weight loss

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You Cannot Help Those You Loathe

Published January 3, 2014 by Fat Heffalump

I just had one of those lightbulb moments.  I was reading this excellent piece on domestic violence on Big Blue Dot Y’all and while talking about leaving counselling, the author used this sentence:

“You cannot help those you loathe.”

And something went “click” in my head.  All those weight loss surgeons, those “obesity” experts, the weight loss industry, bullying personal trainers, all those people who claim they want to “help” fat people… they loathe us.  If it’s not us they loathe, it’s our fat.  And by hating fat, and failing to see that our fatness is part of who we are – not a growth or some kind of removable shell, they are therefore by default loathing us.

And you cannot help those you loathe.

You cannot help those you loathe.

Think of the language they use around supposedly “helping” us.   It’s all violent, aggressive and full of hate.

  • Fighting fat
  • War on obesity
  • Fat busters/blasters
  • Eradicate fat
  • Fat is “killing” you
  • Obesity epidemic

These are just a few of the terms they use in the rhetoric of weight loss and anti-“obesity” campaigns.  Everything is framed around sickness and disease, war, violence, anger.  This is not the language of helping fat people, it’s the language of waging battle on them.  And as Marilyn Wann says – you cannot have a war on fat without having a war on fat people.  The two are not separate entities – our fat is part of us, part of our bodies, part of who we are.  Bodies are not disposable shells made for modification , they are an integral part of the human being.

This is why so much damage is being done to fat people.  Because of this loathing of fat.  Instead of working with us to make our lives as full and as rich as they should be, society wages war on our bodies and therefore ourselves.   In fact, more often than not, we are enlisted as soldiers in that war, in a kind of twisted friendly fire.  It’s as though in the “war on obesity”, the people who are fat are considered “collateral damage”.  Some of us will die, many of us will be physically scarred forever, almost all of us will have emotional and psychological trauma that we will never lose in the vain hope that they win the war.  What it does to those who are on the front lines matters not to those waging war.  We’re the cannon fodder.  Those in power are safe back in the war room, viewing it as a series of strategical moves and sending forth more and more troops to get bloody on the ground.

Anyone who truly cares about the wellbeing of fat people cannot possibly feel the need to wage war on fat.  That level of aggression and loathing negates any care that may have once been there.  There is never any care or compassion from someone who enacts violence on another.  It is no different in its effect on us than the open hate and bigotry we receive from the likes of bullies and trolls.  It is all trauma enacted on us.

Look at what happens to fat people when they are given compassion, care and support by those who truly want to help in our wellbeing.  When we are taught to value our bodies, and treat them with kindness and compassion, suddenly our quality of life gets vastly better.  When we find supportive doctors, our health gets better.  If we need help with eating and nutrition, those in the field who genuinely care help us heal the damage done by diet culture and fat loathing.  When we find an environment that we can enjoy physical activity without shaming or stigma, we learn to enjoy things like dancing, swimming and other activities.  When our families and friends love us and support us as we are – we are able to heal from the trauma of shame and stigma.

When we are treated with respect and dignity, our wellbeing and quality of life improves.  Regardless of what weight we happen to be.

Because hate does not help.  Hate does not heal.

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An Open Letter to Lite ‘n Easy

Published January 1, 2014 by Fat Heffalump

Dear Lite ‘n Easy,

Firstly, I want to let you know that I am a happy customer.  I have been using Lite ‘n Easy now for the past few months and have not had a single negative experience.   Well, there could be less peas in everything but that’s personal taste!

However, I need to talk to you about the email that you sent this morning.

Look, I know it’s January 1st, and that marketing opportunity is too good to resist.  New year, people are wanting to make changes and face things fresh.  I understand the email going out today.  But what I take issue with are the following assumptions in the email:

  1. That your customers must want to lose weight.
  2. That all of your customers use Lite ‘n Easy as a weight loss aid.
  3. The lack of sensitivity towards any customers who may be using your meal plans to help deal with an eating disorder.
  4. That your customers *have* lost weight while using your service.
  5. That somehow losing weight is going to be one of the things, or enable me to do things “that I love”.

