XFAT seems too obvious

News came out a couple weeks ago that Microsoft was trying to get in on the fat shaming video game business than Nintendo has occupied with WiiFit. They recently filed a patent for a system to allow avatars to reflect real-world health data about the gamer.

Its not really clear what they want to do with it just yet. The patent talks about gathering other third-party data as well to help gamers connect with similar individuals. In the case of fatties, you can bet that means dieters. The numbers game sadly would suggest little else. The big attention is the way their system would mimic WiiFit's mechanism of making a person's Mii gain weight to reflect their actual weight. If you are fat, so is your avatar.

Now, I am fat and so is my avatar. At least, as fat as it'd let me make it. That kind of puzzles me about these sorts of systems. They are trading off the real world disgust with fat people but most video game character creators already reflect this by prohibiting creations that are undesirably fat. My XBox Avatar is at least a fairly round, but this is as big as it gets. In the scheme of things, there are plenty of fat people bigger than me. Are they going to adjust the system to allow those people to be reflected?

I've been meaning to write a post about virtual representations of fat. Its interesting to me how often our bodies are shut out of virtual spaces just as we are real ones. My XBox Avatar can be maybe 250lbs, but don't ask it to be 300. Mii's can be round, but only so far. (and the WiiFit balance board is NOT rated for many fat people). Sims 3 has suddenly embraced fat Sims after previously allowing barely there bellies. Still, its something and impacts both genders.

A lot of games reflect gender inequality in their virtual creations. Wrestling games have been radically reducing the opportunities for fat characters in the last decade, but most severely for women. Guitar Hero: World Tour allows a stocky male character but the female equivalent is considerably slimmer. Rock Band is curious to me in that its almost the opposite. While no really fat people appear in the game, the highest weight female character seems more recognizably fat to me than with males.

I'll try to review at least some fat character creations in video games in an upcoming post. Its sad, though not entirely surprising, that often the times our bodies are deemed appropriate for virtual representation is for the purpose of shaming us and not actually representing us.


Fat? No diploma for you.


Seems the new "trend" in higher education is denying diplomas to fat students. At least that's what Lincoln University is doing. Students who matriculate with a BMI of 30 aren't allowed to graduate without losing weight or taking a semester in fat shaming 101. Oh, I'm sorry. "Fitness for Life".

What am I supposed to say to this? Honestly, this is just scary. SO much is wrong with this that I hardly know where to begin.

How does denying a fat person a diploma do ANYTHING constructive? Even if you have "good intentions" just what the fuck is this supposed to accomplish? Its bad enough to insist on the illusion of doing something with the insane "Hate your body" course, but the penalty is absurd. Unless, of course, you think fat is such a moral failure that the person doesn't deserve to graduate. Which is surely what people in the college administration think. I don't expect a press release to that effect, but their attitudes are clearly steeped in irrational hatred that justifies a fundamentally unjust act.

And since when is it the professional obligation of my school to tell me I'm fat? What does my body size have to do with my ability to learn?

Ah, but there we get to heart of the problem. Those who tout fat stigmatization really have no respect for us. Because ultimately, they DO think we're stupid. That's all I can deduce from the attitude of the man running the program who says:

No student should ever be able to leave Lincoln and not know the risks of obesity. They could never say, "I wish I knew this was going to happen to me, I wish someone would have told me."

Here again we see the maddening notion that the problem with fat people, is that no one has bothered to tell us not to be fat. Or we've been too stupid to learn, thus forfeiting our right to a diploma. For what I'm sure will not be the last time, let me say to all fat stigmatizers:


I'm so sick and tired of this absurd "eureka" moments everyone has to justify denying rights, respect, and dignity to fat people. All these geniuses who declare one day, "I got it! Lets just tell them they are fat!" They wrap their hatred in good intention, but their message and approach is no different than a grade school bully.

We get told we're fat. Like every day. We get told to lose weight. Multiple times each day. Instead of continuing to blame us, maybe you could stop and wonder why a country that hates itself for being fat and which pours billions into chasing weight loss hasn't actually lost weight. Golly, maybe constant berating and discrimination don't work because the underlying "treatment" doesn't work. Because for all your hatred of fat people, there is no reliable, safe, or sane way to make a fat person into a not fat person. And even in the rare cases that it does, no proof it makes them healthier.

