Activism 101: Telling activists how it’s done

Whenever you see an activist blogger not doing things the way you would, you should handle it by:

  • Assuming she is coming from an opposite point of view hostile to yours (as opposed to sharing your POV but having a different take on what’s needed) and needs a 101 education on your POV
  • Tell her how to run her site/organization/whatever
  • Demand that the unpaid or low-paid blogger account for any refusal to do exactly as you ordered her

A commenter on What Privilege hit this particular trifecta last March, and I’ve been holding onto the comment all this time, waiting to find the emotional space to write about it. I’m going to dissect everything that’s wrong with the comment, because it wouldn’t be fair to let things slide just because they’re not examples of how she’s being unfair to me, but I’ll try to keep it clear which is the Activism 101 stuff and which bits are just oh no i don’t think so.

You have various forms of privilege on your site including on topics of race, religion, gender, age, mental health, class, etc- as I’m sure you well know. But what your site is distinctly lacking is discussion on thin privilege and sizism. I searched the site and didn’t find a single article about sizism. I may have missed it- but I also believe it deserves a tab at the top of your site along side the rest.

She’s right about sizism being an important topic, which is why I write about sizism here on Hathor where it gets far more exposure than it would on WP (plus, I feel it’s very tied into gender issues). That is the main reason why there are no articles (and hence, no tab) on it at WP. But she gets into bossy territory stating that it deserves its own tab. Also, “distinctly lacking” is aggressive language. The use of it in a first contact email implies that my leaving it out was the initial act of aggression to which she is responding in kind.

Sizism and able ism are some of the most pervasive and socially acceptable isms in our society, although sizism is more far reaching and results in many serious consequences such as eating disorders, mental illness, and even suicide.

This isn’t an Activism 101 bit, but whoa, Suffering Olympics alert! Sizism has more serious consequences than ableism? People get murdered for being disabled. Do consequences get more serious than that?

And yet your site has failed to talk about sizism or thin privilege. Fat people simply by being fat face many forms of discrimination including: unsolicited negative commentary on their bodies, desexualization, less pay and job discrimination, lower quality of care in regards to their health including less information from their doctors, having to pay extra when there is no extra cost to whomever is selling a service or product and many more. I’d like to point you to a great list of things that thin people enjoy as part of their privilege: http://sugaredvenom.tumblr.com/post/1295697338/thin-privilege-checklist and here is a small list of discrimination based on weight: http://fatgirlposing.blogspot.com/p/fat-discrimination.html

My site has “failed.” Again with the aggressive language, which implies aggression on my part. On a side note, I have to point out that the thin privilege link she cites is ignorant and narrow-minded, and I think reflects the perspective of this commenter. Two of the privileges it mentions are absolute bunk:

“I do not have to be afraid that when I talk to my friends or family they will mention the size of my body in a critical manner, or suggest unsolicited diet products and exercise programs.”

“I will not be accused of being emotionally troubled or in psychological denial because of the size of my body.”

This is pretty much the opposite of the truth. We have multiple skinny commenters who have relayed stories about people suggesting they have eating disorders, or asking why don’t they just eat something, or congratulating them on weight loss which happened as a result of a dire illness. This also influenced my view of the commenter’s perspective, which comes into play in a few paragraphs.

More so fat people have become the scapegoat for the diet industry with false claims about fat being equal to unhealthiness when the actual evidence shows that fat is not, in and of itself, a negative or unhealthy thing- typical illnesses associated with obesity are, firstly, actually associated with poor diet and lack of exercise and, secondly, showing up more and more in thin people as well. It’s a classic case for the fact that correlation does not equal causation and the reasons for the correlations are complex and a mixture of socioeconomic factors, biological factors, and psychological factors (which I’d be happy to explain in more detail).

Being fat is one of the top risk factors for being bullied. While eating disorders are discouraged in everyone else, fat people are encouraged to engage in disordered eating and eating disorders. Furthermore, sizism very closely ties in with sexism as women have a much smaller acceptable body range and fat becomes “unfeminine”. We are well aware of the negative effects of an appearance obsessed society especially on young girls and with a 4 billion dollar a year diet industry I think it’s time to step up and add sizism to the list of unacceptable bigotry that is beyond harmful to both individuals and society as a whole.

