Being into feederism is a totally different issue from being into Fat Acceptance.

Being a feeder/gainer is NOT Fat Acceptance.

It is just as opposed to Fat Acceptance as dieting is. It hasn’t got the same social power behind it as dieting does, but it is still a state of not accepting your body as it is.

Needing to gain weight because otherwise you are going to DIE, frankly, I think there is more compelling evidence that suggests having weight related goals in that case is the rule rather than the exception. Because being fat is not going to kill you – malnutrition? ABSOLUTELY 100% of the time going to KILL YOU.

Gaining weight so as not to die is way more in line with the fundamental principles of Fat Acceptance than purposefully seeking to lose weight. This is where the intentions really DO matter – the person who uses weight gain as a goal is trying to be kind to their body and not starve it. The person who uses weight loss as a goal is conflating heath with weight loss.

There may very well be situations other than that in which people are trying to gain weight – I just can’t think of any off the top of my head. Because, again, dieting is the default state for women in our culture.


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26 Comments

  1. Posted September 8, 2007 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

    Yeah, a lot of people do seem to think that “fat acceptance” = “fat promotion,” and I think it’s important to clarify that — though I imagine most people in the movement are on the same page there. I’ve definitely seen commenters saying BS like “how come you want everybody to be fat,” and naturally that’s not at ALL the point, nor is rejecting weight loss the same as promoting weight gain. As Kate pointed out, if we wanted to make people gain weight, we’d tell them to diet — it’s a proven method.

  2. KarenElhyam
    Posted September 8, 2007 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

    I think most of the kerfluffle with all of this is the problem people have with being excluded. In other words, all of these fat acceptance/activist and so on blogs give people a place to finally feel like they aren’t ugly, horrible, alien people. That’s wonderful, and 98% of why I visit these sites daily.

    At the same time, in order to actively move to a place where people can feel happy and themselves regardless of how fat or thin they are, how attractive, sexy or otherwise, sacrifices HAVE to be made.

    Of course, if all we want is to have the status quo accept us, we need to just lose weight and diet. We will be doing what Hollywood, BigPharm, and Wal-Mart wants us to do, as well as all the fat-o-phobes out there. We will have to surrender our titles as “freedom fighters,” I feel.

    However, not everyone wants to be a freedom fighter. Many people just want to feel accepted somewhere. I believe saying that “dieting means you aren’t an activist” is akin to some to saying “We don’t want you, you fucking failure, How dare you give in!?!”

    That shouldnt’ be the message, but at the same time, we can’t cave. We can’t say “Well, it makes some people sad to know that we don’t approve of their dieting as a furthering of our cause…let’s stop!”

    People WILL get sad if you express disapproval, especially in a community where they previously felt welcomed. But that shouldn’t stop you from saying what you feel needs to be said. Dieting is NOT accepting fat. Dieting doesn’t make you a terrible person, but being a DietER means you are dietING and you are saying that your fat is bad. That’s expressing disapproval of your body type, and it makes ME sad. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop listening to you, or feeling that you are a valuable person.

    I don’t agree with you, but I accept your right to do what makes you happy. However, weight loss doesn’t equal worth as a human, and that’s why I believe in fat activism.

  3. Kristen
    Posted September 8, 2007 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

    weight loss doesn’t equal worth as a human, and that’s why I believe in fat activism.

    Hey, me too!

    But tell me. What would you do if you got up every day and felt unremitting pain in your feet and knees because of the amount of weight you were carrying? Because that is the very non-theoretical, non-hypothetical situation I face. So if I decide that the most loving thing I can do with my fat body is to reduce its size to reduce the pain, am I suddenly not a fat activist any more? Am I suddenly not accepting my fat body? Am I required to live in pain in order to prove that I accept my fat body?

  4. Posted September 8, 2007 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

    Kristen, do you know for 100% certain that the pain is from your weight? I’m not trying to invalidate your pain, far from it. I’ve been dealing with fibromyalgia for most of my life. I did at one point go from a size 22 to a size 16 (it was an unintentional side effect from some treatment i was doing at the time) and the pain didn’t go away.

    It’s possible that your pain might be lessened if you were a smaller size – but it’s also entirely possible that the pain just doesn’t care.

    Either way, you certainly have my sympathies. Chronic pain is no joke, and can be a huge impediment to a great many things.

  5. KarenElhyam
    Posted September 8, 2007 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

    I don’t understand why that is something that is difficult to make clear.

    Losing weight because it is certifiably the cause of your unhealth is not contrary to fat acceptance. At least not the way I see it.

    However, losing weight because it’ll “make you happier/better/more attractive/I’ll be ‘healthier’ cause that’s what the TV and media tells me,” is not being accepting of your body.