Before I continue on, as a little background, I want to explain why I decided to become a Lite ‘n Easy customer again a few months ago.  Many years ago, when I was still chasing the myth of weight loss, I tried Lite ‘n Easy.  I loved it.  The food was fantastic quality, and there was more of it than I could eat.  I saved money.  I saved time.  But despite loving it, I was miserable.  Why?  Because I didn’t lose any weight.  Actually I lost a little bit at first, but then, like every other time I had tried to lose weight, it crept back on.  I blamed myself.  I blamed you.  I did everything but blame the myth of weight loss.  So I stopped using Lite ‘n Easy, and went back to the severe restriction and purging eating disorder I had been nurturing since I was 13.

Now fast forward to a few months ago.  I have realised that my worth does not lie in my weight (or lack of it).  I have stopped putting my life on hold until I am thin.  I have filled my life with the things that are important, and I’ve been in recovery from my eating disorder for almost 6 years.  I am a fat woman, but I now understand that the size and shape of my body bears no relevance on the quality of my life.

However, one of the problems with living life to the fullest for me is that I’m not very good at eating competently.  I can thank a society that tells women we must be thin to be worthy and 25+ years of a very fraught relationship with food for that.  I’m working hard and playing hard, it’s awesome.  But  I’m not eating enough.  I’m skipping breakfast and finding myself ravenous by lunch, and then at night too tired to eat anything for dinner more than a bit of toast.  I’m struggling with those old eating disorder demons again.  I’m getting more and more run down and my energy levels are disappearing.  Then I see a woman at work eating a Lite ‘n Easy lunch, and I remember how much I liked it, how convenient it was and how it was good for me to have all my daily meals all laid out for me and how much money I saved in the long term.

So I make the decision to start using Lite ‘n Easy again, and I’ve not regretted it at all.  The food is excellent.  There is far more of it than I can eat, so much that over the Christmas week while I am busy socialising, I can just skip a week of Lite ‘n Easy and there are still plenty of meals for me left to cover those times I’m not out socialising.

I get that half of your brief is “Lite”.  I’m not going to tell you to let go of that.  It clearly works for you, though I personally believe that you lose a lot of customers who either don’t lose weight while using your products and services, or who aren’t interested in losing weight.  However it has been your business name for a long time, and has a lot of goodwill attached to it.  I can understand you not wanting to let go of that.  I don’t have a problem with that side of your business if you keep it out of my inbox.

Now, you can see I am very happy with your product and service.  But back to my points above as to why your email was unwelcome and frankly offensive.

  1. I understand that some people still believe in the myth of weight loss.  I understand that is part of your marketing but you keep it pretty low key on your website, so I don’t have to see it when I place my orders.  However, when it arrives in my inbox unsolicited, I am not happy.  I don’t want to see weight loss propaganda.  I can opt out of seeing it until you start pushing it in my inbox.
  2. As I mentioned before, I don’t use Lite ‘n Easy as a weight loss aid.  I use it as a convenience, a money saver, and because I feel healthier and have more energy when I eat a balanced diet.  I am still the same weight as I was when I started a couple of months ago.  I will no doubt be the same weight in a year from now.  That’s OK, I am happy with who I am.  But I don’t like the presumption that I must want to lose weight if I use your product/services.
  3. You can’t know how many of your customers are dealing with eating disorders or are in recovery.  Your product and service is exceptionally good for helping those recovering from eating disorders eat competently.  How about thinking about how you might be able to market your product to help people like myself, rather than sending us material that is deeply triggering.
  4. Never lost an ounce.  Still think your product and service is fantastic.  Not likely to lose an ounce in future.  Still happy to stay your customer.  When I believed in the myth of weight loss, I stopped purchasing your product because I believed it, and I had failed.
  5. I can already do everything that I love.  And those things I can’t do, weight loss isn’t going to help me do them.  In fact, chasing weight loss prevents me from trying.  I’ve done so much more with my life in the past 5 years than I did in all the years I was chasing weight loss.  Consider I started dieting when I was 11.  How many things did I not do because I believed I couldn’t do the things I love unless I was thin?

Where do we go to from here?  Well, I’d like to see you cease sending weight loss propaganda to your customers unsolicited.  That doesn’t mean I think you shouldn’t send marketing – I do know how business works.  But I think you could bring yourself FAR more customers, and keep them, if you let go of the weight loss brief and focus on the things that you do really well at Lite ‘n Easy.  How about these for points to focus on:

  • Busy life?  Let us do the work and bring you delicious, nutritious meals to your door.
  • Do the things you love and let us take care of the meal planning, shopping and food preparation.
  • Eat delicious!  Eat healthy!  Eat variety!  Eat conveniently!
  • Show people your food.  It tastes delicious and looks great.  I mean look at this screen grab from your email – yum!

