Friday, May 15, 2009

Fat Acceptance?

Okay. I'm warning you that this is a long post. I checked. It's 1,389 words. But I bet you're gonna identify with one side or the other here, so just bear with me.

So, I've wandered into a few Fat Acceptance blogs over the past several months of doing my own very weight loss/weight issues/body thing blogging. It actually started with my hearing about the Anti-Gym, reading their blog, and subsequently reading the enraged comments from many Fat Acceptance individuals. It sparked my interest, of course, as I am a fat girl myself. And seriously, you can say it. I am fat. And I do appreciate the comments that I'm a "current hot girl"... but I say I'm fat... because I am. BMI of 33.9 means that I'm actually BEYOND fat. I'm OBESE. I have to lose 60 pounds in order to be considered "NORMAL." If I lose 53 pounds, I'm still considered overweight, y'all.

Okay, just to get that out of the way and cleared up for everyone.

So, I visited a few of these blogs and websites and it just didn't vibe with me. Now, I seriously don't care what people fight for or blog about. People can blog about how fat needs to be another thing that just "is," like skinny, blonde, brunette, whatever. They can say that fat people are not lazy or unhealthy. There is no obesity epidemic in this country. Americans, as a group, are not slobbish, disgusting, over-eating, pie grubbing, meat sucking, gravy swimming sloths... they're just normal folks and are beautiful, valuable, and should be thought of as normal human beings. That's fine and dandy.

But then they decide to talk about how ridiculous us fat girls who want to be skinny are.

I am ridiculous for wanting to fit into a size 8 jeans. Because I think about it, because I have pictures of my skinny self on my fridge to motivate me, because I keep the thoughts of people calling me a fat fuck in my brain when I want to order cheesy bread. I'm obviously weak and I don't have enough self love, and I've been brainwashed by the media and the entertainment industry.

What the hell? I mean, seriously. Shouldn't "Fat Acceptance" not be only about society accepting fat people as "normal," but also about Fat Love Folks accepting fellow fatties however they happen to be?

My friend Kate put this as her status on Facebook the other day and I asked if I could borrow it for my blog: "Self-loathing is not a fucking character-builder. It doesn’t make you stronger. It doesn’t make you better. It’s just an ever-deepening, creepy-ass trap; a trap that is a huge moneymaker for corporations that do not have and never will have good intentions. You’re not disgusting. You’re not freakish. You’re not ugly. And you’re never going to be perfect. And holy shit, that is so okay."

She told me that the true credit goes to the gal over at Casual Blasphemies. I immediately went over and checked her stuff out. You should go. She's a BRILLIANT writer, and she makes me laugh my ass off.

But I digress. Here's the thing. I like the quote, and I feel it and sorta get it and all that. But what qualifies as self loathing? And ... how can I really dig that quote and not agree with it at the same time? I mean, I don't know if I would say I'm "self loathing." I also wouldn't say that it's a "virtue." But I also think those people who act like they've got their shit together when they don't... are just FULL of shit. Isn't it a virtue to know you've got some work to do? And at what point does KNOWING you need to kick your ass into gear and being pissed, angry, sad or whatever you feel about it turn into self loathing? And wait. Why is that bad again?

I, for one, do not feel comfortable in my fatness. I hate my body most days. I cringe and yell at Dan when he touches my stomach, and I punch him when he tries to pick me up. (*note: After a recent comment, I suppose this could look bad. Take the words "yell" and "punch" and put them in a play wrestling scenario. Carry on.) I hate how full my face is. I refuse to wear a skirt above my knees. I can be feeling good about myself and my working out, and kinda sorta feeling thinner than usual... and then immediately be brought back to ground zero of desperation for losing weight if I hear ANY kind of comment about my being "heavy." I can eat veggie thin crust pizza with no cheese and immediately feel like a failure, and want to go work out for an hour. I can actually work out for two hours like I did today, and be mad at myself because I went home when I didn't fully feel exhausted. (I could have done more, pushed myself harder, CHEESE AND CRACKERS, I'm so lazy.) I wish to Zeus that I would wake up tomorrow weighing 150 pounds. If I could cut off a toe to be the right weight forever, I would probably do it. Actually, if I woke up underweight, that would even be okay with me. As long as it meant I didn't have to work my white dimply ass into another pair of size 16 jeans.

