When Skepchick on occasion tackles size acceptance and health at every size (HAES), they usually do a good job. However, the latest of this sort of post doesn’t quite make it, in my opinion. The writer, guest blogger Shaunta Grimes, after praising Health at Every Size (HAES), talks about her self-created “anti-diet”. Alarm bells are ringing in my head at this point; it sounds like Richard Simmons’ “live-it”. And sure enough, it involves calorie counting, although in this case she is making sure she is getting enough intake. In the post, she brags about how she has so much energy. And I think that’s fantastic for her, and I understand that she’s dealing with a history of disordered eating, and I know that everyone is on his/her own journey toward self acceptance and self love, and this is a step on her journey. And I suppose it’s a HAES approach in that she’s not weighing herself, and I’m sure I missed some other good things about it, but calorie counting just doesn’t seem HAES-y to me.
I’m a fat guy but not supersized*. The same is true of movie director and podcaster Kevin Smith. On Valentine’s Day a few years ago, Smith was booted off a Southwest Airlines flight because it was full and he hadn’t reserved a second seat. Kevin cried foul, but despite his efforts, Southwest won that media battle. Even so, it (and other negative attention they got for being mean to passengers) might have gotten them to think about how they treat people, because a couple years after that incident they updated their fat passenger policy so that people who need two seats are encouraged to buy the second while reserving their flight, but if they don’t do so and still need an extra seat when they check in, they will get it for free. And based on reports from fatties in the field, including this one, Southwest really has gotten better.
I’m 6’0″, 260 pounds, and fit into a single airplane seat, so none of this should matter to me (except as it affects those I care about). But Kevin Smith also fit into a single seat, and Southwest decided to treat him as if he were committing fatty terrorism anyway. I don’t want to be fucked with the way Smith was.
So when I was making travel plans from San Jose to San Diego (on business), and found out that Southwest was basically the only choice, I got worried. I posted to the Fat Forward group on facebook to see what others’ experiences were, and was told that Southwest is now pretty good toward fat people, and I shouldn’t expect any problems. I took my flights in February, and all went well. One thing that helped was that I bought early-bird check-in, so I was in the first of the regular boarding groups, and was able to snag a nice window seat. It was even maybe a bit more civilized than most boarding experiences because of the way Southwest makes people line up.
The real test will be my next business trip, which will be to Seattle, and on which Tante Terri will be accompanying me. I will keep you guys posted.
*My doorway into fat acceptance was that I am attracted to fat women.
I know I’ve been linking to Skepchick a lot. That’s because, when it comes to size acceptance, they are not preaching to the choir as I am, but rather bringing size acceptance to an audience that is less aware of it. Today’s post is about weight stigma conversations, and it’s by Olivia, who is not fat. She categorizes weight stigma in an interesting and new way. I’ve long felt that thin allies were welcome in a conversation on weight stigma (except see below), and I’ve known that thin people were also harmed by weight stigma, but I’ve never formally split this stigma into two categories before, and I’m finding it helpful.
I will say, though, that if there are two kings of weight stigma, and the conversation at hand is about the kind that only fat people experience (fatphobia), then it’s probably not the best idea for a thin person to insert her/his opinion on it, or to steer the discussion to body dissatisfaction.
In the interest of strengthening the links between fatties and skeptics, I am once again posting a link to a post on Skepchick. This one is by Elyse, is called Doctors vs Orgasms, and is about a series of discussions with her doctor about medications and their side effects. The reason I’m linking to it is that one of the side effects is weight gain, a possibility considered to horrifying to consider by the doctor, although not by Elyse. The lessons here are (a) anti-fat bias hurts thin people like Elyse as well, and (b) sometimes it’s best to stand up to one’s doctor.
I missed blogging yesterday.
My reason for missing blogging was I was tired.
