Who are we, anyway?

You guys, I haven’t had much to say this week.

I have a paper due for the end of this Group Process class I am in, and I am trying to write on Gestalt Therapy, and I am just not motivated to do it. I don’t know what my problem is. I have been exhausted keeping up with all the recent bout of politics on the fat-o-sphere, and trying to think about things like privilege and gender and how we include more people and what I need to do to make that happen. And I am literally still recovering from the goddamned Mac and Cheese I ate over a week ago. My stupid cell phone almost died yesterday, and when my technology doesn’t work, it’s seriously like a Red Terror Alert on my own personal scale of Terror Alerts. And it snowed, and well … there’s just too many excuses I could make about why I’ve been gone all week.

I feel a rift in the FA movement, one that is forming or about to form or one that already existed and is now just making itself known. Over the last couple of weeks, people have been really expressive about what they aren’t getting, or what they need, and I think that’s great. I mean, I am in therapy school, after all. All this talk about feelings and needs; that’s what therapists love.

This week, I spoke, as a part of a panel, to human sexuality classes, about being queer. The panel was a part of the local LGBT organization; I spoke to three different classes, back to back. It’s funny; a year ago, I was still married and hadn’t yet filed for divorce, and was still figuring out what I would even call myself when I would get around to calling myself something. I never would have imagined I would be speaking to college kids about things like coming out, and trans issues, and why I identify as queer and not as lesbian, and what it was like to get divorced, and what religion says about being gay. I was a real snapshot of how far I’ve come, of the growth I’ve made in just one short year.

Each session, I spoke with different people. Each person identified as something different. Each person held different beliefs; one guy was bi and wanted to really talk about the issues surrounding being bi. He also went on about how the gays would have the right to marry if they really wanted to, an opinion that, as you can imagine, isn’t very popular in the queer community. Another woman identified as a lesbian, but said she might change to queer, but recognized that would be another coming out process. Another woman talked about what it was like to be transgendered, and what that process was for her. Another man talked about being gay; we talked about community, and how it is important. All of us had different experiences, different needs, different stories, different lives. And despite our rich, vibrant histories, we all shared this in common: We are a part of a community; The director of the LGBT organization said this: Being gay or queer or whatever isn’t just about who you sleep with — it’s also about the politics.

And that’s how it is for us here, too.

Some people are calling what they do Size Acceptance. Or Body Acceptance. Or Fat Rights. Or Fat Acceptance. Some people talk primarily about eating disorders. Some people talk about the damage perpetual dieting has done to them. Some people talk about gender and feminism and fat. Some people talk about HAES and exercise and fatness and fitness. Some people talk about the political aspects of fat.

Everybody has a home in this community, despite the differences. A movement cannot exist without diversity — it is the diversity that is going to give the collective whole strength.


Because the virtual world is stereotypical, too.

No no no no no no no no no no! 

I was over at USA Today getting my daily dose of shit-news, when I read this.


There is so much wrong with this, I don’t even know where to begin ranting.

Let me start here.

I hate virtual people. Like, the made up virtual people, especially when they relate to customer service. They are creepy and weird and I don’t care if they have made up pet dogs with names like Denali and Chomp and talk about how they were born because it’s better than having been “born in a computer.” No. No. No. It is strange and wrong and I don’t like it.

Furthermore, they do not meet my customer service needs.

I have dealt with these virtual customer service people, both on the phone and online, for a number of years now. The first one I ran into was Claire, the avatar-person-thing for Sprint. “Hi,” she would say, when I would call Sprint to bitch about my bill. “How can I help you? You can say: Billing and Payment. Or Wireless Service.”

Don’t tell me how to talk, you robot-thing-whatever. I’ll say whatever I want. And so I’d speak naturally, and she’d respond: “I didn’t understand you. You can say: Billing and Payment. Or Account Help.”

After a few rounds of that, finally I would say: “fuckyoufuckyoufuckyou,” and she would say, “I see. Let me transfer you to an Authorized Representative.”

Yes. Thank you.

I have also had a similar experience with the virtual woman for Charter Communications. And Ikea, whom we told to fuck off, and she responded that that wasn’t very polite, and then refused to engage anymore. They have become more advanced, these customer service automatons.

What I have noticed about these virtual people is that they are all white. They are all thin. They have all been women. They all have appropriately styled hair. The above linked-to story about an airline has a woman with long, layered brown hair and bangs. Claire had a short, brown bob with bangs that she tucked behind her ears. The Ikea woman had blonde hair, probably because Ikea is Swedish.

The author of the USA Today article states that these virtual people are so great because it is so tiresome to deal with foreign people trying to answer our customer service calls; finally, we have someone to help whose native tongue is English.


So, we have a virtual world of virtual women whose language, bodies, hair, nationalities, weight, complexion, clothing, and conversations we can control. Sounds fucking fabulous.