Screen Shot 2014-01-01 at 12.06.14 PM

  • This sentence from your email is excellent – “You can enjoy all the taste, convenience and health benefits again in 2014.”
  • Show some diverse people (other than white, thin people) enjoying life.  Being active, happy and having fun.  This is aspirational.  This makes me want a product.  Not “look at some thin people, don’t you want to be thin like them?”  Even if I did believe in weight loss, not being represented in marketing is not something that makes me feel good about a product.
  • “Simply Eat Well” – this is a brilliant slogan.  Keep it.  Focus on it.  Use it everywhere.  That’s why I use your product/service – I want to simply eat well.

Screen Shot 2014-01-01 at 12.09.39 PM
To all of you at Lite ‘n Easy – especially the marketing team – you have a great product and your service is excellent.  Don’t ruin it by choosing poor marketing methods.

Yours sincerely

Kath Read

I Am NOT a Disease

Published June 19, 2013 by Fat Heffalump

One of the things about being a highly visible, deeply combative fat activist is that everyone seems to think you’re made of steel.  That you are so strong and confident, that nothing ever hurts you or makes you feel bad.  Nobody believes that you have bad days, that there are times where the fight just goes out of you and you can’t face another moment of trying to claw your way out of the hatred and stigma that surrounds fat people.

But that’s not true.  It’s not true in the slightest.  Even the most radical fatty, the most sartorially brave, the fiercest fighter, the strongest critic of the dominant paradigm around fatness struggles.  Every single one of us have those times where we just run out of oomph.

I am having one of those days today, and have been really struggling all afternoon.  You see, the American Medical Association today declared obesity as a disease despite a report from their own council on science and public health urging them not to.  According to the AMA, we fat people are no longer just people, we are diseased, defective, damaged, broken.  We are officially diseases to be cured, prevented, eradicated.  And this news has shaken me to the core.  I simply feel so defeated right now, like all the work that I and many other fat activists have done, and are doing to claw back our rights and improve our quality of life has just been taken away from us.

Rationally, I know why the AMA has made this ruling.  They’ve done so because big pharmaceutical companies, the weight loss industry and big health insurance companies, have lobbied, threatened, bullied and bribed them to do so.   Rationally I know that the reason these big corporations have done this is because it’s in their best interest financially to do so.  After all, they’re raking in HUGE amounts of money by convincing society in general that appearance = health, and that if you don’t meet the arbitrary levels of appearance that you must be sick, and surprise surprise, they have a drug, or a surgery, or a device, or a diet plan or an extra expensive health insurance plan to sell you to fix it.  The weight loss industry alone was worth almost $800 million just here in Australia.  Can you imagine what could be done for $800 million per year in this country?  We could all have completely free health care for every Australian, more than we would ever need.  People with disabilities could have all of the equipment that they would ever need, and any support and care they would ever need.  No human being in Australia would go without food, water or housing.  Education would be free for our whole lives, from kindergarten through any university studies that we would care to take on.   Medical research into every known actual disease, from the common cold to cancer could be funded fully.

All this just from the money that the diet and weight loss industry is worth in a single year, and there would be change.  In fact, if we only took their profit margin for ONE year, approximately $63 million dollars, and applied that to public funding annually – we could fund a lot of the things I’ve listed above.  And that’s just here in Australia, a country of only about 22 million people.  In the US, the weight loss industry is worth 66 BILLION DOLLARS.  Let alone the cumulative value of the rest of the world’s weight loss industries.

There is NO WAY ON EARTH that the weight loss industry is not behind this ruling from the AMA.  They have $66 billion dollars worth of power per annum in the US alone.  $66 billion dollars they can spend on lobbying, propaganda, graft, legal threats to anyone who opposes them, you name it to make sure the ruling falls the way they want it to.

Rationally I know this.  I know the facts.  I’ve done years of my own research into this because what I was being told about my fat body wasn’t matching up to reality.

But despite that knowledge… I feel so defeated today.  I feel so disheartened.  I feel so cheated.  I feel like I’m being marked as inferior, defective, broken.  Simply because my body happens to fall on the far end of a bell curve of diverse human bodies.  Simply because my body doesn’t fall in the small peak of the bell curve, the median of human bodies, a tiny arbitrary band of people who are granted the “normal” status just because they’re in the middle statistically.