I LOVE how I feel when I'm at a healthier weight. Oops, sorry. I mean "lower" weight. I am not supposed to say "healthier" because fat does not equal unhealthy. Are they being serious when they say that? Umm, yes it usually does. I don't just have fat around my stomach and hips, thighs and chicken wing flab arms, but it's also around my heart and my liver. My body stresses carrying this much weight. Just because I've gotten used to it and I can run a little and do Zumba for an hour without falling over does NOT mean that I'm healthy.

SO, I'm sorry. I'm holding on to every bit of disgust I have for my body because it's my prerogative to. And if I don't, I won't find the motivation to get up every day and try to make the right choices for the body I want to have. If I fall into my own version of "Fat Acceptance," first of all, it'll be fake. (Didn't I have that three years ago when I got into this mess of chub?) Then, I'll sink slowly into the abyss of pizza, pasta, greasy takeout, donuts and an even greasier face, just because I "accept my fatness" or because I'm suddenly "big and beautiful."

I can't get mad at Subway for telling me to Eat Fresh instead of McFattify myself, or call Jenny Craig a bitch, or tell Weight Watchers to go watch something else because yes, it's STILL A DIET... because there are people who need these things to live healthier lives. People have achieved success with it. Yeah, maybe they paid money for it. But guess what? Some of us need help to achieve our goals. And some of us do have "weight loss" or "healthier body" or "no more diabetes" or "knees that don't fucking hurt every day" as a goal. Why are we not allowed to be pissed that we're fat? Why are we not allowed to do something about it?!

As far as I'm concerned... wait for it... it's OKAY to NOT LIKE BEING FAT.

I know that these bloggers talk a lot about how they drink Diet Soda, and they like salad too, and that they are active, and still fat. Okay, well... I'm sorry, but for 95% of fat folks out there, their fatness is not beyond their control, and that's just the way it is. It just does NOT make sense in my brain. And I'm willing to bet that if these fat folks woke up tomorrow and magically were size sixes, they would do the Sherman Klump / Buddy Love scream of "I'M THIN!!!!! I'M THIN!!!!!" and then would run to the store and ask for an array of ALL SPANDEX outfits to try on. Seriously.

/end rant



starfish264 said...

Ooooh - good post - thought provoking - I like it!!!

I, personally, am fat. Like you, my BMI is in the Obese category. I'm learning to love myself though, and to appreciate what a marvel the body is, and that it's inherantly part of me. And here I diverge from fat acceptance, because in loving myself, I want to give my body the chance to be the best it can - to let me do amazing things like running and climbing, and living to a ripe old age and fending off illness. And since I do not go in the face of proven science I know that that means getting my body fitter, and yes, healthier, and whisper it, lighter.

I'm with you, Jenn - loving myself doesn't mean I have to want to stay the same forever.

Hanlie said...

Very good post! I like the way you think...

It is important to love and value ourselves at any weight. We are marvelous, miraculous, unique beings and we deserve love and respect, not scorn and ridicule.

Yet, with love comes responsibility. We have to care for our bodies, feed it well and exercise it daily, no matter what size we are. We should not be putting crap in it! And that applies whether you're a size 6 or a size 26. Those are the requirements for health. I didn't make the rules and I may not like them, but they sure as hell apply to me. And you. And everybody else.

Remarkably, those requirements of health will also return the body to its ideal healthy weight, whether you're fat or too thin.

Being fat is not healthy. It predisposes us to many degenerative diseases and affects our longevity quite drastically.

But being thin and inactive, while eating processed and unhealthy food, is just as dangerous. The only difference is that nobody calls you names!

You know me... I'm against diets in principle. We have to learn to eat foods that nourish our body, avoid the crap and exercise. For the rest of our lives. Not to reach and maintain our weight, but to be healthy.

Krissy said...

Fantstic post! I have been thin and I've been fat (and currently am) and quite frankly, I am much more happy thinner, so I'm doing all the right things in order to get back into a healthy category. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be at a "lower" weight.

Mike Zume said...

It's Mike Zume and your words made me slowdown and think. Thank you.

There are a whole bunch of things running through my head but the one thing that pops up is, starting. You were brave enough to start a photography business, brave enough to blog about "you" and brave enough to go were no "woman" dares to go - within.

Don't give up, I think it's OK - to doubt and feel like, at the moment, nothing is working. But don't QUIT. I say this almost every post but start really, really small and do some exercise everyday or at least six days a week. And please throw away your scale just walk everyday for one year and see what happens. Trust me, it works, those jeans will start to loosen up and friends will notice but please, please start small so you can show up everyday.

