Wednesday, 24 November 2010

The morality of adherence

It is intriguing to see someone turn away from a community (of ideas) with an ethical basis centered around what you eat. Reading that thread made me wonder if I was in a similar position to someone observing those who believe in healthism/ dieting and people with an FA perspective, go at it.

Overwhelmingly those who argue with FA just bring straw to burn. Some feel a strong aversion to it, but are aware that whenever they try to put this into words, it violates their own standards. They try to make that work by attempting to inveigle people into self hating, in their head their motive is sound so they throw a hissy and take the get out clause of FA is 'fanatical'.

Its also amazing to read so many things you've felt in an on the surface differing context, it makes me sad that in FA we struggle be as self caring as Tasha is of herself because of history and who we are up against. In a way her ability to maintain this partly epitomizes an element of the 'thin privilege' slipstream (not because she is thin!) I mean her sense of self even under such overwhelming duress and her doctors patient and kind reaction.  Compare.

People who apologize for doctors fat phobia-in the process insulting and infantalising them because that is the only way to try and make this make sense- should take note of how some of us expect them to behave. To observe their actual patients rather than sell them out for a self serving ideology. I don't by any means expect all to be any where near as understanding as this one, but when it is clearly destroying you? Come on! People who keep venerating doctors regardless are exhibiting their leftover default setting of contempt for fatness.

I've always suspected that suitability of any particular kind or balance of diet has an intrinsic bio chemical basis of some kind. The greater the imbalance and restriction the fewer are likely to be innately suited to it. That's just a fact of fitting on any spectrum of human categorisation balance is likely to be the most suitable for the most people. A vegan diet probably suits a core of people at best after that there are varying degrees of suitability for others until you get to people for whom it is ill advised to put it mildly. The problem as ever comes from the desire for that minority to be the majority.

For some unsuited, it can shorten their life palpably. In a sense the writer Tasha had a silver lining along with her cloud of ill health, the effects on her were dramatic enough to make up her mind about whether her health was more important than the vehicle for her ethics. That is something we should all find out before we do ourselves irreversible damage.

It's also something healthists and diet wallahs the latter especially refuse to come to terms with, since the advent of obesity hype. Whatever health prognosis placed upon fatness, calorie restriction is rarely 'healthy', that's one of the reasons fatness has to be unhealthier in comparison.

If Tasha was a fat person, trying to force and keep her body at semi starvation mode she would have to swim harder against the tide even if she could perceive it, not just a minority viewpoint. Veganism doesn't appear to have that much mainstream support-I've never heard few recommend it and only temporarily. Therefore even its adherents are aware of the possibility that it could be a problem. That has been overcome in the case of WLD, which the authorities like the more unforgiving vegans state, cannot fail.

She had to decide on her health and sanity first because the effects were too serious to be borne and could not be contained, even if they were. A lot like dieting, except rather than vitamin deficiencies, which are often made up at least to some extent by the rebounding it creates is the mental and physical energy it draws, which is then not available for other things.

Even without reading between the lines of her strong need to justify herself (due to fears of internal and external judgement), no one with a heart could truly blame her. But I'll bet there are some-who's effects are more manageable possibly-who decide that a shortened life and worse health is a price they are willing to pay for their beliefs. They have that choice. Some of them even have the decency to admit this, in fact she herself recognised and was outraged about this and so she should be, that is a decision that must be made by the individual.

It may sound shocking that some are prepared to sacrifice themselves for their beliefs, given the way idealism about perfect health have taken hold of current moralizing, but not everyone would sell their mother for the mere promise of a little more time on this earth or to lose five pounds or whatever. In the end we all die for our beliefs in some way, from that to people who believe they are 'addicted' to various habits or behaviours that compromise their health or even die as a result of that kind of framing to those who decide there are certain things they are not prepared to keep in optimum health.

I'm not casting aspersions, although I'm not in sympathy with vegan fundamentalism, I did agree with some of her detractors that going from "veganism is the best for all, but oh wait, its killing me, perhaps not, I'll try meat again, oh, that's the ethical high point of all etc.," Was a little hard to swallow, as hard as a soaked nut pate, ummmm. Even though I cannot say she's wrong, its just she knows she ignored this going in, so now it seems a little convenient regardless of the truth of it.

