Not Beaten by the Blunt Instrument

Published February 16, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

Well!  What an afternoon.  Normally I don’t blog about other blogs, cos it’s kinda redundant usually, I think it’s better to just  not read them any more if they piss me off or I disagree.  But this one has mentioned me personally, and is about a conversation I have been having with it’s author, so I think I’m going to break tradition.

Now, let’s get one thing straight.  Author John Birmingham, who’s original tweet I challenged, and who is the author of the blog post I’m talking about here, has apologised for his original tweet, which I admire anyone who can apologise for something said hastily.  It takes a person with grace and dignity to do that.  I also admire JB as an writer (his books make me pee laughing) and quite often he hits the nail right on the head with a blog topic on his rather cool blog Blunt Instrument.  He has also been respectful and polite to me personally during this whole discussion/debate.

So I would like anyone reading this to take a moment before getting stuck into JB, remember, we’re all adults and can have a discussion without getting disrespectful or nasty.

Ok, so, what I’m going to talk about here is JB’s attitude (and many others with him) towards fat people.  In particular, a few quotes from his blog and response comments to me.  (Note: I haven’t read the blog comments on his post except those between him and myself, too high a risk of douchebaggery and I don’t need that shit.)

And I’m not discussing here that JB doesn’t believe in fat acceptance or Health at Every Size (HAES) – that’s for another blog post – and he’s entitled to disagree.  It’s a little deeper than that.

Let’s start with these comments in response to my asking him to keep the “fat hate” to himself regarding his comment on this tweet.

I have been morbidly obese. It nearly killed me.

my morbid obesity was entirely my own fault

Ok, so JB believes his obesity was his own fault, and he’s been able to lose weight so he is no longer morbidly obese.  That’s fair enough, and I believe he has been very fortunate to be able to do that.  When I challenged him that he would be in the vast minority of morbidly obese people (actually overweight and obese people too) who could actually achieve that, he responded with:

I’d dispute that 5% my understanding – & I did lots research b4 embarking on weight loss- is that 30% simply can’t lose weight…

So this is where I wasn’t happy.  Because he’s instantly assumed that because I haven’t been able to stop being morbidly obese, that I haven’t done lots of research.  Which kinda tells me that he assumes NO Fatty McFattersons have ever done lots of research either.

On the simple assumption, that because I am a fat person who is staying fat, and doesn’t believe that I can stop being fat, I must by default be lazy/unintelligent/uninspired and have never done any research of my own.  Let alone “lots”.

It really is falling into the whole Wooo!  I lost weight and you can too!!* malarkey.

*If you just stop being lazy and gluttonous.

Now to be honest, I don’t think JB is being blatantly discriminatory and prejudiced.  But it shows to me the deep seated belief in our culture that fat = bad, and that fat people are somehow less than non-fat people.  Subconsciously at least, JB believes this.  Because in his comments on his blog, he actually says:

You are not differently-abled when carrying around excess weight. You are disabled. I’ve carried enough to know.

Now I’m really getting offended.  You know MY body do you JB?  You  know how I live my life, how able I am in my life, and what my body can and can’t do?  You know what I could do with my body before I was fat, and what I can do with it now that I’m a very fat person do you?

See this is what drives me nuts and gets up my arse.  The assumption, on looking at a fat person, that you can sum them up and know what’s best for them, how they live and what is right and wrong for them.  The equation of not being fat to being morally superior.

He concludes his response to my comment with:

Kath, I am living a completely different life. A better life.

That’s bloody fabulous JB!  Good on you!  But you’re assuming that your life is somehow better than mine (and any other fatty boombahs) because you are not fat and I am fat.  You’re assuming that as a fat person, I’m living this horrible disabled, lazy, idle life of misery.

Well, contrary to what we’re sold in shitty TV reality series hauling out the crying fatties to compete, nay, perform like monkeys for money prizes, pap magazines full of celebrities announcing how miserable they were while they were fat (while accepting nice fat endorsement cheques from Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers and the like), and newspapers whoring themselves over “BOOGA-BOOGA-OBESITY-CRISIS!” and so on, fat people aren’t pathetic or miserable because of our fat.

Fat people suffer because of non-fat people.  Fat people suffer because of self-hating fat people.  Fat people suffer because our culture judges us on sight alone, without ever knowing anything about us.  And when we stop accepting the world treating us like that, when we stand up and say “I will not accept anything less than respect and dignity, and fair treatment.” then the suffering goes away.  The shit doesn’t stop from the outside world, but it does stop hurting.

