Big Fat Facts Big Fat Index

Happy Birthday!!

Today is Carrie's birthday, so feel free to give her a happy birthday* shout out here on BFB.





HAPPY BIRTHDAY CARRIE!!!!





Thanks for being so strong, incredibly awesome, and for keeping BFB alive. YOU ROCK!









*I totally misspelled it 'happy girthday' the first time. Since I am all about the punny fat jokes, I just thought I'd mention it
:)

Call for Participants

Please read and participate if you can!

Hi, my name is Michaela A. Null, and I am a doctoral student in Sociology at
Purdue University. I am doing a study about the embodiment of size-accepting fat
women, with attention to the ways in which gender, race, sexual orientation, and
body size intersect.

I am currently looking for individuals who are interested in volunteering to
participate in my study. If you are interested in volunteering to participate in
an interview, I ask that take an electronic informational survey, which will
take approximately 5 minutes. Please go here and complete the
informational survey. After all survey data has been collected, participants
will be selected for interviews, which will be conducted in-person, by phone, or
via internet chat, and will last between an hour and an hour and a half.

Participation is voluntary and participants must be at least 18 years old.

This project has been approved by my university’s Institutional Review Board,
which protects human subjects of research. I will provide confidentiality to all
volunteers and participants will be referred to by a pseudonym in all research
documents.

If you have any questions regarding this study, you can contact me at
mnull@purdue.edu. For more information on me, you can access my university
profile here.
You can also contact Professor Eugene Jackson, Assistant Professor of Sociology
at Purdue University, at jacksone@purdue.edu.

Sincerely,

Michaela A. Null, Doctoral Candidate in Sociology, Purdue University

Stubborn Ass Know-it-Alls and Barriers to Understanding

I'm brainstorming a "How to Teach Fat Studies" Workshop for the fall at my university, and one of the hardest things for me is going to be going way back to pre-fat-acceptance 101. One of the most frustrating things is going to be the fact that I'll most likely be dealing with people who teach and do research about oppression and privilege FOR A LIVING, and most of whom I'd like to think understand those concepts and the complexities of such things pretty well.




That's because while obviously they're not going to come to a Fat Studies workshop if they don't have a bit of an open mind for it, some of them are really still going to have some incredible walls built up. I was reminded when having a conversation with a friend today that people I know still think fat people aren't oppressed because body size is changeable, that they shouldn't have to feel guilty (I don't know who said they had to) for being thin. And these are scholars focused on oppression, let's not go into other scholars I know who aren't so focused on social justice issues.




I had a moment of intense irritation and frustration that many people who acknowledge privilege and oppression somehow cannot acknowlege fat oppression. It's a valid moment. It's compounded by my frustration that people get so viscerally and mentally uncomfortable talking about fat outside of a weight loss context--even feminists and otherwise hip-ass know-it-alls who like to push themselves and their thinking--that they just don't know what the fuck to do. They shut down. They are so uncomfortable that they refuse to acknowlege their discomfort---they push it deep down. And that's part of what makes it so damn hard to have these conversations.




Well, okay, I had that moment of irritation. It lingered. And then I thought about all the otherwise hip-ass know-it-alls in the fat acceptance movement (not referencing anyone in particular here) who can easily pour on and on about fat oppression, but still remain so closed to deeply examining other forms of it. It makes them so uncomfortable that they don't know what the fuck to do. They shut down--or they shut down conversation. They are so uncomfortable that they refuse to acknowledge their discomfort and--like some who scoff at the idea of fat oppression--they don't even know why they need to think about race or class or ability or gender or anything else.




This is not anything anyone hasn't said before, it's just something I'm working through in my head at the moment. Something I'm going to have to deal with if I'm going to put on a damn good workshop.




It's people's choice to ignore or downplay certain types of oppression and privilege, but isn't it just a damn shame.

Obesity ills 'are a myth' - Express.co.uk

Promoted from the forums

The Daily Express has reported on an Ohio State University study that disputes the accepted wisdom that the 'obesity epidemic' is responsible for various health conditions and that we should all "curb our obsession with dieting". It uses NHANES III data and claims that there are few health differences between 'normal weight' and 'obese' indivisduals under age 40, and thereafter only in the proportion of medication use (which could demonstrate an increased tendency on the part of physicians to pathologise and hence over-prescribe to those in this group). Says researcher Brant Jarret:

“There is a myth going on. Our findings show being overweight is no different from being what we believe is a healthy weight and this is across a person’s entire lifespan. For college-age adults, this should help them realize that they don’t have to worry so much if they have a BMI of 27 or 28. Some young people with these BMIs feel like, ‘I’m going to have all these problems, I need to try 50 different diets.’ And what is all that stress and dieting doing to your body? Probably more damage than the extra 15lb. Being obese before you are 40 has no correlation to your health either. The risk that people are told about does not exist.”