But being at one end of the statistics doesn’t reflect who I am.  It doesn’t reflect how I feel.  It doesn’t reflect what my body can do.  It doesn’t reflect my value as a human being.  The AMA doesn’t know what it feels like to exist in my fat body.  They don’t know what it’s like in my body to wake up after a deep sleep, stretch and feel that stretch go down to my toes and up to my outstretched fingertips.  They don’t know what it feels like in my body to go swimming, feeling the cool water soft and cocooning around my body, and the wonderful sleepy feeling I get afterwards.  They don’t know what it feels like in my body to walk along the waterfront near my house on a windy but crystal clear winters day, with the sun warming my back as the wind nips my nose and fingertips.  They don’t know what it feels like in my body to laugh with my friends, my belly rocking, tears rolling down my face and my ribs hurting from giggling so hard.  They don’t know anything about what it feels like in my body.  All they know is that I am at the far end of a bell curve, and that someone out there can make money from making me hate myself and by encouraging society to hate me, and to repeatedly attempt to move myself to another point on the statistical bell curve, something we scientifically know fails for 95% of all attempts.  And with that they have marked me, and people like me, as diseased, defective, broken.

The only time I feel diseased, defective, broken is when society repeatedly pushes me down because of how I look and what numbers show up on a scale when I step on it.  I don’t feel those things unless I am taught to feel them.  Not even when I actually suffer illness or injury.

How is simply declaring me as diseased based on statistics, and despite how I feel or the quality of my life, good for my health?

How is that good for anyone’s health?

The inimitable Marilyn Wann has started a petition against this AMA ruling here.  Please sign.

*Edited because the figures I got from a study were incorrect – not that they change anything.  Let’s try to not kick me while I’m fucking down, OK?

Public Fat Shaming is not Good Marketing

Published March 31, 2013 by Fat Heffalump

Well hello!  I haven’t forgotten or abandoned you all, I promise.  Life has been intensely busy and I made a promise to myself at the beginning of this year that I would pace myself better and not work myself into the ground with both my activism and my day job.  So you will be getting less posts from me but I’m sure they’ll be better quality in the long term.

I actually had another post written and ready to publish, but something else has cropped up that I would like to talk about.  On Thursday night, as part of the local Bluewater festival here on the bay, there was an event at Shorncliffe called Bayfire.  I decided to take myself along to it to have a look at the markets, get some dinner and watch the fireworks.  I wandered up there and had a look around, bought some very cute hair accessories from a small business called Princess Perfect Clips, tried Transylvanian cheese pie for dinner (verdict – rather tasty) and then watched the fireworks.

When the fireworks were finished, I decided to go and have a look at the rest of the markets.  As I was walking along the waterfront where the stalls all were, minding my own business, someone shoved something in my hands.  I looked down and it was a flyer for some ridiculous weight loss product, which was basically wrapping bits of your body in cling film.  I turned towards the woman who had stuffed it in my hand without asking me if I wanted it, and there they were, a bunch of seriously miserable looking women, all with their arms or middles wrapped in cling film.

I couldn’t believe anyone would be so rude to shove weight loss propaganda into the hands of someone who was not in any way inviting them to do so.  So I tore up the flyer very deliberately right in front of them, making sure they were all watching me, and tossed it into a bin, and walked away.  I was so pissed off.

A bit later I decided to get some dessert, and I decided to share this picture of my dessert on my social media sites (Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook) with the following caption:

Screen Shot 2013-03-31 at 12.35.15 PM

Om nom nom, right?

Well, I didn’t imagine the shitstorm it would create on Tumblr.  Mostly because some people seemed to take personal offense that I wasn’t “allowing anyone to be encouraged on their weight loss goals”.

Now how my protesting some company forcing their material on to fat women (they were not shoving the flyers in the hands of men or thin people) to shame them equals “not allowing anyone to be encouraged on their weight loss goals”, I’m fucked if I know.  After all, I don’t give two fucks what other people do to their own bodies.  This has got nothing at all to do with other people’s bodily choices.  What this has to do with is the public shaming of fat women to make money.  What this has to do with is some woman wrapped in cling foil selling a phony diet product deciding that the fat woman walking past her has a body that is “unacceptable” and she can make a buck off that fat woman by flogging her snake oil product.  This is about someone selling a product assuming that as a fat woman that I must be unhappy with my body and want to spend my money on cling film to reduce it.

The other argument that people kept making is that it is “legitimate advertising” to single out fat women (again, they did not hand the flyers to men or thin people) in public and give them weight loss propaganda.

I am not sure what planet some people are living on.