They always defend bigotry by professing to care too much about our health and well-being. Well, if our health is that important, why does no one seem to care to pursue approaches that can improve the health of fat people without weight loss? Weight loss isn't working and what fat people need is for the medical establishment to stop telling us to lose weight and start treating us. If this really was about health, why hasn't that happened yet?


Behold the amplitude of Beth Ditto

Look, its not like I think every article about Beth Ditto needs to be all-fat, all-of-the-time. Heck, I don't even trust the notion of a fat accepting celebrity role model given how many have abandoned size acceptance in the past. But it still seems to me that an interview with an unapologetic fat icon should still treat her size with more respect that to reduce it to some weird indirect parenthetical: "Ditto's fabulous amplitude (in every sense)".

Hey, I'm all for coming up with fun and irreverent ways to reference our fat, its just this seems less like a smirking reclamation than dancing around Ditto's size instead of actually talking about it. Its not the first time I've seen a writer pull this trick when talking about Ditto, introducing her weight with some sort of very "kind" way of pointing it out without actually saying anything. I'm so over these kind of decoder-ring-on-the-cheap method of saying "(get it? cuz she's fat)".

She's fat. She uses the word. So can you. Crafting some "clever" method of obliquely pointing it out frankly strikes me as disrespectful given how "out" she is about her body. I'd have hoped a writer focusing on her unapologetically out stance on her sexuality might have figured that out.


Check out "Round is a Shape"

At the risk of seeming like a fan boy, I've got another link from the fabulous Jaclyn Friedman to share. Over at Amplify, she shares her story as a 9 year old on a diet. As I've come to expect from Ms. Friedman it is bracingly and fearlessly earnest and I highly recommend checking it out.


Cook Food at Salon

Jaclyn Friedman offers an interesting interview with Lisa Jervis over at Salon. Jervis is the co-founder of Bitch Magazine and author of "Cook Food". Its a sort-of "how-to" guide for being a part of the local food movement. Its an interesting an article and especially worth a note to fat activists in that Jervis calls on the pro-food movement to show more skepticism for anti-fat claims from the medical industry.
"What really saddens me about the state of the pro-food discourse about obesity right now is that when Monsanto says genetically modified soybeans are not an environmental problem or a health problem, the pro-food movement is extremely skeptical, and they call that out as total bullshit. Whereas when the medical industry says "fat kills," they're not like: Actually, no, diabetes may kill, but the cause and effect relationship between the two is not as uncomplicated as you'd have us believe."
You will not be surprised that these couple of sentences in a long article are generating disproportionate push-back in the letters section, so feel free to push-back some yourselves.


Straw Fatties

The Philadelphia Daily News brings us the inspiring and unique story of a woman who is trying to lose weight because her husband told her she was too fat. Except, of course, that's not inspiring. Nor is it remotely unique. Men are pressuring their spouses to lose weight all across America right now. Its sad and wrong and something I hope fat acceptance can change.

In this story, though, fat acceptance is the villain because the woman meeting her husband's demands happens to be a celebrity who was fat accepting for pay. So the story makes a lot of fuss over how fat acceptance activists are all flustered.

Give me a break.

Sorry, but sometime around Camryn Manheim's diet I stopped thinking fat celebrities would ever be fat accepting role models. The pressures in our culture already makes fat acceptance an extraordinarily unlikely event. In the entertainment industry its just much worse. Its too easy for people to fall into bland fat stigmatization feelings. And most fat activists I know feel pretty much the same way. Where are these people "angrily abuzz" that the article mentions? I've tried to search for Fat-o-sphere articles that bring it up and I'm finding nothing.

The truth is, the author of the love letter to sexist fat stigmatization is just making this up because she wants to make a point of denying fat acceptance a right to exist. Kimberly Garrison is a professional fat stigmatizer, after all, as a trainer and "fitness journalist". Its all about the enforcement of thin privilege. Or in this case, the privilege of fat hatred. All this hand-wringing and bafflement that fat acceptance has something against fat stigmatization! Don't we know we're not supposed to be fat? Its all well and good that we're for fat acceptance, but surely we can't actually be suggesting that its acceptable to be fat.