There's nothing here we don't already know, but it's good to see it on the front page of one of the same national tabloids that up until now has been instrumental in the process of 'frightening' fat people into thinking they are ill. Of course there's the obligatory disclaimer about 'gross obesity' (nice!) still damaging health, and the usual comments claiming anyone daring to even think about questioning the party line is a dangerous heretic bent on undermining the war on fat people (damn right!) as well as a couple of sensible ones, but overall it's a surprisingly balanced article. More please!

The DSM-5: good news

Promoted from the forums

The DSM-5 is the latest version of the American Psychiatric Association's "Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders." It's used by mental health professionals in the U.S. to diagnose mental health problems. It is also used to categorize patients for research purposes. The DSM was originally published in the 1950s; the last major revision (the DSM-4) was in 1994.

You may be aware that obesity, binge eating disorder, and "overeating" were up for inclusion in the new edition. The good news: binge eating disorder made it in and obesity and overeating didn't.

Binge eating disorder is a widely recognized mental health issue. We've talked about it at BFB before. It is characterized by episodes of eating a very large amount of food until over-full without enjoying it, and while feeling out of control. The diagnostic criteria are in the article I linked to, and they sound reasonable to me. Of course, I'm not an expert.

Until now, binge eating disorder has been included in EDNOS: Eating Disorders Not Otherwise Specified. Now it has its own category. This will make it easier to diagnose and treat and will make insurance coverage more likely for people seeking help. Most people will probably agree that this is a good thing.

In contrast, obesity is defined by BMI, which is basically a weight/height ratio. It is influenced to some extent by behavior, but is 40-80% a result of genetics. Also (and this might be what made the difference) the obesity label doesn't distinguish between muscle and fat. So, while most fat people are classified as obese, so are many bodybuilders and professional athletes. And, of course there's a huge middle range of people who are varying degrees of muscular while also being varying degrees of fat. The idea that all of these people have a mental health problem that can be defined by their BMI is completely absurd. I'm glad that this was ultimately recognized, but I'm also stunned that adding obesity to the DSM-5 was even considered.

I'm not sure how they were defining "overeating," but I suspect that they wanted to use it as a behavior-based proxy for obesity and then discovered that according to the research, the two are either weakly or not at all linked.

Gastric Bypass is no easy solution

So an old friend of mine from high school gained a lot of weight and decided that gastric bypass surgery was the best answer to her weight-related concerns. She's been facebooking about it for months now and this week she finally had her surgery. I've been watching her progress with an uneasy curiosity since she announced she would have the surgery, wanting to tell her just how effed up I think the whole thing is but also recognizing that she is an adult and has to make her own decisions. Anyway, she has a blog where she has been documenting the process and I was just struck by this entry about how restrictive the pre-surgery and post-surgery eating requirements are. If you've ever spent one second of your fat life thinking "maybe I should consider that gastric bypass surgery", this will make you glad you passed it up. Check it out.

While blogging, I'm also having my "dinner". Tonight that is one cup of strained low fat cream of chicken soup. (Strained to get the chunks of chicken out!) My diet is extremely limited right now, which of course is to be expected. People are shocked when I tell them, but my tiny little stomach pocket just isn't up for too much yet! And since my understanding is that if I over do it the results will be quite uncomfortable for me, I'm not pushing it! (-:

The great news is that I am not feeling terribly hungry, and when I do feel slightly hungry, it is typically because it's time to eat something.

Here's the overall eating schedule that Dr. XXXXX requires:

2 weeks prior to surgery -- extreme low carbs -- max 20 carbs a day

day before surgery -- clear fluids only, plus Powerade with Miralax (bariatric colon cleanse)

day of surgery -- absolutely no fluids by mouth, later in the day got ice chips (was on IVs)

1st 2 days after surgery -- clear liquids only (broth, crystal light, sugar free popsicles, SF jello) -- in the hospital, they'd give me crystal light in medicine cups .... Here's one ounce of liquid, take 15 entire minutes to drink it.