To equate handing unsolicited weight loss flyers to fat people (and only fat people) to an ad on TV, in a magazine, on the radio or on the side of the street etc is fucked up.

Advertising in general is shitty, and needs to be spoken up against, but it’s not picking out an individual in a public place and physically handing them a flyer that says “Hey fat person, here’s a product you should buy to stop being a fat person because fat is gross.”  It’s not singling out someone who is minding their own business in public, to pass commentary on their body by recommending a product to reduce their body.

Imagine if I wasn’t the confident, self aware woman I am now.  To be singled out like this and handed such propaganda would have DEVASTATED me years ago.  I would have felt so upset that someone had pointed out my fatness in public and made commentary via their actions that my body was unacceptable.  How many other fat women had their night ruined on Thursday by being handed this shitty flyer while enjoying an evening out with their friends and/or family?  I don’t know about you, but most fat women I know don’t go out to a fair to find a weight loss solution, they go out to have fun and enjoy the shopping, dining and fireworks.

For some reason, it is believed by many people that weight loss peddlers actually care about us.  That they care about our happiness, our health and/or our bodies.  They don’t.  They care about obtaining our money.  They tell us our bodies are not acceptable, sell us a product that does not work, then blame us for failing, and sell us the product again, or a new product that does not work.   In Australia alone they make almost $800 million per year.  In the US, it’s $66 billion per year.  They are taking your money and laughing at you as they watch you blame yourself for their product or service failure.

Don’t stand for that shit.  Don’t let anyone dismiss what a horrible act it is to single out a fat person and try to shame them into buying a product.  Don’t let the weight loss industry brainwash you into believing that they care about you, or that they are doing anyone a public service by pushing their product on to people who never asked for it in the first place.

I Want to Break Free

Published June 28, 2012 by Fat Heffalump

I came to a realisation last night.  Thanks to discussions on Twitter and Facebook, I realised that I no longer consider myself aligned to either fat acceptance or body acceptance.

Don’t be too alarmed, I’m still the same rad fat feminist I was before yesterday, I’m not about to start pushing diets and fat hate at you and change the direction of this blog.  I’m still a fat activist, and a proud one at that.  I just no longer wish to be aligned with the concepts of fat acceptance or body acceptance.

The epiphany was twofold.  Firstly, I came to the realisation that I have a problem with the concept of mere acceptance of fat people.  I think we deserve more than to be merely accepted into society.  We should be valued members of society, not merely accepted ones.  In the discussion we had on Twitter, someone mentioned that in some queer communities, the word “tolerance” is considered the weakest form of homophobia, and suggested that in fat communities, perhaps “acceptance” is the weakest form of fat phobia.

I tend to agree.  I think acceptance implies a begrudging kind of acknowledgement that we exist.  It says to me “Yes, ok, fat people exist, I accept that.” and no more.  I think as activists for fat rights, we need to demand more than that.  We need to realise that just being acknowledged as existing is not meeting our rights as human beings.

It is my belief that we more than simply exist on this planet.  We have value.  We contribute.  We are as worthy of our place on the planet as any other human being.  Fat people are as precious and worthy as any other human being.  We are not damaged goods that need repair.  Nor are we “too big” and need to be made smaller to “fit in”.  The world is big enough for all of us, from the very largest person down to the tiniest.  We are not vermin to be eradicated, diseases to be cured or crimes to be prevented.  We are people who hold as much value as any other human being on the planet.

The word “acceptance” makes me feel like I have to compromise my value, because as a fat person I am devalued.  And I want no part of that.

The second reason I realised that I no longer identify with fat/body acceptance are the constant calls for us to accommodate reductionism.  By reductionism, I mean the practice of forcing ones body to lose weight.  I’m not referring to the incidental weight loss that comes due to illness, environmental change or through the changes ones body goes through with age.  I’m referring to reductive weight loss – diets (including diet products, diet foods, diet camps or clubs, diet books or any other tools of dieting), “lifestyle changes”, medications, appetite suppressants, weight loss gadgets, weight loss companies, “medical interventions” and surgical procedures.  This also includes eating and exercise disorders.

Every time I speak out against any of these damaging practices (many of which I partook in myself in my past), someone crops up and says “But what if people choose/chose to do these things, is there space for them in fat acceptance?”  My answer is usually “yes”, with the caveat that they not promote or advocate these practices in FA spaces.  Of course, then comes the argument that I am somehow “excluding” or “silencing” them because they’re fat people too and they deserve to be heard.