    If you hate yourself because you’re in pain? If your fat makes you feel like a worthless human being? That’s the reason fat activism is needed. Too many people feel that way. If, however, you realize that this is something that is perhaps, perhaps fixable, you should certainly do so.

    However, dieting is not a guaranteed way to bring about healthfulness. You might get the weight off your bones, but you’ll be putting yourself through other unhealthy actions to do so. So it just seems no-win. : (

    Either way, Kristen, you do have my sympathies.

  6. KarenElhyam
    Posted September 8, 2007 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

    And also? Being an activist? That’s not the only way to support the cause.

    I’m reminded of Malcolm X, when he says in his autobiography how he would have to turn away white people from his activist groups.

    The reason for that was simple; they were the privileged class regardless of their intentions. In order to strengthen the cause of black people, whites simply couldnbn’t be allowed, they were only going to become a crutch. Now, I’m not saying fat activism is the same as the fight for Civil Rights, nor that Malcolm X is a perfect role model. But the situations are not dissimilar, and I believe the analogy is sound.

    Dieters, to me, are similar. You can’t be on my side (the side that says dieting is antithetical to HAES and just truth and beauty and happiness in general) and also diet because of a, b or c reason. Regardless of the reason.

    You can still be accepting of fat, but you can’t be an activist. They might both start with A, but they are different words.

  7. KarenElhyam
    Posted September 8, 2007 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

    Oh, and also, and then I swear I’m done hijacking the thread, but weight loss doesn’t necessarily mean dieting. At least, not from my perspective.

    Restricting food, and working out and just focusing all your actions on the end goal of weight loss? That’s dieting.

    Bringing your body to a place of true healthfulness? That’s not dieting. So if true healthfulness really does include a smaller size, then to me? It’s not really dieting, at least not the way society sees it. I just don’t believe most people do it to really achieve “true” healthfulness. They do it to feel like good, proper people doing what society tells them they must do to be acceptable.

    Dieting can, in fact, ruin lives. So can chronic pain. It’s all about perspective.

  8. Kristen
    Posted September 8, 2007 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

    Yes, I am 100% sure that my pain is from weight gain. (she says, through gritted teeth)

    At 300 lbs, my feet and knees didn’t hurt every time I walked. Now, at about 340lbs, they do.

    I agree with your specifics about what looks like fat acceptance to you and what doesn’t, Karen. So I am increasing my exercise by building a 2 mile walk through the city where I work into my commute. I am choosing this rather than trying to convince myself to do a mind-numbingly boring “workout” at a gym.

    And as I wrote elsenet, even if I personally want to reduce the number of pounds my joints have to carry specifically in order to reduce the pain I feel, that DOES NOT mean that I want to see diet-talk everywhere I go. So I would love to see fatshionista, Big Fat Blog and other fat-positive discussion groups maintain their zero-tolerance policy for diet-talk. Just loving and affirming curves and rolls and bellies is all 100% good life for we fat folk.

  9. Posted September 9, 2007 at 5:01 am | Permalink

    Kristen, I was having that kind of foot pain too. I immediately thought the same thing that was told to me my whole life – oh no, my stupid fat is making me hurt. And then I had my personal trainer at the gym point out that I needed shoes that had proper support and fit well, and it dawned on me that even skinny trainers who’ve probably never heard of HAES can realise that your problems are not necessarily caused by weight, so *I* could at least spare myself the angst.

    Turns out I needed a lot more arch support and heel cradling than I thought, and a trip to a shoe store run by actual athletes (who were a lot friendler than I’d assumed) landed me some great shoes (and they were a bargain too). Result: foot pain gone and a new spring in my step. Good shoes good. Custom orthotics, if you can afford them, good. Even the gel cushion ones from the drugstore are reasonable at giving you some extra shock absorbency and support.

  10. Kristen
    Posted September 9, 2007 at 5:24 am | Permalink

    SIGH

    I have custom-made orthotics, created to provide proper support for my feet. I got them by working with a physical therapist who observed my gait and measured my feet.

    You know, it doesn’t feel any better when fat activists refuse to believe me when I talk about my own body than when doctors do it.

  11. Posted September 9, 2007 at 8:05 am | Permalink

    (Note: I’m not trying to be combative here; I’m genuinely confused.)

    Okay, but Kristen, you say you’re in FAVOR of a zero-tolerance policy for diet talk, but you keep saying, “No, I need to diet, no I really do.”

    Maybe you really do; of course you know your body better than anyone else, let alone strangers on the internet. There are exceptions to every rule. But the fact that you might really be healthier if you lost some weight does not change the fact that for the vast, vast majority of fat people, losing weight will have no discernible effect on their health (though changes that can lead to incidental, usually temporary, weight loss might).