Days 3-6 (where I am right now)-- Full Liquids (1% milk, low carb protein shakes, SF low fat yogurt, cream of chicken soup, plus all the things in clear liquids -- including SF jello, and SF popsicles) **now, the surprising thing here is the quantities... I should take a full hour to sip 8 ounces of whatever I eat/drink, yet I am to strive to consume at least 48-64 ounces of liquids over the the course of the day. Half should be clear liquids and half should be the full liquids, being sure to get protein in there.

Days 7-10 (begins Wednesday - woo, hoo!) -- Pureed/Soft Diet --- this is where my new magic bullet will be quite handy. See, my tiny new pouch isn't grown up enough to work as your stomach does.... using its muscles to break up and grind up the food we eat. So, for now, I gotta do that work before I eat something. Now, at this stage, I shall only eat 4-6 Tablespoons of food each "meal" and I should have 5-6 meals a day. I can add mashed potatoes, custard, and pudding, but I must be VERY careful to keep it really low sugar and really low fat. Otherwise, my tiny pouch will rebel and make me regret it. Other things, provided they are well cooked and blenderized, will be vegetables, scrambled eggs, LF cottage cheese, poultry, soups, applesauce, and stage 1 & 2 baby foods (but watch the sugar in those!). I must also be sure to remove all skins, visible fat, connective tissues, rinds, shells, seeds, etc.

Then, Days 11-30 (almost 3 weeks) -- Soft Diet -- Pretty much as above, but adding a few starches like cereal, crackers, and adding soft fruits (have to remove citrus membranes) and low fat cheeses. The instructions say "small distinct pieces of food that is tender and easily chewed. Begin with ground or flaked meats and chopped or mashed foods".

Then, Days 31-45 (two weeks) -- we continue as above, but get to graduate to 6-8 tablespoons per meal, 5 meals per day. Also can add some things like brown rice and whole grain pasta.

Then, Six weeks after surgery -- Healthy, Lifelong Meal Plan -- add a few tablespoons of food per meal, then after another month, a little more. Ultimately, the plan for post bariatric surgery patients, is to eat 3/4 - 1 cup per meal, and eat 4 small meals per day. Dr. XXXXX disagrees with the snacking throughout the day theory. Essentially, we'll need to add more fiber here, but be intentional about high protein, low fat, and lower carbs. We are told to stay away from everything High Sugar. My understanding is that high sugar will result in dumping syndrome, and that I will not like that one bit. (-; A few people have said, "yep, you'll only do that ONCE".

A few other things for post bariatric surgery patients, that are a little odd, are that we can no longer drink from straws or have carbonated beverages. Those put too much air in our pouches, and make us feel full when we aren't. Also don't want those bubbles to increase the size of the pouch, that would be dumb after having surgery, no!?

Another quirk is that we are NOT to drink while eating a meal. Yes, we must drink 48-64 ounces daily, but we must stop drinking 30 minutes before a meal, and not drink fluids again until 30 minutes after a meal. Our little pouches (can you tell I've grown attached to my little pouch already? (-: ) will tell us we've had enough to eat and we would not have. Or, the food will slide right through with the liquids, and we won't get the nutrition we need. Either way, that's bad. SOOOO, no drinking at meals!!!

Oh, and NO MORE NSAIDS. I know, what's that, right? No more aspirin or anti-inflammatory medicines like Aleve, Ibuprofen. EVER. They're bad for our little pouches. They can cause bleeding and ulcers, and bad stuff like that. Oh, except the chewable baby aspirin we take for the first month after surgery to prevent blood clots....

We must also take vitamins for ever and ever amen. Chewable Multivitamins with Iron and chewable Calcium with Vitamin D. And B-12. Can be shots or sublingual... I'll find out a bit more about that when I return to the doctor next Wednesday.

The part that shocked me the most was that it should take you an hour to drink 8 ounces of fluid. An HOUR. Also, four cups of food a day? How is it remotely possible to get the nutrients your body needs on four cups of food a day? And no straws?! That...ahem...sucks.

Anyone have any other thoughts on this? Is there anyone out there who has gone through this and can comment?

I wish I was joking...