Slight digression: at this point, you may be wondering, “Why doesn’t she get her own blog on the topic?” She already has one. It’s not enough that she have a blog where she writes and handles tabs as she sees fit. It’s also essential to her that every other blogger fall in line and do things her way. 

Getting back to Activism 101 issues, it’s hard to read that amount of basic information, with no “as you may already be aware” type remarks, as anything but an implication that I am obviously ignorant of what fat people deal with (oh, the irony). Because clearly, only ignorance could explain why I have aggressively omitted the tab she thinks I ought to have.

If you choose not to include sizism and thin privilege in your website I would love an explanation as to why. Please feel free to ask any questions.

And then she demands that I account for my continued failure to comply with her demands. Because it’s my job to answer to her.

In addition to both the Activism 101 and general issues with her comments, I should add: people with her views are one of the reasons I struggle to talk about this topic. She mentions “sizism”, but she’s only really interested in a discussion of “how tough fat women have it, and how privileged thin women are.” But everyone (and I mean everyone, including fat women) feels entitled to judge women on whatever size they happen to be. That’s the bigger problem that I feel encompasses the problems fat women have without implying that being skinny solves everything – it doesn’t, because as with beauty “privilege“, your best possible outcome is to be judged worthy of pleasing men sexually. Not the sort of “privilege” I’m after, thanks.

Here was my email response to her:

The reason I don’t have a “tab” for sizism is I only talk about that on Hathor. I’ve been fat/overweight all my life, but my experiences have never been made welcome by fat women in a fat activist context because… well, I don’t know. Maybe you can figure that out.

Anyway, eventually I just internalized everything and now I doubt I could get any words out on the topic other than “Everyone just needs to fucking fuck off”, so there you go.

I’m sure you didn’t mean to imply that I was a skinny privileged bitch who’d never experienced the nightmare of being fat and therefore worthless in my society no matter what else I have to offer, but just to let you know? It sure came across between the lines.

Some people I shared this with didn’t get why I thought she’d presumed me skinny. My reasoning did involve a slight leap (I was pissed off at the time), but I didn’t see how I could possibly care as little about fatism as she presumes without having been skinny all my life. Not trying to defend that point since it’s not essential, just explaining that remark in the email. I still think she did envision me skinny, but we’ll never know.

Because she never wrote back. To elaborate: I have always been plump – not obese, but never skinny either. Sure, I’ve gotten a lot of crap for being bigger than people think I ought to be. But when I’ve tried to talk about it with fat women, or on behalf of fat women, I don’t know what I’m talking about. I am so privileged to not be obese. I should shut up and be grateful I’m not even fatter. I’m just not fat enough to have a “real problem.” How dare I say anything. (This isn’t true of friends, by the way – just a lot of the “fat activists” I’ve encountered.)

This commenter sure sounded to me like she’d have that same reaction – that same prejudice. That same Suffering Olympics urge to take offense at anyone claiming “I have this issue too, even though I’m not exactly your size.” The only context in which I’ll discuss what I know from my life experience about sizism is in a sizism discussion where stories of woe from skinny people have been made welcome, too – like the discussions we have here.

Even if this commenter had been making a totally non-problematic point, her way of going about it was all wrong. One person I shared this story with suggested she should’ve just offered to write a guest post – that would at least entail her doing the unpaid work instead of ordering me to do her bidding. She had no business assuming she knew what POV I was coming from. She had no business using the aggressive language about an omission, which is too vague a thing to be presumed an act of hostility. She had no business challenging me to account for why I chose not to do things her way.

She should have presumed we might have common points of view. She should have guessed that maybe I just hadn’t gotten around to articles on that topic. It should have occurred to her that maybe I had size issues myself, and having been beaten up about my size a lot, just hadn’t found the psychological space to deal with that topic just yet. In short, she should’ve kept an open mind about me instead of launching into a sermon that assumed I was a sinner.

As it happens, I have written on her topic of choice, but I feel sure what I’ve had to say about it would displease her to no end.

Comments

  1. says

    Unfortunately this is a post I bet that many bloggers can not only relate to but write about it themselves. Blogging is hard unpaid work that does not get the respect that it deserves. The very idea that someone can come into your home and put their feet on your furniture just shows a complete lack of home training.

