Questions about NAAFA

If you didn’t know, NAAFA is the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance, and was the first fat rights group. It was a truly important force in the fat acceptance movement in the 1970s and the 1980s, through part of the 1990s. To put it kindly, it is less so today. Its website is; take a look if you like.

But rather than tell you about NAAFA, I’d rather ask you.

  • Had you heard of NAAFA before?
  • What’s your impression of NAAFA?
  • Is NAAFA relevant? Why or why not?
  • Should NAAFA be doing something that it isn’t?
  • Anything else you’d like to say?

Let’s discuss!


our gang

I just read this article on Yahoo:

“How to Talk to Your Kids About Weight – 6 Dos and Don’ts”

I have one suggestion – DON’T.

Read the article.

Every one of the suggestions is a good idea.  Focus on health, do not focus on weight or looks.

Except the way the article is written, you are being encouraged to LIE to your child.

Because all of these suggestions are supposed to disguise the fact that you are talking to your child about weight.

Fuck you.

Talk to your kid about health.  Talk to your kid about body-acceptance.  Talk about your kid about self-esteem and self-worth.

But do it from an honest place.

Don’t talk to your kid about all of these things because of their weight.  Kids are not stupid.  Kids will pick up the subtext of the conversation.  And if you are not honest with your kid, how do you expect your kid to be honest with you?

You know that people come in all sizes.  Let your kid know that too.  And then let your kid know that it’s okay for people to be different from each other.

Talk to your kid about health, and what a wonderful kid they are because you LOVE them.  That is how they learn that their worth is not a number on a scale.


naafa fashion card

This is part three of a series in which I respond to the author of this:

And Ms. Weinberg, reducing calorie intake and increasing calorie expenditure does not always lead to weight loss. And while the arithmetic (calories in = calories out) seems simple, the results are not because the human body is not simple.

Deb Burgard’s thoughts (“is there value in focusing on weight at all?”) are a breath of fresh air in this article.

And Ms. Weinberg shows exactly where she misses the actual point that Deb Burgard is making:

[Deb Burgard’s] point sticks, blunted by data that do, in fact, show a health disparity between people of different weights – and on the other hand, strengthened by research showing a strong connection between chronic stress and health.

The health disparity between people of different weights may be due to reasons other than weight. There is more going on here than weight. And that is Deb Burgard’s point.

Ms. Weinberg does not understand, besides the convenience of access to healthy food and a place to exercise, the kind of discrimination and bigotry fat people face each time they appear in public. She doesn’t understand what that does to a person over a lifetime.

If people want fat folks to live a healthier life, then stop treating us like shit when we venture out and attempt to participate in healthy activities. How about you just stop treating us like shit altogether? How would that be?

The fact remains, what constitutes healthy behavior for fat people, is healthy behavior for all people. There is no reason for a focus on weight, and studies have shown that a focus on weight loss tends to lead to the end of healthy behavior when the weight loss stops. Studies have shown, as well, that if the focus is on health or enjoyment, the healthy behavior is more likely to continue whether or not weight loss occurs. So the focus on weight is self-defeating.

The solution is not to reframe obesity as superfluous, but rather to seek a new approach to a decades-old problem. We need to focus on treating and preventing obesity, not only through intensive weight-loss regimes for individuals, but by attacking the root cause: the behaviours that are damaging to your health, no matter what your size.

No Ms. Weinberg, the solution is not focus on treating and preventing obesity. We’ve been focusing on fatness, and it hasn’t worked.


The focus should be on achieving better health no matter what your size. That is something that is achievable.

If we stop stigmatizing and judging fat children; if we stop putting fat children on diets, or exposing all children to fat bias, maybe children can grow up with the type of body they were naturally meant to have. Instead of trying to force them all into some cookie-cutter mold, people could be naturally what they are and we could enjoy the diversity of nature.

I am not saying that we should ignore the health-risks that have been associated with obesity. I am saying we need to treat those conditions if they arise (and not simply assume they will arise, because they don’t always). I am saying that until there is an actual treatment for obesity, the healthcare professionals need to focus on what is achievable – better health. And even if there were a way to turn fatties in to thin folks, the healthcare industry should still be focusing on health first.

