Saturday, 26 November 2011

Soul is the key not the enemy

Glad Byron Hunt maker of the documentary film "Soul Food Junkies" recognizes the real issue about soul food is the narrowing of what that consists rather than another intellect free round of let's pathologize people through their diets. Snooze.

Our needs shape and affect our diet. Migration from rural to urban, from where food is grown to where its less so means changes are made that may not always been the best interests of balance over convenience or what's available. The forces acting on different groups also affect our dietary leanings and requirements. We could do with being more conscious of that, but this is rarely said directly.

Apart from personal or cultural reasons we tend to eat mostly from what is around us and what we take from that tends to favour our individual requirements, so we can stop writing off eating what's around as mere indolence. That is in our nature.

Sometimes those who are used to being more adaptable get caught out by that if the environment shifts to be less forgiving of that flexibility.

We can all get stuck in some rut or other, not just convenience that comes but the balance of compromise we make over food. Who prepares it for us and what pressures of time access and frankly, interest and enthusiasm are involved. Yes interest in food, it varies amongst all, that's allowed.

Some humility is required when suggesting changes to people's overall diets, offering reassessment, recognising the struggle some have to put food on the table and what an incredible and sometimes unsung job many people do in that regard, is a much better approach. Always remembering that whilst food is necessary and quite weird and wonderful, it isn't necessarily a cure all.

There is no need to leap in with nonsense like "food addiction" merely because people are set in their ways. Our palates are trained by what we eat, that doesn't have to mean for life, but ignoring this creates an impression of pathology that isn't there.

It needs to be stated that changing a palate can be somewhat of an unknown quantity.

It's struck me that we don't actually know how used to a certain diet a body can get and how much of a wrench it is to change because its built its whole metabolic functioning around it. We go purely on expectation that we should drop it on the abstract whims of food faddists, but that is very much assumption.

We know that when what we eat goes from home made to shop bought, we can get used to it, but we pine for the former. Sometimes forever. That's not about pathology, it's the nature of our body's precision calculation. 

No modern anti sin  health campaigners can afford to lecture about that any as they've amply proven time and time again that they are prepared to sacrifice the health of people in order to advance their anti this and that causes. Their whole act is as unbalanced as they assume everyone's diet is.

That said, when I saw some of the examples in the trailer I must admit, I found some of them unedifying.

If anyone looks at what they eat and is confronted by a sea of browns, beiges and greys, it does no harm to consider the missing colours of the rainbow. That however does not necessitate lurid constructs of calling food after fecal matter, embarrassing people with ideas that they are too stupid to care about themselves, that they are willfully self destructive, their bodies ugly and distorted and so on. What do these people have inside them that they have this to unload is an interesting question. If they're so pure, wouldn't their thoughts be a bit better than that?

I dislike the Dick Gregory style "That food'll kill ya". His personal history of food is a little more interesting than the usual crude before and after scenario suggested (that's often the case). I  wonder if he and his kind even really like food at all? There's a sense that they perhaps resent the necessity of eating, that they are compelled to do it, when they should be master of all, etc.,

If you insist people should take your care of what they eat you to can take care to engage positively with their eating experience and milieu. If your attitude is itself a form of mental and therefore physical pollution, then one has to wonder whether your purification through food endeavour is required as much to clean up your own mess.

The self proclaimed righteous (non) eaters need to wake up from their compensatory uplift (for denial of their own eating pleasure) from controlling others enough to recognise they are also using that to keep themselves in line.

It's very tempting for black people to hurtle down this seemingly apolitical bypass of 'fix food fix everything'. Hurrah! That means you not affected by the way you are treated, just force the health food down and run around and all will be well. You are in full control. It's very comforting and preferable to the alternative of confronting hostile forces outside and inside yourself, it's all in your power and is thus empowering.

Soul food goes back to slavery days, when black people where given the scraps and parts of the animal those who owned them had no use for. Instead of slipping into a defeated funk, they decided to rise to the challenge of making appealing and tasty food out of unpromising material. They bought their culinary skills, know how and imagination becoming inspired to create dishes worthy of eating.

It doesn't surprise me that parts of black America are so wielded to that legacy of black people snatching triumph from the jaws of defeat. People in general are as much connected to history by food as anything else, something the philistine element of food faddists seem oblivious to.

