Saturday, 28 February 2009

Is the calorie manipulation empire in it's death throes?

There is an air of finality about the efficacy of diets 'debate'.

I've put debate in quotes, not to be cute, but because if there had been a debate, it would have been clear that it has been found wanting.

What has happened in place of debate is the decision to not allow anything to stand in the way of maintaining a delusion.

I say, delusion, not to be inflammatory, but because when you ignore reality and replace it with something else reality is occurring. You have replaced the real with the fantastic. If you are aware that you are doing this, fair enough, but when you insist fantasy is truth, you are investing in a delusion. People who do this with diets are aware of this, but never want to fully admit it.

One thing that has been instructive is how useful scientific studies, surveys and research have been to this desire.

In some ways it's possible, that without these, the obvious would have been far harder to ignore. The fact that the technique of piecing together an argument on a basis of the results of these studies, has given an air of reality to falsehood, is something that we should all take note of.

Dieting is finished, it's over for all but the most die hard fanatics. If that seems absurd to you, then you have interesting times ahead, as they say.

Once ordinary people overcome all the powerful influences in their path to turning away from dieting, it's the beginning of the end. The beginning of the end, is the end.

I'm not sure they will die out; not until we find a way to alter weight at will, the depth of our desire to achieve this, plus the tenacity of the diet hypothesis over our consciousness is testament to that.

All that's left is to examine the aftermath, and see where the threads lead.

Just know that dieting's sense of legitimacy has been burst, for good.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Is thin privilege illusory?

An immediate reaction to a word can be instructive.

When I first heard the use of privilege, to represent an unfair societal advantage, I baulked at it.

I knew what it was getting at, it wasn't that it was wrong. But it also felt like the emphasis was unbalanced. As it emphasises what you gain over what you lose.

More than anything else I can think of the term 'thin privilege' exhausts the idea of privilege

Does it actually exist?

I have to say, I cannot see any tangible gain over and above what you would lose in trying to cash in on your privilege.

It may give some extra leeway in being treated badly in some ways, but the absence of being downgraded, is not getting something you don't deserve. It's just the other person is not getting what they should expect. Getting out of some ill treatment, in itself, is not my idea of privilege.

Reaching for the tantalising prospect of the appearance of superiority for merely being thin, automatically loses you something more precious, the feeling that as you are, you are wholly worthwhile.

If we are not born with high self esteem, we are at least born with the absence of it occurring to us that we should dislike ourselves. We are thoroughly absorbed in the business of our continuing survival. By default therefore, we feel worthy of that survival.

Being able to reconnect with that feeling would be seen by a lot of people as a huge rise in their self esteem.

There is no privilege to being thin, apart from the absence of fat shaming and even that has gone down the swanee, because going along with the shaming of others, is what prepares you to be shamed and ashamed yourself.

You have been both cheated and corrupted.

One of the greatest barriers to invoking shame in someone, is them not feeling ashamed of themselves.

The thin shaming of today anyhow is really just fat shaming in disguise.

Body shaming perpetuates the idea that women should expect to account for their bodies at all times to anyone with the impertinence to demand it of them.

The only real win is to dispense with both the fantasy of wining because you're thin and the reality of losing because you are fat. Both must go, along with any idea that anyone should have to apologise or explain being thin.

As far as I can tell - thin privilege as a privilege where you gain more than you lose; doesn't exist.

Anything that sells you false superiority also unwinds the idea that as you are, you are good enough, needing to pretend you are 'better' means you cannot just be. Even if you do not consciously notice this loss, you will be aware of it at some level, you will chase and try and make good on it.

Knowing that if you become in any way like the bad other, you will be subject to the same a they're getting, is upsetting and unnerving.

That is why many wise slim people would touch 'thin privilege' with a ten foot pole. The illusion is all around, but they instinctively know better.

Join in.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Strange conflations

Some disagreements between those committed to the weight loss diet agenda and those who reject it come about because of conflated meanings.