I saw an ad for this show Mike & Molly during How I Met Your Mother last night. At first I was excited...look! Actual fat people on TV! Then I read the premise:

"Police officer Mike Biggs knows his way around the Streets—and the donut shop. As a cop, Mike’s not scared of anything—except dating, so he’s joined Overeaters Anonymous® to lose those extra pounds and gain some Much-needed confidence. When he meets Molly at a meeting, the attraction is immediate, and suddenly Mike is excited about the prospect of a new life. But now he must find the willpower to give up his beloved junk food for the apple of his eye."

Oh BARF. Anyone seen any more of this tripe? Comments?



Living while fat

So I'm planning this trip to Costa Rica, looking at possible activities I can do when I'm there, and I come upon parasailing. Now I've never given parasailing a second thought, but the moment I click on this webpage and see the pictures of people soaring above the beach, I know it is something I really really want to do. Even better, the parasailing company's website says something about 'all shapes and sizes' of people being able to participate in parasailing. Heck yes, I'm psyched! That is, until I read their FAQ a little closer and see that, to them, 'all sizes' means up to 250 pounds.




I know, I'm larger than most and I should be used to being excluded or not considered by now, but it felt like such a dirty trick for them to proclaim how accessible parasailing is when they really only mean it's accessible to non-fat people. It's as if they're saying. "not only can you not participate, we're going to pretend folks your size don't even exist."




That rejection of my very existence really pushed my buttons. In fact, if I hadn't booked my plane ticket already I probably would have decided to skip Costa Rica altogether. That's how much I hate being ignored and marginalized. But that's a whole lot of power to hand over to some employee of a Costa Rican parasailing company. Sure, fat travel has always been a challenge and I will probably encounter numerous occasions where I don't exactly fit and feel awkward and slightly uncomfortable, but that's no reason to not go.




Contestants on The Biggest Loser are always going on and on about how they have 'gotten their life back' by losing weight, and I kind of get what they mean. Spending your life safely on your sofa can be a really compelling idea when the alternative means always being uncomfortable or unsure, encountering messages at every turn that your body is wrong or invalid, or worse, dealing with outright discrimination and vitriol because of your size. So yeah, one way to deal with that is to hide in your house and wait for the day that your body looks like everyone else's. Or you could just choose to live now.




Luckily I've never been very good at waiting.




___




What are some of the exciting things you are doing with your life instead of hiding in the house? (Also, anyone know where a 370 pound girl can get her parasail on?) :)

PCA/ACA Fat Studies: Day 1 Recap

This is the first of my recaps from the recent Fat Studies sessions at the Popular Culture/American Culture Association Meetings.

The PCA/ACA conference essentially contained within it a Fat Studies mini-conference. Large enough to fill up your days, but small enough so that you could interact with almost everyone in it for Fat Studies. Every session except one was held in the very same room, so at PCA/ACA Fat Studies folks are able to really develop a sense of community at the conference as opposed to if the area sessions were scattered throughout the conferences. If you're doing Fat Studies, you gotta go to a PCA/ACA national conference. Julia McCrossin told me that they are really getting lots of attention and positive feedback from the organization about the Fat Studies awesomeness and success there.

PCA/ACA Fat Studies 2010: Day 1

1088 Fat Studies: The Social Menace of Fat Bodies
Session Chair: Hannele Harjunen, University of Jyväskylä

Came in late because not only was I running late, I mistakenly entered a different session where an analysis of Twilight was going on.

“Won’t Someone Think of the Children?: Politicized Frameworks in Research on Fat Children’s Academic Achievement”
Heather Brown, Northern Illinois University

I missed Heather's presentation, but according to her abstract she looked at "correlations between weight and academic achievement" from the 1960's up to the present. Articles addressing the academic achievement of fat children were framed in terms of the obesity epidemic and the assumptions about fatness which tend to be inherent in that discourse. Scholars talked about fat children's bodies as though they "ought to be changed for their own good." The studies she found were primarily quantitative and therefore silenced "the voices of fat children about their own experiences as learners." So, as usual, the problem is the fat children, not the stigma placed upon them. The target is children and weight loss instead of anti-fat culture and structural inequities. *sigh*

 

“Men, Morals, and the ‘Obesity Epidemic’ Discourse"
Kate Mason, University of California, Berkeley

Really wish I had heard more of Kate's presentation, but I was very happy to see someone studying men's ideas about bodies and weight using interview data. As someone who studies gender and masculinity, I found her analysis fascinating. She found that men talked about their relationships with their bodies in ways that cast them as masculine. Often men constructed their relationships with their bodies against the idea of the "failed, unhappy fat woman" who is preoccupied with body. Interestingly, several of the men she interviewed tried to help their mothers diet. They also contrasted their relationships with their bodies to that of body-builders' bodies. Capitalizing on the idea that body-building men are too body-obsessive (obsessing about the body being a "woman" thing to do), they constructed themselves as having a masculine relationship with their body. This seemed perfect for Connel's theory of masculinity. Overall, men had a fear of being un-masculine and Kate said that discourses about women's bodies benefit men and their sense of masculinity.