What is required is not a lot of prissy disordered healthist indulgence, but a spirit of reviving that same triumph, that people are worthy of good food no matter what station assigned to them by a pernicious society. A desire to make the best and most balanced out of what is available and that includes using land to grow food if necessary. I mean collard greens? Why would people eat them if vegetables where not important?

Its imperative to avoid yet another yawn inducing episode of "black shame" and the unedifying sight of black people wallowing in each others purported degeneracy which is responsible for undesired outcome.

Not anti for

I'm not an "anti" person, I don't even like being called "anti racist". Since racism is BS of course I'm against it, why wouldn't I be? Naming or thinking of yourself by what you aren't or don't like, is not something I tend toward.

I'm an atheist not because of the god question, but because I believe in something else. That may or may not put me at odds with those who are religious, but it is not my defining mode. Incidentally, I find 'arguments' about whether there is or isn't a god pointless and sterile and I have no time for the so called "unbelievers" seeking to indulge. 

I suppose my feeling could be summed up as the destiny of humans is in our own hands; through the understanding and mastery of ourselves.

Phew, I think I'll go and lie down.

I could be wrong, perhaps it isn't. Maybe that's the road to hell it could all depend on how we understand and where we go with that. I'm saying this because I do not and never have defined myself by being against the 'obesity' crusade right? I'm against it like I'm against kicking puppies, it's so obviously a bad idea, it's often difficult to understand how any one could genuinely see it as good thing.

To define myself as against it, it would have to announce its intentions clearly. I'd have to know exactly what it was for most of all though, it'd have to make sense and apart from at some point way in the past, it doesn't.

And I must say, the more I unravel the self immolating behaviour encouraged by being under its cosh, it makes even less sense than that, on its face. It's clear that it is about somethings, many things. Certainly smoking doesn't compare, we all know what that's about, but 'obesity'? What even is 'obesity'? A 'disease' with no symptomatology or cause, apart from EXISTENCE.

That's the real cause of 'obesity' existing in modern society with some degree of susceptibility. So presumably the 'cure' is to transcend society and create a virtual bubble of slim which you can walk around in like a computerized space suit.

It's hard to be against something that cannot even stand up on its own terms let alone any other.

Those familiar know what I'm talking about; fat people eat unhealthily. They must eat healthily to become slim, they must  not eat healthily and exercise because that is giving up if its not a diet. Fat people's problem is comfort eating, artificially inducing extreme discomfort is required to reduce this. Fat people have never tried to lose weight. Fat acceptance will kill you because it will keep you from doing what you've never done anyway and so on, so stupid.

Calories in/ calories out used to make sense, the number of calories you take in must be exceeded by the amount of calories you expend. But hey, what about the rest of "in", stored energy?

There are times when I almost admire some fat acceptance folk's ability to-it seems to me-create a cogent narrative out of this premo grade hokum and critique that, but then some or most seem to define themselves as against the crusade, rather than for something else.

There's also definitely a shared culture, it's very middle class and the sort of attitudes you find in the crusade are shared by many critiquing it, which makes for some weird exposure to class solidarity.

There are exchanges that go on that only those who are part of that are party to, just like the rest of the internet. Accommodating other voices is really hard, I can see that better now.

I don't like it, I think it's pathetic that its this hard to be able to communicate with people you supposedly agree with, but to be honest, I'm getting past caring or trying. I thought fat acceptance was a chance to move beyond this sort of thing, to some extent, but it isn't and that's that. If it is, I won't be a part of that, enthusiasm has gone the way of indifference.

All I can do is try and say what I have to say to the best of my ability and leave it at that. And stop behaving as if a cause could be more important than what divides, right now, it isn't.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Fat cats are okay?

Given the -ism shifting fat phobia of the left. Sorry about that, SOSDD.

Some in FA are disappointed that the term "fat cats" has gained currency in capitalist challenging rhetoric/ imagery.  There's some to and fro, it has accrued traction as something to avoid being identified with.

Question is, should fat people feel implicated by this term? 

It's use as a political term is attributed to a man called Frank Kent who used it to write an essay about big money donors in the world of politics wielding undue influence over the whole system.

Prescient indeed; isn't OWS's reviving that exactly?

What's fascinating about this term is it uses the word "fat" in a way that doesn't refer explicitly to the crusade, though operating in a fat baiting context some do try it on. Its meaning does not refer directly to everyday fat people it explicitly refers to the kind of middle aged upper class men of no specific weight category, you can be a slim "fat cat", who occupy power wielding echelons. Though always illustrated by fat men or animals.

