people are offended.

Personally, I keep my mouth shut when people congratulate each other for weight loss in a group situation. People don't really bring it up to me one on one much anymore -- I think it's because I'm very fat, so no one wants to have that conversation with me. I'm not sure how I'll handle it when the subject comes up again.

Once again, though, I am going to say on record I don't understand why dieters and people who advocate weight loss instead of a HAES perspective feel like they have to infiltrate a space where diet talk itself is verboten. No one is taking away your body autonomy -- I mean the general you, here, not secondhelpinglaura specifically. No one is saying you can't diet, even though I strongly believe that you can't fully believe in fat acceptance if you advocate weight loss as a viable health plan. I've been there. I've been reading BFB since day one and it's only within the last few months that I've gotten over that final hurdle of cognitive dissonance. But no one ever tried to kick me out of the clubhouse. I had to take the time to learn and listen.

If anti-diet talk makes you feel uncomfortable or threatened, good. Nothing like a little self-examination to figure out why you're so upset, no?

Bilt4Cmfrt's picture
Bilt4Cmfrt
May 22nd, 2008 | Link | It's only been about 2 years

It's only been about 2 years since I stumbled into FA/SA and i can't even tell you how many times I've seen this issue come up. At least three times since I've been involved with FA/SA this issue has popped up somewhere in this movement and at times has sparked virtual firestorms within the Fatosphere. I can see how it might make One impatient with, well n00bs, for lack of a better word.

Paul; Eight years in with BFB? Your patients and forbearance is impressive.

ON THREAD-

When this kind of thing is directed towards me I usually just fire off a disinterested 'Thanks' and move on. Further 'encouragement' usually gets an equally disinterested, microsylabic, like 'That's nice' or 'What ever'. Continued persistence, as far as I'm concerned, is an invitation to burn a Happy Weight loss Commenters whole world view to the water line. Usually starting with my Full Attention and a pointedly direct question like, 'Why, exactly, do you think that my losing weight might be a good thing?'

I've never actually dealt with anyone shallow or insecure enough to try crowing about their 'success' to me personally. Or if I have, perhaps I just fired off a COMPLETELY disinterested 'That's nice' (Useful for all KINDS of situations), subconsciously tuned them out (Nothing like awkward silence to cancel a conversation), and then went about deleting the entire exchange from short term memory.

paul May 22nd, 2008 | Link | Paul; Eight years in with

Paul; Eight years in with BFB? Your patients and forbearance is impressive.

7.5, but who's counting? Smiling

Lizzy May 22nd, 2008 | Link | 'Why, exactly, do you think

'Why, exactly, do you think that my losing weight might be a good thing?'

I think that's the exact question I'm burning to ask whenever I get "complimented" - I'm just too non-confrontational to ask it. I mean, seriously...they know I'm recently widowed. Weight loss could very easily be because of depression, drug use, or any other number of terrible things I could be doing to myself. Sure, I seem happy usually - because I draw off the energy of the people around me. When I'm alone, well, I crumble into a pit of despair sometimes, or even hit the bottle sometimes. I'm getting better - I've started yoga, and that helps me both relax and focus on something other than my loneliness, but seriously - why would anyone assume that they should congratulate me on my weight loss?

cynorita May 22nd, 2008 | Link | strength be with you

Lizzy I am so sorry to hear of the loss of your husband.

and....

I have no idea why people think they have the right to comment on your body at all.

BigLiberty's picture
BigLiberty
May 22nd, 2008 | Link | @secondhelpinglaura, I'm not

@secondhelpinglaura,

I'm not going to teach you critical thinking skills, you've got to learn those on your own. If you can't see my point, it's point-*less* for me to try to frame it a hundred other ways. I think I made my meaning clear, but just in case:

Moving away, getting married, &etc don't have to be good things, true. I took that you were referencing only good lifestyle changes, so let me rephrase: you suggested you'd support whatever people do, regardless of their motives (including losing weight). Meowzer used actual examples to illustrate how that is a rather ridiculous thing.

And you know what? Those examples aren't far from the mark. I was in an abusive relationship, and I had some "supportive" friends like you who ignored my clear distress, and didn't attempt to talk any sense into me. They silently "supported" --- dun dun dun!!! --- THE ABUSE, *not* me. If I didn't have an arm to hang onto throughout it, maybe I wouldn't have gotten out earlier, but it sure would have been easier to get out if I had straight-talk statements, rather than bland, ignorant support, running through my mind.

No one is saying you're a misogynist, or a homophobe --- we're just asking you to think critically: what's the difference between not "congratulating" an abusive relationship, and not "congratulating" weight loss? Why is one acceptable, and one not? Why is it okay to have a heart-to-heart about the abuse, but you've got to cookie the weight loss? Don't you understand how lives are ruined by our fat-hating society? How people are starving and dying? How children are panicking over an extra ounce on their baby tummies? How families are being ripped apart? How children and adults are being beaten and abused because of their pariah-creating fat?

Or are you just another in a slew of apologists, of people who are trying to marginalize what's really going on?

Listen, you are *not* helping people by cookie-ing their weight loss. Whether it's *nice* should not matter. The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.

secondhelpinglaura's picture
secondhelpinglaura
May 22nd, 2008 | Link | I'm not trying to pick a

I'm not trying to pick a fight and I'm not trying to win anything, I'm just saying how I feel. I certainly don't think I'm a saint.

sannanina May 22nd, 2008 | Link | Paul - if you don't want any

Paul - if you don't want any more comments that mention eating disorders feel free to delete this.