When we stop hating ourselves, and start realising that perhaps the rest of the world is not the best authority on OUR bodies, but WE are, then the suffering eases.

I’d love to have a coffee with JB.  Skim latte please, full cream milk makes me fart.  I’d love him to meet me “in the flesh” (I’ve got lots of it!) and to just ask himself after meeting and talking to me if he still thinks of me as disabled or morbid or broken or in any way less than any other human being.

I’ll leave you with my final comment to JB in his blog comments:

My life completely changed too. A far better life, a far happier life, a far healthier life, a far, far more productive life. It changed when I stopped accepting the bullshit that my body is “disabled” or less worthy than someone who is not fat.

*Please note: I am deleting any comments from those who clearly didn’t read what I have said in this post and are pulling the old “But you Fatty McFattersons are in DENIAL!” and “But I’m fat and I’m going to get thin because I might die!”   Please go back and read this post and what I have said again carefully, and then you’re welcome to comment on that.

30 comments on “Not Beaten by the Blunt Instrument

  • I have never, ever felt differently abled or disabled in the slightest. I don’t make any effort to stay in shape (I am a Bad Fatty like that), so someone who actually works out (fat or thin) would kick my butt (unless it’s DDR and the other guy is a newb who has not graduated to the “Difficult” setting yet), but if you correct for fitness level, I can do anything any other uncoordinated bookworm can do, except fit into tiny spaces, possibly a bit more in tasks requiring sheer muscle because I was just born that way.

    JB’s generalizing his experience onto huge and diverse groups: not so awesome.

    • You bad fatty you! 🙂

      I can’t do a bunch of things. I couldn’t bloody do them before I got fat either. I couldn’t do them when I lost weight and got less fat. But they’re not things I feel are essential to my quality of life. Who cares if I run like a girl who has had concrete and rebar implanted into her arse cheeks. I can still dance and swim and ride a bicycle and play Wii and break a golf ball in two with a single swing (and split tennis balls – makes me a ballbreaker huh?) and a gajillion other things.

  • Love it! I have also never felt like it’s my fat itself that is the problem—if the world dropped away, and/or if suddenly all things in the world were size-accommodating, I wouldn’t feel odd, different, etc at all. I’d feel great.

    But I suspect that (not sure about the author about whom you speak), most fatphobic people *know* that us fatties would be just fine without them, thanks. That’s why they demand that fat people shouldn’t have stylish clothing, or be able to purchase gasp ONE ticket to ride on an airplane, and so forth. Because they know that if there’s a fat accommodating world, we wouldn’t ever listen to them for ONE DAMN SECOND. And, in the end, it’s always all about them, isn’t it?

    • Yeah I think you might be on to something. If they stop hounding on us for just one minute, we might actually be able to get on with life and not waste so much damn time dodging the shit they sling in our direction. Couldn’t have that happen, could we?

  • Fat people suffer because of non-fat people. Fat people suffer because of self-hating fat people. Fat people suffer because our culture judges us on sight alone, without ever knowing anything about us.

    YES. THIS!

  • “Fat people suffer because of non-fat people. Fat people suffer because of self-hating fat people. Fat people suffer because our culture judges us on sight alone, without ever knowing anything about us. And when we stop accepting the world treating us like that, when we stand up and say “I will not accept anything less than respect and dignity, and fair treatment.” then the suffering goes away. ”

    That right there is beautiful. Thank you.

    • You are more than welcome. It’s the truth, we’re not made miserable by our own bodies, we’re made miserable by other people.

  • You handled yourself beautifully. And I hope that maybe the gentleman will remember some of what you told him when the day comes…as it most likely will…that he regains most or all of that terrible, ‘disabling’ fat he is so proud of himself for getting rid of. And if that day doesn’t come, then I hope that he is truly happy & fulfilled spending the rest of his life in semi-starvation & most likely working out excessively. It’s his life & his body, he gets to make his own choices, but he has no right to make sweeping assumptions about the rest of us.

    • Thank you Patsy. It’s those sweeping assumptions that I think it’s really important to challenge, rather than the disagreement with FA/HAES. It’s ok to disagree, it’s not ok to make generalisations based on some external factor.

  • Oh, & I forgot to mention, I AM disabled…I was born with cerebral palsy…but not disabled by fat. I have been active my whole life, often excessively so, since my personal issue has been a lifelong struggle with compulsive exercise & the need to prove that I am ‘as good as’ ‘normal’ or ‘thin’ people. I can do pretty much whatever I really need or want to do, I am now 60 years old, have raised two sons, & am now helping to raise my granddaughter. I have joy in my life, I love & I am loved, I don’t hide out or run away from life, & the only damn thing being fat means is that I need a larger clothing size & that some idiots believe I am less because there is more of me, just as some believe I am less because I have a disability.