And you Ms. Weinberg, don’t understand, really, that the impacts of fat shaming and discrimination are not only psychological; they are physical as well. Society is cruel. But the problem with discrimination and fat-shaming and bigotry runs a lot deeper than that, especially when the outcome is fat people being denied their basic rights. If you think fat people simply need to toughen up, you must not know any fat people –or the ones you do know, don’t trust you enough to let you see who they are and what they deal with as a fat person.

Yes, government and society need to address access to healthy food and lack of exercise spaces. But society needs to provide fat people with a safe place to access and utilize those things.

And healthcare professionals need to provide fat people with non-stigmatizing healthcare that focuses on health instead of weight.


naafa fashion card

This is part two of a series in which I dive deeply (or try to) into the mind of the author of this:

Seems like writer Ms. Weinberg ignores one of the main reasons fat people do not engage in healthier behavior – starting from a very young age, fat children are taunted if they try to engage in sports, games or simply existing. So they stop engaging. If every time you step outside your house, you are called names and bullied, you stop going outside. If people stare at you and make unkind statements about you when you go out to a nice restaurant or you are doing your grocery shopping, you start choosing options that reduce your interaction with other people – like using fast food drive-thrus, or the convenience store.

If you eat a healthy meal or exercise, you are either praised (because the people around you think you are doing this because you agree with their judgment that you need to lose weight), or you condemned (subjected to the judgment of, “it’s about time;” or “who does she think she’s fooling”).

Everything you do in public is judged.

Ms. Weinberg does list some of the problems with BMI, but then goes on to say that we should be looking at body fat distribution and waist circumference.

Well, how your body deals with body fat is going to be tied to genetics. If being short or tall statistically presents certain health risks, no one is going to recommend “treatment”.

Remember back when we discovered that what was healthy for a man was not necessarily healthy for a woman? We didn’t know that because up to that point, most studies usually only used men as test subjects. Surprise, different bodies, different needs. Well, perhaps it’s time we try to determine what is healthy for fat people as opposed what is healthy for thin people. Different bodies, (possibly) different needs. We won’t know until we stop the mindset that thin people represent the most desirable health outcome.

In citing the 10 year study of participants in the Australian research, showing that even metabolically healthy fatties have an elevated risk of getting diabetes, how many of those participants also engaged in dieting over those years, and how many were subjected to fat discrimination and fat bias? In other words, what else besides weight and metabolic markers were taken into consideration, in determining what caused one-third of the participants to become “unhealthy” metabolically? And yes, for a significant portion of the participants, metabolic health was transitory but for the majority, it was not. Why was that not emphasized? And what about health deterioration that is just due to getting older?

And then Ms. Weinberg suggests that we should lower the bar to establish metabolic health for fatties! Excuse me? Nobody wants to believe in fat and fit, so let’s just lower the bar until we can say fatties are not metabolically fit. You know, something like they did with glucose numbers.

But then we get down to the crux of the article. Most fat people are not metabolically healthy. There are health risks associated with being fat. The socio-economic reasons are discussed, but nobody is talking about the effect of society, discrimination and fat bias on a fat person.

When you see a fat person, you are looking at someone who has been exposed to hate and discrimination their entire life! If hate worked, we would all be thin, okay?

You are probably looking at someone who has engaged in dieting for a good part of their life. Dieting includes, not only, the harm done to the body through calorie restriction, but the harm done to the mind when the diet fails and the dieter feels the shame and blame of the failure.

We keep hearing that fat people are a burden on the health system. No, unhealthy people are a burden on the health system. If a person suffers from ill health, for whatever reason, should they be denied care? If the healthcare system has no known treatment for the underlying reason (whatever that may be) for the problem, should fatties be denied care?

When a fat person goes to the doctor, they are in the extremely vulnerable position of being ill and having to seek care from someone who is quite likely to have a bias against fat people. Fat people are often given lectures about their fatness, even when being fat has nothing to do with the reason that person is seeking care. And often fat people do not receive the care needed. Instead they are simply told to stop being fat and that will take care of everything.