What I had to do was give myself a break, I eat mostly everything I want and I walk. Forget diets - they don't work!

I think that sometimes, it's alright to be mad at myself when I'm not getting where I want to go but a day or two later, I bounce back. Don't forget you're brave, you'll bounce back but give yourself a break and go for a small walk on the treadmill everyday and don't measure - LIVE. Let it happen slowly, gradually and naturally over time, as is intended by nature. "IT" is weight loss and body confidence.

I BELIEVE! I BELIEVE! I BELIEVE! Please join me in believing, it will take a few years but you'll fell awesome along the way. Wow, I sound like a southern percher. Scary - brings back childhood memories of sitting in a hot church listening to the serman, day dreaming about being outside doing something other than sweating and believing.

"Beauty resides in many places some of them hard to see especially by the individual who is looking so intently." Quote - by me.

MikeZ_I'm rooting for you. I lost 30 pounds walking in 17 1/2 months and some days, I feel like I've gone no where when I look in the mirror. That's just me, then I go for a good long walk.

PS - Sorry for the return semi-rant and I didn't proof it, I just wrote.

Rob Sanchez said...

Here's what it comes down to for me: What do you (or anyone else) WANT to be?

It's not my business to tell somebody that they should want to be thin or that they should be okay with being fat. It needs to be the decision of the person in question, and everybody else should rally to that person's cause BECAUSE IT'S THEIR DECISION.

Again, the question for all of them should be, "What do YOU want to be?"

If they want to be okay with being fat, we should stand up and applaud them for being happy with themselves.

And if they are fat but don't want to be, and are taking steps to change that, we should stand up and applaud them for making themselves into who they want to be.

No size is right for everyone, but there is a right size for everyone. Does that even make any sense? Probably not, but it does to me. Whatever you decide is the right size for yourself, that's the size I want to encourage you to be.

Jennifer Newman said...

I have so much to say about this post but at the moment I can't quite form a sentence. Ummm. I agree! but there is more to it than simply agreeing! I am going to mull over this post and possibly post something on my blog - may I link this post?

You know I love reading your blog and I feel as though I know you! You are currently hot (even if you are "fat") but hey so am I - it just took me a long time to realize it!

I luv ya girl! Keep posting what is on your mind! I love the way you think!

~Kristen~ said...

Another Great Post!!!

Between being obese myself and a nursing student I have reviewed my own mind and well being many times. I think that the "fat acceptance" people who do reverse discrimination are just looking for an excuse to make themselves feel better. Trying to be the best person you can be is not in any way a form of loathing. Loathing is what you do if you totally feel horrible about yourself, talk badly about yourself, and see no light at the end of the tunnel. That's not what those of us who are trying to maintain a better life style are doing. Everyone has moments of self doubt, and that's ok, but when you come out of it it usually makes yourself stronger.

Way to go Jenn. Cause you put it all in perspective!!!! Thanks for sharing!!!!!!!!!

Dilligaf said...

I like your post - I like your writing - I like your perspective.

I, too, am fat. I don't want to be fat. I don't like my fat body. I am perpetually working on being less fat (I have abandoned the goal of being skinny). I wouldn't go so far as to say I have self-loathing; loathe is so extreme. I'm a lot closer to self-lovingly-admonishing.

To me - the idea of accepting being fat is like accepting a big glob of mayonnaise on your chin. I don't believe anybody would encourage another to "accept yourself as you are with that glob of mayo." They would say - "Dude (or dudette), you have a glob of something on your chin. Here's a napkin." There is no judgment of the mayo-adorned person - and there shouldn't be judgment of the person who has consumed 175000 extra calories (figuring 3500 calories per pound of fat and 50 lbs overweight - like me).

So - thank you for standing up for those of us who don't want to accept our current condition. I will continue to wrestle my weight down, and if you see me you can say something encouraging like "Dude - you have something on your abdomen. Here's a carrot."

Abrunz said...

it IS a form of strength to know what you need to work on. It is a part of courage to face it, and to work on it. There is no weakness but quitting.

Another Jennifer said...

I've grappled with this myself, so I feel ya.

I think that for many people fat acceptance is a necessary step on a journey. You have to stop the insanity of media-driven expectations and accept yourself as is, where is for awhile, so you can get off the deprivation/indulgence merry-go-round and focus on food and exercise in a rational, *truly* healthy way.