Straw fatties are created to try to keep us in our place. To distort our positions so as to lay out the boundaries of acceptable beliefs so we're excluded. I am genuinely saddened at people trying to lose weight. I don't hate them. I just find myself deeply distraught when I hear of what any person is doing to themselves because they think fat is intolerable. I'd love for my first reaction to be anger. Not at the dieters, but at the system. Sometimes I even wish it was ambivalence, but its not. Its sadness. Because I'm not interesting in "knowing my place". I'm fat accepting, but not accepting of fat hatred, too. People like Kimberly Garrison don't expect us to mean what they say. To them, its inconceivable that we ACTUALLY are demanding respect for our bodies and for the bodies of our fellow fat men and women. When confronted with a reminder of that, they sputter and fume. We're not being realistic! We're not being honest! Don't we know the "tramau" we're putting our bodies through? They'll only tolerate the notion that we want fat acceptance for ourselves. They can write us off individually as lost causes. But when they are reminded that we actually want this for other people too, out comes the "but don't you know fat is bad". It shows they were never really listening or caring in the first place. Not that most of us were fooled.

I'm not angry at Mo'Nique for dieting at the behest of her husband. I'm sad about it, just as I am for everyone woman made to feel like this true lost cause is something they must spend their whole life chasing. I'll spare my anger for people like Kimberly Garrison who profit off the promotion of fat hatred.


Fat Hate on Fox News


I don't even know what to say about this. FoxNews has decided to explore the meme about how Obama's Surgeon General nominee is too fat for the job. How? By giving national TV time to a professional fat hater who comes on wearing a "No Chubbies" T-shirt.


Cavuto is relatively incredulous, but why is this Karolchyk idiot even being given this kind of platform in the first place? He claims to be the head of the "Anti-Gym", but his gym was closed in January because he owes nearly $200,000 in back taxes. He then got dinged for leaving personal records from his failed gym in an unsecured dumpster. Supposedly, he's now being groomed for a reality TV gig. Inspite of his massive personal failures, he's lately been a regular guest with Neal Cavuto on FoxNews. Hence the chummy attitude from Cavuto even while scolding Karolchyk. This dates back to at least last year, before his IRS troubles, when Cavuto had him on to attack Santa Claus. Actually, google suggests Karolchyk's been a popular guest on Fox, showing up regularly and always saying about the same thing.

He's a clown. And he knows it. He plays up his fat hatred to cartoonish degrees to attract attention. He plays "edgy" for the sake of cameras and dollars. He stages fake fat acceptance protest to use as a foil. He's the kind of guy who trolls FA sites. I frankly would be shoked if he hasn't. He isn't worth caring about. To pretend anything he has to say is worth caring about would be a grave mistake.

So why the hell does FoxNews do just that? He's the news version of comic relief, but his clowning is in support of bigotry and hatred. He isn't standing up for prejudice under some guise of respectability. Heck, he makes Me!Me! look positively reserved. And make no mistake, while this guy is FoxNews' clown, this is a problem throughout the mainstream media. Any of those who are the objects of such hatred are right to look at the news outlets lavishing him with attention and demand answers. The clown is meaningless compared to the person shining a spotlight on them.


Dance fatty! Dance!

So, there is a new fat themed dance show on TV. A reality series about Big Moves and their brand of politically subvercive musical theater? Maybe a profile of China's "Fat and Cool" dance troupe or Cuba's Danza Voluminosa? A visit to one of the hundreds of fat social clubs around the country where fat women can be found dacing and flirting (just like real people!)? A follow-up on former America's Got Talent contestants The Glamazons? Or an insufferable mash-up of "The Biggest Loser" and "Dancing with the Stars"?

Yeah, its "Dancing with Fat Stigmatization".

I knew it was too good to be true when YouTube was promoting a video with what appeared to be scantily attired fat men and women on a TV show. Had to be a catch. Sure enough, YouTube is quickly yelling at me about how I'm going to die if I don't dance myself thin. I heard about this show coming a year ago but I hoped it died in development, but no such luck. The promo video was a cavelcade of fat hate cliche's (where the winner is a loser, DEATH FAT, no one likes fatties, blah blah blah). Its all so boring, but naturally gets dressed up as inspirational and moving. The "sexy" clothing in a show like this takes on a different meaning, because the purpose is not to celebrate one's body but to demean it. Thus, the intention is not to acknowledge the sexuality of fat people, but to mock the notion of a fat person as sexual. At the most, the contestants are only afforded toleration so long as they acknowledge the wrongness of their bodies.