I just want to say this: as someone who has BED and whose specfic brand of BED goes hand in hand with episodes of dieting I am very, very glad that this and most other fatosphere sites have no-diet-talk policies. It is hard enough for me to figure out what is best for my body (and mind) without having people tell me all the time that I should go on a weight-loss diet.

Also, I have always felt that congratulating me on weight loss (and believe me, I never asked for it) put undue attention on a rather unimportant "achievement" in the best case. Even if weight loss diets were not harmful and even if intentional weight loss was sustainable in the long term, why the hell have I received many more compliments on my past weight losses (plural because I always regained) than on my academic achievements, my several years of full-time volunteer work, or even acting performances (and damn, they were good for a non-professional actress)?

Bree's picture
Bree
May 22nd, 2008 | Link | sannanina brought up a great

sannanina brought up a great point about no diet talk blogs and ED's. I am lucky in that I have never suffered from an eating disorder, although there have been plenty of times in my life I had disordered thinking about eating, and still do.

But imagine if you are suffering from an ED or recovering, and in trying to find support, all you see and hear is nothing but diet and weight loss talk. And I'm not talking about diet and weight loss due to actual physical health problems, but getting slimmer for vanity reasons. Imagine suffering from anorexia and hearing and seeing comments like "I wish I could get a little anorexia." Then add the constant barrage from the media that fat is disgusting, unhealthy, the reason the world is ending---do you understand why people need a refuge from that crap?

Nobody here is saying to eat nothing but cheeseburgers and donuts and don't get any physical activity. But everyone should be able to enjoy eating and being active without it being a catalyst for weight loss, and that fat automatically means laziness and unhealthiness. You do not do anyone any favors for shaming and ridiculing them about body size, and I don't care if you're a 300 pounder like me or a 98 pounder. If you don't like what you see, that's tough, because nobody should hide themselves from the world because they don't fit the ideal of what is considered fit and attractive.

Morrighan's picture
Morrighan
May 22nd, 2008 | Link | As someone who had an ED,

As someone who had an ED, and still struggles every day with an intense irrational fear of FEEDING MY BODY, especially in public... no I do not congratulate people on their weight loss or diets. And I can get -quite- hostile if they don't take the hint and drop the subject. Ask my officer who's on his two months out dieting high. He saw me drinking a Pepsi and started lecturing me on how I should drink diet drinks because a Pepsi is just empty calories (I'm not sure what difference a diet drink is there, but we'll skip that part for now). It's not because I don't like these people. I even pointedly get up and leave the room when my own sister starts talking about her Weight Watchers crap. It's because it is -harmful- to ME. That talk triggers me, it chips away at the shaky foundation I've laid where only once every few months takes a conscious command to myself to eat when I'm hungry instead of every day.

And people probably just think I'm "bitter' or "bitchy" because the fact I had an ED isn't anyone's business but mine so I don't go around with it written on my forehead. And -that's- why people should be trained to not talk about their stupid diets. You never know when someone in the room is f'ed up in the head and you're -hurting- them with that kind of talk.

And for the nay-sayers on the dangers of dieting... you never know when you're congratulating someone for "dieting" and they're actually seriously hurting themselves.

BigLiberty's picture
BigLiberty
May 23rd, 2008 | Link | "And for the nay-sayers on

"And for the nay-sayers on the dangers of dieting... you never know when you're congratulating someone for "dieting" and they're actually seriously hurting themselves."

Morrighan, that's a *great* point. When I was dropping sizes, I was doing it through fasting and taking ephedrine. I was definitely hurting myself, but no one gave a crap, they just saw me approaching a more socially acceptable body and lavished on the praise. Which encouraged me to lose more and more.

osxgirl's picture
osxgirl
May 23rd, 2008 | Link | Zen

I used to get really involved in these debates.

After being here awhile, I have come to a much greater understanding of why Paul has banned weight loss talk on the boards though. In fact, my only issue with it at all is not his ban, but how zealously some people jump on others when someone unwittingly steps over that line. And sometimes, I think they don't even really step over that line - they just happen to mention a fact about their own life, without thinking about it, that may happen to involve "diet" in some form, and others take offense at it. Even when no active diet talk was being pushed at all.

Finally, I decided to bow out. Because for some reason, this issue seems to be a whole lot like politics or religion. A few people start out talking rationally - but before you know it, there are people trying to bash each other over the head with their opinions, everyone is talking past each other, and no one is really hearing anyone else anyway.

I've more or less come to the conclusion that we all have to live with our own consciences on this one.

To me, that also means not trying to call names and chase out of the SA movement anyone who doesn't agree with one's own personal opinion. Live and let live, so to speak.

And live by Paul's decision not to bash it out here - because it just divides us all, and takes our attention away from the more important issues of gaining acceptance in society in general.

geek May 23rd, 2008 | Link | From the standpoint of being polite.

Even if you think someone is making a terrible decision, if they are happy about it, you should just say "congratulations". It is a formula phrase. You are not giving them cookies. I believe Miss Manners had something similar regarding a sibling who thought their sister would be a terrible parent, but said sister was trying for artificial insemination... just "congratulations".

If you say it and change the subject, they'll get the hint. I know it's not as much fun as throwing it back in their faces, but it's satisfying to know you aren't stooping to their level of bragging by sneering at them (at least not in public Evil )

**I know the original topic was discomfort with congratulations, but when dealing with people who you work with of aren't married to, the whole point of etiquette is to make other people comfortable. It is unfortunate that the "weight loss" party cannot also be polite by avoiding talking about such subjects.

Icecat62's picture
Icecat62
May 23rd, 2008 | Link | Radical?