“Too Fat to Mother: The Legal Discourse of Removing Fat Children from Their Home”
Tali Schaefer, Columbia University Law School

Holy crap, Tali was so on top of it. And she was clearly passionate and angry. I loved it. She spoke of different cases in which children had been removed from their parents' custody for being fat and ways in which fat parents got constructed as unfit parents. She said one of the main premises for taking these  children  away is the idea that their current fat (obviously the fault  of parents) is a future risk--and so legally they are treating "future  risk" as a  current emergency. The one case she spoke of was unbelievable (well, you know what I mean). A fat girl in New York who had already been taken away from her mother once was taken away again despite improving HEALTH because she wasn't losing weight...and despite the fact that her mother was making every sacrifice possible to conform to the court's demands. And the kind of demands that courts make in these cases are very costly--in terms of money and time. The case was overturned, but the whole thing was just such a striking example of how fat can blind the smartest people of all sense.

“‘Obesity’ as a ‘Symbolic Illness’: Creation of a Troubled Group”
Hannele Harjunen, University of Jyväskylä

Did you know that in Finland in order to get your PhD you have to publish four articles and write a summary article from your dissertation work? I mean, I think I might die if I thought I had to do that. But Hannele has done it and her work is all about fat. So exciting! For her dissertation, Hanelle focused on normalization, medicalization, stigmatization, and fatness and liminality; she also used an intersectional perspective. She looked at fatness as "a mulitfaceted, gendered, socially constructed phenomenon and experience." This presentation, based on her post-doctoral work, focused on "obesity as metaphor." Hannale drew on Susan Sontag's "Illness as a Metaphor" and "AIDS and its metaphors" and Barry Glassner's "Culture of Fear."  She also used Beverly Skegg's work related to fat. Hanelle argued that "obesity" is "used as a metaphor for both individual and macro level concerns." She also said that "body size is increasingly used as a demarcation line between "normality" and "abnormality" and between "us" and "them."

1154 Fat Studies: The Politics of Weight Loss and Ideal Body Types
Session Chair: Lynne Gerber, University of California, Berkeley

“‘Eating Dialog’-A Unique Program for Fat Studies”
Ayelet Kalter, Licensed Dietitian, Eating Dialog Study and Therapy Center

Ayelet is a badass. This woman has her own Fat Studies/HAES training program for dietitians, nurses, doctors, and other medical practitioners. IN ISRAEL! She says a lot of people take the year-long program just to prove to her how it's all bullshit, but they often come out thinking very differently. Ayelet told us about the different methods she uses to get students to question their deep-seated assumptions about fat and health. The object of her program is to "enhance social, political, critical, and economical points of view" about fat and health. Her program utilized 20 lecturers and has existed for two years, with a total of 440 hours. Ayelet wants students to shift from a weight-centered approach to a health-centered approach. She has utilized ACT or Acceptance & Commitment Therapy in the construction of this program in order to help students make the shift--which she feels has to happen on a personal level in application to their own lives before they can apply it to people more broadly.  I was very pleased to hear, personally, that her students learn about the sociology of fatness. Yes, keep me in business! Anyway, she said that students who complete the program can "see people as a whole."   I have to say the whole presentation, let alone the fact that such a program exists, was quite inspiring and made me very hopeful. Her website is http://www.eatingdialog.com/ and if you don't speak Hebrew translate it through Google Translate to read it. Do you think Kate Harding realized her Illustrated BMI Project was on a website for a Fat Studies/HAES program in Israel?