I'm so sick of these shows. Its demeaning and dehumanizing. The only time you see a fat body is when its being paraded about for catcalls and scorn. Screw that. I used to think that the total lack of fat flesh in our popular culture served to turn fat people into an "other", something literally unfathomable for most people because our culture catagorically withheld any pressence of an undressed fat body. Even the fleeting appearances of unclothed fat men for comedic purpose might counteract that, something fat women never saw. They weren't even allowed to be laughed at. Merely pitied and ignored. Well, suffice to say, this BS is not what I was hoping for. There is no context for seeing a fat woman in any state of undress on TV that is not about explicitly and unflinchingly about stigmatizing them. Fat men aren't far behind at this point, either. This isn't humanizing fat people. Its just further entrenching the idea that we are desexualized monsters fit for the disgust of pity of a crowd. I know this is a lot of complaining with little constructive, but right now I feel like the complaint just needs to be aired. Since gosh knows anything that makes fun of fat people has no trouble getting aired.

And don't get me started on the Fat Bachelor (with Fat Bachelorettes). As an FA (Fat Admirer), I'm dreading the inevitable "twist" where the show pretty much disrespects my identity as prefering a fat partner. You know its coming. I hope I'm wrong. Its bad enough that it seems to imply that fat people can only hope to be with fat people, though the promo does suggest that the Fatchelor is an FA. I just don't expect the show to respect that. I think it'll downplay it in favor of a more simplistic notion of fat ghettoization and then dangle out the prospect of doing "better" than a fat partner to either the female suitors our the male bachelor. I just don't trust TV to deal with fat people with any respect. Would love to be proven wrong, but its not like our popular culture doesn't have a VERY consistant track record.


Fat Justice

Okay, maybe not fat so much as identifiably not exceptionally thin, but President Obama today announced his intention to nominate the relatively average sized Sonia Sotomayor to be a Justice on the United States Supreme Court. You may recall a couple weeks ago Judge Sotomayor, widely rumored to be up for the nomination, was smeared on the Letters page at Salon for being to fat for consideration. The notion being that nominating a fat person is a waste of a nomination since fatties are just going to die on you.

The writer was actually providing a glimpse into a short-hand attack on Sotomayor. Not content to just call her fat, the writer also calls her diabetic. I suspect her diabetes status will get brought up a lot in the coming weeks as a proxy for her weight. It'll be a useful short-hand given the way diabetes is regarded as a moral failure by much of our society. It will be used to conjure up not just the image of a fat woman, but as a reminder of Sotomayor's lower-class upbringing. Her story is genuinely inspiring, but we've already seen efforts to paint her as a stereotype. Smears are out that she isn't really very bright, even though she was a top student at Princeton and Yale Law at a time Latinos from the Bronx weren't even treated equally, much less the imagined preferential treatment that is a bogeyman for white conservative males. She gets accidentally labeled a "Latina single mother" in spite of her not having any children, a none-to-subtle effort to talk in code linking to other frequent cultural targets of the Right. Her being diabetic is already being trotted out for much the same reason. Its meant to feed into a stereotype.

The ironic thing is, she has Type I Diabetes. Which not only is nor correlated with being fat, is actually correlated with being thin. Not that you'll ever hear it called that way. If something is correlated to fat, then fat causes it. If something is correlated to thinness, then its just not correlated to being fat. Not that it should matter, mind you. What we're seeing here is an effort to concern troll about diabetes as a proxy for criticizing her for her not quite thin body. Its an effort to trade of social judgment of fat as a moral failing to make a political hit.


Thin people drink soda

I seem to be seeing soda-based freak outs a lot lately. Its long been a favored thing to blame fat people on, but now that the economy is struggling, that fear is mutating into a desire to tax it like cigarettes.

Listen up. Soda isn't like cigarettes. The correlation between smoking and disease is very high. The supposedly slam-dunk correlation between fatness and disease is much, much, MUCH smaller than the smoking link. Mean, the link between smoking and cigarettes is pretty well established. The link between soda and fatness? Well, not so much proven or evidence based, but gosh doesn't it seem like there are tons of fatties these days? I don't think people drank soda back in the time before fatness. That must be to blame. That or any of the other thousand guesses people have. Oh, except dieting. Mustn't point out that people DIET way more than they used to and DIETING actually has been shown to induce weight gain unlike soda.