I was tired because we drove to a Con (FogCon). FogCon is being held in Walnut Creek – about 60 miles from our home. It took 2 hours to get there. It took 2 hours because traffic was a fucking nightmare. Even though the 680 Freeway North is an infamously bad drive, a good part of the freeway does not have a carpool lane. Slog, slog, slog.
And my bad knee makes driving incredibly painful.
So when we got to the Con hotel, we checked in, went to the room, and I stayed there until 9:00 AM the next day.
So why do I feel like such a writer? Because I am at a science-fiction/fantasy literary Con and I am in the game/quiet room with my computer blogging! Whoo-hoo.
Okay, I admit it. I am easily amazed and amused.
One of our favorite authors/songstresses, Seanen McGuire is a Guest of Honor and she actually recognized us as we came in last night and dispensed hugs (hugs are always a goodness). And it turns out the partner of someone we know from the fat community is chairing the Con!
It’s a small world after all … (now get that out of your head, I dare you. Mwha-ha-ha)
One of my favorite jokes is, “There is no point to the Small World ride at Disneyland, unless you bring a bucket of baseballs.” But I digress …
Also picked up a couple of books by other friends of ours – Gerald Nordley and Candy Lowe! We’ll be seeing them in 2 weeks at Contact (I run Registration for that convention).
So even though I am fumbling through typing this (I am used to an ergonomic keyboard and I am not comfortable with the little touch/mouse pad thingy – that keeps taking me to places I do not want to be on the page), I am feeling literary as fuck.
In fatness news, there’s been some talk about how there are now a lot fewer fat children ages 2 to 5, and how wonderful that is. Here’s the study: http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleID=1832542, and here’s a (mostly) glowing report on it: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/26/health/obesity-rate-for-young-children-plummets-43-in-a-decade.html. And, of course, anti-fat warriors have questioned the significance of the decrease: http://www.forbes.com/sites/geoffreykabat/2014/02/27/how-credible-is-cdcs-43-percent-decline-in-obesity-in-young-children/
In this case, I think the anti-fatties are right in that the decline is not important. And the prior increases in fatness are also not important, although the fat haters don’t agree with that. The really interesting outcome of this study to me is that the rate of fatness has been essentially constant for nearly all age groups over the past 10 years. That means that there’s no big fat crisis on the horizon; the “crisis” is here, and it turns out to be no big deal. (By the way, the billions of health care costs due to fatties? Most of that is really due to failed weight-loss attempts, and is therefore caused by hatred of fat rather than fatness itself.) The leveling off of this trend, which dates from just after World War II, means that we’ve already shown that we as a society can deal (however imperfectly) with the current level of fatness.
This post by Paul Campos puts this latest news into perspective: http://www.newrepublic.com/article/116774/childhood-obesity-rate-declines-dont-give-michelle-obama-credit
Personally, I’m not concerned with the fatness rate because, as I said above, we already know that it’s no big deal. Also, keep in mind that many of the stated causes of the fatness trend, such as the green revolution in agriculture, television, and the ever-increasing array of electronic distractions, are for the most part good things that have made lives better.
I just want to ask people to think before they say something (whether you think it is helpful or not) to anyone else about size and/or weight – how would you feel if someone said that to or in front of the fat people in your family, at your workplace, among your friends?
Given the statistics about how many people are fat, it is hard to believe that there is anyone who does not have at least one fat person in their life whom they care about, on some level. Whether it’s the fat nurse who helped when you or your mom was sick; the fat checkout person who always asks how you’re doing, your fat aunt who always remembered your birthday, your fat grandma who gives the best hugs in the world, your fat uncle or grandpa who always had time for you, the fat person at work who is willing to help you when you’re overloaded, the fat sister or brother who stood up for you when somebody was picking on you – there is someone in your life who is fat and who you would hate to see hurt, treated unfairly, or disrespected.
So remember, that the fat kid you want to tease, the fat lady at the beach, the fat man at the restaurant – these are people, people who deserve kindness and respect, just like the fat people you know and care about.