It was a bit hard not to snigger reading how bad veganism (now) is for the earth and how great meat eating is (now) for the same, some people have got to believe they are the most moral the most goody goodest of all. I guess that's the micro nutrient they need most. And I can't help feeling that for her, that was the real draw of veganism, often the danger when you are proselytized at from an overly emotive stance rather than being trusted as much to reason.

Mind you that is the point, those spreading the word don't trust it to get past reason and deliberately target this urge to pander to it and attract those who are highly competitive in this way. We've seen that PeTa and others appeal directly to that on numerous occasions, in fact they will try to appeal to some quite unsavoury urges which is possibly why they assumed repeating the playground trauma of many fat kids i.e being called "whale" and traded on the promise of calorie inefficiency some experience with vegetarianism to entice fatz desperate not to be insult by being compared to large beautiful mamals.

This from an animal rights charity which should consider the insult, contemptable. 

It only makes it all the more galling when those people recover from the thrall of whatever urge or impulse you are manipulating. It reminds you of what you are trying to escape, minority status.

The power you invest in these urges tends to get in the way of staying in touch with your own needs which is why that is an avenue in the first place. There is clearly some underlying, possibly not wholly conscious realisation among those who are chemically inclined towards veganism etc., that maybe if you were inclined to towards veganism, you'd have had a bit more of a clue about it before. They stoke that fervour precisely because they hope others can become like them in reverse hooked mentally first with the body following suit.

The fury unleashed when you step off, is not with you as such, although that doesn't matter it will be aimed at you, but underneath it's with your differing biochemistry and is a bit like being averse, threatened or hating people because merely they are different from you. Whats more interesting though is what that tells us about the motivations of spreading modish dietary restriction it's supposed to be ethics or health, but its clearly no different than any other life force, the urge to make the world more like what you think will be most hospitable for you.

Again, the rage is prospect of denying that. Its a dream we all have to some extent some even go so far as to wish their minority status will subsume the majority through coercion and internalized recrimination. Tasha's struggle to come to terms with her reality of her diet's effects on her sounds a lot like ours, certainly mine, except with me, it was "scientists/doctors wouldn't lie", they wouldn't insist I keep trying unless it was possible unless there was something in the unhealthiness of fat over and above the reality of this. In the end I never resolved that, I just comprehensively burn out, like hanging over the edge of the precipice, I got to the point where my fingers couldn't grip anymore. So I had to drop.....

I never was able to say, they decided that dieting must be recommended at all costs and not give a damn to monitor the effects of that insistence. Full stop. Rather like the enraged vegans who felt 'she did veganism wrong', like I said the issue is not weight loss dieting or fatness but the construct that ignores reality to keep itself going and has nowhere to go.

It's not about veganism or WLD its about universalist coercion.

What's also evident is how morality rather than always being an essentialist truth of human ethics sometimes has other functions. It is the centrality of ethics to the human psyche which leads us to give respect to a presentation of something as ethical, which may be undeserved. In this case ethics act as a tool to help structure adherence to a set of principles as much as being purely an abstract or objective concern.

The hating healthist eaters are the same and it is the similarity of attitudes between them and many vegetarians, vegans, weight loss dieters those who use eating disorders as a lifestyle template, religious dietary laws, government guidelines et al that make me realise the more strictured your eating, the more it tends to become and contain your whole philosophy of existence, including your personal morality-which may include and increase wanting to be holier than thou. The two come out of one another as there is probably an ethical aspect in every decision and action, it cannot really be avoided.

That's why the FA saying that 'eating is not a moral issue' has always seemed to make FA ethics on eating, invisible. The  choice is which moral guidelines you consider the best and most inclusive and flexible.

I don't know if I've ever said this before but normal eating or what some people feel comes under intuitive eating felt intensely moral to me after spending years trying to ignore my body, even when it showed levels of distress that are quite appalling and caused me a lot of problems.

Even if it is your own choice, you are doing someone an injustice and that willing choice doesn't mean diddly squat when its hurting you. Yes it might be worse if someone else was doing it to you, but that does not invalidate or erase your abuse of yourself.

Any thing else shows a contempt for human beings that I can tell is a very bad idea indeed, regardless of how freedom loving you think that is, there comes a point when this mentality undermines the very freedom is supposed to liberate.

I'm sure the poster Tasha didn't feel free even though the choice to be and stay vegan, was her own. The damage done to her was not less because it was her choice.

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