Fatness is double-plus ungood.

Last night, in my internet travels, I came across this New York Times op-ed from a former hedge fund manager who left the world of finance when he realized it had turned him into a greedy, wealth-addicted jerk.

Although I couldn’t wrap my mind around the sheer enormousness of the numbers the author, Sam Polk, was talking about (multimillion dollar bonuses? It’s like a completely different reality), I liked some of his observations. Like this one:

I made in a single year more than my mom made her whole life. I knew that wasn’t fair; that wasn’t right. Yes, I was sharp, good with numbers. I had marketable talents. But in the end I didn’t really do anything. I was a derivatives trader, and it occurred to me the world would hardly change at all if credit derivatives ceased to exist. Not so nurse practitioners. What had seemed normal now seemed deeply distorted.

And then I got to this part:

But I was lying to myself. There were plenty of injustices out there — rampant poverty, swelling prison populations, a sexual-assault epidemic, an obesity crisis. Not only was I not helping to fix any problems in the world, but I was profiting from them. 

Right, because fat bodies are an injustice, not the stigma and discrimination we face. Not the $60 billion industry devoted to eliminating us. Nope, just the fact that we exist.

Let that sink in for a second. Fat bodies. Are an injustice.

The exorbitant salaries of the financial sector that the author left behind aren’t the only thing that’s deeply distorted.

And when he left it, guess what he did? Did he devote his life to helping people who had been harmed by Wall Street’s predatory practices, perhaps by fighting foreclosures or supporting living wage campaigns?

No, he started a non-profit “to help poor families struggling with obesity and food addiction.”

Food addiction. Food addiction. Not hunger, or food insecurity, or lack of access to nutritious food options, but food addiction. And fatness. Because heaven forbid poor people ever enjoy food or be anything less than thin. Because clearly what poor people need isn’t money, but rich people telling them how to eat.

I just …my head spins trying to make sense of it.

All the sense I can make is that power distorts thinking, twists the urge toward compassion into condescension. Into a sick sense of superiority and a savior complex.

Polk says he finally feels as if he’s making a real contribution. Well, he’s certainly contributing to fat hatred, to a toxic culture of moralizing about food, and to the lack of respect for poor people as humans with intelligence and agency.

Note #1: Chris Maisano has a great analysis of what’s wrong with the op-ed, which he calls “chicken soup for the neoliberal soul”: an individualistic approach that erases the need for collective action.

Note #2: Hedge funds always make me think of hedgehogs. The world would be a much better and cuter place if we could replace all hedge fund managers with hedgehog managers.

Friday links, 7/26/13

Erin tries out BeauCoo, a body-positive outfit-sharing app, and finds it promising but problematic in many ways.
-I love the kids’ clothing in this Etsy shop! They even have a TARDIS skirt and a tuxedo dress.
-A new Tumblr dedicated to alt-fatshion: Plus Size Goth.
This dog is so stylish!
-I so wish this sharkini came in plus sizes.
-Somebody, please, buy this size XXL skull lace dress with red trim so I can enjoy it vicariously.
-Canadian readers, check out Lucy Clothing!
-Kriss, a Swedish brand that goes up to size 2XL, now has an online shop that ships worldwide! It’s expensive, but they have some really cute stuff.
-Karyn takes down fashion “rules.”
-Another recent find: the Bargain Catalog Outlet, which has super-cheap clothes from various plus size catalogs.
Adventures in summer style with Harvey Guillen.

Continue reading

More great posts on #IAmNotADisease

1.) That Cortnie Girl: Another angle of my body love on this quiet Wednesday morning.

My body is not diseased, my body is glorious and it can do amazing things like smile, eat veggies, walk downtown, lay on the floor with friends, walk around at the park, wear bright lipstick, get sunburns even after applying sunscreen, orgasm, eat ice cream, cuddle with kitties, work out, take baths, and wear tight clothes.

It can do all of these things without your permission and diagnosis. So stop trying.

2.) Living 400 Lbs: Why I think declaring obesity a disease is harmful. This is a meticulously sourced list of reasons, and it’s wonderful.

3.) Shakesville: The AMA declares obesity a disease.

I am not a problem to be solved. My body is not a disease to be cured. I cannot overcome my very physiology and make my body do something that it is simply unable to do. The only “cure” for my “disease” is to be a person I am not and cannot be.

Quote of the day, part 2

There are just too many good comments on that Shakesville post. Here’s another one I really like (bold added by me):

“I also work in public health, which can occasionally be hazardous to my mental health as a ‘super-size’ person. I also see colleagues regularly equating fatness with personal failing despite systems-level thinking and intervention being fundamental to our field. Although, I will say that this framing of fatness as a systems issue also problematic for me, and I have a lot of trouble walking this line. My body is not a personal failure AND it’s not a systems failure either — it’s my body.”

– Commenter concatenate

Quote of the day

“I just got back from WisCon (feminist sci-fi convention which is AWESOME). One of the panels I attended was “When ‘Love Your Body’ Isn’t Enough,” and it was a discussion of the body-acceptance movement and what it means. One of the panelists was The Rotund (some may be familiar with her blog), and she said something that really struck a chord in me. She said, “I don’t need to love my body. I need Levi Strauss to love my body.” So that she could buy jeans that fit.

And that struck me as so true. 90% of the issues I have with existing as a fat person in the world isn’t internal: it’s the disgusted looks I get on the subway, it’s the snickering teenagers on the escalator behind me, it’s the verbal abuse hurled at me when I walk down the street, it’s the trouble I have finding clothes and shoes that fit, it’s the ridicule I get when I ride my bike in public, it’s the dismissal and derision I get from medical professionals.”

Commenter Clawfoot on the Shakesville post Fatstronauts 101: Permission to Live (which is a great post, by the way, and you should read it).

Reading while fat, part 4

“Buildings and cars, electricity and language–what a piece of work is man, right? What triumphs of rationality, you know? If you really take it all in, you can become enamored with a smug belief about how smart you and the rest of the human race have become.

Yet you lock your keys in the car. You forget what it was you were about to say. You get fat. You go broke. Others do it too. From bank crises to sexual escapades, we can all be really stupid sometimes.”

–David McRaney, You Are Not So Smart: Why You Have Too Many Friends on Facebook, Why Your Memory is Mostly Fiction, and 46 Other Ways You’re Deluding Yourself

Pretty ironic for a book about unconscious biases, huh?


It’s always disappointing to come across a fatshion blogger who seems cool, only to find that they buy into the same fat-hating crap as the rest of society.

Especially when they’re a bit older and have pink hair. I have an automatic affinity for other pinkies, and if they’re older, even better. I hate how our society fetishizes youth, and even though that benefits me right now–as a 27-year old who looks even younger–I know it won’t last. Some day I’m going to be a 40-, 60-, 80-, God willing 100-year old fatshionista, and I’m not going to stop having fun with style just because society thinks I should. So, I really like finding fa(t)shion role models who show that you can have kickass style at any age.

Which makes it all the more disappointing to read a post like this one. Clare posts a lovely picture of herself wearing a lacy dress that she hand-dyed lavender, and says:

When I was a skinny teen I wore short skirts all the time but over the last 15 years my hemlines have become a more sensible length as my body mass has increased. Now I’m a UK size 18-20 I’m really cautious about wearing short skirts for fear of looking like, well….. a fat slag

ARGLEBARGLE FATSHION HULK SMASH. The picture she links to, and the whole concept of a “fat slag,” is a horrid caricature.


*retreats to cozy corner of fat-o-sphere*