However, this to me, is a derailment – in that the whole world is a space for diet promotion and weight loss advocacy.  Reductionism is the dominant paradigm – and FA should not have to “make space” for something that already takes up ALL of the space.  I had believed fat/body acceptance to be about breaking down dominant paradigms and being a space where fat people could have some respite from that constant harassment to lose weight, but more and more often I feel that I’m being pushed into being accommodating to a world that has refused to accommodate me.  I want no part of that either.

Some will call this absolutist, some will label it “militant”.  Others will suggest that “it’s not black and white, there are shades of grey”.  No.  Not in my fight there is not.  Perhaps there is in your fight, perhaps there is in fat/body acceptance.  There is no grey of “acceptable” weight reductionism for me.  You get the rest of the world to celebrate/promote/advocate/have pride in your weight loss agenda.  I get this tiny space to say no, and to make clear my stance on forced weight loss.  One only has to look at just how vast the chasm is between the amount of Google mentions/information on the terms “weight loss” and “fat acceptance” to see how loud the voice is for weight loss, and how fat acceptance is a mere whisper against that tide.  Try doing the same for “weight loss” and terms like fat liberation, anti-diet, fat pride – the latter terms don’t even register.  How dare anyone suggest we have to “make room” for weight loss talk?

I know we talk a lot about body autonomy in fat/body acceptance, but I feel that there is rarely a voice that declares that they are against reductionism that isn’t shouted down by how we “must be accommodating” to the dominant paradigm, which in doing so immediately removes my body autonomy.  To me, if Fat/Body Acceptance must be a space that includes the dominant paradigm, then now is the time for me to distance myself from it.  I want more than to have to be accommodating to people who already have the lion’s share of the space in the world.  I want to be able to completely and utterly reject reductionism from my life.  If I cannot do that within Fat Acceptance, then I am happy to walk away from it.

Part of me felt bereft at this realisation.   I felt a sense of loss in discovering that there is yet another space that I cannot find respite from the dominant paradigm around fatness.  But then I remembered the Fat Liberation Manifesto, authored almost 40 years ago by Judy Freespirit and Aldebaran as part of The Fat Underground, and I found solace.  This manifesto sums up exactly how I feel about my fat activism and what I want from the world with regard to how fat people are treated.

I want liberation from the dominant paradigm, not to “make room” for it.  Somewhere I heard the saying “We don’t want a piece of the pie, we want a new pie.” which is a brilliant way to express it.

So I share the Fat Liberation Manifesto with you all here, and I honour the foremothers/sisters of The Fat Underground for paving the way for me to claim my own liberation.

FAT LIBERATION MANIFESTO

1. WE believe that fat people are fully entitled to human respect and recognition.

2. WE are angry at mistreatment by commercial and sexist interests. These have exploited our bodies as objects of ridicule, thereby creating an immensely profitable market selling the false promise of avoidance of, or relief from, that ridicule.

3. WE see our struggle as allied with the struggles of other oppressed groups against classism, racism, sexism, ageism, financial exploitation, imperialism and the like.

4. WE demand equal rights for fat people in all aspects of life, as promised in the Constitution of the United States. We demand equal access to goods and services in the public domain, and an end to discrimination against us in the areas of employment, education, public facilities and health services.

5. WE single out as our special enemies the so-called “reducing” industries. These include diet clubs, reducing salons, fat farms, diet doctors, diet books, diet foods and food supplements, surgical procedures, appetite suppressants, drugs and gadgetry such as wraps and “reducing machines”.

WE demand that they take responsibility for their false claims, acknowledge that their products are harmful to the public health, and publish long-term studies proving any statistical efficacy of their products. We make this demand knowing that over 99% of all weight loss programs, when evaluated over a five-year period, fail utterly, and also knowing the extreme proven harmfulness of frequent large changes in weight.

6. WE repudiate the mystified “science” which falsely claims that we are unfit. It has both caused and upheld discrimination against us, in collusion with the financial interests of insurance companies, the fashion and garment industries, reducing industries, the food and drug industries, and the medical and psychiatric establishment.

7. WE refuse to be subjugated to the interests of our enemies. We fully intend to reclaim power over our bodies and our lives. We commit ourselves to pursue these goals together.

FAT PEOPLE OF THE WORLD, UNITE! YOU HAVE NOTHING TO LOSE ….