No offense, but "I hate my body most days. I cringe and yell at Dan when he touches my stomach, and I punch him when he tries to pick me up" sounds like a pretty good description of self-loathing to me (it also sounds like it's affecting your relationship???)

I have weighed more than you do, and I don't weigh a great deal less even now. So I feel like I can say with empathy, it's not your body holding you back from living in peace with yourself. It's your brain. The beauty part is, you can change that without cutting a single calorie or doing a single crunch. Give yourself permission.

There's nothing wrong with having goals for your body. I do too. My joints are happier when I weigh less. But to feel you have to motivate yourself toward those goals with such a level of dissatisfaction with your curent self ... that's just sad.

Jenn said...

@Another Jennifer - Thanks for your comments. :)

I just wanted to say that it's not affecting my relationship - Dan tries to pick me up because he knows I don't like it. My Mom doesn't like that and she's 135 pounds. :) Those two things are two very, very small pieces of our relationship, but thanks for your concern.

I don't feel I have to motivate myself with a level of disgust for my body. It's the opposite. I'm unhappy with my body, therefore I am motivated.

I still don't see why that's a bad thing. If I was perfectly okay with myself the way I am, I wouldn't be motivated to change, would I?

I don't have media driven expectations. If you follow my blog, you would see that I really push for people to not pay attention to magazines - I'm a photographer, so I know all of the tricks they use. And I know how unhealthy girls are when they are size 00. I know how I USED to be, and that was a size 6/8. I'd be happy to get into a 10 and be able to run a 5K. :)

Peace is something that not many people find. Skinny, or not. I live a very happy and fulfilled life most of the time. I just dislike the fact that people still think it's a bad thing for a fat person to not want to be fat. I'm allowed to hate my fat. Seriously. Let me have it. I'm not about to jump off of a bridge or take a bottle of sleeping pills, or drink myself into oblivion. I'm going to the gym. It's not a bad thing. :)


nancy said...

Hey Jenny,

I now weigh 145 thanks to you and Daniel encouraging me to eat healthier. Last night I had salmon for dinner, something I never would have done before, due to the high fat level, until you and Daniel talked to me about eating a healthy BALANCE of food. I don't feel overweight, just out of shape as I felt when I was 135 pounds! But, I feel good about not denying myself dairy products, healthy fats, nuts, whole breads.


We should loathe anything that brings destruction to ourselves: mentally, emotionally, spiritually, PHYSICALLY. It is a good thing to protect and care for all the wonderfull things that make up a human being.

Self-loathing is when we do the opposite and do NOT care for ourselves and do not want the best for ourselves and others. The best being defined as a HEALTHY BALANCE in our choices that do not bring harm to ourselves.

Thanks for the touching blog.

I love you!!!!!!


Anonymous said...

I feel that overweight and obese people are demonized in this culture, and I think it's ugly. I don't believe it's about health for a second-just looks. I also think that diets don't work, and women, especially, are designed not to lose fat very easily (no Mike, just walking probably won't do it for us). That being said, it is possible to lose weight without starving yourself and spending 6 hours a day in the gym. But one does have to learn to eat less and healthier food, and exercise regularly, at least at a moderate level. I don't count calories, but I figured out this intuitive eating crapola, and I've been slowly losing. I've been as heavy as BMI = 36, now I am at BMI = 27. And no, I did not "just put down the cheeseburger and walk around the block". I think the FA people have a point, but they're taking it to an extreme. I can't eat everything I feel like eating until I'm stuffed, but I don't deprive myself of anything if I really want it. True, I had to get away from a simple carb based diet and increase fruit/veggie and whole grain/bean consumption, and I'm usually at the gym at LEAST an hour a day. And I will have to do this the rest of my life. I can still go out with friends for pizza and beer, just not very often.

BTW, you can be overweight and healthy at 20, but it takes its toll as the body ages. I think there's a lot of denial in the FA movement, but I'm certainly not going to judge them on it. Weight loss is complicated (not as simple as many like to think), and you REALLY have to want it to do it.

Lori said...

Amen! I, too, have been looking through the FA blogs lately and I think it's a bunch of crap. As you say, if they could magically be transformed into thin people, they would all jump at the chance! They just don't want to do the work it would take to get there on their own. If they would just admit that, I'd have a lot more respect for them. It's honest and understandable- as opposed to all this "fat is beautiful" nonsense. No, it isn't beautiful. I do NOT think fat people (of which I am one) should be treated unfairly or discriminated against, but it's not a good way to live- and they're kidding themselves when they say it is. Most of those FA bloggers are relatively young; I'll bet they'll be singing a different tune 20 years down the line when their joints are shot to hell and they've got some obesity-related disease. Great, great post!

rach said...

