Thursday, 18 August 2011


The urge to hold the 'diet industry' accountable for its undoubted shenanaigans is the easy part. The knottier issue seems to be the accountability of the scientific and medical establishment/s (and professionals) for the climate of hatred towards fat people.

No one could possibly pretend they are not the ones who's gravitas has raised fat hate to this pitch and extent of credibility, could they?  Yet for some reason or other, that seems to be the deal with many amongst fat acceptance seeking to pretend that businesses, who relatively few are under any real duress to keep giving their cash to, who's stated and unhidden intent is financial gain, has no dictate of "do no harm" that has been thoroughly supported by those who do, nay saved from bankruptcy by them at one point are somehow more to blame for the 'obesity' mess than anyone.

I have to hold the professionals more accountable for what we have had to endure and I don't really see, morally speaking, why they should be allowed to get away with it. I can understand why emotionally people might want them to carry on regardless. I can trust them to weasel out of their misdeameanours as skillfully as ever, but I simply feel that whether we or they like it, if they are not held to account for their own actions, they will be empowered to repeat this and probably will.

How do we feel about that, okay so long as its not us?

The other day I saw a comment trivialising weight matters as being "taken in" by the diet industry. If I was taken in by any one it was the science and medical establishment. What upsets me is not so much that they did, I've gotten too used to their breathtakingly low standard of behaviour with regards the fat issue-yeah and I remember the "good ones" like they remembered good fat people.

What really grabs me by the throat is that I never suspected they could behave in such a way, if I had, I can assure you I would have saved myself earlier, guessing that's the same for a lot of fat people out there, currently disabling themselves on doctors orders.

Part of the reason some won't contemplate the possibility of the disregard shown to them and their sometimes excrutiating efforts is that they cannot begin to imagine how they will deal with such a sense of betrayal.

Maybe I've just answered my own question.

So I can delete the rest of this post.


  1. Been catching up on your blog. Wow. Enjoying your perspective, as usual, especially regarding the connections you observe between fat hating (as a social *norm*) and systems/structures/institutions that dominate our lives (and create intense suffering), in complex ways, while masquerading as humane, protective and benevolent.

    Your statement about "...begin[ning] to imagine how they will deal with such a sense of betrayal" makes me wince from the force of truth behind it. Partly this tension for me results from my education as a nurse at a time when I was classified as morbidly obese and coming face to face (over several years of nursing school and clinicals) with the extreme lack of critical perspective (the ability to see the damage done by *accepted wisdom* and dominant paradigms) among my professors and within the entire field of health care--including the professionalization of healing and *care*, and the idealization of a biomedical model that relies on scientism (science as ideology).

    I still haven't recovered, entirely, from that "sense of betrayal", from the gradual and horrifying realization that *medicine* as a profession has so often swallowed without questioning some of the worst (most harmful) cultural myths about human beings and about human needs. Of course there are individual exceptions!

    I still haven't worked out how and where I can best apply my own desire to advance FA through nursing. I find much insight in your blog. Thank you for continuing to sort through painful issues and shed light.

  2. Thank you for another great comment hopeful and free. You are one of many trained healthcare professional that has cause to deeply question the state of the medical model as it stands.

    My feeling is not so much dislike of medical professionals, I am actually sympathetic, it's the refusal to face that both the way they operate currently and the lay or patient's role as passive and dependent is untennable.

    That is what we are really being told when the spectre of 'obesity' (and other targets) are going to bankrupt healthcare systems, so it is known.

    Yet "prevention" which should have been an opportunity to re-draw the boundaries of personal responsibility and interaction with professionals has become just another way to draw us into the maw of dependency, shouldering 'blame' without having comensurate power to make that make anything more than punitive.

    In many ways fat people have been a model for how to take a fuller accountability for health.

    Although it fell down through the refusal to accept results that did not match expectations (shall we say!) we have shown how motivated the public are to be involved in their own state of well being.

    It might be worth considering making some kind of study of the extent and experience of that-your own and other people's- it could serve as a good basis to creating a new more equal (and sustainable) model of interaction between lay and professional.

  3. I have a weird, weird theory. I feel as if it's easier to hold the diet industry accountable for their actions than it is to hold the medical profession accountable for two reasons:

    1) The medical profession has more...authority than most laypeople, and so they trust doctors and scientists, who are supposed to know what it is they're talking about. So it's easier to take things said by doctors and by scientists at face value. Which goes hand-in-hand with that sense of betrayal that you mentioned.

    2) It's more fun to bash on Big Business than it is to bash on scientists, I guess, because like medicine and science, business is something that most laypeople don't understand. Unlike medicine and science, business doesn't seem to help anyone, so it's easier to see Big Scary Businessmen as being totally and completely responsible for fat hatred than it is to see the medical professionals as being responsible for it at all...which again goes back to the sense of betrayal thing. People expect Business to screw them over, but they don't expect medical professionals to do things that actually harm people's health in the name of good health because, again, there's a sense of trust given to medical professionals that I don't think is granted to anyone else.


    I have my own feelings about how the current way healthcare is done, and the current way people in general think about health, and how it's a system based mostly on shame and blame and how that ties into this resurgence of alternative medicine use, but...that's a different story.

  4. Rubyfruit,

    I think its a little bit like Jerry Springer.

    We are like the wronged lover who's faithful and desperate to cling on to our man.

    Big biz is like the "floozy" we are dumping on because we have to.

  5. And like Jerry Springer, blame gets assigned to everyone else--to the Other Woman, to Ourseives--but not to the man who did the cheating.

    And if applied to this it kind of goes back to the idea of not knowing what to do with the feelings of betrayal. Like I said, it's really easy to blame Big Business for fat hatred (since it makes them big money), but more difficult to realize that it's the authority behind "Doctor Whoever Says" that makes all the "common sense" about fat people that much more common.

    Or something like that.

  6. Exactly.

    It's the mis-assigned blame you mentioned-blame that can't or won't go where or to whom its supposed to-that is displaced from its proper course and has to be expressed elsewhere usually on the least or (un)deserving.

    A lot of the enthusiasm for assigning blame to fat people (and others) is a whole lot of this kind of displaced blame that does not go to the real (and usually powerful) miscreants.

    Fat people are posited as "irredemably" and indubitably bad and have been offered up to everyone in part as a receptacle for people to get these feelings off their chests.

    To keep them tame, to stop things boiling over (see London riots).

    This cycle goes on and on and is often left out of analysis of the impulse to repress/oppress.

  7. I think holding the medical establishment more accountable is directing the blame more appropriately as they instill people with fat loathing. Big business, including the diet industry does not create fat hatred, but rather exploits it. There's no doubt about which came first, the chicken or the egg, in this case. It is scientific information and how it is disseminated with bias and prejudice. Once that has spread, industries that try to help us cope with our self-hate crop up and profit.

  8. Absolutely, moreso the shift in 'obesity' science, a dubious concept at the best of times.

    About 10 to 15 years ago there was a sort of takeover of that field and the current aggressive manifestation took hold of it.

    The diet industry predates this incarnation (though not the 'science' as a whole). In the past there was a strain of medical and scientific opposition to the diet industry, as it tended to be more recklessly direct in trying to turn fat into thin, with VCLD's and the like.

    The introduction of healthism added that aspect to calorie restriction and helped prop up the flagging diet industry.

    These shifts amongst scientists/researchers and the medical professions have created the unprecidented hegemony and respectability of stigma plus the 'righteous' concern trolling.

    The diet industry did not and could not have achieved such groupthink on its own.