  • “Fat people suffer because of non-fat people.” THIS!

    Good rebuttal, awesome.

    Also, I wonder where in the world he got that “30% can’t lose weight” figure. Did he link it in the post? I hate reading non-FA stuff because my PMSy mind would just explode.

    • Where does anybody get their dodgy “statistics”? Quoted in newspapers as fact, from biased research papers, from material put out by those who make money from the weight loss industry. It wasn’t in his post though, so no link. He mentioned it in Twitter.

      • Speaking of those 30% of fat people who can’t lose weight, why does JB consider it acceptable for them to be thrown under the bus because (he believes) the other 70% totally could lose weight? 30% of fat people is a lot of people.

  • It’s sad really. I’m neither differently abled nor disabled. So what if I don’t run, I don’t do it because I don’t think it’s fun. So what if I’m not able to walk up 3 flights of stares without getting out of breath. I don’t know that many skinny people who can do that.

    And I really get tired of hearing all these success stories. “Oh I was fat but now I’m skinny and my life is so much better.” My life isn’t bad as it is now. I’m succeeding in school, I have a guy who thinks I’m perfect just as I am, and I’m really starting to understand why I’m no different than that size 2 girl in the store. So what do I have to be ashamed of?

    Go Kath for stepping forward so eloquently for us.

    • THAT’S exactly what I’m challenging. The attitude that fat people are somehow less, somehow faulty because of their body size and shape.

  • I have to say I don’t normally weigh in to these debates (ha), because I am still struggling with the fact that I do think I should be mildy healthier and 15kg thinner; however I REALLY object to how sliding from a size 14 to a size 16 suddenly meant I became this naughty overweight child and everyone else knew better about my life, health and weight than I did!

    It really sticks in my craw. I am actually really healthy, relatively fit for my size – but as someone said, I don’t run, because well – running is f#&ing awful and intense exercise sends me into spirals of depression and self loathing. What the hell is healthy about that? It has got to the stage where I would have to be UNHEALTHY (ie, drugs, starvation) in order to APPEAR HEALTHY by certain standards – oh, that Measure Up campaign??? At my optimal health, fitness and wellbeing, I had an 88cm waist and guess what I was FABULOUS!

    Do you know what dawned on me recently though? This whole stupidity of judgment and the overwhelming tidal waves of “advice” I received from a variety of skinny-fats, exercise junkies, food-phobes and well-meaning Life Invaders, is that it ACTUALLY MAKES THE WHOLE LOSING WEIGHT THING RIDICULOUSLY HARDER!!!!!

    I want to surf, right? I’ve always wanted to surf. Overcome my fear, conquer the waves, prove something to myself, get fit, blah blah, ten birds with one stone. Yet the fact that people assume I’m unfit because I’m a size 16, or mock me or ignore me, figure I couldn’t or don’t want to do anything active, means I don’t have the chance to learn (unless I pay a motzah for private tuition).

    Life is like one big schoolyard, where you never get better at anything because if you aren’t already good at it, you don’t get picked for the team hence don’t continue to improve. Every time I hear about “forcing” obese kids to exercise, my insides turn to a raging ball of humiliation and self-defeating torture. My issues with exercise came from that very place (coupled with the fact that basically any exercise other than s3x or walking is just really horrible).

    Maybe instead of this ridiculous all-female gym concept (oh, a room full of competing women, HOW BLOODY NON-JUDGEMENTAL… are you EFFING KIDDING ME WHO THOUGHT OF THAT???) I should make fatty bumbah exercise groups where we go on sporadic walking/swimming jaunts punctuated with long b!tch sessions about the general overriding crapness of exercise and instead go and watch a bunch of yuppie yoga bunnies compensate for lack of orgasms while drinking a bloody mary and laughing our rings off. That should burn some calories.

    /end rant

    • And that, dear pussinboots, is the basic tenet of fat acceptance and Health at Every Size. Each one of us is different, requires different levels of activity and nutrition to keep ourselves healthy, and our bodies are OUR responsibility, not anyone else’s. Not to mention that every human being deserves respect, dignity and fair treatment regardless of body size or shape. And hating on yourself does not work, so you have to be good to yourself and treat yourself well, live your life to the fullest, and respect your body.

    • I’d be up for that! Ha, maybe that’s what we should do start groups just for fat women and do whatever the heck we want. :p

  • Thank you sleepydumpling. I’m going to learn to bloody surf if it kills me. Because how I’ll feel about MYSELF if I do is vastly more important than how I might be judged getting there.