    I think part of this reaction though does stem from the call out culture. Many feel that they are not “engaged” if they don’t spend their time calling out privilege and going into attack mode. That is not to say that we should all avoid speaking critically about isms but that it should not be the first step in interaction.

  2. Shaun says

    Something interesting about sizism: in most cases of institutionalized oppression the privileged class is the dominant one in society. If we look at the most powerful groups of people in society–whether we’re talking about the rich* or the people who run Hollywood–they’re not all white, able, cis, heterosexual men, but most of them damn sure hit most of those categories. Yet these groups aren’t a bunch of skinny people lording over an obese underclass.

    That’s why I think your approach is accurate, because size issues seem to be to be a lot more nuanced than something like white supremacy or patriarchy, which operate much more straightforwardly in this respect. Obesity can be a class issue but certain underprivileged groups don’t experience this at all as a rule.

    People like that though are convinced THEIR issue is the end-all be-all of human oppression. Try googling “last acceptable prejudice.” I get 7 results on anti-Catholic prejudice, 1 on “gingerism,” 1 on homophobia and 1 on fat hatred. This is a little less varied than the last time I did that, but my point is plenty of people in their little bubbles truly believe NOBODY else has it as bad as they do.

    *I know classism is its own thing and not just a dimension of other oppressions, but it’s valid to talk about it that way too: not every analysis needs to be encompassing of every group and every perspective ever.

  3. says

    I totally get the problem because same thing here. Lately, in the context of a certain article I wrote, I was accused of having an opinion that I did not have or state at all. Fun fact: I agreed with the commenter (on what she stated she believed, not the “and you got it ALL WRONG” part) but didn’t feel like explaining after being accused of something I did not write in a accusing, uncooperative tone and the refusal to ask me questions if she was not clear about my points.

    It annoys me that I have to make some kind of tone argument here but: if someone accuses me of something I honestly didn’t do or say and refuses to ask questions to clarify, I will refuse to talk to them based on their tone.

    And I’m sorry that some people think you have to reach a certain weight to be allowed an opinion on fat hate.

  4. says

    But when I’ve tried to talk about it with fat women, or on behalf of fat women, I don’t know what I’m talking about. I am so privileged to not be obese. I should shut up and be grateful I’m not even fatter. I’m just not fat enough to have a “real problem.” How dare I say anything.

    This is morbidly humorous to me, because I’ve heard from some obese people that they’re not welcome in the size acceptance movement for being too large, or having health problems, or whatever. It’s got a bit of a Goldilocks feel – “You’re too skinny to talk about size acceptance, and you’re too fat, but you’re just right!”

  5. says

    womanistmusings: I think part of this reaction though does stem from the call out culture. Many feel that they are not “engaged” if they don’t spend their time calling out privilege and going into attack mode. That is not to say that we should all avoid speaking critically about isms but that it should not be the first step in interaction.

    That’s a great point. Calling out is very important, but you can make your side look bad if you call out people who weren’t actually offending because you misunderstood. That supports the cultural meme that we’re just “too sensitive” and need to chill out.

    Shaun: plenty of people in their little bubbles truly believe NOBODY else has it as bad as they do.

    Including dominant groups who fear their “rights” are being taken from them in the name of equality.

    Zweisatz: Fun fact: I agreed with the commenter (on what she stated she believed, not the “and you got it ALL WRONG” part) but didn’t feel like explaining after being accused of something I did not write in a accusing, uncooperative tone and the refusal to ask me questions if she was not clear about my points.

    That happens here a lot! I’m kind of relieved – I thought Hathor just had vast numbers of really passive aggressive visitors. :D

    Sylvia Sybil: This is morbidly humorous to me, because I’ve heard from some obese people that they’re not welcome in the size acceptance movement for being too large, or having health problems, or whatever. It’s got a bit of a Goldilocks feel – “You’re too skinny to talk about size acceptance, and you’re too fat, but you’re just right!”

    I don’t doubt that at all – I’ve never found a size acceptance site/venue where I felt really comfortable, so I just wrapped sizism into my feminism and deal with it where *I* can control the comments and make sure no one gets told “But you’re the wrong size to have a complaint about this.” It’s pointless to nitpick about which women are qualified to join the movement when the point of the movement is that judging women’s bodies is a gender-biased and destructive cultural issue.

