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Sometimes… I wonder why I bother :(

Hi – long time no write! I’ve been terribly slack, but I’m blaming the babies for that – they’re 17 months old now and running in opposite directions most of the time πŸ™‚ Meanwhile I’ve finished up my graduate diploma and am now at a bit of a loose end. The trouble is I’ve been using some of my spare time to argue FA with the ‘unwashed’ (but thin!) masses… and it’s cost me so many sanity points I don’t know whether I want to continue.

There is a message board I tend to frequent, a parenting board on a New Zealand auction website. I’ve gotten some great advice from posters there (I’d never heard of nursing strike, for example) and while (like most boards) it tends to cycle through sane then bitchy and then back to a semblance of normality it’s still been, overall, fairly entertaining.

But lately it’s changed. I’ve gotten a reputation as an unstable nutter and online ‘friends’ are avoiding me (which hurts more than I thought it would). And it’s all because I’ve been arguing FA.

I’m not an arse about it. I don’t go and troll the ‘weight loss support’ threads, for example. But if someone asks what to do about their fat kid, or which diet to try, or how to lose weight in order to help their sore knees Β then yeah, I do comment. I tell them about HAES and continually point out the orthogonal relationship between weight and health (ie. there is no direct relationship). Of course, this is all met by cries of how stupid I am to think that obesity is healthy, that I am not objective on this subject (I freely admit I am not, and I hold that they aren’t either), and that I and all fat-kind are killing ourselves and the planet. The worst thing now is that whenever anyone mentions weight in a thread it becomes “Oh know, watch out for (my name)… she thinks fat is *healthy*!” and all debate goes down the toilet. I can’t even comment on a thread where the OP was belitting a dress as being “horrible on fat people” without being called stupid, etc. And of course every link I post in support is derided – because it’s from the interwebz it can’t be true. Now, sure, I agree with being cautious – but how about reading the article/study first and then making up your own mind? (And why will no-one every give me an answer when I ask where their information comes from… apparently “everyone knows” is trumps as far as information sources are concerned).

The lack of common sense frustrates me. Am I really to believe that not one of them knows a fat person? Am I really supposed to accept that not one of them knows a fat person who a) eats ‘well’ and b) is physically active? Are they really so dense that they can’t accept that just as some thin people can eat like horses and not gain weight so to can the opposite be true (fat people exist who eat ‘normally’ or sparingly and yet don’t lose any?) These people still ‘believe’ in the BMI for crying out loud! And when I give information showing how ridiculous it is… I might as well have not spoken. Because I’m just *wrong* and fat people are all unhealthy, ugly and about to die.

It angers and frustrates me because I know I am right. It worries me because these people are bringing up children and at least some of those kids are genetically destined to be fat. And it hurts me because of the anger and hate and derision. I don’t know why it hurts so much – I don’t know these people IRL – but it does (a throwback to being bullied as a kid/teen perhaps?) And it hurts me because of what they’re teaching these poor (potentially) fat kids that they supposedly love. And it hurts because I am sure people I know/see everyday think these exact same things about me… but what one can say online is usually harder to express face to face.

I want to keep going. I want to keep challenging them. I hope that I can get through to just 1 person and help make the world just that little bit better. But – for me FA is almost more about my mental health than it is my physical health. And I’m not sure that mentally I can continue to go to these kinds of places and take this stuff on. I’m feeling so down at the moment and I don’t know why… but I am not in the bullish headspace I need to be in order to attack the huge brick wall that is Ignorance and Fear.

So I’m going to pull away. No ‘goodbye cruel forum’ post; I got into an argument yesterday which I had to pull out of early and I haven’t even gone back to see what responses it got. I’m just not going back.

Trouble is, though, now I feel like a coward.


15 Responses

  1. Hey, I know how you feel. I have a forum that I love and find very helpful, and take the same approach as you. I feel like every second thread is on weight loss, and I avoid these ones, but every now and then I comment on others, the same as you. I had to leave the forum for a while to calm down and regain my sanity too.

    The amazing thing though, is after a long time, there are other people on there that are starting to think the same way I do, and suggest links that I would suggest. I even found someone who’s done the fat nutritionists online course. It is an amazing thing to find a kindred spirit on a forum!

    So I just wanted to encourage you, if you ever regain enough sanity points, to continue, because the message is filtering through, and there are probably people that are reading and not posting that ARE listening to you!

  2. Oh, and I forgot to add, self protection is NOT cowardice!

    • Thanks πŸ™‚ I’m not sure why it’s upsetting me so much lately… probably a combination of lack of sleep and stress over the upcoming Xmas period. A break will do me good, I think.

  3. You’ll never know how many people you DID get through to, but who didn’t speak up because they could see the dynamic. But I’d guess that you got through to at LEAST one person. Maybe more. You’ll never know, but they’re out there.

  4. How much do you want to bet that a significant portion of the people who are jeering at you are themselves fat? How dare you interfere with their self-righteous self-hate! (Okay, just a little sarcasm there.)
    I recommend reading danceswithfat.wordpress.com, especially an article titled The Trouble With Proving It.