So I'm radical to compliment my cousin for losing 132 lbs. because it's made her feel better both physically and mentally? If someone choses to do it, then that's their business. I'm not going to bash them and try and make them feel bad about what they've done. Fat Rights shouldn't be about becoming just as petty as skinny people who blab all day about how great they look because they can squeeze into a size four. I believe it's about stopping the everyday crap that occurs and making sure that laws don't discriminate against fat people. I don't feel that I should treat someone like what they've done is nothing just because it isn't "cool" within the fat community. That's just ignorant and I'm not about to do it to her or anyone else in my family that has decided for health reasons to lose weight. It's not about the size of the person, it's what's inside and that's how it should always be. Fat acceptance should include tolerance for fat people who chose to do things for their own reasons, not exclude them or tag them as radicals or whatever.

Meowzer May 23rd, 2008 | Link | Oh, for god's sake. FAT IS

Oh, for god's sake. FAT IS NOT A CHOICE. One cannot "choose" to become thin. You need a shitload of help from your gene pool, your dieting and medication history, and just plain old dumb luck. I mean, DebraSY will tell you. If we congratulate people for weight loss, we reinforce the idea that fat is a choice, and therefore people who choose not to make that "choice" are defective, self-destructive, and inferior -- which is an idea that doesn't need reinforcing, it's an idea that's made millions of people desperately ill and crazy.

AnnieMcPhee's picture
AnnieMcPhee
May 23rd, 2008 | Link | "**I know the original topic

"**I know the original topic was discomfort with congratulations, but when dealing with people who you work with of aren't married to, the whole point of etiquette is to make other people comfortable."

Bullshit. When my co-worker goes on and ON about how "omg DISGUSTING I am" and "my god I'm SO DISGUSTING" and she's 100 pounds or 120 pounds lighter than me (and maybe size 12/14), then I say bullshit. If she's going to say the slight tummy bulge she has is SO DISGUSTING that she wants to commit hari kiri, then don't tell me it's about making people comfortable.

YES I gauge each situation, and I have not been all that radical - except when she said "I just don't know why I can't stop eating" and I cracked that "because then you DIE. I don't know why people can't just do that!" - but FFS don't tell us to be "polite" and make people comfortable when they're telling us OUTRIGHT how horrible and loathsome every globule of fat on a body actually is. It's just. plain. bullshit.

And...as BL points out - people shouldn't be comfortable with this fat-hatred shit. They should be bloody uncomfortable with it. If it takes angry fat people to MAKE them uncomfortable with it, then so be it. No one ELSE is gonna fucking do it.

(By the way, it wasn't "discomfort" with congratulations, it was the flat-out refusal to offer them. I'm in that camp and I always will be. I'll congratulate someone for becoming more active, overcoming an ED, conquering their blood fat or sugar, or eating things that make them feel better; I will not congratulate them for "losing weight." Ever.)

Zero isn't a size, it's a warning sign. - Carson Kressley
The Kevin Pease Beer Fund Foundation - Won't Someone PLEASE think of the psychology students?

BabySeal May 24th, 2008 | Link | "Bullshit. When my co-worker

"Bullshit. When my co-worker goes on and ON about how "omg DISGUSTING I am" and "my god I'm SO DISGUSTING" and she's 100 pounds or 120 pounds lighter than me (and maybe size 12/14), then I say bullshit."

Yes, you have a very major point. Also, if I care even one iota for the person who's engaging in self-hate talk, I've been known to say "Please stop saying that. It bothers me to hear nasty things said regarding people I care about.". It is a succesful tactic, in my experience, to make them think, even for just a few second, about what they're saying. Who knows, maybe it will have a future impact, and in any case I've made clear that self-hate talk makes me uncomfortable.

vidyapriya May 23rd, 2008 | Link | FAT IS NOT A CHOICE. One

FAT IS NOT A CHOICE. One cannot "choose" to become thin.

Yes. Yes. YES!
Why would I compliment someone, even if they 'feel better', when I know (barring, in a few cases, a cured rare illness or a stopped medication) that the lost weight will always return?

AnnieMcPhee's picture
AnnieMcPhee
May 23rd, 2008 | Link | Meowser, thank you, and

Meowser, thank you, and thanks to DebraSY - because seriously, you've both got it right. Debra doesn't have to apologize for her weight loss and no one wants her to - she simply recognizes it for what it really is, it IS her personal choice, and she was blessed with the ability and means to do so. No one "bashes" her for it FFS. Do they? I'm sure plenty of people compliment her, and she has the sense to put it into *perspective.*

"I'm not going to bash them and try and make them feel bad about what they've done."

Since when is offering no congratulations "bashing" pray tell?

"Fat Rights shouldn't be about becoming just as petty as skinny people who blab all day about how great they look because they can squeeze into a size four. I believe it's about stopping the everyday crap that occurs and making sure that laws don't discriminate against fat people."

Naturally. And it is. Nothing here has gone against that.

And Paul has created one of the only places of note on the internet where fat people can go (without being fetishized) and be who they are with no apology and no fucking diet talk. My god, what a concept! Many of us appreciate it immensely.

Zero isn't a size, it's a warning sign. - Carson Kressley
The Kevin Pease Beer Fund Foundation - Won't Someone PLEASE think of the psychology students?

AnnieMcPhee's picture
AnnieMcPhee
May 24th, 2008 | Link | Hehe, I just realized - did

Hehe, I just realized - did Paul say "Thou shalt not congratulate anyone on weight loss lest thou shalt be banned from these boards"? Or did he say that there is NO diet talk welcome, no PRO-diet talk welcome, and that HE personally would not congratulate someone on weight loss? Because I coulda sworn it was the latter. In which case all this posturizing is pointless. The blog has a position, it's rigid and uncompromising on that subject, and that's pretty much that. I thought. If he didn't make it, I'd make one myself. Since it's survived for nigh on 8 years I'd say the position isn't exactly unpopular, or is at least welcome to the posters here. Which would be why they're here.