  6. says

    My experience is similar to Sylvia Sybil. I’m 5’11” and about 310, and I have structural issues (arthritis plus other joint problems, and other things) caused or exacerbated by my weight. I’ve felt more than once that my views are not welcome among other fat women because I acknowledge that my size is a problem for me. It’s as though having problems because of your weight, or actively trying to lose fat, is some kind of betrayal of fat solidarity or something.

    If other people are happy and healthy and have good lives, that’s awesome. I do not, however, appreciate other fat people presuming to speak for me by saying that fat itself is never a problem and that only deluded people think they need to lose fat to be healthy. I need to lose fat. If that makes me a traitor, so be it. If someone asserts that I’ve just been brainwashed by our thin-obsessed culture, I can suggest any number of anatomically unlikely activities for them to try. [sigh]

    Why is it so hard for some people to acknowledge that fat can be a problem in and of itself, even if it isn’t always? I avoid fat acceptance circles because what they say, they seem to insist has to apply to everyone, and much of it doesn’t apply to me. Guess I don’t belong there.

    Angie

  7. says

    Angie,

    This is something I tried to talk about in this article, although I wasn’t aware of weight and joint health issues at the time. I think I did say that fat alone has never been proven to be a problem, but that losing weight could be a solution. We discussed joint issues in the thread, after someone insisted that all fat people eventually need knee surgery, and two of us have large families of chubby to fat people with zero knee surgeries. So I hope that article didn’t make you feel that way – my overall point was intended to be that if weight loss solves an actual health problem, then losing weight does NOT mean failing to accept oneself as a person at the higher weight.

    I think the real point here is that your body is your body, and it’s not anyone else’s business how you maintain it. That’s what’s at the root of all this judgment – the idea that women’s bodies are on display for public judgment. It underlies street harassment, slut shaming, fat shaming, skinny shaming, objectification.

  8. says

    Jennifer — So I hope that article didn’t make you feel that way – my overall point was intended to be that if weight loss solves an actual health problem, then losing weight does NOT mean failing to accept oneself as a person at the higher weight.

    No, I remember that one and that was fine. My problem is with the more mainstream area of fat acceptance (or maybe I’ve just been unlucky in what I’ve run into) where the attitude is the opposite extreme from the fat shaming side, and with about as much truth to it. There doesn’t seem to be room in there for individual variation, or any acknowledgement that individual variation even exists.

    My individual case is one where on my mother’s side (don’t know my father’s family) my grandmother and all six of her sisters had arthritis in their knees. (My mom’s is in her hands and I’m glad I have my grandmother’s flavor.) So I was pretty much doomed to arthritis eventually, but carrying over a hundred pounds of extra weight meant that it hit me at least fifteen years earlier than it otherwise would have. I might well need my knees replaced if I can’t shed a good chunk of this fat — not because all fat people do, but because I personally inherited a tendancy toward knees that grind themselves to dust.

    I’m also 5’11” and before I started gaining weight I wore a size 7 shoe; I have a small frame for my size and my skeleton in general isn’t built to carry this load constantly, which exacerbates all sorts of crap that causes me pain and structural problems.

    And then there are little things like not being able to put on shoes and socks and tie my laces without gasping for breath afterward because pullling my leg up enough so I can reach my feet means my thigh is pressing my belly fat up into my diaphragm so I can’t breathe while my hands are near my feet. I hate that, and it’d be a reason — for me as an individual — to want to lose fat even without the joint issues.

    Just as it’s obnoxious for some skinny people and ignorant doctors to automatically tell every fat person that they have to lose weight or they’re going to die, it’s just as obnoxious for some fat people to deny that some other fat people do need to lose fat, or might have legitimate reasons for wanting to. Heck, just “I want to” should be reason enough, because as you said, it’s my body. I reject fat acceptance as a movement in general because some of its loudest boosters are rude and insulting to me as a fat person.

    If they were just about persuading assholes to quit with the fat jokes, and getting the American garment industry to acknowledge that women come in different builds just like men, without the reverse shaming (how dare you not love and accept your fat!!) then I’d be all for it.