Pointing out dieting doesn't work is not the same as being in league with whatever pain you feel about fatness, emotional or physical. Nobody wants to hurt you or for you to be hurt.

Telling the truth about diets is not trying hurt people on the contrary it's about explaining why people are going through what they are going through, letting them know its not their fault that it's the same for most people, just that often, no-body says it. We want to say it.

Dieting is not the same as weight loss, people talk about weight loss when they mean dieting which causes rows about the idea of weight loss versus the reality of dieting as the only weight loss made available. The quality of dieting becomes the validity of wanting to lose weight.

Not wanting to talk about weight loss is wanting to stop people dieting, to insult or taunt dieters. No, it's just not wishing to speak about it personally. Its a case of find someone who does, the whole of the rest of society, virtually.

That if you are against talking about or participating in diets, you know nothing about them and people's reasons for dieting have to be explained to you slowly because you couldn't possibly know.

That the value placed on diets in society must be shared by everyone including fat acceptance so we are holding out on dieters/ being spiteful.

Hostility toward dieting often from personal experience is the same as hostility towards dieters, not so. People can do what they want, so can others which includes hating diets. A lot of us have dieted/ tried to lose weight long term, we see ourselves as ex-dieters in some ways and we aren't going to attack ourselves.

A diet is the person, attacking the concept is attacking the person (dieter). There's not a lot of  hostility toward dieters-unless they feel it towards us.

That's another one being rude about fat people and being called out for it is about someone being pro diet. Just like any group some dieters are rude and they get told off that doesn't make it about their dieting, although the fact they think that is interesting.

Where is dieting's placebo effect?

One thing I’ve often wondered about dieting is where is its placebo effect? Where is the bit of it that works due to a reaction of the nervous system to the belief invested in it? We know it doesn't work, however that shouldn't stop it from working because people believe it does.

A placebo effect is made up of reactions from the nervous system to expectations either positive, or negative. It’s the interplay between the mind and the body via the nervous system. It’s one of the great unknown variables of medicine. Even when things don’t actually work, it should be present.

As the success rate for dieting seems to be pretty low, I’ve often wondered where it shows up. I understand the placebo effect, to be a collection of factors that can occur in regards to the progression of disease. Things such as spontaneous reversal or remission- that is something that reverses or things changing on their own, I know that weight adjusts spontaneously up and down.

Although I’ve heard it’s rare, I don’t know whether it’s any rarer than long term diet success. The much quoted figure for dieting is for every 100 attempts 5 will be successful. I’m not sure how they measure that or success, but I think its long term 5 yrs +. Subsequently, people have made much play of disputing it, implying that quoting this figure is somehow a sign of one's level of honesty. Forgetting that the reason there is any need for controversy about the true extent of weight loss dieting's efficacy, is that it has not been subjected to rigorous clinical testing in the first place.

Their figure of 12 or as much as 14% is a lot more pathetic than they seem to realise as our bodies create the effects dieting is using for weight loss. So what does it actually do? Nothing much, just make use of what’s already there, so a placebo effect would seem to be evident, it isn’t. That elusiveness is telling. Maybe it’s wrong to think of dieting as a thing at all. The placebo is an effect that is felt to be so prevalent and indivisible, no matter how potent the active ingredients of a medicine or treatment are, that a certain amount is allowed before effectiveness is seen to be statistically significant, only above this does effectiveness begin to be taken seriously. Something rarely if ever mentioned around the whole WL diet thing, is the placebo effect, which is cure, relapse through factors other than the active ingredients of the medicine or treatment.

So where is it?

To move around the X-Files tagline, the truth is in there.

Weight loss diets work, simplistic

Somebody once said; saying diets don't work is simplistic. It really struck me at the time but I couldn't sort out exactly why.

After a while I realised that it is the idea of diets actually working that is 'simplistic'.