Paul if I overstepped my bounds there, please tell me; it just seems so obvious. I don't think you stuttered.

Zero isn't a size, it's a warning sign. - Carson Kressley
The Kevin Pease Beer Fund Foundation - Won't Someone PLEASE think of the psychology students?

Drunkbunny May 24th, 2008 | Link | I think anyone who sets a

I think anyone who sets a goal for themselves - whether it be to get through college, learn to garden, whatever - might deserve some congratulations for meeting that goal, without the congratulator endorsing the fact that the life change is necessary for everyone, or even condoned.

Example, if I had a friend that decided to stop cussing and did so, I'd congratulate them. Even though I think cussing is a great thing, and I have no intention to stop cussing myself, nor do I think people who cuss are bad people.

I don't think a congratulations is necessarily an endorsement of the behavior itself. It's saying, "This was important to you and I acknowledge that because I care about you."

By the way, I love this blog and I'm learning so much here! Smiling

Lizzy May 24th, 2008 | Link | Ok, I was trying to avoid

Ok, I was trying to avoid the argument, but here are my two cents. I like to try to stick to the golden rule. Even though I'm not religious, I still feel like it's a good rule, so I personally stick to it. So, if someone I know is talking about how they lost weight, I don't congratulate them for it, because I was once trapped in a hell of extremely low-calorie dieting followed by binge eating for several years. I ALWAYS hated myself during that time. If I ate 1200 calories a day, I thought that was too much. If I dropped down to 800, it clearly must not be enough because I wasn't losing weight. If I consumed 600 calories in a day, I hated myself for not skipping that 100 calorie diet-bar lunch. I hated myself while I was dieting, I hated myself while I was binging, and I hated that people commented on my weight, because I couldn't stand that the WHOLE WORLD could see my struggles with my body.

So is it "polite" to congratulate people on weight loss? I think not. In fact, I think it's another way of saying, "You were such a fucking COW before!"

levye May 24th, 2008 | Link | I'm glad

Lizzy I'm so glad you mentioned this. It's been so long ago that I forgot how strange it made me feel when, after my dieting had become anorexia, I kept on getting compliment after compliment. Somehow knowing that I was going beyond dieting, I remember being a bit surprised and thinking with contempt that people would never stop complimenting me, no matter how much weight I lost. Of course, I also felt simultaneously proud, and their compliments did serve to reinforce this pride. Finally, when a good friend of mine told me that I was so skinny, and physically took my body and made me look at it in the mirror did I finally begin to think, "yeah, maybe something is wrong." (Of course, I'm simplifying: I also thought at the time that she was "crazy" and "jealous," even as I also respected her.) Since I know the absence of in this case unsolicited compliments would have at least not reinforced my sickness, I guess on this level too I think that compliments can be deleterious.

geek May 24th, 2008 | Link | but FFS don't tell us to be

but FFS don't tell us to be "polite" and make people comfortable when they're telling us OUTRIGHT how horrible and loathsome every globule of fat on a body actually is. It's just. plain. bullshit.

Those coworkers have already been incredibly rude. I wouldn't give them the time of day, and I would leave whenever they started talking as quickly as possible. There's no reason to be friendly to them.

(By the way, it wasn't "discomfort" with congratulations, it was the flat-out refusal to offer them. I'm in that camp and I always will be. I'll congratulate someone for becoming more active, overcoming an ED, conquering their blood fat or sugar, or eating things that make them feel better; I will not congratulate them for "losing weight." Ever.)

Your choice vs. mine I guess Smiling. I was suggesting that somewhere like work or parties, it might be better to congratulate. However it sounds like you are already congratulating for other things and probably very suavely avoiding doing so for weight loss.

The impulse to put in my $.02 overcame my ability to read more comprehensively, because I do recall reading something similar (other congrats but not weight loss congrats) before. An elegant solution.

BigLiberty's picture
BigLiberty
May 24th, 2008 | Link | I debated whether I should

I debated whether I should post this --- it's very personal, but I think it will help illustrate the idea of a "no diet-talk" policy.

This conversation has been very triggering for me. I'm routinely triggered by simply watching regular television (any channel), riding the train (WW ads), walking through the streets (ads on buses, store signs for places I used to go to when in the throes of my ED), overhearing diet talk by my coworkers, etc. So I figured I'd just suck it up and take from it what I would.

However, it's this point by Lizzy on which I wanted to comment:

"So is it "polite" to congratulate people on weight loss? I think not. In fact, I think it's another way of saying, "You were such a fucking COW before!""

Perhaps it's not the same for everyone --- how the "congratulations" cookied them. For me, it was a way of saying, "You were a FAT COW, FATTY!" which would make me feel terrible about myself, which would make me want to --- keep shrinking. Some (more than not) followed up with, "Keep it up!" For me, it was a way of saying, "You're STILL a FAT COW, better not eat tonight, or tomorrow morning, and if you can skip lunch and take a nap you're home free..."

Some people might say diets and EDs are apples and oranges, so using my ED to explain my aversion to diet-talk and congratulatory cookie-ing doesn't apply to regular, "healthy" diets. Perhaps I'm a radical, but I believe any diet in order to lose weight for the sake of being lighter is unhealthy. I ascribe to set-point theory, and think people can move comfortably in a 40-lb range or so, which means that a *real* lifestyle change like moving to a city where you walk everywhere, etc, can result in weight loss. To congratulate someone based on this kind of weight loss is meaningless, since it's just associated with moving. If someone kicks an ED and gains/loses weight, certainly that person shouldn't be congratulated for losing weight, but for kicking the ED.