    It’s funny isn’t it, that other people strike out against fat as an outward manifestation of ill-health – if only we were so involved in inner health! Of all the thin people I know, my partner and parents included, few are there by any means of care and respect for their bodies – quite the opposite! My partner lives on red meat, empty carbs, starch, beer and coffee (meanwhile, at size 16, I eat a predominantly fish & vego diet with all the right things and very little of it). My best friend lives on ciggies, chai lattes and thai takeout. My mum is hopeless and has only begun eating full meals since I was about 21. My dad is an exercise junkie who’s ideas on food have fluctuated between every ridiculous ‘nutritionist’ fad and who point blank refused to acknowledge the success of my ‘6 healthy snacks a day’ eating plan. Other friends fluctuate according to alcohol, drugs, medical problems, The Pill, stress… rarely if ever are they holistic, healthy or happy! Whereas I am usually close to all three… until something like being excluded from horseriding or surfing sends me spiralling down again and wondering if all this work on the inside of my “temple” will ever bloody matter if the outside isn’t streamlined enough.

    • The thing that bugs me is that people crap on about “Oh, but your HEALTH!!” while calling us disgusting, dirty, gross, etc. If they cared so much about us, they wouldn’t be screwing up our mental health all the time by abusing us. They just like feeling superior.

    • Apart from your partner, this could be me. Hubby is the same as me, good diet, bit overweight. The rest of my family eat crap. One of my friends only eats chocolate and her two very young kids have never eaten fruit or vegetables if you can fathom something that crazy. My mum is crazy thin but only eats cake and chocolate. My brother eats only junk and too much booze. None of these people are happy. I’m vego, hubby likes meat and I cook it for him and the kids, My kids are crazy in love with meat (how’d that happen) but both eat heaps of veg and fruit as well as junk. Both are really skinny but neither are fat phobic.Their mum’s fat and it’s no big deal. Everyone’s the same to them, I’m a lucky mum that way. I’m also really happy.
      Great post. Thanks for sharing.

      • You know, I follow JB on Twitter and he eats and drinks a far lot more crappy food than I do. He can’t make any claims to me about being superior of health, he drinks like a fish and loves his tucker!

    • No answer was given when I brought it up. I know it’s not that long, I’ve followed his career for many years.

  • BAH and indeed PFFFTTT! There’s no-one more sanctimonious than one who is ‘reformed’. You see it with alcoholics, the holier than thou attitude towards those who drink alcohol. But being FAT (oooh scary, dirty word!) is not the same thing and that’s part of the attitude that needs to change. Fat is a fact of life along with thin, red-haired, blonde, blue-eyed, brown-skinned, and you don’t see any of that as being a major issue for public concern. As for the Biggest Loser, that’s nothing short of mental torture, both for the contestants and the people watching. I’ve created a drinking game, every time someone cries, falls over or pukes, you do a shot, because the only way that show is bearable is inebriated.

  • I hope those-including JB- who are ‘speaking out’ against those recalcitrant fatties who can lose weight, but refuse are aware that KS is a serial dieter.

    And I quote;

    I don’t have a weight problem. There are people who can work their asses off to lose weight only to find that their genetics conspire against their best efforts. I’m not one of those people. I can lose weight – I just have a problem with getting off my fat ass. What can I say? I’m just a lazy fuck.

    Yes fatties doing/thinking as expected are thrown off the plane same as those aren’t.

  • I’m fat, I’m happy, I’m loved. I am healthy, I ride bikes, I walk. I love clothes, I love food, I love wine. I enjoy life and I won’t be told that because I am fat, I can’t do, wear, eat or live as joyfully as I want to.I won’t wear black sacks, I won’t stop dyeing my hair cherry red, I won’t stop drinking another glass of red. I’ll eat that buttery toast because I bloody well can. I’ll also look after myself. I’ve been thin, I am fat. Either way, I’m fine with me. What some bastard chooses to believe based on my appearance is entirely up to him/her. I can’t make them feel different, I can only not give a shit.

  • Now how can it be worth it to lose all that weight and NOT have the dubious privilege of feeling superior to all those other fat people out there? All that work and that expense – and for what?

    “Fat people suffer because of self-hating fat people.”
    That is sooo true! TGo give juust one example, many’s the time I’ve thought that we could have better choices in clothing and shoes if only these self-haters didn’t insist on cramming themselves into too-small outfits. It’s quite understandable if your size simply isn’t made, but so many of these women care so much more about the number on the size tag than the way the clothes fit or how they look.

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