Whatever you want to use to achieve an aim; it has to fit the purpose intended. If the goal of dieting was to lose any weight for any length of time, ever. Then it still wouldn't be a success, but it would be better than claiming people will get slim, which is not the same thing at all.

A large minority of people cannot stay with any WL diet for any length of time. Diet drop out rates are hard to ascertain, as that is not the focus of weight loss studies for obvious reasons.

The reason for all this failure is that dieting is way too extreme a way of trying to eat. It's as extreme a way of eating as there is, short of actual non food sustenance like drip feeding. It goes as much against normal eating; eating according to your own requirements, as it is possible to go without actually dispensing with it altogether.

You can tell this in part by noticing the number of people of all weights who are always on a diet and never seem to lose any weight.

On step forward, one step back, one forward, one back and on and on in a cycle of hell that can last some people's whole lives.

If you can get past that first step, you've got being able to get past the wall. Which comes at an early stage in proceedings. This point varies, after overcoming the hurdle of not dropping out initially, you've got the "Wow, I can't believe how easy this has become. You even begin to suspect you were over dramatizing, making it up even.

And then BAM, you hit a wall. Usually it's at about 20lbs or so in give or take. Don't ask me why, but time and time again, people lose 1 1/2 stones (exactly 21 Ibs, in American) and they hit something.

I say a wall, but it's also a bit like being stopped by the fact that everything you were doing up to that point has just suddenly unravelled and you don’t know how to stop/reverse it, or carry on. As if you're body has suddenly cottoned on to what you're up to, and has got it's act together.

Thinking about it, it was probably building up and it took till that point to get into gear.

This aspect is not always to the fore. The sense that you body is really cocky because it just knows that if you don't fall at this fence, you'll fall at the next one, and so on, ad infinitum. It ends up being that if you don’t, that’s actually odd. Although you desire it, much.

That's why the much quoted 95% failure rate of dieting. As I understand it, this means that for every hundred attempts made at a diet, five will be successful.

What that means is best left to those who have a greater grasp of probability than I do, but don't forget, the placebo effect.


Something rarely if ever mentioned around the whole WL diet thing, is where is the placebo effect in all this? That is reversal, cure or relapse through factors other than through the active ingredients of the medicine or treatment given.

It is something that is hard to separate out for in general and it cannot be rule out completely so a certain figure is assumed to be built in to the results of the effectiveness of any treatment.

The baseline figure for this effect is, yes you've guessed it around 5%. That means that effectiveness is seen to be worth pursuing from that baseline figure.

Although I'm not a mathematician, I suspect that's not as neat as it seems.

Some say that diets work if people stick to them, but people just can't 'stick' to them no matter what, that’s a failure of the diet itself. Even if you say it's the person, what are you going to do, re-invent humanity?


I've always been intrigued by this term 'sticking', I've never quit got that metaphor in the context of what weight is supposed to be about. Your weight is supposed to be a result of what you decide to eat.

You become fat and you decide to become unfat-still your decision. You change your habits from the fat making eating, to the thin making eating. Fine.

What's there to 'stick' to?

You've made your new choice, now go forth bye bye. The end, surely?

But no wait!

You somehow have to 'stick' with your new choices, that you've decided to make, willingly of your own volition. How so?

You've either decided or you haven't, what are you 'sticking' to? The decision is made, the end.

Something of course, is pulling you away which is not in your conscious will. And that is what is not being addressed at all. So those who say diets work are the ones being simple, because that the only way they can manage to claim so very much, from virtually, nothing.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009


Over at a forum, I raised an issue of a form of transference fat prejudice being removed from oneself and deposited on to those fatter than oneself. Leaving one cleansed of it whilst acting out the negative ideas about being fat on them. The response was that the problem was the self pity of those who are fatter. This consists of them not recognising the suffering of those who are less fat than themselves, and by doing this they threaten to undermine the veracity of their claims.