I just don't see any how congratulating weight loss truly does any good for anyone, and I can definitely see how it does a whole world of harm. This might be "not nice" and perhaps even create a fall-out between myself and a friend. But just like I wished my friends would have gotten real with me when I was in an abusive situation and did more harm than good ignoring the tell-tale signs, I'd be real --- though polite --- with friends and family if they told me they were pursuing weight loss/weight loss surgery.

(interestingly, while I've been typing this, both Jenny Craig and The South Beach Diet have had commercials. I'm watching "Firefly," a sci-fi show)

I've cycled between obsessive eating disorders and "healthy" (WW-esque) dieting. I had the same triggers; in order to stick to a "food and exercise plan" one must keep a food journal, exercise the "right" amounts and be very attentive to every morsel of food that entered one's mouth. To lose weight I had to eat an amazingly small amount of food. I don't know why, but on a regular, "healthy" diet I bottomed out at a BMI that was nearly "obese." I knew what I'd need to do to move below it. Ephedrine, moving my exercise up to 3 hours a day, cutting my calories in half. So yes, starvation and drug abuse.

The idea that weight is a choice is so medically wrong and personally abhorrent given what I know about my own body (and yes, I've experimented on it and know it quite thoroughly, much better than any stranger on the internetz would know, simply gazing at my height/weight stats), that anyone who engages in the act of perpetuating that harmful myth will know exactly what I think about it. The myth stops with me. No cookies --- what I'm giving you is *much* healthier --- honesty. Even if you aren't ready to accept it yet. It is because I respect your humanity that I can't help you hurt yourself.

So mean, am I.

sarahj May 24th, 2008 | Link | What Meowzer said.

What Meowzer said. Smiling

Two people I know very well - and who I haven't seen in half a year - have lost a tremendous amount of weight. However, I know it is due to MAJOR family and work stress for the both of 'em. They both have medical problems too - one pretty serious, but I won't say out of respect.

So, what I am going to say? "Congrats for losing all that weight because your mom is close to death!" Please.

FatShepherdess's picture
FatShepherdess
May 25th, 2008 | Link | I've recently lost a bunch

I've recently lost a bunch of weight because uh... I was so ill with this pregnancy that I couldn't eat hardly anything. It has scared the daylights out of me and it has not been a plesant experience, nor has it been rewarding in any way. It's been nothing but sheer PAIN going hungry while surrounded by food.

I keep getting complimented on my weight loss and it's driving me buggy! The messages I'm receiving tell me that BEFORE I lost weight I was unacceptable and NOW I'm so much "better." I'm even being told directly, "You look all the *better* for it." and "You look so wonderful now!" It makes me want to cry because I feel as if folk thought I was so ugly before ~ and then I have a stupid fear of regaining the weight and going back to that ugliness.

I don't see how this kind of head-game is acceptable to any person be they fat or thin and why I should join in with playing it. "Congrats on your weight loss ~ you're no longer a disgusting fat pig!"

Also, when someone goes on and on about how "disgusting" they are for being fat (or having fat) they are outright INSULTING me with their self-damnation. Not only are they hurting themselves with self-hatred talk, but they are sending a message loud and clear that I am just as nasty ~ or even *more* nasty if I happen to be bigger then them!

WHY should I have to watch out for everyone elses' precious widdle feelings while they can trample all over mine without a single thought as to what they are doing??

I've cured many a friend of this crap by saying, "So you are fat and disgusting, huh? What am I? Jabba the Hut?" The look on their face tells me that they are suddenly realizing what they are doing to *me* when they sit there and trash *themselves* for being "disgusting" because of fat.

"If you judge people, you have no time to love them." ~Mother Teresa

BabySeal May 25th, 2008 | Link | Thank you, DebraSY, that was

Thank you, DebraSY, that was a very nice compliment!

MarilynW's picture
MarilynW
May 25th, 2008 | Link | Yay! to community boundaries!!!

Hi all:

I'm jumping into this comment area late because I want to thank Paul and everyone here who posted about a desire for a boundary that excludes talk of weight-loss goals and celebration of weight-loss goals in fat pride community spaces like this one.

I personally need this boundary.

I am aware that most fat pride community spaces do not maintain what I consider a healthy boundary on this score.

At some point, I like to imagine there is a distinction between fat pride community and a Weight Watchers meeting or a support group for weight-loss surgery (aka stomach amputation, digestive bonsai, gut lobotomy, or having one's espohagus stretched to one's asshole).

I do not base my feeling of community or solidarity on what anybody weighs. I base that feeling on people's political position.

In February, I keynoted an event in New York City called Fat & Queer. The workshops were announced long after I had agreed to speak. Had I known that one of the workshops (led by someone with a lapband) would be called "Fighting fat oppression and losing weight" I would have had nothing to do with the event.

Whenever a person defines "making life better" in terms of losing weight, that's an investment in the thin-privilege/fat-oppression system of thinking. There are any number of things we could change about people to "make life better." As the beautifully fierce Paul Campos has pointed out, men would live longer if they underwent castration. Some things we hold non-negotiable. I hold my weight non-negotiable. I don't let anyone tell me (unchallenged) that a change in my weight is the only way to "make life better." Even if it is!!! Especially if it is!!! That is not how I agree to define or describe my world. I will "make life better" in a way that does not contribute to fat oppression.

