A series of things.

By | December 9, 2010

The outrageous:

Amanda Hess has a short piece up on the media’s never-ending fixation with Elizabeth Edwards’ weight, even in her obituary.

Edwards’ passing provided the Washington Post with a rare opportunity to remind readers of its obsession with her body weight, and what it all means. Four paragraphs into the Post’s Edwards obit, the paper describes her as having possessed a “real-woman figure” and “serious intellect” (in that order).

I have so many feelings about this but I continue to lack the ability to write them into the epic shrieking rant they deserve. It seems there is nothing that a woman can accomplish which will be enough to eclipse her weight.

(Hat tip to Sarah for bringing this piece to my attention!)

The confounding:

On Alternet yesterday, A lady named Greta Christina talks about being Fat 4 Lyfe:

I sometimes feel like the thinnest fat woman in the world. (Well, probably not the thinnest… but you know what I mean.) Some people say that, inside every fat person, there’s a thin person trying to get out. I feel the exact opposite. Inside this relatively lean body, there’s a fat person nobody can see. People think they can stupid, bigoted, hurtful things about fat people to me, because they don’t see me as one of them. They couldn’t be more wrong. I am fat. Not in a body-dysmorphic way — I don’t look in the mirror and think I’m still fat — but because this fat identity shaped me for years, and it will always be with me.

Christina used to be fat, and was an “ardent” member of the fat acceptance movement, she says. Christina has since lost weight and credits FA with her ongoing self-acceptance, but she also feels rejected by FA. And there is anger! Christina describes some fat-acceptance ideologies I am not familiar with. For one, she states that FA uniformly insists there is never any connection between weight and health. The prevailing FA argument I know is that weight does not necessarily cause health problems all the time, and its impact is dependent on the individual. In other words, some fat folks have health issues caused or aggravated by their size; some do not.

Christina also asserts that FA advocates believe all weight loss is always damaging and bad. I think most of us agree that the industry that sells weight loss is always damaging and bad, and I think most of us agree that weight loss can be damaging and bad for many individuals, depending on circumstances. But all the time? No. When it comes to the complexity of human bodies, pretty much nothing is true all the time for everyone. Christina goes on to state that she was dismissed and abused for noting that her weight was contributing to a mobility issue. Frankly, this makes me wonder if she wasn’t actually hanging out with FA folks, but with run-of-the-mill assholes.

Simply put: fat acceptance/activism/whatevs is a movement of criticism and questions, not authority and groupthink. Its purpose ought to be noisy inquiry into what our culture tells us about bodies, ours and other people’s. Its purpose is not to replace one set of monolithic rules with another.

Christina finally argues that FA should be “supportive” of people who diet. Sillypants! As many folks have observed in many places over many years: the whole world is supportive of people who diet. FA should not overtly condemn or attack people who diet, but dieters should be cool with just not bringing that up in FA circles, which, again, are meant to question the culture that supports dieting.

(Hat tip to Regina for the email alert!)

The unsurprising:

Michael Gard writes about Australia’s increasing life expectancy and declining incidence of heart disease and stroke. Way to go, Australia! Good news, right?

Actually, this is good news for everyone except for a group of health experts who have spent the last decade telling Australians what a fat and unhealthy lot we are.

The obesity lobby has good reason to be worried. The avalanche of chronic disease and sharp decline in life expectancy that they predicted have not materialised.


People who study body weight know that, in reality, the concept of ‘ideal weight’ is at best purely theoretical. Nobody actually knows what a person’s real ideal weight is and being a little above your theoretical ideal is not actually very significant for your health.

In fact, being technically overweight is no better a predictor of life expectancy than your height or hair colour and a steady stream of recent research articles shows that overweight people have the same health prospects as so-called ‘normal weight’ people.

So this is part of the explanation why we are getting heavier and healthier; most of the hundreds of thousands of Australians who technically fall into the overweight category are perfectly healthy.

Because I have nothing to add that isn’t already covered by the above, I’ll admit that when I read articles from Australian sources, I give them accents in my head. I do this with UK ones too.

The really, really unsurprising:

The Daily Fail is fail-y!

…I fail to buy into the myth that girls today feel pressured into being thin.

Monica Grenfell’s thin friends feel “marginalised” by an alleged pressure to be fat. We should send them flowers.

(Hat tip to BuffPuff for the giggle.)

The semi-coherent:

There is a new Fatcast. We were supposed to have a tight conversation about closet organization. I’m not sure what went wrong.


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