    It also doesn’t change the fact that for the vast, vast majority of people, fat or thin, deliberate weight loss is not permanent. So when people say, “Oh, have you tried this? Have you tried that?” wrt your chronic pain, the subtext is not, “WE MUST KEEP KRISTEN FAT!” It’s, “Realistically, even if Kristen loses 40 lbs., she’ll almost certainly gain it back, so is there any OTHER suggestion I could give that might help her in the long term?”

    I totally understand your frustration if you feel like you’ve heard and tried it all, and you’re still in pain, but that doesn’t mean people think you’re lying about your body; it’s just that we think weight loss is not likely to give you long-term relief.

    Having said that, chronic pain BLOWS, and if losing 40 lbs. and keeping it off for a year or two would give you a year or two of no pain? Go nuts. That’s a totally understandable choice, and no one would fault you for making it. What they would fault you for is hanging out in fat-positive communities and talking about how you’re on a diet for your health, and being thinner has made you SO MUCH happier, and no one should ever say anything negative about dieting because of it!

    You don’t seem to want that scenario any more than the rest of us do, which is why I’m confused. That’s all we’re really talking about here. If you and I were working on some fat acceptance project together, and you mentioned that you were dieting to take some pressure off your feet for as long as it lasts, I’d say hey, I get it, and we could get back to work. The only problem I’d have is if you wanted to talk about how the choice to diet needs to be officially acknowledged and validated, as a general rule, within the concept of the fat acceptance movement. I’m still not down with that, because, as a general rule — not in the case of very occasional exceptions — dieting is both harmful and antithetical to fat acceptance.

    Does that make sense?

  12. Posted September 9, 2007 at 8:07 am | Permalink

    In the second to last paragraph, concept = context. Although one could argue that it is more of a concept right now.

  13. Kristen
    Posted September 9, 2007 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    I agree with everything you’ve written, Kate. Which makes me happy as a clam, because I usually love what you write.

    But I’m having a hard time seeing how “NO PRO-DIET TALK HERE” (which is a good thing, IMO) equates to “if you are intentionally losing weight then you are no longer on Team Fat.”

    I am absolutely not arguing for my right to come into this forum or any other and say “ZMG!! I lost 40 lbs and my life is so much better you people just have to have to try dieting! Being fat suxxor! Lose weight now, ask me how!”

    Ahem.

    I am talking about my own body here just to ground this discussion of EXCLUSION in the life and body of a real person. I want to love my fat body and love my life. I want to do that in the best way I know how.

    I’ve heard so much in FA circles about not wanting to create purity tests for who is in and who is out. We don’t ever say “you’re not fat” to someone who self-identifies as fat.

    But now I’m hearing and reading what amounts to the message that I’m TOO FAT and TOO SICK for this movement. Because my lived experience in this fat body prompts me to make decisions grounded in love of my body that include weight loss.

    And that doesn’t make any kind of sense. And by the way, I’m not arguing for my right to talk about diets here. I’m arguing here with those who are telling me that I am not a fat accepting activist because I am pursuing weight loss.

    What if we could agree that fat people need and want to talk about what we eat and how we move our bodies AND that fat people need spaces where we never talk about food and exercise? What if we could agree that our lived experiences in our fat bodies gives us the grounding to say FUCK YOU to the diet industry and bariatric surgeons while at the same time making loving decisions about our own food?

  14. admin
    Posted September 9, 2007 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    Kristen, the only one, time and again, who has said you are too fat for the movement… is YOU. YOU are the only one who has claimed that you are too sick for the movement.

  15. Kristen
    Posted September 9, 2007 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    Well, admin, I have to disagree with you. You may not hear that in what others are saying, but I do.

    If naming a problem means that I am the source of the problem? That’s kinda twisted.

  16. admin
    Posted September 9, 2007 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    Kristen, point out to me where any person in this comments has said you are too fat or too sick for the movement. Do it and I will gladly apologize and we will move on from there.

    Show me, just one comment.

  17. Kristen
    Posted September 9, 2007 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    But I don’t want to be looking for ways to disagree; I want to be looking for ways to agree. Is there a way in which we can work together as fat activists even if we don’t agree about this? Is there a way that we can acknowledge our differences and honor one another?

    For me, that would mean that we acknowledge that we are fellow fighters for human rights for fat folks even though we each reject some of the other’s opinions. It would mean that we resist the temptation to make categorical, generalized statements of what is and what is not “fat acceptance” or “fat activism.” It would mean that we ground all of our work in the lived experiences of real, live fat people.

  18. Kristen
    Posted September 9, 2007 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    I will show you mine, admin, if you show me yours. (It kinda bugs me to be addressed by my name when I don’t know yours. But such is the interwebs.)