If someone talks about weight loss, I never congratulate. I tell them that I hope they enjoy good health and happiness, whatever they weigh. I imagine such a statement does no insult the the person they were at a higher weight, to the person they are at whatever they weigh now, and the person they will be at whatever (likely increased) weight they occupy in the future.

I support everyone who is healing from an eating disorder. I see no necessity to associate that process with weight or weight change. Our bodies inevitably change during life, including our weight. I don't care if someone loses weight...I care that *they* care if they lose weight. I oppose weight-loss goals — for all sorts of solid physical, psychological, and political reasons — whether or not the person who holds a goal of weight loss loses one single ounce.

Thanks for the reassurance, Paul. I have been feeling pretty bleak about our community on this question. It's good to see people name it: fat acceptance lite. And extra good to see people decry it.

GenXintrovert73's picture
GenXintrovert73
May 25th, 2008 | Link | I've had this problem all of

I've had this problem all of my life in regards to dieters telling me about their struggles, the last time was with a woman I worked with who weighed about 135 and had the nerve to tell me, a 350+ weighing person, that she was going on a diet and then proceed to tell me how much she had lost. Why should I congratulate this woman, what she did was not that hard, she was thin to begin with!!! Congratulating this woman is like me congratulating a player of the NBA for playing basketball. What the hell do you want from me, do you realize how shitty this is making me feel?

I have a problem with the whole weight loss issue when it comes from someone of non-size due to the fact that I never know whether or not they are referring to my weight and want me to join them or if they just want praise. I also have a problem with people who wrongly think I am not strong due to my weight, I am one of the most able bodied people that I know. What gets me about the woman mentioned above is that she spent most of the time that we knew each other from work going from one sickness to another, she constantly called in sick due to one health crisis or another, it was so bad that our superiors threatened to fire her for it. All of this and yet she is the one who gets praise because she is thin, I don't get it, and what's more I don't like it and I don't have to encourage it.

As a person who is "super sized" I have learned to live and let others live because I want them to leave me the hell alone but there is always some a**hole wherever I go who just won't STFU about their stupid diet!!! I feel like screaming at them "look at me.... now look at you, do you really think that I give a shit what you weighed two weeks ago", but noooooo, I just say congratulations because I want this person to get the hell out of my face and to quit hinting, because ultimately, that is what these people are doing!! They are hinting for praise and accolades because I think it's some sort of sick, twisted game of "I'm thinner than you" I'm tired of being made to feel uncomfortable around these people and I am refusing to play any more head games with people who are ultimately making me feel like shit. This is just my opinion of course.

Marshfield May 26th, 2008 | Link | Although I'm firmly in the

Although I'm firmly in the size acceptance/fat acceptance lite camp, I think MarilynW's "If someone talks about weight loss, I never congratulate. I tell them that I hope they enjoy good health and happiness, whatever they weigh" is perfect. Weight loss talk is among the most tedious forms of chatter, best left to specialized forums or WW meetings.

AnnieMcPhee's picture
AnnieMcPhee
May 26th, 2008 | Link | Wow. MarilynW and

Wow. MarilynW and genxintrovert really nailed a lot of stuff. Very well said.

Zero isn't a size, it's a warning sign. - Carson Kressley
The Kevin Pease Beer Fund Foundation - Won't Someone PLEASE think of the psychology students?

diane May 27th, 2008 | Link | Wow! I've been away a bit

Wow! I've been away a bit and I've come back to the same old rant---- people who diet or want to lose weight are hypocrites, anti fat, or are fat acceptance lite, self-hating, self-mutalating, delusional, ignorant, etc. It's the same side of the same coin as it's what those who are pro diet say about fat people.

Why would anyone tolerate being called such vile hate-filled names and then work for the rights to end discrimination against fat people? Well, perhaps because they're for human rights, or maybe they're fat or were, or know other's who are fat or were?... I guess it doesn't really matter as the words have been slung and can't be taken back.

I think a great idea would be to put in big letters on all the fat "acceptance" sites a sort of Welcome Statement that clearly states that "People who lose weight on purpose are considered hypocrites, delusional and self-hating, and are not welcome here". I think it would be beneficial so people don't get blind-sided, in that they support fat rights, but then suddenly find themselves being called all sorts of horrific names. I know in any situation where someone calls me names like that, my thoughts are two words one starts with "F" and the other is "YOU". So, I think that kind of Statement Banner is just the thing. Then conversations like this could be avoided altogether. And that' is better for everyone all the way around!

AnnieMcPhee's picture
AnnieMcPhee
May 28th, 2008 | Link | Do you ever say anything

Do you ever say anything different Diane? There are only like 98,457,997 places on the internet and in real life - actually a lot more than that - pretty much anywhere - where you can find diet support. Apparently this isn't one of them.

Zero isn't a size, it's a warning sign. - Carson Kressley
The Kevin Pease Beer Fund Foundation - Won't Someone PLEASE think of the psychology students?

wriggle99 May 28th, 2008 | Link | Wha?????

people who diet or want to lose weight are hypocrites, anti fat, or are fat acceptance lite, self-hating, self-mutalating, delusional, ignorant, etc. It's the same side of the same coin as it's what those who are pro diet say about fat people.

Can you explain this to me? I genuinely do not know what you are talking about.

diane May 28th, 2008 | Link | Annie-- Once again, you have

Annie-- Once again, you have it all wrong. If you took the time to actually read my post, I was not looking for diet support or supporting any kind of diet talk here. What I was pointing out was the namecalling that was going on here against people in society who, for whatever reason, decide to lose weight. I have no problem with no diet talk allowed--I prefer it, however I don't think it helpful or acceptable to throw names such as ignorant and delusional at a group of people. That's exactly what society does to fat people--make obnoxious untrue statments about them and I just don't like that kind of behavior.