Like with trans-fat, I'll allow that there might be cause for concern with corn syrup, though it seems mostly conjecture. But if HFCS is the villain of this story, go after it. Don't promise an end to the fatness, because its not going to happen. Right now, as I type, thin people are drinking soda and not turning into big ol' fatties. Honest. Look it up. Like most "end fatness" schemes, this one will fail but another will rise from the ashes. The phoenix of fat hatred always seems to live another day.


Results Typical

"Results Not Typical" is one of my favorite retorts to diet mongers. Its really all you need to say when someone tries to "refute" Fat Acceptance with a diet success story.

Results. Not. TYPICAL.

It doesn't matter that diets work some of the time. That's not the issue. The issue is that they don't work reliably or consistently. A "success" at dieting as not typical. That diet companies have been forced to append this message on their ads has been a humiliation. Unfortunately, its also a humiliation no one seems to notice. I mean, no other product needs to keep announcing its ineffectiveness in its ads. iPods don't have disclaimers announcing "product does not produce sound". Yet, no one seems to care. The diet industry has quite efficiently gotten everyone to ignore their admission of futility and continuing selling their product. They do this because on some level, every knows that diets don't work. They are actively engaged in self-deception from the get-go. "Oh, sure, diets fail. For other people. Not me, though. I'm gonna really try." Our culture is so involved with fat shaming that the failure of diets is never blamed on the diets. Its ALWAYS blamed on the dieter. They must not have wanted to be thin. Its preposterous, but its what our culture does.

So, I'm not exactly encouraged by the word that the FTC is going to require even stricter standards in diet ads. Now, companies can't just qualify their testimonials with "Results Not Typical." They will need to actually show typical results. I figure there are three reasons to expect this won't change things and might even make them worse.

The first reason is what I've already discussed. The failure of diets isn't exactly a secret, but its still one the diet industry has remained effectively blameless for. I'm not sure this will ultimately do much to challenge those prejudices. But ultimately, I don't think its even going to be an issue because of a combination of my last two reasons.

First, is that presumably, this will only apply with a diet company wants to use a testimonial. While these "I did it, so can you bits" are a cliche, we should remember that its not like they are a legal obligation either. Look at the recent "Hunger" spots from Weight Watchers. They make no specific claims. They don't show you any success stories. Rather, they talk about dieting in abstract, experiential terms. Their marketing department is savvy enough to know that people don't need to be sold on wanting to lose weight. This is an implicit desire for virtually the entire population. So, they let this work for them and shield themselves from explicit promises and let the viewer fill in the rest. So, "counter testimonials" might just not be an issue if advertisers just move away from testimonials. I'm not convinced they need the testimonials to promote their wares. The market is just too willing. Put up a road block, and the companies will just drive around it.

The other concern I have is how we are going to define "typical" results. This actually worries me more, because it gives the companies an incentive to move backwards. I mean, they all insist the testimonials are typical now. No diet company willingly instituted "Results not typical". This will ultimately come down to diet peddlers doing more to justify their fantasies. They'll cook the books, exclude failures, etc. to "prove" that the atypical is actually typical. Thus, the result of the stricter standards actually relieves them of any restrictions because it gave them an incentive to push back against something that ultimately has little political will to resist. It sounds nice, but I don't trust it. Advertisers will just offer bogus substantiation and now their still false claims will have a veneer of truthiness. "Why, it must be true if they don't say 'results not typical'" It will be just as much of a fraud as before, only now companies have a substantial incentive to defend that fraud. Frankly, I don't think there will be any substantive resistance when diet makers pretend their magical stories are true. They never proved any of this in the first place, and everyone still thinks its all true. I just don't think the bar will be very high for them to justify false expectations and all of this will just further fuel the culture of fat shaming that blames dieters and not diets. Then we'll have lost even the small counterpoint of "Results not typical". Count me as worried about this. I don't trust the diet industry for a second, and I trust our fat shaming Society just as little.


Fat art in Boston

Anyone in Boston might want to check out the Herb Ritts Gallery at the Museum of Fine Arts through May 10. The Photographic Figures exhibition features "Venus of Willendorf '91" by Harriet Casdin-Silver a feminist artist known for her work in holograms.