What about when the virtual people are representations of real, live people? How does that go over?

In the latest BitchMagazine, there’s an article talking about virtual worlds, kind of like The Sims. The particular community in question is Second Life. I know nothing of these things, really, because most of my time online is spent writing and Facebooking and stalking Fatshionista over at LiveJournal. So I pulled up some articles on Second Life, because I was really fucking disturbed about what Bitch had to say.

You know, I did a large part of my undergraduate studies on internet media. Whenever a “new” media hits the scene, it is purported to be THE MEDIA FORMAT TO REVOLUTIONIZE THE WORLD. It will be the media that will destroy all other media. It will break all barriers.

And in certain ways, the internet certainly has turned people on their collective ear. People still can’t figure out how to make a huge individual profit from it. It is assisting in building communities in ways people didn’t imagine, while also succeeding in creating a sense of isolation like never before. Broad-scale activism is much easier with this internet, and it also allows people to take back the reigns of power from the large corporatized media that shoves bullshit down our gullets day in and day out.


Communities on the internet are not the social utopia that we’d like them to be, the way that it had been predicted they would be. After all, people are still people, with their foibles, flaws, hate and fear. And what better place to express their vitriol than on places like virtual communities, where people can be souped up versions of themselves, with bigger tits, blonder hair, smaller waists, tighter asses, bigger pecs, larger dicks, and bulgier biceps. Hiding behind the perfect version of themselves, people also seem to feel a lot safer expressing the inner hatred they feel against say, people of color. Or women. Or queers.

Take for instance, this snippet.

Linden Labs, the creators of Second Life, have rules about these things. I had heard one report of a woman complaining that her avatar had been raped in Second Life; there was an outcry, stating that she could have just signed off; or that what was rape in Second Life? — the virtual person just “bumping” in to her? It is important to note that first, Second Life does allow virtual people to actually have sex. And it is important to note that the creators of the game recognize that because of this, it can go far enough that they have to regulate their own community. Last year, the Belgian Police actually became involved when a person complained of virtual rape in Second Life.

I guess my point is this: it’s rather depressing to note that we’ve just moved our very stereotypical world online. It’s not surprising, of course. But how do we feel about the prospect of racial and homophobic epithets, fat hate speech, stereotypic body types, virtual crime against women, and virtual murder, which can and has translated to real-life murder?

Under the guise of anonymity, we have allowed ourselves to indulge in what we most want, which is to touch our darkest impulses: rape, murder, sexual harassment, hate crimes, hate speech, the control of women’s bodies. In a certain sense, if this were to stay in the virtual world, I might entertain the notion that that was OK. We need a release of those Freudian, id rages. I get that. But the truth is, we are becoming a society who is depending on these virtual people to deliver us services — Claire for Sprint, and the virtual women for Ikea and the airline company. And they fit stereotypes that we are fighting daily in real life.

It’s pretty fucked up, in my opinion, that we discriminate against people of color, people with disabilities, transfolks, queers, women, fat people and people who don’t speak English as their native language for jobs already, and now we’ve just gotten around the whole Equal-Opportunity-Employer question by saying: That’s OK, we only hire virtual people anyway. White, thin, straight, able-bodied, English-speaking virtual people that we had created for us after careful marketing and research. Thanks for the application, but we won’t be needing you anyway.

Personal experience with fat hatred

Seems like we FA bloggers think alike. Rio also posted a blog today on the abuse that fat people take in society. I was going to post a comment on her blog, but then it started getting too long.

My comment was basically a collection of all the shitty things people have said to me over the years regarding my fat. It’s a personal take on the blog I just posted prior to this one. Most of the comments I can’t even remember anymore. They get too be too much and too many and too overwhelming. It goes a little something like this.

From the Parents:
*You shouldn’t be mad at your mom for not buying you those pants because you looked like a fat cow in them.
*I don’t know why you think you can walk around here in that bathing suit. You look awful.
*Fatty, fatty two-by-four, couldn’t fit through the bedroom door.
*It looked like you’ve lost some weight! You didn’t block out the sun when you got into my car this afternoon.
*How much of that are you going to eat?
*You gained 16 pounds this year. What’s wrong with you?

From Kids at School:
*One kid made that noise that big trucks make when backing up. It’s called the “back-alarm.”
*One kid asked me out as a joke. I didn’t date anyone ever for the rest of school, convinced they were all asking me out as a joke.
*One entire year, a kid decided to rename me Big Bertha.

From People on the street:
*Two teenage boys, when I was 24, saw me in a parking lot and called out the window: Move it, you fat whale!

I was most shocked by the teenage boys. At 24, I was fully an adult, and thought I had outaged the taunting based on my weight. Apparently not. Most commentary I receive now (and at that time) comes in the form of street harrassment: men honking at me, men telling me I have a nice ass, men asking for my number, men asking if I have a man. That comment actually almost pushed me over the edge. I had a baseball bat in my car and I almost smashed out those fuckers windows, I had been so fed up with the commentary on my body after years and years. True story.