    I have no problem with what you said in the linked post. The reason I hang out here (mostly lurking) is because the people here tend to be rational and reasonable. Props for that.

    Angie

  9. says

    Angie: So I was pretty much doomed to arthritis eventually, but carrying over a hundred pounds of extra weight meant that it hit me at least fifteen years earlier than it otherwise would have.

    That makes total sense. I’ve also known fat people who say, “When I was twenty pounds lighter, it was just easier to get up stairs.” And it’s not like losing 20 pounds would make them “skinny”. They just want to get back to a weight that’s comfortable to their body, and what’s wrong with that?

    Re: the fat acceptance movement. I’m sure some groups/sites are better than others, but what inspired that article in the first place was something I heard about a fat activist finding out her blood sugar and some other numbers were terrible, and her doctor (who never nagged her to “lose weight”) helping her use diet and exercise to get it under control. In so doing, she lost significant weight, and then she lost cred with a lot of fat activists who saw her as betraying them. It’s not like she became a size four and started doing adds for fat-free yogurt snacks.

    I’ve known skinny women who were advised that raising their body fat levels would help them conceive (fat having a lot to do with female hormone cycles). I don’t really see a difference between this and the reasons why the fat activist lost weight. The intent was to make the body function better, not to change sizes.

  10. says

    And it’s not like losing 20 pounds would make them “skinny”.

    Exactly. There’s plenty of range in between “skinny” or “thin” on one side and “fat” on the other. Our culture in general often fails to recognize that, and a lot of fat acceptance people seem just as caught up in the binary as the people they’re fighting.

    I don’t want to be thin. I like having curves. My natural build (before I added the 150 pounds of fat) is stocky and muscular, and I’m fine with that. If I could wave a wand and be my perfect weight/size, I’d go down to about 170, which would make me a size 16. That’s a great size for my height and natural build, and I don’t care if a bunch of shallow ignoramuses on the fat shaming side think every woman who’s a size 16 is a whale; they can join the ignoramuses on the fat acceptance side in those anatomically unlikely activities I mentioned above.

    There needs to be a movement for people to be healthy and strong, and happy with their bodies, with size in and of itself (on either end of the spectrum) a secondary issue at most. I’d join that one.

    Angie

  11. says

    Jennifer Kesler: I don’t really see a difference between this and the reasons why the fat activist lost weight. The intent was to make the body function better, not to change sizes.

    Exactly. I’ve been fat my entire adult life. There have been points when I could go a 12 minute mile and jog up four flights of stairs without pause, and points when climbing a single flight of stairs made me creaky. Very little changes externally; maybe a couple of dress sizes, but nothing definitive. It’s mostly internal changes. (In fact, I found that more exercise usually caused more weight gain even when the inches dropped, back when I bothered with a scale.)

    So when I try to eat nutritiously and exercise more, it’s about getting my body to a point where I can function optimally, not about whether the sight of my girth causes haters’ eyeballs to boil in their heads. And ain’t nobody can tell what point I’m at by looking at my size, especially considering that my weight also fluctuates with other factors in my life like my medications and the time of year.

    Angie: There’s plenty of range in between “skinny” or “thin” on one side and “fat” on the other. Our culture in general often fails to recognize that, and a lot of fat acceptance people seem just as caught up in the binary as the people they’re fighting.

    You know, this clarifies a half-formed thought I had about Jennifer’s OP. Jenn said,

    Some people I shared this with didn’t get why I thought she’d presumed me skinny. My reasoning did involve a slight leap

    Because I definitely got the impression from the excerpts that the emailer thought Jenn was Not Fat. The slight leap in reasoning would then be to assume the emailer buys into a Fat/Skinny binary.

  12. meerkat says

    Angie:

    There needs to be a movement for people to be healthy and strong, and happy with their bodies, with size in and of itself (on either end of the spectrum) a secondary issue at most.I’d join that one.

    I don’t know what experience you have with HAES (Health At Every Size) but that sounds like how I would define HAES.

  13. sbg says

    Angie,

    There needs to be a movement for people to be healthy and strong, and happy with their bodies, with size in and of itself (on either end of the spectrum) a secondary issue at most. I’d join that one.