“Not Losing, My Religion: Fat, Excess and the Project of Weight Loss”
Lynne Gerber

 

This was an amazing paper applying--or playing with applying--the theories of Georges Bataille (in my notes, spelled, Btai) to ideas about fatness and weight. I was so into her analysis, but I fear I will butcher it if I try to recount it. One of my favorite quotes was "diets have their own excesses...[from a certain perspective] dieting...looks like indulgence." Apparently, Bataille believed that in early capitalism the "central problem [was] abundance." He disagreed with the capitalist idea that excess should be put back into the system to serve "productive" purposes. He said excess is always dispersed somehow, and that can be through productiveness or through intimacy. He believed, howeved, that excess "must be spend gloriously" in ways that have nothing to do with production or work and everything to do with creating intimacy, as in the case of feasts where people bond together (I may be getting this so wrong). He believed in "squandering" excess. Lynne talked about how Bataille's theory may help us "distinguish between fat on bodies, fat people, and the kinds of thins fat is associated with" for our own theoretical purposes. She wants to explore how Bataille could potentially be used for "fat transgressions." Lynn also talked about how dieting IS "expending excess" (in terms of time and spending, etc.) "even when it purports to be about eliminating excess." During the discussion, Elena Levy-Navarro wanted to extend the idea to our scholarship--that scholars are so focused on our scholarship being productive that we could use a bit of excess. She contrasted this to the traditional focus on measurement and outcomes, but I'd argue this could be applied to how we treat our careers. In addition, in what ways can we squander our excess as scholars instead of feeding it back into work? I love the word squander. This presentation made me love it even more. Indulgent, excessive, extravagant squandering. I think she's on the right track trying to use this theory for fatness.

Afterward a bunch of us went across the street to the Under/Over for dinner. We talked of Oprah, Monique, Rosie, Tyler Perry, Kirstie, and so many other fat-related people and things. What else would we talk about? And it's where I first heard the story of the fat fortune cookies. I'll recount that later, perhaps.

Note: All accounts of research presentations and events are from my recollections, which are potentially flawed and/or biased by my academic perspectives and social location.
Note, the second: Quotation marks may indicate either paraphrasing or direct quote, and I tried to use them whenever I felt they may be applicable. In my notes I tried to put quotations around all direct quotes, but note-taking can be a precarious task.

QUIT IT!!!!

"The obese" is NOT an acceptable way to refer to fat people. STOP IT!*

When someone says "the gays" or "the Blacks" or "the Mexicans" or "the feminists," in what context are they normally using those phrases? What comes to mind when you think about times when people have referred to entire groups of people in such ways? Might the speaker be opposed to those groups and/or discussing them in a derogatory manner?**  Hmn, what then of the oft-repeated phrase "the obese"? Especially if you are trying your darnedest to write a fat-positive piece, don't use "the obese." It's a red flag, a dehumanizing phrase, a sign that despite your points to the contrary, you really don't care for us all that much.

*Hell, I don't even like the phrase "obese people"--despite what the Rudd Center
says--but at least we're acknowledged (if only in gesture) as people.

**This is, of course, unless it's in the context of parody or satire...and sometimes, even then.

More on School Lunches

I know many of you have been following the Fed Up With Lunch blog by anonymous teacher Mrs. Q. The original idea of the project was to eat school lunch with the kids every day and document the foods that were offered, but the site has turned into a bit of a phenomenon, and, like the Jamie Oliver business, is making people really start to think about the nature of the food we are providing to our kids. Anyway, Mrs. Q recently posted an entry about obesity that I found interesting. It sounds like she already has some fat acceptance-versed commenters, but I still think it's a good opportunity for us to participate in a discussion about fat kids and fat adults from the perspective of trying to provide better nutrition overall. So have a look and join in, if you're so inclined.

Melissa McEwan on Weight Evangelist Jamie Oliver and his new show

Check out this fantastic Shakesville post on the weight evangelist Jamie Oliver, who "ends the premiere episode [of his new show] by crying because those goddamn fat ingrates don't appreciate him."


Thanks Melissa, for watching this garbage, so I don't have to.

Melissa plays some fat hate bingo, and I'm pretty sure she gets BINGO! for days:



...here's a quick summary: Headless fatties? Check. Enormous food stock footage? Check. OHNOES Obesity CrisisTM? Check. Being fat is ugly? Check. Fat people are lazy? Check. Fat people are stupid? Check. Fat people are sick? Check. DEATHFAT? Check. Mother-blaming for fat kids? Check. Fat as a moral failure? Check. Religious shaming of fat? Check. Fat people don't have "the tools" to not be fat? Check. Fat people need a skinny savior? Checkity-check-check!