    Seriously. You said that I have written “time and again” that I am too fat for the movement. The truth is that I never wrote that I am too fat for the movement. I wrote, one time, in this thread, that when I read:

    “losing weight means you are not a fat acceptance activist”

    then when I sit here in a body that is in pain and feels broken because I am carrying too much fat, and when I want to move and eat and live in love and care for my fat body, and that might include weight loss, then I am no longer a part of your movement. If I were carrying less weight on my joints, I wouldn’t feel like I needed to lose weight and hey! I could still be a part of your movement.

    That’s how I get there. In the heart of what you’ve been saying about a line in the sand for fat activism.

  19. Peanuts
    Posted September 11, 2007 at 8:12 am | Permalink

    Some people might be trying to help Kristen by considering other possible causes or treatments for painful knees/feet but it is certainly coming over as denying the validity of Kristen’s experience.

    Whilst there are many effects on health that fat does NOT have on the body, is really so difficult to appreciate that being heavier puts a strain on the lower weight-bearing joints, and as someone gains weight there comes a point where the joints simply can’t cope with the weight?

    I too have problems, not with my feet, but my knees, and before you ask me whether I’m 100% sure that it really is weight that is the problem, then yes, it is. Not only do the knee problems correlate perfectly with the weight, but I KNOW that weight loss would help (if such a thing were possible, which it probably isn’t). I have trouble going up and downstairs, my knees are pain, and when I take some of my weight off my knees by using my hands to lean on the stair rails, my knees don’t hurt any more.

    Why does everyone want to see things as black and white, no shades of grey? Just because an awful lot of health problems are nothing to do with weight, doesn’t mean that there aren’t a small number of health problems which are caused by weight and alleviated by weight loss. The fat acceptance movement doesn’t do itself any favours by pretending such situations don’t exist.

  20. Qit el-Remel
    Posted September 11, 2007 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

    A former co-worker of mine is six and a half feet tall and rather solidly built. He injured his leg on the job last year. Not long ago, I was chatting with his wife…and she confirmed that he’s still limping.

    My ex-fiancé, who’s 6’2″ and around 230# (he’s got a bit of a belly, but is generally muscular) has had some painful and nasty complications from stubbing his toe, for cripes’ sake.

    In other words: It’s not *just* a fat issue. Being at all larger than average can cause leg problems.

    It’s just that no one (except yours-truly :D ) is talking about the correlation between leg problems and being *tall.*

  21. Qit el-Remel
    Posted September 11, 2007 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

    I said “cause leg problems.” I think I meant “exacerbate them.”

  22. romham
    Posted January 19, 2009 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    TR, you said “Being a feeder/gainer is NOT Fat Acceptance. It is just as opposed to Fat Acceptance as dieting is. It hasn’t got the same social power behind it as dieting does, but it is still a state of not accepting your body as it is.”

    i take issue with this, as a proud, self-loving fatty and as a gainer. You may have an entirely different experience of the term “gainer” than i do in the queer world, where bears roam happily (though existing in that space within queer communities is certainly not without its bullshit). Being someone who is a fatty and has been happy being fatter is absolutely not “just as opposed to FA as dieting is”. There is a community of queer men (and queer transfolk, queer transbears like myself) who have spent a hella long time creating space for ourselves to exist. A part of that community is those folks who are already fat and want to be a little (or a lot) fatter, or who have been fatter and for whatever reason lost some of it and, despite the fucked up commentary about “wow youre looking better! youve lost weight right?”, would like to get it back). People who express any desire whatsoever to be bigger than they already are are met with so much derision and disgust…why would someone CHOOSE to be fatter?? It’s apparently one thing if you’re “afflicted” with teh Fat, but *choose* it? Woah. Psycho.
    i’d respectfully suggest some more understanding/research about the different meanings and motivations behind *more varied realities* for gainers before passing judgement.

  23. Meems
    Posted July 15, 2009 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

    @romham: I must respectfully disagree with you. Attempting to lose or gain weight away from where your body naturally wants to settle is potentially harmful. Period. This is not a judgment on communities, queer or not, that have struggled to be accepted as fat. The idea of fat acceptance is that you accept yourself as you are.

    Personally, I fully believe that people have a set range in which their weight generally settles. This may change somewhat depending on eating habits, exercise, etc., but no matter how hard I try, I’ll never (personally) maintain a weight below 150 lbs. or above 175 lbs.

  24. romham
    Posted August 3, 2009 at 9:24 pm | Permalink

    why was my comment in reply to Meems erased? There was nothing problematic, nothing assy, nothing even cheeky. What gives?

  25. TR
    Posted August 3, 2009 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

    I had an enormous backlog of spam and I didn’t sort each piece individually. It’s possible you got caught in that.

  26. romham
    Posted August 4, 2009 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

    hm. but it appeared here for a littel while. itd be great if you put it back up, but i get it if you cant.
    i should probably drop this anyways.

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