    This reminds me of what happened during my last performance review. I mentioned wanting to be more proactive in promoting wellness initiatives in the workplace, and my boss immediately launched an idea (and credited me as coming up with it – not true) to the president about having our own Biggest Loser competition, despite me saying multiple times that by wellness I did not mean weight loss exclusively.

    So, now I’m in charge of this thing I want nothing to do with.

    *sigh*

  14. says

    (First-time commenter, long-time reader/lurker.)

    This is a really good post, and I completely get the psychological drain the original comment must have caused. When it’s *your life* someone is deciding to “correct” you on, it’s horrible and emotionally exhausting. And upsetting! The aggressive language and the assumption of bad faith on your part was egregious. One blog cannot be all things to all people; that’s why we have lots of blogs, right? How stifling it would be if every blog had to meet some mysterious person’s every expectation!

    I truly believe in size and body activism – judging people by their outward appearance encompasses a whole boatload of bigotry, and there are many sub-categories of judging, tailored to fit anyone who might dare think they are exempt from body policing. It is in everyone’s interest to combat sizeism, and I think your posting on the issue here at Hathor is excellent.

    On Health At Every Size: I think HAES is worth investigating – I came to my understanding of size privilege (which, for me at least, was always inextricably linked to beauty privilege, and the ultimate frustration at how entwined it all was in patriarchal opinions about how women should look/behave) after losing weight, and I went through several stages of superior nastiness about size issues before being woken up to my privilege in also being someone lucky enough to be able to maintain weight loss. HAES did a lot for me in terms of understanding body activism without simply flipping the sides and perpetuating the same injustice towards people of a different size. It also gave me a way to introduce the idea of size/fat acceptance to a wide range of people in my life.

    BUT: HAES is not without its own problems – the word “health”, for instance, since it divides people again into “good” and “bad”, and doesn’t address the ableism in the idea that people should always work towards being healthy (I’m also disabled, but I became disabled after losing weight – I am less healthy at a patriarchally-approved size than I was when I weighed more). Part of body activism for me is acceptance that lifestyle is a personal choice, and is not open to commentary from everyone and their friend.

    Ugh. Long comment is long. But I thought your post was really good, and I’ve really been enjoying the series of Activism 101 posts. So I want to say thanks. :)

  15. says

    Ugh. I re-read the first para of my post, and “The assumption of bad faith on your part” sounds like I’m criticizing you. I’m not – the commenter was assuming you were acting in bad faith with no evidence, and that was what I was criticizing.

  16. Casey says

    attack_laurel: Part of body activism for me is acceptance that lifestyle is a personal choice, and is not open to commentary from everyone and their friend.

    Well…just to nitpick, sometimes one’s lifestyle isn’t necessarily a “personal choice”. Sometimes it’s just the hand of cards you were dealt and you have to work through it/make the best of it/etc.

  17. says

    attack_laurel,

    I read the “bad faith” sentence correctly the first time. :)

    I’ve never heard of Health at Every Size, but a quick Bing brought up this site: http://haescommunity.org/

    You’re right – the concept of aiming for good health rather than a particular size is bang on, but that opens up all the privilege issues relating to health. Ableism, the fact that not everyone can afford to eat healthily (or knows how, etc.), the fact that not everyone can afford needed medications, and as Casey pointed out, it seems genes frequently set an upper limit on how healthy we can be, and while nurture can prevent us reaching that upper limit, it can’t get us significantly over that limit.

    You make an excellent point with noting that no blog could possibly be all things to all people – the commenter does seem to be expecting that, which is absurd!

  18. JMS says

    sbg,

    I am late to this party, so your plans may already be set, but I know a couple of people who have redefined that kind of initiative as a “Biggest Winner” program, in which people set their own health-related goals (or choose from a list of many goals) and track their progress. So one person’s goal might be to eat X servings of fruit and vegetables each day, and another person’s goal might be to drink Y ounces of water each day, and another person’s goal might be to attend Z number of exercise classes per week, etc., etc.

  19. sbg says

    JMS,

    I’m slowly but surely trying to steer the juggernaut toward more of a walking/exercise program with a set mileage and timeframe, obviously with alternate exercise options and measuring tools for those who cannot walk.

    I do like these suggestions too, so I might do a little digging on my own. Boss wants me in charge, yet always somehow ends up doing everything and giving me zero chance to speak. (Why, yes, I do hate my job.)