Wriggle--- What I mean by the same side of the coin was just as I said above--- society calls fat people all kinds of names---hurtful, spiteful, just plain hateful and mean, and society does use words such as ignorant, stupid, delusional etc... to describe en masse fat people. I have a problem with that, as do many here, however I also have a problem when we use those words to describe others---I guess it's a tactic of sorts--using their own words against them, but for me, I find it unacceptable and unhelpful.

richie79's picture
richie79
May 28th, 2008 | Link | I appreciate that I am

I appreciate that I am somewhat late to this thread, but I just wanted to agree wholeheartedly with Paul's position on this, which is why I prefer BFB to most other FA sites. I don't believe that fat acceptance - I mean real, uncompromising fat acceptance - can ever co-exist with intentional weight-loss dieting, for the reasons others have pointed out. I don't personally see how one can rail against society's opposition to fat people and promote the acceptance of fat, as a general perspective, whilst justifying the exclusion of one's own body from this (and that's what weight-loss dieting essentially seems to me, a rejection of the body as it is - with all that implies).

And whilst I would qualify the above by saying that I understand that for many people, coming to fat acceptance is more of a gradual journey than an overnight conversion, I don't understand why some people still on that road feel the need to come into a space where diet talk is *expressly* forbidden and nevertheless try to introduce it against the wishes of the webmaster and the general community.

As Annie points out, diet talk is literally everywhere. In most cases it's not only considered acceptable but actively promoted, and on message boards this is often through the type of 'congratulations' referenced in this post. In real life, non-SA people who appreciate and respect that others may have differing political or religious persuasions will still raise the topic of their latest diet or recent weight-loss without a second thought. It has become so universally accepted that its mere prohibition is hence a major political statement, and a relief - I come here knowing that this is the ONE place I will not click an unrelated link or scroll to an interesting story and find myself unexpectedly subjected to it.

But quite aside from that, I think it's distracting. I speak only for myself here, but honestly, when people start going on about how many calories they've consumed or how many 'reps' they've done, I switch off. As a non-dieter, there are few things of less interest to me than diet talk (OK, celeb talk maybe, but it's a close-run thing), and there are so many more important topics we as a community - and lest we forget, one which still has to achieve much by way of a profile outside of our own corner of the internet - should be saving our words for.

That's why I love BFB - because without the constant distraction of whether weight-loss should be discussed we can concentrate the real business of 'advancing fat acceptance', something this site and its contributors are very well-placed to do.

Bree's picture
Bree
May 28th, 2008 | Link | Not to mention, diet talk is

Not to mention, diet talk is boring. It is not an exciting coversation when people talk day in and day out about how many calories, carbs, fat grams, etc. this food has and how bad they were when they went out to eat over the weekend, how they treat a decision over whether to eat a piece of cake is like negotiating a UN peace treaty, and how many hours they spent exercising at the gym or at home. And people think us fatties obsess over food 24/7. They have it all ass-backwards.

I'm new to BFB, but I like coming here because there is no diet talk, no shaming fat people into losing weight for purely superficial reasons (superficial = looking good for society and not because you have genetic or molecular/allergy issues that you must restrict certain types of food). For people that insist on coming here and pushing weight loss and dieting on us, there are millions of other boards out there to talk about that. Just stop. It's like walking up to Michael Jackson and telling him to stop having plastic surgery. Not.gonna.happen.

BigLiberty's picture
BigLiberty
May 28th, 2008 | Link | I don't think that pointing

I don't think that pointing out cognitive dissonance, ignorance, and hypocrisy, *when present*, is name-calling. Those are descriptive terms for actions, behaviors, and belief systems.

When I dieted, I was ignorant about the true science behind weight. I think many dieters are. Hence, the word "ignorance."

A woman who espouses fat rights and then writes a hahafatpants book is a hypocrite. She can still be an effective rights activist. But she's not sending a fat acceptance message by rejecting and mocking her own size, so to call her a fat acceptance activist is a misnomer.

I think we've all been pretty clear about who falls under these categories, and who doesn't. They aren't blanket statements (unlike the blanket statements applied to all fat people). If someone supports others accepting their size and believes in set point theory and doesn't have any medical reason to lose weight, then why would they?

I don't, and I don't think many of the anti-FA-lite comments here give a hoot what others do with their bodies, ultimately. And I think most of us believe that pro-dieters can advance fat rights. But their behavior and example are anti-FA, ultimately, and it's against that which we are rebelling.

AnnieMcPhee's picture
AnnieMcPhee
May 28th, 2008 | Link | Well it's possible I have

Well it's possible I have you mixed up with someone else, diane. (It's happened before.) There's someone who comes in once in a while just to make troll-ish pro-diet comments and put everybody down. I thought it was you.

Now, apparently I stuttered - I said "you" and you didn't understand that I meant the *general* you - as in, people. Everyone. There are millions upon millions of places to go where dieting is supported - on the job, on the internet, in real life, in the checkout line at the supermarket, walking down the street. This isn't one of those places. I wonder why this is such a problem. If you really are the person I was thinking of, it makes me laugh to think you prefer no diet talk lol. But like I say, maybe I have you mistaken with someone else.

Zero isn't a size, it's a warning sign. - Carson Kressley
The Kevin Pease Beer Fund Foundation - Won't Someone PLEASE think of the psychology students?

DuchessOfDork May 28th, 2008 | Link | Heh.

I'm FA Lite. I like being thin, but I wouldn't discriminate against people who don't or aren't. It's really not that big a deal to do what you like to be comfortable with yourself, especially if it's not hurting yourself or anyone else.