    “every link I post in support is derided ” That sounds familiar. They demand “proof”, but nothing you do or say or link to will prove it. You’d have more luck arguing atheism with the local religious zealot. Name calling? No surprise there – there’s no large animal that a fat person HASN’T been called.

    Anyway, be aware that you’re not alone, not by a long shot. You’ve gotten depressingly typical reactions.

    • Mulberry – I tink you’re right. There are some evangelical ‘I lost weight so everyone else can!’ types but from the odd comment made on other threads I’m starting to think the most vocal are actually fat themselves. And I think that’s horribly sad, that they hate themselves that much.

      I’ll check out the link you mention – thanks for recommending it πŸ™‚

  5. I remember reading an article that had been published in the 60s about the dangers of exposing children and young adults to to much sun. Here in NZ in the 60s we used to have sports days when the entire school was either participating or sitting on the field supporting others and the writer of the article said that this was dangerous because the suns rays were harmful. His article was slammed for being false,that everyone ” knew” that large doses of exposure the the sun was necessary for young children for vitamin D,growing strong healthy bones ( this is where the obsession with tanning started) if you baked in the sun and therefor tanned you were healthy,if you didnt you were not.The explosion of melanomas in children of the 60s proves that the original article was in fact correct.
    FA is the same,keep pounding away at peoples ignorance.Yes it takes a strong person to do this whilst taking the arrows slung at you but you are perfect just the way you are and what you are fighting is other peoples ignorance.

  6. I think that one of the most valuable things we do as fat activists is hang out in unrelated forums and respond to weight-related threads with FA and HAES information.

    The push-back can be horrible. Hanging out in the fatophere can make you forget how radical fat acceptance is.

    But by making it into a point of view that regularly comes up in discussions of weight, we spread the word, we normalize our point of view, and we plant seeds. If somebody isn’t ready to listen now, they may change their minds when their personal experience and observations bear us out.

    And also, by participating in forums involving our work and hobbies and still occasionally speaking out about fat acceptance, we remind them that fat people, including those of us who are self accepting, are normal, intelligent people with interests and careers.

    One thing to be careful about, though, is being a one issue poster. Occasionally mentioning fat acceptance and HAES are one thing, but only speaking up of weight related issues in a forum that focuses on something else is usually a mistake. You hang out in forums where you’re interested in the main topic and like the people, right? If you find yourself posting about weight issues too often, maybe back off on it for awhile and refocus on the forum topic.

  7. Robyn, that’s a particularly interesting analogy because it has a lot of similarities with problems FA supporters will face. It’s true that Vitamin D comes from sunlight and it’s important for bones, and it’s true that there is a correlation between weight and health issues. That doesn’t mean it’s OK to extrapolate from that point to – let’s all sit in the sun all day, or all fat people are unhealthy. But because there is truth mixed in there, it’s so much harder to untangle the nonsense from the facts.

  8. Glad to hear your voice again. I missed it.

    There is a line between making sure a viewpoint is heard and pulling back for your own sanity. Only you can decide where that lies. If you need to disengage for a while, you do what you need to do.

    But yes, a lot of us have been there, done that, on other forums (parenting especially!) and gotten this kind of nut-ball reputation. Scaling back the advocacy in tone and frequency helps, but I hate to see it cut altogether. Voices of moderation and questioning are always important.

    It’s vital to plant those seeds of cognitive dissonance. Sometimes they lie in fallow ground for a loooong while, but often they do bear fruit in time. Trust the message, just deliver it gently.

    Find the compromise you can live with in continuing with advocacy yet also preserving your sanity. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. But detaching periodically can be useful, and doesn’t have to mean you are stopping for good. Advocacy works best in cycles or you burn out.

  9. Fat hatred runs deep. I am fully aware of the auction forum you speak of as I am also a member, I stopped commenting on the boards about a year ago and don’t miss it at all. There’s a lot of bullies on their ready to strike. I applaud your efforts to educate the masses but maybe it’s time to stop and let them swill in their ignorance. When I meet someone who says disparaging things about fat people they often have their own self loathing going on, maybe focusing on others physical appearance makes them better about themselves for one short moment. Sad though.
    I had a boyfriend who said something about a fat woman who was walking across the road in front of our car, it helped me decide he wasn’t the guy for me. (That and the fact he voted for ACT in the last election!) *shudders*

    • A fat-hater and an ACT voter? No wonder you ditched him!!


      • Indeed a lucky escape! : )
        I thought of you as I made a comment on Close Up’s facebook page regarding a Woman who had stomach surgery to lose weight. There was a very simplistic comment about from a woman saying “Eat Less, Move More” as the answer to losing weight. I mentioned Health At Any Size and surprisingly got a few ‘likes’

  10. You are a pioneer in FA at a time when being overweight or fat is seen as the great western evil. I am so proud of you for being a strong, intelligent voice in a sea of diresion and contempt. Hang tough my friend and dont let those fools get you down.

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