So for that reason, regardless of any possible truth in their complaint, they should forgo any sense of grievance, however legitimate it may be so as not to make those less fat feel it robs their suffering of a sense of legitimacy.

My response was although I cannot stand anyone giving me any attitude about whether I qualify as fat enough for them. That doesn't mean that what underlies their feelings has no merit.

If this transference is anything to go by, it may have some. Noticing this effect has forced me to consider it, whereas before the fact that I didn't like their attitude, meant I was more dismissive.
I'm not trying to guilt trip, cause ructions, I'm just saying, noticing that some apply different rules to those fatter than them, to the point where they think of the fatter in exactly the same terms as fat haters; has made me re-think their feelings about and reactions to those less fat than themselves. If you think about it, that is exactly what both are saying, that the less fat are not fat enough. Is this the basis of the mutual suspicion?

More than that, those who are engaging in this projection seem to feel the same sense of not needing to ask or to gather opinions from those fatter than themselves, they feel just as able to totally describe who they are, without any reference from those concerned. That is just as high handed as fat haters are with all fat people including those who are feeling like behaving like a thin fat hater beside those who make them feel so.

IOW, they forget themselves when they are with fatter people and they may well have experienced this phenomena before. Liberated from feeling like a fatty, it could get quite unguarded, if what I saw and the phrases that were used one of which was quite appalling. For instance describing someone as 'grotesquely obese', I kid you not plus all sorts of assumptions about their eating habits.

This is something that has caused fat people in general immense pain. Ignoring fat people has been used to deliberately sustain ignorance, which helps to keep prejudices strong.

For me, it's not about self laceration; it's provoked me to ask why this would be. I'm not a misanthrope by nature, so I'm not looking to say this is yet another reason why humans are the pits.

I work on the assumption, that this projection is probably unexpected occurrence, something that comes out of avoidance of pain on the part of the less fat person, rather than the desire to cause it. But it’s something that should be watched.

Saturday, 14 February 2009

What is fat acceptance?

It's a question that has as many answers as people who wish to answer it but for me, it's very much a personal thing. I feel like its self acceptance, pure and simple.

It's saying; you know how you need self esteem and respect to see yourself in a positive light? Well guess what? It's the same if you're fat.

The fat acceptance movement for me is a matter of thought; any politics comes out of that. It's a question that has as many answers as people who wish to answer it but for me, it's very much a personal thing.

It is acceptance that this is what you are. You are fat. You aren't waiting to be something else, it has proven not to be a temporary state and even if it was, you would accept yourself as fat, because that is where you are, now.

In all that isn't much, it's possibly too small to be turned into a political movement; the political thing is somewhat outside my interest as personally, I see FA as a movement of thought. It doesn't mean I rule out action, not at all, but what has drawn me to it is thinking because as yet, it is changing ones opinions of oneself, from outer to inner directed, sort of a like consciousness raising, or a revival of your mental and physical spirits, if you will and that will support anything else.

It's a reversal of what's gone before, of seeing being fat as a temporary state you will leave as soon as possible. At some point, the need to accept yourself becomes stronger than to not do so, as the costs mount.

Weight loss

Fat Acceptance has not satisfactorily come to terms with this in a lot of people's eyes, including my own.

The reasons for me centre on the fact that a)It is believed that dieting is weight loss. And b) Wanting to lose weight is felt to undermine the legitimacy of the existence of fat people.

Let me start with a.

The number one paradigm not just of our age, but probably for all time, when it comes to weight loss is, calorie manipulation. That is when you alter the amount of calories your body takes in and/ or the amount it uses. As you've probably spotted, this applies just as much to weight gain as does weight loss.

Dieting is not the whole of weight loss, we lose weight when our bodies use energy to fuel our bodies. That was not invented by slimming companies but they behave as if it is. So do those who sell the idea of lowering your calories to lose weight, obesity science and health professionals. So does fat acceptance, it accepts the same as some of it's opponents.