It's fat as sitting at the top of the tree living easy off the efforts of others in that it voices a lot of underlying fears caricatured in fat hating tropes "lazy" springs to mind.  The ill defined chant of "unhealthy" is an attempt to weaken fat people's access to the strength of minds and body. The conflation of fitness and thinness definitely smacks of a sort of Napoleon complex of weight.

It has been marked out as not "fat positive", in that it's not celebratory of fatness, but how negative is it? Is it close to being fat neutral in that it can be anyone who fits the definition, rather than a number on the scale?

I mean we use all sorts of terms using words also given to weight bands. Thin skinned/lipped,wearing thin, none of which are positive at all, should they go too? Doesn't this predate 'obese' pathology and shouldn't we keep a hold of that rather than forget it, leaving only the current derangement a clear field?

Its also powerful to be a fat cat, isn't there value in having a symbol of power linked obliquely with fatness? Do slim people on lower incomes feel implicated by rich slim people? Of course not, so why should fat people on modest incomes feel particularly got at by this term.

As has become the rule with "social justice" economically challenged representatives of whatever are brandished around when needed to give kudos to an oppression narrative and put away as soon as there's something for the 'chosen few' to discuss. Thus it is used as a reason why the varied narrative of fatness, must be crow barred into a crude and I feel, unrepresentative "poor benighted fatty" one which more high falutin' fatz are convinced will push the fat agenda up the SJ hierarchy.

When fat people populate the homeless, the prison population and those with mental disorders, disproportionately, you might have a case, right now, the more interesting thing is why they don't seem to be.

It's a laughable failure of self awareness as much as anything, not grasping the rabid depths of class hatred amongst those they come from/identify with.The only people more openly derided by the impacted bourgies are the working classes in whom as many coded -isms are hidden as obezoids. And anyway, "feeling" sorry for people happens when people pass through authority to a pronounced degree, the desired pity is visceral not abstract.

I have never been convinced for one minute that insisting poorer people are fatter, if its even true which I've always had varying degrees of doubt about, will produce the required simpatico feelings expected. I remember when I first hit the FA nets I said more than once, "Fat people are just not sympathetic", I wasn't regretful on the contrary, I felt FA might encourage us to set a certain boundary on trying to prize a necessarily withheld empathy.

Despite in fact probably because we look too robust, too rude in health a bit too energetic somewhat immovable, sometimes indomitable, unreachable even, we are just too far from the most universal evocation of vulnerability, slenderness. Breaking boundaries is fine but instinct says what we'd have to do to overcome that would simply not be worth it and we should allow that to settle the matter.

Part of the challenge for many of us is to believe that slimmer people despite any acquired capacity to work themselves into mouth frothing ire are still threatened by fat people  the idea of us in some ways, rather like many of us are jealous of others and our idea of them. 

It's a pain in the arse, one of the reasons why I so resented fatness is that it didn't reveal my poetic (though I don't get on with it strangely enough) soul. What about my wistful ethereality? How would anyone properly get me, if I looked like I could play women's rugby? (Yes, slim women, excellent players and no you don't have to be fat to etc.,)

I've gotten over that, because funnily enough it fits most snugly into an aspect of FoBT, weight as an indicator of character. I mean its a question of having the confidence to be. After a while, you get caught up in that and funnily enough, people who get to know you know you. We all have mistaken first impressions and it seems like a lot of people don't "match" their image.

Who cares if people mistake you for, in my case once a hearth mother type who must be able to pass on a desired recipe, as I remember it, she indicated I was of no use as any thing else, cheek!

She was disappointed and I habitually apologetic, yet I didn't feel any way about it, I just like to help if I can.

(It turned out later that I could have advised her, but though she rightly identified the dish, I didn't know it by that name).

In some ways the real fight for fat people is whether we are going to go with the fact that we are still standing and stop fighting due to things like self consciousness about size, the grass is greener. Or if this will mean being boxed into a "strong fatty" trope, which can be self negating.

Or whether we are going to keep faith with how the damaging self betrayal of being an 'obese' has inflicted on us as and get others to be nice/r, or something.

It's often occurred that if only I'd shown the same kind of resolute no nonsense attitude to things as the sterling defenses of my "diet proof" body, who knows how I'd be feeling now? They say free your mind and your body will follow, but it feels more like allowing your body to inspire, even instruct your mind.