By Judy Freespirit and Aldebaran
November, 1973
Copyright The Fat Underground

(Unfortunately I was unable to find anywhere I could link back to for The Fat Liberation Manifesto, but if someone knows of one please let me know and I will amend this post.)

Living Large

Published May 12, 2012 by Fat Heffalump

Well you can take the fatty out of the blog but you can’t take the blog out of the fatty!  I still don’t have full internet access, waiting on it to be connected by my Telco, but I can’t stay away.  I’ve got stuff burbling around in my head and I need to share it!

As you probably know, I moved house a week ago.  I’ve moved to a lovely seaside suburb, mere metres from the bay.  Every morning when I wake up, the first sounds I hear are seagulls and other water birds.  At night, other than the occasional passing car, all I hear are the sounds of ocean breezes and lapping water, punctuated occasionally by the chime of the town clock.  It is so peaceful here, and so beautiful.  It was a hard wrench to move from the place that had been my home for almost 15 years (in fact, I only did it because I had to), but now that it’s done, I am so glad I have.

I mean, look at this place:

This is the first time I’ve had a major lifestyle change that I haven’t attached the goal of losing weight to.  In the past, every time I had a major life change, I would convince myself that this time, it would be the thing I needed to help me get thin.  That new job with the higher pay, meant that I could afford more weight loss programmes and gyms.  Moving away from the country meant that I would have access to more options to help me lose weight, and I could find more diet foods in the supermarkets.  Every time I changed my life somehow, I would desperately cling to the notion that it would be the change that would make me thin.

Of course, I know now, that it just doesn’t work that way.  My body is a fat body, and no matter what I do to it in an attempt to lose weight, there is a 95% chance that it will fail to actually make me thin.  I would say a 100% chance for me – after all, I’ve spent over 25 years trying to make my body thin – and no matter how extreme or whatever I did, nothing made me thin.  This is my body, and it is a fat body.  I am very comfortable in my body, more comfortable than I have ever been in my life.

But it’s funny, but after a week, I can already feel changes in my body.  For the first few days I think my body was desperately trying to shake off all the negativity, and toxicity, that I was carrying around before.  A few lungfuls of clean ocean air and my body seemed to go “Right, let’s shake all this shit out.”  My skin broke out in patches, and got terribly dry in other patches.  I seemed to produce copious quantities of snot and ear-wax.  My fingernails got all brittle.  And I was SO DAMN TIRED.  Some of that can be attributed to the exhaustion and stress of moving, but I really do feel like I was getting something out of my system.

A few days ago, I came good.  My energy levels came back.  My skin is starting to settle down.  I’m sleeping really well at night, but am not feeling tired during the day.  I’m off work at the moment so I am getting a lot of rest, but I think it’s about more than just time off work.  I think I’ve cast off the stresses of living in my old place, plus the new place doesn’t have carpets that I believe hold a lot of dust and stuff either.  Not to mention that I’m getting those lungfuls of fresh sea air.

There are other changes afoot too.  When I go back to work on Monday, I have a slightly longer trip, and now on a train instead of the bus.  That will give me 40 minutes each way that I can sit and read (I can’t read on the bus, it makes me pukey), which I think will be really significant on the trip home each day, in helping me let go of work for the day.  I have access to a really large supermarket which has much more choice than my old options, and is very close by.  Not to mention a lot of other small shops that I had no access to before.  Besides, groceries are significantly cheaper up here than they are closer to the city.  Don’t let anyone tell you that the big supermarkets don’t vary their prices by neighbourhood!  But most of all, I have daily access to this:

A beautiful foreshore where people walk, cycle, rollerskate, scoot, get dragged along by their dogs!  I have a beautiful bicycle – you’ve all seen my bicycle Iris haven’t you?  Here is an old photo of us together:

I now can go for a ride in my favourite place, every single day, without having to worry about being mowed down by traffic (I was always terrified to ride in most areas around my old place).  Not only is it my favourite way to move my body, but it’s also incredibly relaxing.  I always sleep so well after a bike ride.

But most of all, I feel relaxed an happy here.  My anxiety and depression is feeling lessened already.  It’s amazing what being somewhere you love and letting go of stress can do.

So you can see, I have a lot of changes in my life lately, and those changes are going to play out on my body and my health.  I hope the choice I have made to move here will mean they are positive changes, that I will feel more relaxed and stronger.  I hope that the exhaustion I suffered regularly before will be a thing of the past, now that I’m not living in such a stressful environment, am able to relax and put my head away from work, and can get out into fresh air, moving my body in a way that I enjoy, in a place that I love.

