To those who read Notes from the Fatosphere

Here’s a message from the new admin of Notes from the Fatosphere, Ang x:

On 30th June, Google Reader will cease to exist. The Fatosphere feed has been moved to Feedly. Until the beginning of July, readers will be able to access NFTF via either Google Reader or Feedly, but from July 1st, you will need a Feedly account to continue to receive the feed.

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I just read the following article wherein JasonDocherty (NAAFA Chairman) talks about the proposed change to the name of NAAFA:

Of course, Whaliam has already posted on this subject, that post and the responses are great!

I just thought that some insight into the how the NAAFA Board is approaching this subject might be interesting.

Full disclosure, I am against taking the “Fat” out of NAAFA.

I was not surprised when Jason says there has been plenty of feedback from the fat-acceptance community.

I was not surprised when I connected the link in the article (“plenty of feedback”) took me to a wonderful post by Regan Chastain, including 23 comments all but 1 of which were against the change in name.

I was very surprised when Jason says “a large majority of [feedback] has been positive”.

I believe the first thing I have seen in favor of the name change (outside of from the NAAFA Board) is the one comment to Regan’s post.

Then Jason says:

 “Of our direct responses, 70 percent of them have been dramatically in favor of the name change,” Docherty said. “The 30 percent, their response had more to do with nostalgia or an attempt to not lose the history of the organization.”

Having worked with lawyers for so many years, I can tell you using the phrase “of our direct responses” is a way to cover your ass.  That means, only those things that the NAAFA Board has deemed to be a “direct response” (and we don’t know what that definition is) make up the 70% being “dramatically in favor” of the name change.  So if (for example) someone asks why change the name at all, that might not be counted as being against a change.

Why nostalgia is somehow not a good reason to oppose the name change, is not clear to me.  I thought the NAAFA Board was very into “branding”, and isn’t “nostalgia” a big part of branding?

Jason also disagrees with those of us that feels removing “fat” from NAAFA is abandoning its mission.  I thought the mission of NAAFA was, as its name states, “advancement of fat acceptance.”  Silly me.

Jason goes on to say:

“The reason the word ‘fat’ was kept in the structure of our communications was it was an attempt to reclaim the word so it wasn’t seen as a bad word. Unfortunately, that part of the media war has been lost. No matter how we internalize our language—and we will continue to use positively the word ‘fat’—it’s not resonating with an audience out there.”

You can’t win a war you won’t fight.  Go on the web and see how much presence the fat community has there.  As Whaliam pointed out, look at popular music videos that have fat performers as positive images.  How popular was the show Rosanne?  How popular is John Goodman?  How popular is Drop Dead Diva?  Look on Pinterest – and see how many fat images are there in photos, sculptures, dolls, paintings, not too mention plenty of fat positive quotes – all being shared by lots of people who find these images and thoughts beautiful and life enhancing.

Look at the uproar against the Abercrombie & Fitch CEO.  That’s not just fat rights activists who disagree with him; it’s also average people who have a sense of fairness, and who now include fat people among those who should be treated fairly.

Look at the NAAFA Newsletter Roundup and see how much science is being done to truly understand why people are fat.  Yes, a lot has a negative bent, but more and more you see in the interviews and conclusions that the issue of people being fat is complex and not easily changed; and most of the science agrees that the stigmatization of fat and fat people is a bad thing.

So I would really, really, really like it if NAAFA would post the “direct responses” on its website, so we can all benefit by the thinking of what these folks have to say.  Better yet, why not have an open forum on the name change rather than limit it to private e-mails?  I’d also like to know what constitutes a “direct response”.  (Using Google alerts, the NAAFA Board should be able to assess all responses; and I’m assuming they mean the responses that were sent directly to Peggy in response to NAAFA’s call for comments on the name change.  But then, you know what they say about assume.)

Jason tells us that NAAFA has studied the experience of other organizations like AARP (which did change its name) and the NAACP (which did not change its name).

AARP changed its name from “American Association of Retired People” to “AARP” because membership begins at 50 when most of the members are not yet retired.  In other words, AARP felt that the name did not correctly reflect their membership and goals.  And they kept AARP, and anyone old enough to be a member knows what it stood for.

NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) did not change their name.  I think the term “Colored People” is a lot more problematic than having “Fat” in your organization’s name.  So why didn’t NAACP change its name?  Because it is so well known.  It is a “brand”, it is an organization with a long and honorable history, and in a way the name not only reflects that history, it also reminds you of how much progress has been made (and perhaps how much further we have to go).

The article goes on to say:

 “While it’s nearly impossible to make everyone happy on such a major decision, in the end, Docherty said, it has to be driven by what’s best for the organization.”