I didn’t though. I wished I would have. The headlines would have been great. Fat Woman is Mad As Hell and Isn’t Taking It Anymore.

Why FA exists

Some people wonder why all the fat bloggers are here, day in and day out, blogging about fat acceptance.

I mean, if the fat people would just shut up and spend some time following the dictates of modern medical science, and lose some weight already, surely we’d have no reason to be so outraged over society having such an issue about our collective fat bodies.

Today, I’d like to move away from the medical and health side of the fat debate. Not enough time is spent on the social side of the fat debate.  How does society really perceive fat people? What do people think of us? The internet affords people a lot of anonymity. I’ll be writing on that in a short while. Because of that anonymity, people often say and do things online they may not feel as comfortable doing in real life, but it allows people to express what they really feel.

A series of blogs on weight loss surgery in children — stomach stapling — over at She Dances on the Sand received a series of very vitriolic and vile comments recently. Stomach stapling is a pretty serious surgery: among adults, it is life threatening, leads to a permanent reduction in your daily intake of food, an inability to absorb nutrients, potential daily vomiting and diarrhea, among a whole other host of ailments. To subject a child to that is pretty drastic and I’d say damn abusive.

The comments went completely off-topic and were, well, shocking:

Ozfugly. You got gored by a boar? Are you sure it wasn’t trying to mate with you since you look like a pig?

Just a thought.

Fuck you all.

I’m against rape. Unless it’s obese women. How else are they going to get sweet, sweet, cock? Too be honest, obese women who have been victims of rape have reported that the rapist wasn’t able to penetrate their vaginas. There was to much gunt in the way. The rapist had to settle with fucking one of their many folds.

caseyatthebat- Thank you for your concern regarding my bowel movements! As a matter of fact, I just took a long stinky dump. It looked like Kate Harding! How awesome! What’s it like being obese? I wouldn’t know. I’m a size 2. and that feels great!

I’d like to hide behind my intellectual superiority and point out the grammatical and spelling errors, but quite frankly I feel too shocked to bother. This is how the public, at least some of them, sees fat people, fat women, in particular: As object worthy to be raped because how else would they ever get to experience the sweet, sweet cock?

Even worse, the public feels so offended by our bodies that they can’t even imagine raping us as they would thin women, e.g. forcibly penetrating our vaginas. No. They actually would RAPE OUR FAT. Our bodies are that offensive that they would commit an act of power and violence against what they perceive to be the most offensive and rule-breaking part of us.

Wow. I don’t know which is worse, really. The threat of rape itself, or that I’ve now just been so dehumanized someone would rape my fat. Someone would actually threaten to penetrate the folds of my body because I am actually that disgusting. Someone actually doesn’t even view my fat as a part of ME, they see it as outside of ME, and therefore can justify committing violence against it because if it is outside of ME, it isn’t human. I am less than human.

This is why FA exists. Because of people like the commenters above. Discrimination against fat people isn’t just about going to your doctor and having them be a douche and push some stupid diet down your throat, which is an important component, yes, but not the only one. It is also about people seeing us as less than them, less than, well, people. Less than people enough that they can justify committing acts of violence against us. The proof is right there.

Good or Bad, All fatties deserve rights

There are a few of us on the fat-o-sphere feed who are in recovery for eating disorders right along side of being fat. I am one of those people. I’ve written a few blogs on this matter, but I’ll save you all from having to go through the library of posts on this site to figure out my issues. I was put on a diet by the parents at about ages 6 or 7, I then developed binge eating disorder, which permeated all aspects of my life through 17 years old, when I got too fat for my folks to handle, somewhere around 280 pounds I think. I then got put on another significant diet, whereby I was taken to a diet center, and subsequently developed bulimia, lost about 90 pounds, and then struggled with bulimia for a number of years afterwards, doing irreparable damage to my digestive system and potentially my heart, as I abused ephedrine in the thin-seeking quest.

I was never thin during my eating disorders. At my thinnest, I was still fat, weighing in at 171 pounds, after smoking during a bout of the flu. I wore a Size 12 at the Gap. It was a brief moment of joy in my life. Mostly, I was always well above 200 pounds, and fighting it all the way.

Eating disorders are not pretty, folks. I stole food. I hoarded food. I hid food in my pillowcase so that I could eat it later at night when everyone was asleep. I enlisted my sister to ask my parents for food on my behalf. I stole food as an adult, as well, not believing I had the right to buy groceries for myself, and also fearing that if I did, I would eat them all at once. Often, if I did go grocery shopping, I would end up  binging and eat most everything in the house methodically, just so I could be rid of the fear that there was food in the house. I never felt full, despite how much I ate. Later I would learn that there was an emptiness within me that food could probably never fill.

