My Letter to Mia Freedman

Published May 10, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

Well, it has happened again, Mia Freedman has posted yet another entry to her blog that is pointing out the extremes of body behaviour, in this case extreme eating/weight and erroneously suggests that it is “encouraging obesity”.

It deeply concerns me that Mia, as a representative of The Butterfly Foundation, an eating disorder support foundation, seems to think it’s ok to post these kind of pieces, from what I see as an “OMG LOOK WHAT THE FATTY MCFATTERSONS ARE DOING NOW!” when it is merely an example of the most extreme, unusual behaviour around fatness and extreme eating.

This one was one I needed to comment on, so I left her a letter in her comments, which I will share for you here:

Mia it’s interesting that you keep saying that you only post what you find interesting. Because I keep noticing a trend of posting the very extreme stories around fat bodies, or people punishing/shaming fat folks, or thinly veiled “advice” on how you think “the war on obesity” should be fought.

Are you or are you not involved with The Butterfly Foundation? Do you not have a responsibility to take a moderate, balanced, understanding view of body image? Do you not have a duty of care thanks to your involvement with The Butterfly Foundation to present a body positive perspective?

Every time you make a post regarding body image about the fat end of the scale, it looks very much a “Point and stare” kind of OMG LOOK AT WHAT THE FATTY MCFATTERSONS ARE DOING! post.

You suggest that the feeders (a very rare breed of fat person indeed) “encourage obesity”, but how many people read about say the woman above, and actually want to rush out and get fat? How is someone with either a very rare fetish or a serious eating disorder encouraging others to follow her example? I haven’t seen anywhere that she talks about anyone else getting extremely fat other than herself… so why the “encouraging obesity” tack?

Why? Perhaps because you want to skew the public view to think that anyone who is fat and doesn’t diet or is about fat acceptance is trying to convert the whole world to fat. Or at least cast a very negative light on fat people.

You are in a highly visible position and are a representative of an organisation that is about positive body image. In fact on it’s website front page there is a headline “Your Beauty and Worth Cannot Be Measured”. Therefore you have a responsibility to share a balanced, moderate, positive approach to body image, and not just highlight the very extremes of behaviours around body shape and size. Dieting yourself fatter, skinny girls are liars, plastic surgery to prevent eating disorders, weigh ins for kids… all such extreme examples of bad body image that you seem to love to highlight.

Instead of marginalising bodies that our outside of the “normal” range, how about posting some interesting pieces on encouraging activity because it is fun, or positive stories about women who have achieved something amazing despite the shape and size of their body, or their eating disorders.

Or is that not “interesting” enough for you?

*Update* I do need to correct something I misunderstood. Mia is not a direct representative of The Butterfly Foundation but she is Chair of the National Body Image Taskforce convened by Minister Kate Ellis (on which Butterfly sit too). But my point is still the same.

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21 comments on “My Letter to Mia Freedman

  • I totally agreed with you – I think Mia has to be more careful about mixed messages and double standards with regard to Body Image Posts – I think that some of her posts tend to be a little bit knee jerk – perhaps a bit more research to ensure that a fair and blanced view is shared.

    • I really think she has a responsibility in her role of Chair of the National Body Image taskforce to adopt a moderate, balanced approach to bodies – and not target any groups for ridicule or hatred.

  • Sounds like Mia is okay with body diversity as long as it doesn’t mean accepting non-dieting fat people, which is a view that a lot of people sadly express. Thank you for telling her like it is.

    • Pretty much lifeonfats – “normal” weight (her standards, not anyone else’s) seems to be the window that she leaves alone.

  • SleepyD… I love you. You’re totally right… and in the last comment (in reply to yours) that Cos made, even she/he gives an example of the undercurrent of fat hatred, which, I tried (and I hope I did well enough) to point out that saying “obesity problem” is an undercurrent of fat hate.

    • I feel like Sally Field when she won the Oscar: “You love me! You really love me!!” You don’t know how much that has made me smile on an otherwise exhaustive day of boring meetings and wrangling bureaucratic crap at work!

      Thanks for jumping in there. I am not going to answer most of them because they have so many made up statistics and snark-mongering tactics.

      It’s not just about fat loathing either – part of it is about defending Mia without listening to the argument. People like that would defend her if she said something ludicrous like “Every first born child should be euthanased.” I don’t engage with people who argue like that, because you’re never going to change their minds.

  • Totally agree. I think its interesting that she is okay profiterring on models who are DELIBERATELY too thin (editor cosmo) but its not okay for it to be the other way.

    VERY disturbing.

    • Thanks Jess!

      She doesn’t seem to be much more positive about the very thin end of the spectrum either. It’s quite a narrow measure of “normal” that she’s happy to be positive about.

  • hmmmmm…is she equally interested in bony couture models encouraging anorexia? I wonder. I’ll have to check out her blog. And yes you’re right to point out that a) feeder/feedie relationships are fetishistic and rare and b) feeder/feedies aren’t looking to recruit. Hope she answers you!

    • Sadly she hasn’t answered us, she’s accused us of lying, suggested that we’re mentally ill and is now suggesting that I and my cohorts in this are the one person posting under several names.