I remember when I liked Jamie Oliver, when my mom bought me his book....long before he fat-suited it up. Little did I know he would be a mortal enemy.



Jamie Oliver, sacrificing his life so we might be forgiven our fat sins and given life anew. McEwan hits the nail on the head. He really does think he's skinny Jesus chef delivering us from evil.

A Fatshion Scholarship? Brilliant!!!

NAAFA has just debuted their brand new Fashion Scholarship on their website. The scholarship, aimed at getting young designers to focus on plus-sized fashion, is for $1000 and the opportunity to unveil one of your pieces at the 2010 NAAFA Fashion Show in San Francisco!

From their website:



Deadline for Submission: June 1, 2010



Date of Award: June 15, 2010



How to Enter:



Complete the online application below and submit one pdf file that includes:



* Three (3) drawings of plus-size designs (women’s sizes 16 – 32)

* Proof of current enrollment in an accredited Fashion Design School

* An essay (750 words or less) outlining why your fashion entries are unique/innovative and explaining your interest and motivation for a career in the plus-size fashion industry.



Non-electronic submissions will not be accepted and the file can not be larger than 2MB. All materials must be received no later than June 1st 2010 to qualify for consideration.



If you are selected as the Scholarship winner, you will be required to participate in the 2010 National NAAFA Convention Fashion Show on Friday, August 6, 2010 at the Westin San Francisco Hotel in Millbrae, California where you will be introduced as our Fashion Design Scholarship winner and show One (1) garment from your designs/collection. Information on the 2010 NAAFA Fashion Show will be formally outlined to the winner after the award.



NAAFA will cover travel expenses (up to $400) and will reimburse (up to $200) in expenses associated with creation of the garment. NAAFA reserves the right to determine the allocation of those expenses (airfare, hotel, etc.) The winner is responsible for any and all taxes as a result of this scholarship





Application is online via the website.

Trailer for "The Big C"--A Glimpse of Gabby's Character

The trailer is out for the new series, The Big C, on which Gabourey Sidibe will apparently be a 'recurring guest star.' While the story doesn't center on her, she does appear in the trailer. I'm also a big fan of Laura Linney...too bad Showtime doesn't put it's shows on Hulu.








What do y'all think?



I kind of rolled my eyes when I realized she is in the "student" role again. On the other hand I've never seen a fat person sit down at a desk quite so gracefully. I'm not sure if it's better that they don't focus on her squishing into a desk or if leaving that out obscures the fact that desks suck for us. Forever a double-edged sword.



Gabby gets to play a very confident character. While Linney's character doesn't seem to be fond of Gabby's character, I'm interested in how that might play out in the series. They kind of hint at a bond developing. Will it reiterate stereotypes or is it going to be more complex than that? It's intriguing enough to keep our eye on, I think.



Finally, I find these "I'm dying and now I'm liberated from social norms and refuse to hold back any longer" stories really intriguing. However, I must admit I had no interest in The Bucket List, which I feel is very different from where The Big C might be going. I'm the kinda gal who loves to break social norms and even live outside of some of them, so a show about that is on my map. However, I hope that this series goes beyond the typical cliches and that it gives creedance to the experiences of those who have had cancer. While turning a bad thing into a good thing is a great story, downplaying the struggle can encourage us to ignore or gloss over the complexity of experience. Struggles, I think, are the most empowering parts of stories.

I'm not fat, I'm <euphemism>

Euphemisms for fat make me crazy...some more than others. Just in the past couple of days I have encountered multiple instances where people chose to refer to themselves as 'fluffy' rather than just plain fat. I think the thing that annoys me the most about it is the undertone of "Tee hee! Aren't I adorably naughty when I dance around the truth?" No. No, you're not. Your use of a euphemism implies that there's something wrong with and shameful about your fatness, and that's a load of crap. Be who you are. Be fat. Own it.

Anyone got any other euphemisms that drive them nuts?

HAES Retreat!!

Every so often I get an email from the contact/tip form about some new weight loss product or service that "really works" and that I should "tell [my] readers about". Usually I just roll my eyes and delete. You can imagine my surprise then, when I received a tip email from the proprietors of the Oakledge Wellness Retreat and it turned out to not be (as I assumed) another weight loss business. It looks really cool, actually. The program is based on the principles of Health at Every Size and stresses actual healthy behaviors rather than focusing on weight as a measure of health. It's not cheap, as you can imagine, but for a week in Massachusetts surrounded by HAES folks working out and eating great food, I bet it's well worth it. Cool!