Bilt4Cmfrt's picture
Bilt4Cmfrt
May 28th, 2008 | Link | Duchess: In addition to the

Duchess:
In addition to the excellent points made upthread and down about the fact that diets DO hurt, there is also the a de-railing effect that's often prevalent in sites that do allow diet talk. And when I say de-railing, I don't just mean discussion threads or topics, I'm talking about entire SITES.

I've seen blogs and websites dedicated to F/A that have been completely hijacked and transformed into weight loss advise boards or WW-like meeting forums because some people refused to stop talking about how much they lost on this new diet or that revolutionary 'lifestyle program'. In fact the major problem I have with weight loss talk or discussing diets in general and, yes, now 'Cookieing', is that I've seen how easily it can completely undermine the main POINT of Fat Acceptance. Does that mean thin people can't understand what we're trying to do here? Of course not. Does that mean that anyone not fat is not welcome to participate at any level? Hell no. I mean, seriously, if you hadn't JUST TOLD ME in your post that you aren't fat, how would I ever KNOW? How would YOU know that I AM? And why does it matter if you do?

All most of us are asking for is that people refrain from talking about their DIETS. How much weight they've lost, how much they want to / should / wish they could lose, or detailing how much they've already lost. Is that REALLY so much to ask Puzzled

goddess's picture
goddess
May 28th, 2008 | Link | Ummmm. Sorry, I haven't been

Ummmm. Sorry, I haven't been on for awhile, and I only read the last ten or so comments--102 were a bit daunting to go through!
So, I'm sure I missed wonderful, intelligent arguments and comments. Anyway, if it hasn't been said before, my take is that our whole society (if not those of the rest of the first world) has gotten caught up in the notion that while our toileting habits and a lot of our sex lives and CERTAINLY things like the mentally ill people in our families are not at all fit for public consumption, our diets, our weight, and the shape of our bodies IS. Given this bizarre choice, we are all subject to the weird etiquette expectations that are the companion of any conversation about eating and weight.
After thinking about it, and reading some new ideas presented here, my position is that I personally would like to be an activist about this garbage, whenever I have the guts. That doesn't mean insulting the person who is hoping for the Emily Post congrats response to a person boasting about their weight loss. I don't think insults get our cause much further. However, I might say something like, "Oh! So...your personal goal was to lose weight? Interesting." Not sure what would follow, but I bet it would pull the dieter up short and I hope it would make him/her consider that there might be alternatives.
Likewise, if someone decides to "compliment" me and tell me I look as if I had lost weight, I might think about saying, "So...that means you think that's a good thing, right?"
As I said, I don't know under what circumstances I'd feel gutsy enough to say this stuff, but I hope I can start somewhere, and let the snowball get rolling.

kelly_cs's picture
kelly_cs
May 28th, 2008 | Link | There are millions upon

There are millions upon millions of places to go where dieting is supported - on the job, on the internet, in real life, in the checkout line at the supermarket, walking down the street. This isn't one of those places. I wonder why this is such a problem. (emphasis mine)

Annie, I love the simplicity of “This isn’t one of those places.” And your last line perfectly sums my general frustration with trolls who make like we’re the ones with a problem.

It should not be so difficult for anyone to grasp that a group of like-minded people are gathering in a safe space to have conversations that meet a set of criteria. Alas, any time a "members only" sign is hung on the door, someone uninvited will always want in.

I have an analogy. There is this amazing group called the Seattle Men's Chorus. If you're not familiar with them, they are a group of gay men with amazing singing and comedic talent, who put on brilliant shows. I've seen them in concert seven times and own several of their CDs. I could rave about them for days, but I'll resist. Smiling

Anyway, a new employee in my office had just moved to town (this was in 1994). She was not gay friendly in any way, shape, or form. When she found out about SMC, she literally became angry that she would not be allowed to join. I was dumbfounded. Stunned by both her visceral reaction and the disconnect of an anti-gay woman practically demanding to be part of a gay man's organization, I said, "why would you want to join?"

"Because I'm a singer, and I should have as much right to join a singing group as anyone. They are being exclusionary. It's discrimination."

Again, I was dumbfounded, but this time also peeved. I said, "These men are excluded from society and discriminated against everywhere. You don’t think they should be allowed to have one place where they can just be themselves in a safe, accepting environment of their own making?"

I’m not one to glom onto the comparison of fat discrimination to other forms of discrimination (because as others have wisely pointed out, fat people don’t generally have their lives threatened and sometimes taken away by the hatred – although it has happened). But the parallels are eerie. Those who show up on BFB and become downright belligerent that their ‘diet talk’ belief should be espoused in a place where the one rule is ‘no diet talk’ simply cannot tolerate the notion that their beliefs (and by extension, they) are being actively excluded. And so they fight, kick, scream, and take on frightening troll-like proportions.

I am a member of a Yahoo! FA/SA group that recently went into precipitous and rapid decline toward allowing diet talk, all because a single member kept insisting that – even though she herself is fat and she accepts other people who are fat – all fat people would be better off thinner. I submitted my argument to the contrary and quite simply stated that, if the decision to allow diet talk was made, I would leave the group. Not a threat (I’m not that important to the group), just the reality. Diet talk is the one element from which I need refuge, and if it is allowed in, then I’m out. Thankfully, the moderator ultimately nixed it and reasserted the ‘no diet talk’ rule.

Sorry this is a bit off-thread and lengthy to boot. I’d give my 2¢ about the congratulations issue, but my views are well-represented by many others here. I just felt the need to address the trollishness that reared its ugly head here in the comments.

Rock on, Paul. Way to stick to your guns.

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