      Despite the fact that two of them were interviewed by the Herald Sun yesterday (article in todays paper) and most of us are all going to the same event in September!

      I have no respect for this woman any more. She is a liar, a bully and thinks we’re stupid.

  • I am a tad confused over all of the animosity that has come from this blog. As a former editor of a magazine, Mia not only started a Body Love campaign but also was the first editor to use models from a size 6-14 throughout the issue. What Mia promotes is a POSITIVE body image, one which isn’t dangerous be it too thin or morbidly obese. The post was not one which ‘fatbashed’ more of one that educated people to the fact there our people out there that are morbidly obese who are proud to be and are continuing on that path. That is a dangerous path as are anorexia and bulimia. I think that what everyone needs to see is that Gainer blogs are not healthy. They promote an unhealthy ideal and severe and more so fatal consequences. If you go through the catalogue of many of Mia’s posts you will see her stance on many other body issues be it too thin models, eating healthy and exercising as well as her sadness towards eating disorders of both kinds. I really cannot understand why everyone is so angry about this?!

    • Firstly, opposing Mia’s views is not anger. It’s disagreement. Mia seems to be the angriest about this out of all parties involved. She is the one who has questioned our mental health, called us liars and suggested that we have been slandering her, not those of us who disagree with her.

      Secondly, for the thousandth time, and this is the last time I will say this here or anywhere else, we are not objecting to her raising the issue of feederism – we agree, that is a valid issue and a worrying behaviour. Nor have we been accusing her of “fat bashing”, though that’s what Mia seems to think we are saying.

      What we are raising is the issue of her tone when referring to bodies that are outside the range of “normal” that she seems to have set, both those that are very thin, and those that are very fat. She has approached posts about extremist behaviour at both ends of the weight scale as though they are “freakshows”, and suggested that someone is glorifying obesity by being fat themselves and having an eating disorder (which is basically what I believe feederism is). She has had a similar approach to pieces about the very thin bodies of the world too.

      Please be aware that she has heavily edited that post. Originally the heading was “Fat, fatter, fattest” and she changed it after we raised objections about it, to “Gainer blogs”. She also changed the tone of several of her sentences by editing out the capitals and exclamation marks.

      Our objection is not about raising the issue of feederism. Our objection is to her tone and attitude around people who are outside the very arbitrary measure of “normal” that she has. We raise the issue that we believe that someone who is the Chair of the National Body Image Advisory Group needs to have a moderate, inclusive, respectful tone when talking about people who have problems with their bodies (be they eating disorders, self harm, or other issues) and not create an environment of “Let’s all look at what the fatties/skinnies are doing everyone!” I believe she has a duty of care to not create an environment where people are welcome to ridicule ANYONE’S bodies, regardless of their shape, size or even extreme behaviours like anorexia, feederism or any other eating disorder.

      I will politely ask that before anyone else comment with posts like zoetahra has above that they go back and read my comments on Mia’s blog again, because as I have said at least a dozen times over the last two days, we are not condoning feederism, we’re asking Mia to re-think the tone she uses when referring to bodies that are not within what she considers a “normal” range.

      Any further comments that I have to repeat myself about, I will be deleting, because frankly I’ve said the same thing over and over and over again already.

  • I think Mia’s view, that feeders ‘encourage’ obesity is quite narrow, possibly biased from the web she surfs. I seriously believe that it’s best to have professional women (scientists, doctors, etc) on a national board about women’s bodies, who actually keep up to date with research, and don’t use sensationalised web articles as research. I doubt anyone jumps online with the view of finding something to start (as a habit or lifestyle- such as eating a few hundred dollars worth of food a week).
    Mia isn’t well versed on the concept of logical fallacies. I used to purchase Cosmo when she edited it. Cosmo isn’t really a deep and meaningful magazine for women and it certainly wasn’t when she edited it. It had lost its intellectual credibility in the 80s.

  • In response to Zoe Tahra’s about about Mia’s ‘body love’ campaign as the editor of Cosmo.
    This took so long to occur. It was only – by memory – reflected in one issue (one cover) of the magazine, and that was really it. 90% of the magazine still reverted to the conventional models in advertising and fashion pages, with the few ‘curvy’ bodies here and there. ‘Real bodies’ didn’t occupy more than 5% of the magazine and it was a move to increase magazine sales as many readers complained about the unrealistic body images the magazine represented (and it continues to do that).
    Still, creating a ‘body love’ campaign doesn’t qualify Mia Freedman as a spokesperson for obesity and other weight related issues. Her blog post on gainers confirmed her unprofessional approach to the issue. These people may have freakish weights, but people should have empathy toward them, not ridicule and the tone of her first paragraphs isnt really empathetic. If it was so easy to solve the issue, then why are weight loss companies taking advantage of relapses, and dodgy diets, to keep people returning and paying millions each year to ‘lose weight’?

  • Thank you for writing this post. I often feel annoyed the way Mia sensationalises, jumps on the bandwagon, and generally has very little of value to contribute. Nothing but a glorified bogan with an irritating voice.

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