Oh, and the treatment that is supposed to help you stop being fat, is dieting, a treatment that is pretty much guaranteed to make you even fatter in the future. And if the diet doesn’t work, it’s your fault, so no healthcare for you, fatty.



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… As a culture, we must embrace different body types and accept that a person’s weight and waist circumference are not a commentary on their worth. Governments and societies must address the social deficits that contribute to obesity – poverty, food deserts (districts with no ready access to fresh, healthy and affordable food) and lack of exercise spaces – to empower people to take care of their own health. In the long run, the medical community must find ways to help people stay healthy through lifestyle fixes, medical interventions, or both, regardless of their size.

I find it difficult to understand how the woman wrote the article that preceeds the above (final) paragraph came to these conclusions. I am glad those were her conclusions, but I wish she could have included more of what led her to this final paragraph because it certainly does not show in the rest of the article.

Caroline Weinberg is not exactly a fat-phobe – but there is a deep thread of healthism and thin privilege in her recent article.

Caroline Weinberg probably means well, but she doesn’t seem to understand that her attitudes are part of the problem when it comes to the stereotype of fat equals unhealthy.

The focus on weight by society as a whole, and the healthcare community in particular, is a major problem for fat people.

Let me reiterate (once again) – there is NO treatment that achieves significant long term weight loss for all but a small percentage of fat people.

I’m not saying we should not be looking for a successful treatment, but we do need to stop pretending that one exists. And we need to stop pretending we can treat fatness by using treatments that have and continue to fail while blaming and shaming the recipient of those failed treatments.

Implying that long term weight loss is achievable if us fatties would only try harder, is harmful. It leads to society believing being fat is a choice; that fat people are simply lazy and lack will power. It leads to fat people being blamed (and blaming themselves) for being fat . It leads to the acceptance of fat shaming. And it leads to healthcare professionals thinking it is the fault of fat patients (rather than the failure of the treatment) when the patient remains fat.

It leads to putting fat children on diets, something that pretty much guarantees that the fat child will grow up to be an even fatter adult.

For the most part, diets not only fail to make you thin, they make you fatter.

Is being fat unhealthy? It depends. Fat has protective properties, especially in regard to those conditions which fat people are most likely to develop (such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease). Yes, fat people, on the whole, tend to develop these conditions; however, fat people, on the whole, tend to have fewer complications and/or survive these conditions better than their thinner counterparts.

Is being fat unhealthy? Who cares? As of now, there is no “cure”.

[To be continued]

“Fat Girls” video

You know that I like fat women, so you’d think I’d like this video (linked below), but I don’t. It’s a fun enough song, but the women in the videos seem a bit like bullies.

You also know that I deeply respect the folks over at Skepchick. Here’s a link to a post by Dr. Rubidium singing the praises of the song and video, and who am I to say she’s wrong?

Penn, part 2

Today I watched the live broadcast of Penn’s Sunday School, with Penn Jillette and others. I mentioned in an earlier post that he lost a lot of weight, and has been talking about it. Well, I think I’m fed up with the diet talk. The last straw today was that he mentioned the Framingham study, and he framed it as, someone who knows the weight of your friends can accurately predict your weight. (Penn usually says that no one should rely on him for accurate scientific information, but saying that doesn’t always help.) He then went on to say that his and his cohosts’ weight loss is causing their friends to lose weight. A great example of confusing correlation with causation, and this from a skeptic.

He followed this up with some antifat talk directed to his cohost Matt, saying that he had appeared in Penn’s movie, Director’s Cut, as a “fat f***” and was cut out, and now will be in the movie again. Which was light hearted banter among friends I will admit, but after the other antifat stuff I had had it.

I feel like I’ve lost a friend to religion. Dieting is like a religion in that it requires faith to believe you can keep the weight off when the science shows that most people can’t. He’s still in the honeymoon phase of his diet, and ex-dieters who are reading this can relate, I’m sure. But this sort of thing isn’t fun for me to listen to.