When I got diagnosed with bulimia, I told my folks, and they laughed at me.

I have done a lot of work around my eating disorders. I have a better sense of being full, because I am on a medication now that helps regulate satiety. I learned what my trigger foods were, and decided to keep those out of the house, making it safer for me to go grocery shopping. I decided to never diet again. I decided to ban any foods with the words “lite” or “fat free” on them, determined that I had lived a half-the-calorie life for so long, and it had left me wanting so badly, that I would eat everything in its full form and enjoy it. I decided to eat mayonnaise again. And bacon. Those had been deemed “bad” foods. I decided that I would bring lunches to work, so that instead of popping ephedrine and smoking through my lunch break, I would eat, and damn the consequences of potential weight gain.

I decided to work on the emptiness. That’s harder. It’s a battle I will have for the rest of my life. I have replaced some of the battles that I have had with food with other things, like smoking, or shopping.

I cannot go to the gym. It is too triggering. I cannot follow meal plans, also too triggering. I have to be careful, now, in another sense, not to engage in old patterns lest I wind up sliding down a very slippery slope. The eating disorder is always there, lurking beneath the surface. It’s a part of me, has been, since I was a kid. I have to fight against it all the time.

There’s a concept floating out there, or at least I’ve read it in a couple of blogs, that there are good fat people, and bad fat people, based on how fat people are taking care of their health. Based on if fat people are following HAES and exercising regularly. Based on if, essentially, fat people are following the “rules” of thin culture: which is that we are good if we are trying to appear thin by following the eating and exercise paradigms of the thin.

I want to say a couple of things on this. First, from the perspective of someone who is in constant recovery for an ED, I am uninterested in playing by the rules of any sort of eating/exercising culture again. It is far too triggering and damaging to me. I realize that how I live now may be unhealthy. But for me, it is an immense improvement over how I was living before, where I was drinking a case of soda a day, smoking a pack a day, taking up to 6 pills of ephedrine a day, binging on cookies, and eating cheese and crackers for dinner, and hitting the gym to burn off at least 600 calories in an hour and lift weights.

Secondly, from the perspective of someone who, in the middle of her eating disordered days, recognized she would always be fat, continued to engage in the disordered eating and exercise to show people she was at least “trying” to adhere to thin culture standards, I am uninterested in engaging in any sort of fitness and eating “program.” It would also be far too triggering to me. I do not feel the need to prove to anyone that I am a “good” fat person because I am eating healthy and exercising. To me, a “good” fat person in this sense means a person who is attempting to be accepted by thin culture. I am never going to be accepted by thin culture, because I am not thin, I never, ever have been EVER, and I don’t actually WANT to be. This is it, folks. This is me. Fat. Take it or leave it.

I am at a point in my own recovery, and in my own life, where fat is fat. How it got there, how I became fat, is unimportant. I am uninterested in proving to thin culture anymore that there a million reasons for fatness. They can suck it, as far as I am concerned. They don’t have to justify to me their thinness. Why? Because it is assumed that their thinness is inherently better. Just like white people don’t have to justify their whiteness to anyone else. Or straight people don’t have to justify their straightness to anyone else. These dominant cultures are allowed to trample all over the rights of anyone else because they are, well, dominant.

And quite frankly, people of color, queers, fatties: each of them have also been oppressed by medicine and science, stating that their inherent qualities are aberrations, when in truth, nature accounts for a variation within all populations. Fucking duh. Biology 101, people. But we don’t like people who look different than us, now do we?

So here’s where I am at with the good fat people — the fat people who exercise and eat well and follow the health standards of thin culture, vs. the bad fat people who do whatever they want. We are all fat. The End. To me, we all deserve the same rights, despite what we are eating, despite when and if we are exercising. If I eat 12 girl scout cookies, I still deserve to go to the doctor and be treated as though I am a Legitimate Patient with Legitimate Concerns, just as fat person who eats carrot sticks and celery every day for lunch. The doctor is still going to see the fat and think: Oinky, oinky, go on a diet. The visual presentation, despite the adherence to, or lack thereof, to thin culture standards, outweighs (pun intended) anything we are doing.

Fat is not a purposeful choice. I have not met a fat person yet who said: When I was a little girl, I said: I want to be a fat woman when I grow up!! Just like I have not met a queer person who has said: I chose to be gay. People do not choose to be members of oppressed populations. Every fat person I have met has been on a diet, some since literally early childhood. They have wrestled their weight. They have been on medically supervised eating plans. They have exercised. They have rejected their bodies in horrible ways. They know more about health and nutrition than Meme Roth. They have introjected thin culture standards and hated themselves for it for far too long. And yet, we are all still fat. It is time to realize there is no good or bad fat. There is simply fat. And all fat people deserve the same rights as every other person on this planet.

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