Sunday, 10 April 2011

Suspension of goodness

A while back I worked out a pretty comprehensive overview answering the what is fat acceptance question. I worked it all out on cards, used a diagram to connect the main themes overall. I was truly inspired that day, unexpectedly so.

Alas, I left it some place and that was that. Usually things like that wouldn't worry me as themes swirl around my head and I feel able to replicate them.

This time not so.

One I do remember was the "suspension of disbelief". I meant why people find something as simple as don't stigmatize fat people too complicated to grasp. This is of course absurd in a little like going back in the day when it was too weird to say black and white people are equals.

As a girl, I used to joke that MLK could have been described, technically as insane for proposing this, given the cultural climate of his day. As we know, insanity is culturally mediated. Often that means majority madness=sanity and minority sanity=madness.

As many fatz are finding out to their cost.

People have to suspend disbelief to get on board with the crusade fury. They have to pretend fat people are their designated 'obese' role because they know us, we are them and they us we live amongst us. It's a bit like an actor in a torrid soap opera being fused with the character they play.

Often people who think they're above that 'confusion', only hoi polloi get carried away with sort of thing, but listen to any interview with an actor who's played some beloved role in some indie film and you'll hear the same you/your character, you s/he did, mash up in interviews.

When people latch on to a good character, villain or goody, it makes a noticeable inroad into our sense of the actor's persona, more so the actors themselves.

Fat acceptance is like those who insist firmly, they are not their character. Its hard to be relaxed when you used to be overtaken by the role yourself and are still squeezed between the aftermath of that and those who wish to keep you pressed into said role.

But really there's another form of suspension on my mind.

If you are on fire and I beat you with a heavy blanket or roll you roughly on the ground. I have to suspend good manners, propriety and most especially your autonomy to put you out. That's fine, I'm saving you. It would become problematic though if I only thought you were on fire and you knew you weren't.

Even if you were in some other kind of trouble, it wasn't that.

Yet, here's me insisting that you are and that trouble is fire and I'm going to beat heck out of you, to "put you out".

If I refuse to listen to you, which is effectively feedback on the situation-taken as I am by my conviction, I'm just beating you up, abusing you because of what I insist on believing. What could possibly be my motivation?

Further, where is the line on my actions and their duration to be drawn? If not by feedback, by what force?

Thus we have the so called "well meaning" fat phobes, suspending their own goodness in order to push us to do what we've done already, many of us still.

People some in FA think this is a comment on the character of the well meaning. Presumably because fat phobes insist on the doing the same, fusing their discontent with our weight with how they should judge us as people, when they accuse us of being sinfully culpable for our fatness.

No, saying they are not well meaning is a comment on this suspension, how it makes it very difficult for them to judge any feedback that will alter their behaviour to the better. That should be evident from I imagine that person's unhealthy, that means I can stigmatize them into better health.

But even if we overlook that, there is the construct they are operating in which requires them to write off any discomfort, distress or pain as just the devil within trying to have it's way.

And that is why no matter how nice people are when they start, they quickly descend as we have seen with certain folk recently.

My essential disagreement with the crusade is not the possible fat prognosis if that indeed that makes any real sense outside the calories in/out model, but of the crusaders ethical stance.

I have always maintained that I, we have nothing to fear from people who believe fat is bad news and are concerned only with our own well being. So are we. Even if there is disagreement on prognosis, they are not likely to bother us much, we will just disagree.
What I think most if not all in FA are saying is we get that you think we are heading for trouble, that is still no reason for stigma, full stop. We are rational, we have shown by the way we responded to all this that we are capable of being reasoned with.

There is no reason for any untoward emotive behaviour directed at us and we judge it for what it is, not for any purported intent however noble, we call BS on the premise.


  1. This makes total sense for those fat-phobes who are coming at "obesity" from a health stance alone, but for those (the majority, I would say) who say they're concerned about our health but really, what they mean is "I can't stand to look at your fat, and would much prefer looking at you if you were thin, this doesn't work at all. For some people it is about health, and those you can agree to disagree with and go on with your life, no harm no foul, usually. The ones that it's about aesthetics, however, there is no way to agree to disagree, no harm no foul. You can't reason with them, you can't argue logic with them, you can't show them scientific proof that your fat isn't the cause of any ill health you may have. With those people, all you can do is tell them to eat shit and bark at the moon and then ignore them.

  2. This makes total sense for those fat-phobes who are coming at "obesity" from a health stance alone, but for those ( the majority, I would say) who say they're concerned about our health...

    My emphasis.

    This kind of sums up the nub of the crusade, its true motives are not its surface claims of health.

    Therefore no one can be on board with it primarily for health reasons because it is not itself primarily (or even secondarily etc.,) about health.

    Anyone without alterior motives i.e. Linda Bacon or Paul Campos cannot get on board with it full stop.

    Whether you agree with them in part or whole, they are the standard by which we can judge those who delude themselves about their intent.

    Thing is as you said, too many people are supporting the crusade for it to be purely be the usual troll types.

    We are talking about the kind of people who know better than this, see Michelle Obama.

    It is their suspension of judgment, which has turned them trollish.

    It is the usually 'respectable' crusade apologists who have normalized it in a way the usual trolls never could.