Which is odd.

This brings us to b, the idea that wishing to lose weight undermines the fat people's wish to accept themselves and like themselves, it doesn't. Dieting does. That's the difference, dieting undermines fat people the idea of wishing to lose weight, not necessarily, or at all.

In praise of labelling

Labelling, that is describing something and giving it a name, is wrong, apparently

I thought it was characterizing, describing in an incorrect, misleading or prejudicial fashion that was wrong. Trouble is, what I've just described is now called, 'labelling' for short and labelling is wrong. Sorry, but that is itself wrong, labelling is right and good.

As getting it wrong has in some cases caused immeasurable harm that has been difficult to get rid of. It's understandable that people have come to see it in a negative light. In certain contexts that is. Most people don't think that the intense efforts to label by scientists, philosophers or researchers are wrong at all. They just want accuracy. That's the point. To label things, is one of the greatest achievements of being human. Without the ability to characterize and name phenomena, it would be harder to progress, to understand ourselves and our world.

Nor would falsehoods end or mistakes cease to be made, it's just that you would have a specific word or phrase for it. Can you imagine it, no name therapy. You don't name things and the boo boo goes away. Please.

I have no problem with labelling mostly, it's inaccuracy or mislabelling that's the problem.

Saying things like 'labelling is wrong' is the kind of thing we tell kids when they are very young to start them off with, to give them something to be going on with.

We expect them to gradually develop the skill judgement and intelligence to work out in time, that it is bad, hasty snap prejudicial labelling, the unexamined and the trite that is wrong. Not the idea in and of itself.

So with this in mind, I'm in favour of labelling that illuminates, that enlightens and facilitates learning and understanding. Every single word I've written is a name, is a phrase.

To know what say a feeling or an experience is called, can give a sense of completeness, or merely something to work with, even if what you're describing is not particularly nice. It can be the beginning of gaining a sense of control. Something to bind further understanding to. It may mean changing the name and the altering the description in part or in whole, once you are further along in your understanding.

I'll keep thinking and trying to learn more about this strange species of which I'm a part of; the human one in case you're still guessing.

And I'll even try and get it right too.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

On those against FA

Seeing the rotund's piece at CiF the other day. I met the kind of ferocious fat hatred I tend to avoid.

When I first got into FA a few years ago, I'd already come to many conclusions. I expected, nay wanted them to be challenged, to see how they held up. One of the conclusions I tentatively held was:

Those against FA have no legitimate or honest argument; at all.

That's quite a strong statement, I know. I'm happy to be corrected, I'm unaware of having been so. I cannot imagine what it could be although I assumed there must be a perfectly cogent and rational arguement against fat acceptance.

As for our efforts toward long term weight loss up to now, that they have failed, is so obvious, so evident, that no further proof is necessary. There comes a point when it is clear that something doesn't work and it's time to move on to more pressing matters. Of course, that conclusion can be avoided, by asking endlessly for more proof of the painfully obvious. Remember that one for the next time you want to continue wishing.

Again, I stand to be corrected on that also.

I've never quite got the need FA has to keep providing more evidence and proof and science that we are meant to be fat or that long term weight loss is impossible. I have my doubts about those statements. One thing I do know is science is that which is demonstrable, repeatable, and predictable. Diet failure is that if it is anything. (If indeed dieting is anything, which is debatable).

Asking for more proof, is meaningless, because, the reality is beyond any reasonable doubt. Supplying proof when asked validates the idea there is any need for any more proof, there isn't.

So when I don't particularly want to face those against FA, it's because I realise that they have chosen to suspend reality and believe what they want.

I'm not sure whether it's not a little condescending to assume that if I just explain it to them, they will get it, they almost never do, because it's their choice not mine.

You could not have easily persuaded me to stop dieting either. I stopped when I'd had enough.

So if you wish to try and reason with these people, be my guest and the best of luck. But please try to stop offering evidence of the obvious.