Uh...you're too fat. Thanks for coming in.

My brother tipped me off to this article in the NY Times about doctors having trouble talking to their fat patients about losing weight. It cites a report presented by the STOP Obesity Alliance (which makes me question the veracity of the report, but anyway...) that says that doctors actually aren't talking to patients about weight loss. The reason? Gee, they just don't know how! Poor doctors. See again, this article gets really close to the actual truth but doesn't quite make the connection. Doctors don't know how to get patients to lose weight and keep it off because nobody does! I do like that the point is made that doctors have a misconception that fat people are weak-willed and self-indulgent, but in the end all this article does is shift some of the blame for fatness from fat people to their doctors. Meh.

Why Gabby VS Hollywood debates annoy me.

I can't stop thinking about this damn clip (below) about Gabby from the Joy Behar Show...and every other show which seems to be covering her story. What annoys me most, perhaps, is the poor framing. They ask "Is Gabby too fat for Hollywood?" The question centers judgment on Gabby and not on Hollywood. But everyone already knows the answer to the question, "Is Hollywood too closed minded and bigoted for Gabourney Sidibe?" The answer is, generally, yes. Hollywood is a place where fat dark-skinned Black women are invisible. First of all, more men are cast in movies than women. More white women are cast than Black women, by far (in my estimation), and when Black women are cast they tend to be light-skinned. And certainly more thin women are cast than fat women.



The question when turned on Hollywood may seem pointless, but the question turned on Gabby is unproductive. I don't see anyone thinking critically about WHY it is that there are no roles for fat women, Black women, dark-skinned women and/or someone who exists in all three of those categories.



When I think of why, I think of Norbert. Fat women are jokes in movies. This is even truer when they're not played by fat women, and often they're not--particularly if they are especially fat*. The women cast in movies (and on TV) are so narrowly chosen that anyone outside of those parameters is rendered unintelligible as anything other than fodder for jokes, scum of the earth, sob stories, and weight-related storylines. We don't make sense any other way. The idea of casting Gabby in a serious role where her confidence might shine through is probably unimaginable to most people in Hollywood. Instead, elite Hollywood women are "made ugly" in movies where a feel-good transformation is needed. And since Gabby is, according to Joy Behar, more than "full-figured" she cannot be transformed from ugly duckling to swan...without losing weight, that is.



By focusing on Gabby the media are subtly (or not-so-subtly) invoking a weight loss narrative because it's the only narrative they know for a fat woman, the only way they see her having a possibility, they only way they see her existing. It's why they are confounded by Gabby herself.




And that is not only indicative of Hollywood's closed-mindedness and bigotry, but of the rampant lack of creativity that befalls them. Why aren't people taking up the challenge? Brainstorming possibilities? Debates about whether Gabby "fits" in Hollywood are unproductive. But in a profit-driven industry people would rather have the same-unproductive debates over and over again.



So, gimme a pitch. What kind of role would you like to see Gabby in? How do we make Gabby intelligible in a movie without resorting to cliche?



*I have become very fond of calling myself "especially fat" after hearing the phrase used by Paul Campos in his UCLA talk. He said it plainly, but to me it reeks of pridefulness. Especially Fat is Deathfat's sassy sister.







Surprise! Howard Stern is a giant jerk

It should come as no surprise to anyone that Howard Stern had some nasty things to say about Gabourey Sidibe on Monday's show. I mean really, how dare she be fat AND black AND a woman and think that she could get away with being successful? The nerve of some people...
Laura Beck wrote a nice deconstruction over at Huffington Post about Gabby and the media's general obsession with female bodies that fall outside the narrowly defined 'normal' range. Check it out!

The bizarre phenomenon of "Skinny Fat" (ugh)

There are actually some good points being made in this clip from the Today show on how thin people with low BMIs may have some of the same risks that fat people are purported to have. Unfortunately nobody quite pulls it together enough to realize that it's the habits people exhibit instead of just what they look like that make them healthy or unhealthy.

The good: it's true, thin people are still at risk for health problems if they don't take care of themselves

The bad: nobody comes anywhere near mentioning that maybe fat in and of itself isn't a death sentence

Oh well. Baby steps.

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