The piece was originally made for the cover of the magazine Sculpture in 1991. Its a stunning piece featuring a woman modeling as a stand-in for the famous Venus sculpture. One isn't used to seeing a fat person in this kind of artistic context. Especially given the realism of holography. The form is emphatically real in a culture which too often tries to negate the reality of fat bodies. Its a small piece, but one well worth seeing. Especially encouraging is the item description. A lot of "fat" art is really art the fat positive community appropriated from artists who depict our bodies as metaphors without much interest in our humanity. In this case, the artist set out to create fat positive art. The model isn't just a fat woman. The photographer sought out a fat activist to pose for the piece. Very cool.

The MFA galleries are open to the public on Wednesday evenings and of course there is plenty else to see while you're there (I'd personally recommend the musical instrument collection) so if you have a chance try to check it out.


One to watch: Gabourey Sidibe

Evidently, a new independent film, "Push" is making some noise at Sundance this week. For the record, this is NOT the store-brand superhero movie that's being advertised right now of under the same title. Rather, this is an adapatation of the novel of the same telling the story of a fat teenaged girl named Precious in Harlem in the 1980's. By all accounts, the book handles some difficult material, but generally with a great deal of respect to its lead character. I have not read it, so I hope it was not using fat as visual shorthand for all sorts of negative meanings. Fat is often used as a shorthand metaphor for hostile associations, both when characterizing someone as a villian and as a sympathetic character. Hopefully, someone who has read the book can offer some incite to how the book treats the characters size.

Anyhow, for the movie, the producers made the daring choice of casting an actual fat person in the role rather than padding or feeding a thin actress. Not only does that demean fat people, there is a more insidious aspect to it. Studios usually use such trickier as a necessity because a script demands that we see a character both as fat and as thin. The simple truth is that Hollywood spends very little time telling stories about actual fat people. Just people who are fat for a narrative gimmick. So, its encouraging to see any film tell a fat person's story. I'm especially encouraged by a New York Times interview with the lead actress in the film, Gabourey Sidibe.

"Gabbie" is the daughter of legendary NYC busker and R&B singer Alice Tan Ridley and is the prototypical unknown. Kinda have to be for a role like this as its not like the media has put in much effort in making "known" young talented fat black actresses. Its hard to be known when there is little work for you because you don't look like someone Hollywood tells stories about. The risk of being an unknown in a film like this is that you will disappear into the role. People assume it must be YOU on the screen. She's an "outsider" by virtue of her appearance, so for some critics its not hard to leap to the conclusion that she isn't acting that much. Reading the Times interview, though, its exceptionally clear that she is not her character and is also acting the heck out of this film. A very nice passage closes the interview...

Desk-job ambitions or not, Gabourey Sidibe is not Precious; she is a natural performer. But we all have our insecurities. She used to see Mo’Nique, the plus-size actress and comedian, on television and pray to be like her. Now Mo’Nique is her co-star, playing her mother. What she wanted about Mo’Nique’s life was not necessarily the fame.

“I always thought she was really funny, but also she’s very confident in the way she looks,” Ms. Sidibe said. “She’s very happy in the way she looks, and that’s what I prayed about. At that time in my life, I wanted to be everybody else, but I wanted to want to be Gabbie.”She was speaking in the past tense.

“At this point,” she laughed, “I don’t think there’s anyone better than Gabbie.”
Sounds like a pretty good outlook to me. Keep a look out for this film coming out of the festival. It would be interesting to see if it can get wide distribution and whether anyone else can write a good story for a fat character.


Hungry is my friend and yours!

I accidentally watched a Weight Watchers commercial after noticing an adorable orange monster in a TiVo blur. I went to investigate only to discover that the poor fellow is being called "Hungry" and as an anti-mascot of sorts for Weight Watchers.

I guess Hungry is the bad guy in the spots, but it strikes me as a bit of a miscue by Weight Watchers' ad team as they made the personification of Hungry awfully adorable. I seriously want this as a doll. Me and Hungry would be best friends! And why not?

See, Hungry is totally awesome in the ads. He's always your hook-up for good food. Why would I complain about that? If I had a friendly orange monster who was offering me pizza, cake, pie, etc, I'd be pleased. I'd hug the fellow.

He could sure use the love after watching the commercial. See Weight Watchers, in their continuing effort to totally not be a diet (they pinky swear and everything! For reals this time) keeps being mean to our Orange buddy. The pull out a book he's standing on to make it fall. The trip him when he's trying to hook you up with a hot dog. They crush him a copier machine. He's awfully sympathetic for a supposed villain.