  20. says

    sbg,

    That sucks. Because the idea of helping people pick goals they can actually maybe stick to might really result in health improvements. The “lose weight” approach is shaming, which leads to shame spirals, which leads to depression and other unhealthy problems.

    Can I just mention on a side rant – I am about ready to scream at people who think animal fat=evil? The latest research (yes, I can dig up a link later if anyone wants, too tired just now) shows that saturated fats boost GOOD cholesterol, which massively protects people from the very diseases saturated animal fat is falsely associated with. This drives me around the bend in L.A., because it’s hard to even find fatty foods – prime beef (the fattiest, and best) is just recently starting to show up in grocery stores and I totally grew up on prime beef. Everything’s low fat and lean and crammed full of sugar, which is precisely the opposite of the diet I need. Then people point to how skinny everyone here is, as evidence that it works. Which is bullshit – an awful lot of people here engage in disordered eating and drug abuse to keep their weight down, because either they make their livings on camera where being underweight is required, and that’s probably all that brings down the average weight here in L.A.

  21. Quib says

    Jennifer Kesler,

    I will join you on that side rant to say How are we just now barely getting a handle on this nutrition thing?
    Is “Figure out how to feed your population well, and do it” really that far down on the list of priorities for human accomplishments?
    I would be interested in seeing your citations, because I really don’t know where to begin looking that isn’t a mess of contradictions and sales pitches.

  22. says

    Jennifer Kesler,

    Then people point to how skinny everyone here is

    That’s bullshit right there. I lived in LA for thirteen years and there are plenty of fat people there. If the people speaking the above are in the TV/movie business, and most of their friends and acquaintances are too, then they’re personally surrounded by skinny people, for the exact reasons you mentioned. Their circle of friends =/= the entire LA population, though, and most of the people who live in the LA metro area — or even the city of Los Angeles — are not in the TV/movie business. I guess those people don’t count, though. :/

    Angie

  23. says

    Angie,

    I think I phrased it badly. While there are plenty of fat people here, what people are talking about is when they travel to some other city in the US, it feels like the average weight goes up by 20-30 pounds. I just had this discussion with a friend who brought it up. I pointed out the unhealthy disordered eating that’s necessary to maintain the UNDERweight status required of female actors. Then we discussed how back in the 60s, actresses were probably 20-30 pounds heavier than they are now, and it was considered beautiful, and there is no medical evidence that it’s unhealthy. I do think the *average* weight feels lower here because there are loads of really slim people.

    And you know what? They’re certainly not all in film – many of them are just extremely wealthy, so there’s a classist pressure to be “too rich or too thin.” They can eat disordered without criticism, or they can spend all day in the gym because they don’t need jobs to survive, or they can get insulin shots and speed from their doctors to keep the weight down in unhealthy ways.

    Quib,

    Actually, I just remembered I have some good links in this article re: how fat does NOT alone cause ANY disease at all, and may not even be a contributing factor in all the problems it’s associated with.

    http://thehathorlegacy.com/on-size-acceptance/

    And what I learned from finding those links (which may come in handy if in the future you’re looking for more into) if to Bing stuff like:

    “proof that fat causes [disorder]”

    Which will bring up loads of citation free lectures on how it does, but also a precious handful of articles examining the LACK of proof that fat causes these things. It’s not easy to sludge through, but the links in that article should at least get you started.

    And here’s a link on cholesterol (sat. animal fats included) not causing heart disease:

    http://chriskresser.com/cholesterol-doesnt-cause-heart-disease

    I Binged “animal fat doesn’t cause high cholesterol.”

  24. says

    Jennifer Kesler,

    I don’t know that I’d even agree with the average going up, if you’re looking at everyone, but I get what you’re saying, and that kind of perception is very subjective. I definitely agree that the actresses (and some actors as well — how many are on steroids because being bulked up and ripped helps them get roles?) who are pressured to fit a certain mold aren’t healthy and that admiring them contributes to eating disorders and body image problems all through our culture.

    Also very true about actors (of both sexes) in the past. Marilyn Monroe would be considered much too fat to get any female romantic lead jobs, much less be the number one sex bomb, in the 21st century. Or even the later 20th.

    Angie

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