But for the first time in my life, I’m not pinning my hopes on these things making me thin.  Because to me, while being thin has cultural privileges, I now know that it is not a worthy goal to work towards.

And that is an incredibly liberating feeling.

How Does Dieting Benefit Our Health?

Published September 29, 2011 by Fat Heffalump

**Trigger warning, topic is about weight loss diets and disordered eating.**

I got a fantastic question on my Tumblr yesterday, that got me thinking a bit about diet culture and the constant calls for fat people to go on diets “for their health” and “take care of yourself”.

I was thinking about my own life of dieting, and how I felt all those times, and what my own health was like in those years.

When people say fat people should go on diets “for their health”, they’re not factoring in a) how dieting  affects the body and b) the mental health of the fat person.  Even if they are genuinely concerned for someone’s health and not just using concern trolling to police fat bodies because of their appearance, how much thought do they give to what dieting turns people into?

Now let’s just establish here that we know that fat people aren’t lazy gluttons and that we’re not all stuffing our faces 24 x 7 and that “dieting” doesn’t equal “just eating healthy”.  I know that’s the rhetoric that is spouted at us all the time, that we just have to “Put down the donut/cheeseburger/whatever.”  Let’s make it nice and clear that I’m talking about food restriction or replacement, rather than the mythical “just eat healthy” that the anti-fat seem to think we are not doing already.  When people say “Just eat healthy.” they don’t actually mean that, they mean diet, because hey, there’s no possible way a fat person can already be “just eating healthy”.  I’m talking about weight loss diets.  Calorie counting, no carb, no fat, no sugar, cabbage soup, replacement shakes, Atkins, South Beach, Pritikin, Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, grapefruit, high protein, high fibre, high cardboard… whatever the fuck diet we were on at the time.  And this includes any of the disordered eating habits too – bingeing, purging, starvation, laxative abuse, diet pills, exercise bingeing, and even weight loss surgery.  Anything that is designed to restrict, reduce or purge for the supposed purpose of making us thin.

Can I ask… have any of you ever known a person, fat or thin or somewhere in between, who has been on a weight loss diet/programme, who is/was actually HAPPY while they are doing so?

*crickets chirping*

I know I was never happy.  I always felt like shit.  Having to measure every bit of food, count points, calories or grams, having to think about what I was going to eat every minute of the day.  I couldn’t just relax and spend time with friends, because I’d have to think about what foods met my diet.  Organising lunches for work was a headache and I was always on my guard for people questioning my eating habits (or lack of them).  Grocery shopping was even more nightmarish than I find it now (and I hate it now, thank God for online grocery shopping!) because almost everything was “forbidden” on whatever diet I was on at the time.  I was always hungry.  When I did get to eat, it was shitty.  Either it was really bad food (cabbage soup?) or it wasn’t even food at all, it was some powdery substitute or rubbery/cardboard diet version.  I never wanted the things I was “allowed” to eat, and yet I was so unbelievably hungry all the time that I had to eat them when I could.

Physically, my body fought me all the way.  I was constantly sick with every cold and virus that came around.  My skin was bad.  My teeth were terrible.  I constantly had to fight bad breath and diarrhea.  I had constant hayfever and headaches.  I never had any energy and never slept properly.

Emotionally, I was depressed, anxious and obsessive.  Depressed because I hated being hungry all the time and having to eat things that tasted like cardboard or rubber, depressed because no matter what I did, I could never lose weight and keep it off.  Anxious because I never knew where I could get “suitable” food, and I hated anyone knowing I was on a diet.  Anxious because my blood sugar was always low and I was shaky and couldn’t concentrate.  Obsessive because food might actually GET me, if I let down my guard.

Yet all of this was supposed to benefit my health?  How?

We all know that diets fail on the long term in 95% of cases, with weight regain plus more, but we never talk about how bloody miserable dieting is.  How nobody is actually happy while they are dieting, and because 95% of them find diets fail, they’re not happy in the long term either.  The whole diet culture just sets people, particularly women, up to be miserable all the time, both during dieting and then when it inevitably fails.

And this is supposed to be for our health?  This is supposed to be “taking care of ourselves”.

I call bullshit.

Instead, we can put all that crap behind us, re-learn to eat to nourish us, let go of exercising as some kind of penance and learn to find activity that we enjoy and live our lives to the fullest no matter what our weight.

I know which sounds like taking care of myself to me.