I feel bad for him. I mean, hungry isn't bad. Its natural and healthy. People get hungry for a reason. There is no more pride in "conquering" hunger than in conquering breathing by holding your breath. Hungry is just looking out for us, and I appreciate that.

I hearby suggest the fatosphere adopt Hungry as a mascot. He's being terribly mistreated over at "Stop Dieting. Start Dieting but pretending you're not" Central and he deserves a good and loving home.


Anti-fat Surgeon General?

Well, okay, ANY Surgeon General likely to be nominated in the current political climate from either party is going to be anti-fat acceptance. Still, I hardly see that as a reason to not draw attention to some of the attitudes presented by rumored leading candidate to be the next Surgeon General, Dr. Sanjay Gupta of CNN.

Back in 2007, he participated in the "Big Fat Blame Game", making a pitch to blame working mothers for fat children. Feministe rightly noted that his approach seems to absolve fathers of any blame, but there is another problem here. There was no good reason for the theory to begin with. Its just another, "gosh, there are more fat people than in 1970/1980/1960/etc. What has changed in our culture that we can glibly blame?" FatFu listed some of the many supposed vilains subjecting the world to fat people.

Though he has spoken out agains the "Thin Ideal" in Time Magazine, his approach is typical of the mainstream medical establishment. Its trying to thread a needle, as it were, in treating "thin ideal" eating disorders without addressing the fat panic that contributes to them. I regard it as the "Oh, but you're not fat" approach to self-esteem. Its not really about addressing the fears, but rather its about trying to contradict them in specific instances. I should stress that I think a lot of the examples he cites in the article aren't doing that, but I definitely feel that this is the approach Gupta is taking. Barbie is bad, sure, but he doesn't want to actually encourage everyone to feel that their bodies are okay. "Body Acceptance for Acceptable Bodies" is not okay, and it usually just works to subvert Size Acceptance in the same way Weight Watchers does with their "Diets Don't Work" ad campaigns.

This point is driven home in a different article: "Sizing Up Your Body", which puts on equal footing a problem of people thinking they are fat when they aren't, with people who aren't fat when they are. He makes the silly case that the problem with fat people is that they don't know they are fat or that they think this okay. This drives me crazy. Its so divorced from the real world. I'm sorry, but fat people KNOW they are fat. They are reminded constantly. The idea that the problem in our culture is that we're too easy on fat people is simply not credible, so it concerns me that Gupta is explicitly endorsing such a position. He revisits it in an even more absurd article taking doctors to task for not pressuing fat people to lose weight. He doesn't even base this criticism on any study showing that doctors aren't pressuring fat people to lose weight. Just that they don't always note it in their medical charts. He's assuming from this that it wasn't brought up. Again, from the shared experiences of countless fat people, I simply don't find it to be a credible position to suggest that doctors are going easy on fat patients.

Most frightening is Gupta advocacy for a "Fat Tax" proposal in San Francisco. Though most proposals that have gotten a serious airing to date (include the SF proposal) have focused on taxing products presumed to be at fault for the existance of fat people, many in the anti-fat movement have been agitating for even worse suggestions that would institute a direct financial penalty on people because of their weight. Note that Gupta essentially buries the fact that there is no proof that products with corn syrup cause fatness in his report. Isn't that a pretty important point to the matter? He still concludes that the idea is fine and that we should avoid corn syrup without offering any evidence of its faults. He just asserts it. The increasing talk of "Fat Taxes" scare the hell out of me, and I don't want someone who approves of them in any fashion as Surgeon General.

Nobel laureate economist Paul Krugman has expressed his dissatisfaction with Gupta on different grounds, but ones which I think have some relevance to a fat acceptance appraisal of Gupta. His complaint is with Gupta's criticism of Michael Moore's film Sicko. Specifically that Gupta accused Moore of getting his facts wrong, but Gupta repeatedly fudged his own facts in doing so. Krugman notes that Gupta seemed to be dismissing Moore simply because he was an outsider. How could his facts be right? He's just a shock-doc director? That strikes me as much of the way the medical establishment treats fat acceptance and especially those scientist who question fat stigmatization. Its usually refutation through assertion. We aren't right because we aren't right. We can't be right, so we aren't right.

Fat Acceptance is not likely to get what they want, though. Even if Gupta is not picked, any likely alternative will surely tow the medical establishments line on fatness. Like I said, though, that's not a reason not to call them out for it.