Just found your blog today and I agree ABSOLUTELY with this post. At 16 I weighed about 175 lbs. I'm 5'3". I was not healthy, and I was not happy. I'm now 23, and 135 lbs. I'm not a skinny thing but I'm one heck of a lot healthier and happier.

For me, there was no fat acceptance. It is a very damaging statement to claim excess fat is healthy. Perhaps I'm overly influenced by having a doctor for a father. I'm all for loving yourself, but that involves some tough love, sometimes.

Really like your writing. Keep on keeping on :)

Roxanne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Roxanne said...

I think you're really're a great writer, and a great photographer. I can tell from your portraits that you must have a great personality as your subjects open up to you and their emotions translate to the pictures.

I just wonder what happened to you that 4 or 5 years ago that divides your lowest weight from your current weight. Was it a guy problem, a job/money problem, or did you gain 5 pounds and just feel so guilty that you ate uncontrollably? What happened that made you devalue yourself and lose connection with your spirit? You can email me at

Kristen said...

I know this is an old post but I just found your blog through blog of note and this post caught my eye. Now I'm not fat person but I could still relate to this because I think everyone deals with an aspect of themselves that they really don't like. I believe it's never self-loathing when you are trying to better yourself. No, none of us are ever going to perfect but why can't we take the opportunity to say "hey, I don't really like this part of myself or how I handle these kind of situations and I'm going to set goals so I won't do this anymore".

Good luck with your goals, I'm rooting for you : )

bella said...

hear hear!!

I'm fat!! And I'm not gonna take it anymore!


Christy said...

As long as a person, whether fat or thin, *truly* accepts herself for who she is (and as long as she doesn't slam and insult those who are different from her) whatever that person wants to do about weight is o-ok with me.

At a certain point, getting too fat (or too skinny) starts to become dangerous to health and well-being. I've known some people who lose a ton of weight, but beat themselves up for years about those last five or ten pounds.

We tend to lose sight of ourselves as we truly are over time. Our body image can become so totally distorted that we think we're fat when we're actually not, OR we think that that we're "just plump" when we're morbidly obese.

Far too many people who get enraged about another person's weight do so because of some hangup (read outright hatred) about their own bodies. Many "fat pride" people I've read would fall into that category, but so would people like my grandmother, who was bulimic till the day she died and rode my sister all over her childhood for being fat ... when she really WAS just "plump."

By doing violence in this area to others, we are doing violence to ourselves.

Ruth said...

So this is a year later and I just 'uponned' your 'fat blog' post. Yes, I have been reading 'fat acceptance blogs' recently and agree that fat is not healthy and I too like myself so much better thin (its true, so shoot me) and thank you for writing this. --it is a horrible delusion to think that Americans are not getting fatter, working in health-care I see it and see people literally dying from their weight, being disabled by their weight and passing their weight (and the side-effects of said weight) on to future generations. Weight is not just a physical encumbrance, but often, a psychological one as well. Again, thanks.

Flavia said...

Here here! The Fat Acceptence movement, in their zeal to paint fatness as acceptable, maligns the rest of us who DO NOT want to be fat, or even chubby. I am 126 and 5'4 and I am currently working on bring it down below 120. Doesn't make me a bad person to like my body and want to improve it.

Vanessa [theteensytinyinsignificantdetails] said...

I tripped over this looking for another blog (a few years later...) and I'm really glad I did! You have said exactly what I think. It's rare that you find weight loss bloggers who own the fact that they don't feel comfortable in their own skin when they are fat, and who own the fact that they love how they feel when they lose weight. Slimkatie over at wrote a list of the things she loves about being thinner, and I was overjoyed to see it. I'm sick of being judged for wanting to lose weight, and for being judged by people who are bigger than me who think I don't have any weight to lose (actually, I could lose 15kg and still be in the healthy weight range) and therefore have no right to not feel what they feel.

And I REALLY hate it when a magazine calls a woman who is clinically obese "curvy", and in doing so, normalising what is, at least 75% of the time, an unhealthy thing!!! People who truly love themselves should be feeding and exercising their bodies as if they respect them, and there is a BIG difference between loving yourself and loving your body. BIG difference. It is DEFINITELY okay to not want to be fat.