You see, I don’t think it is about what is best for the organization.  I think it is what is best for the organization’s fundraising goals.  It should be about what’s best for your members and for all fat people, not just those on the Board, and it’s also should be about what’s best in the long term, not just what’s good for fundraising right now.  If your goal is to advance fat acceptance, there is nothing wrong with the name “NAAFA”.  If your goal is to be more palatable to people who think “fat” is a problem word, a word synonymous with all kinds of negative things (lazy, unhealthy, undisciplined) then I would suggest there is a bigger problem than the name of your organization.  And that problem is part of what fat people have to face, and it’s also the part where you are declaring defeat.

While discussing this, Whaliam suggested that perhaps the inappropriate word in NAAFA is “Association”, that perhaps it should use the term “Council” because the current organization seems to be more about its Board than about its members and the people who make up the fat community.

NAAFA has an appointed Board, not an elected Board.  You don’t get onto the Board unless the existing Board approves.  This guarantees that the Board is going to have a (at least mostly) united front on issues that go public, which can be a good thing.  However, it also can lead to a lack of diversity in thinking.  I know I love some of my best friends because they think so differently than I do.  I can rely on them to give me a point of view that I would have never thought of.

Oh well.  What will be will be, and this indirect response will make little to no difference.  However, just so you know, I did send an e-mail to Peggy directly with my thoughts on this issue.  It probably went into the nostalgic/there’s a value to a recognized brand pile.

More on NAAFA’s name

Following on from a previous post on NAAFA’s possible name change, I found an article online that provides more insight into the NAAFA Board of Director’s point of view. The biggest surprise to me is that they are saying that most members are in favor of removing the word “fat” from NAAFA’s name. (This article also names Brandon Macsata, a friend of NAAFA for a few years, as the consultant who is working on the name change; the newsletter article simply states that NAAFA is working with a PR firm.)

I’d be interested to hear what people think given this additional info. But if you really feel strongly, click on the link in the original newsletter article and let NAAFA know!

No more media ambushes!

Charlotte Cooper over at Obesity Timebomb is starting a project that will let those who speak about fat rights to the media learn how to do it better. Check out her blog post, and (if you have experience with the media) fill out her survey (linked at her blog; I’m not linking directly here because I think it’s important to read her blog post first). Let’s all learn!

Fat Free?

The Board of Directors of NAAFA is considering changing the organization’s name so as to make it easier to obtain corporate funding. They are soliciting input, so I urge all of you who have an opinion to let them know how you feel.

Ragen over at Dances With Fat has a pretty good essay on what the change would mean to her, plus there are lots of great comments.

My guess is that the new name will use the word “size” as a stand-in. Size rights is a valid phrase for what NAAFA is fighting for, but NAAFA’s main focus has always been on fatties, not on short-statured folks, for example. And the term “size” doesn’t just mean fatness, it means all sizes. If that’s the direction that the name changing goes, I think there will eventually be a change in emphasis as well.

The comments on Ragen’s blog post are in favor of keeping the word “fat”, and I agree that that makes the most sense if NAAFA is going to be a grass roots organization. But if it wants to go more corporate, a name change might help. NAAFA still does good things – their new Orange County chapter is quite active and it’s fun to read about their doings – but they’re a far cry from the glory days of the 1990s. Maybe a name change is good . . . or maybe the fight against a name change will reenergize their membership.


History of HAES, Part 1

Check out this very cool brief history of the Health At Every Size (HAES) movement, written by NAAFA and ASDAH member Barbara Altman Bruno. Part 1, linked below, covers the period up through the founding of NAAFA, the first size rights group. (I’ll post a link to Part 2 when it is available.)

November 2012 NAAFA Newsletter

Very briefly, the November 2012 NAAFA Newsletter is out. Here’s a link to the version that gets mailed out.  (Older issues are archived at NAAFA’s website.) The newsletter also has a “join our mailing list” button; clicking that gets you the newsletter once a month.

(I don’t usually announce the newsletter, but I like to every once in a while since I contribute to it. Happy reading!)

NAAFA Convention 2012!

Is anyone besides us going to the NAAFA Convention in Millbrae (California) this year? If you’re in the area, and haven’t decided yet, consider it; it’s the oldest gathering of the fat acceptance community, and can be a lot of fun. Here’s the schedule:

Here’s where you can sign up (day passes are available):

Longtime readers know that we started FU three years ago just after the NAAFA Convention, and mostly in response to NAAFA’s shortcomings, but even so, we are still members and we still go to the Conventions when they are on the West Coast. So I hope to see some of you there!