Monday, 8 June 2009

Liz Jones knows

Excellent piece by Liz Jones. I wish women could write more often with this kind of uncompromising candour on our experiences and feelings about eating and weight.

Funnily enough, she's a writer I tend to avoid some of that is why she can write something like this. Its usually where she points her aim that causes me to give her a miss.

What her article illustrates for me is the extent to which caloric and dietary restriction can affect the way you think at a biological level, leading you to think in ways and assume attitudes that can clash with your ethical sensitivities.
She is at the extreme end of that, she says she is anorexic and was once hospitalized because of it. We assume this process of mental change only happens to people who have anorexia, but it clearly observable in people who believe in it as a model of how to eat-to remain slim- or to lose weight too.

Those who push dieting and dietary restriction can also be very seriously affected by similar change to their perspective, judgment and thinking.

This I believe is the primary source of fat hating.

A lot of her attitudes seem closer to those of confirmed dieters something that isn't usually heard from those with anorexia, who tend to focus on how sad it is, if not for that, this overlap would probably be more obvious. Dieting is the number one vehicle for anorexia and inducing it-as well as other eating disorders. What her piece reveals is this abuse of self fuels a lot of frustration-you can't escape yourself-which has been turned on fat people as if it is our fault that they have to put themselves through this.

The hatred and anguish against our purported gluttony, real or imagined is the fury of self denial, showing that it is far from being in control. In fact, as the appearance of 'control' tightens its grip, fat people end up being used as part of supporting that process, whether we like it or not because that person is out of control. When people hurt themselves they often feel entitled to meet their needs at the expense of others.

We are too often treated like blank Scrabble pieces. Others wish to use us or their image of us for their own purposes. It is convenient to see us as not having needs over and above serving their own, our support is meant to be food, I suppose. I'm sure that's why its so important that we eat a lot, we have to be satisfied or the use made of us would seem gratuitous.

It was only when dieting and especially dietary restriction in the form of "healthy eating" became a prevalent expectation and threat to everyone that benign and more accepting views of fat people receded. Anger replaced them and the approval of benign unquestioned authority such as medical doctors underpinned with scientific approval, gave a sense of righteousness that has helped remove restraint of showing that to fat people.

It is respectable to be staggeringly rude and abusive, any protest is seen as oversensitive, its suggested that this is something to do with why fat people are fat. It might be, but not as assumed. Deliberately distressing people is likely to add to their level of stress and woe. If that is seen as in response to what is acceptable and reasonable, it can be presented as unreasonable.

Usually writing about anorexic behaviour is an internally focused sob story seeking to distance it from weight loss dieting, this is unusual because it steps up to explore more contentious attitudes such as feelings of cleanliness and superiority, that is seen all over the crisis mentality, it is brave as its not particularly self sympathizing, in fact, not at all.

She states that she wanted to do the same as the models in magazines-she has worked in fashion for most of her career-risking seeming shallow and trivial, as a lot of people have dismissed this. But I don't feel it is, a lot of that is contempt for women really, no I feel like its about the woman you want to become. There is something about drawing your own life, represented as much by your body as about it, so intricately, through the mathematics of calorie counting that suggests a desire for security and certainty.

She has caused upset as she has not pulled her punches with regard to her feelings about fatness. I find that more forgivable than most as she has not spared herself either and given the context, I don't feel it is excessive.

What she conveys helps to explain is what is really fuelling the dark undertone of compressed fury that marks the current bullying campaign against fat people and its total lack of rationale. In this case this is against the self, therefore accountable for her actions in a way that obesity warriors are not. You will never hear such truths from them as they are self deceiving.

She I don't think is, that might be a kind of arrogance, but I can live with that.

By showing the way her feelings about calorie restriction diverge from her rational ability to assess her own behaviour as incompatible with her own ethics, she helps give real insight into how this crusade has spread, the way it can bypass the normal moral standards of those investing energy in it.

A lot of fat people wish to claim it is just instruction from above. That's about trying to find a way around the extent of coldness, it doesn't touch on the combustible power of denying yourself to fuel a hatred of fat people.

Far from the assumption that the ubiquitous fat hating of today is an extension of fat bullying of yore, it actually took a while for 'obesity' wallahs to get people on board to this extent. In fact a lot of people dismissed them and for years they couldn't give 'obesity' away (see "conclusions" at the bottom of page 105 and note the date 2001). It has always been a real Cinderella subject, which is perhaps why we know little about weight.

It's nonsense to say the crisis is deep seated.

Only when they got everyone on board with the idea of watching your weight-the idea that no matter what you weigh now, you must be doing something to prevent the possibility of fatness. We must all develop a fear fatness, the greater the better. When the amount of people on board reached a critical mass, it supports such ugliness and makes it seem OK.

In short, they've got more or less everyone on a diet, feeling like they should be on one and that this is the norm of eating which all other eating ought to be judged by, lessening every one's ability to understand what normal eating is like, which comes to seem like a disorder. The disorder becomes the norm.

That's the fury of fat hate always ready to happen, people doing it to themselves, means they can do it to us, we're alright, because we are clearly satisfying ourselves, at every one's expense.

This is what enabled it to adhere to people's minds whereas before they were somewhat indifferent or unpredictable about it. Dieting/anorexia chemistry, is what has spread and created this peculiarly aggressive strain of fat hate.

That is the glue which holds it all together.

Ask yourself, why should anyone really care so much about what anyone weighs? Do you care what slim people weigh? I know I don't, nor do I care what they eat /don't eat. You can only be made to care about that when it has a vehicle to make it personal.

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