So yesterday Jezebel contacted me and asked if they could republish “As Fat As I Wanna Be”, which I posted here I think a few days ago. Here’s the Jezebel link and all the glorious comments I’m preparing to shred. There are definitely those at Jezebel who get it, who don’t miss my point, and there have been those who get it as well with the last two posts of mine they’ve republished. So not everyone on Jezebel is a complete jackass. This goes back to my post inspired by the comments to one of my other republished posts there — I’m not writing Fem101 shit. My words are controversial to some because I express ideas that make some people uncomfortable. Like that we shouldn’t shame women over getting plastic surgery. Or that feminism is for the privileged, too. Or that choosing to be fat isn’t an invalid choice. So I guess I shouldn’t be surprised by some of the negative reactions I got.

Usually I would let this slide but I am getting a shit ton of traffic from there right now and I figure now’s a good time to set things straight because there’s a LOT of ASSuming going on.

Let’s start with the facts:

  • I developed gallstones from dramatic weight loss, NOT from eating like shit. In fact I was eating very healthfully at the time I had my first attack. I also had untreated hypothyroidism which contributed. SO I DID NOT EAT MYSELF UNHEALTHY as so many seem to think. I had my gallbladder out because I kept getting attacks even when NOT eating a fatty meal, I could eat nothing but broccoli and it would still happen and peripherally, which I addressed in the post, I did not like or follow the dietary restrictions on fat intake. SO SORRY! I am privileged enough to have private group health insurance, so I’m not taking your hard earned tax dollars!
  • Let’s take a time out here and examine what I just wrote. Now, I wrote the original post declaring that I shouldn’t have to explain my eating habits just because I’m fat. Here I am, and what am I doing? Explaining my eating habits because I’m fat. Look up, Jezzies. Do you see that point flying over your head? Catch it and get back to me.
  • Let’s say I’m doing what you think I’m doing, which is ruining my body with junk food. Do you remember in the beginning of the post where I said I am perfectly healthy? Do you really think my body is still somehow ruined? And IF I WAS RUINING MY BODY, WOULD IT BE YOUR BUSINESS? NO! IN FACT IT WOULD BE NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS so stop the “I can’t support someone with such disregard for their bodies” refrain because that can be applied to any fat person you want it to be applied to, regardless of their eating habits. That is exactly what I’m talking about. The whole comment thread is EXACTLY WHAT I WAS TALKING ABOUT.
  • NOWHERE did I ask for praise, hi-fives, compliments or “you go girl” statements for eating like shit. I don’t need validation regarding what I choose to stuff in my mouth. I’m sorry if you feel like my wanton gluttony is making your fat friends look bad because they exercise and eat right and here I am, blowing it for them, being the stereotype they try so hard not to be. My point was that, again, FAT PEOPLE SHOULD NOT BE EXPECTED TO OUTLINE THE WAYS THEY’RE TRYING TO NOT BE FAT, OR THE MEASURES THEY TAKE TO COUNTER THE ILLEGITIMATE CLAIMS THAT FAT = UNHEALTHY. An aspect of my point is also summed up by the observant commenter “alibabathieves”:

    … its not about championing this poster’s decisions and saying they are good, but about how we should lay off of demonizing people just because of the way they treat their own bodies.

  • I am not: slovenly, giving up on myself, defeatist, killing myself, losing more than one organ, going blind, on the verge of dying, or any number of other perceived negative effects of my lack of healthy diet and exercise. I wash myself, I brush my teeth, I wear clean underwear, I wear deodorant. I mean, what do you want from me? You hear that I eat like shit and you assume I’m just collapsed in front of the pantry door every night eating anything in sight until OMG ONE DAY MY GALLBLADDER WENT BAD? BUT! AND I WILL CONTINUE TO TYPE IN CAPS FOR THIS! IF I ACTUALLY DID ALL THAT IT STILL WOULDN’T BE YOUR BUSINESS! YOU STILL WOULDN’T GET TO SHAME ME! AND I WOULD STILL HAVE A RIGHT TO BE FAT. I’m sure that’s disappointing and I’m sure you’ll keep right on judging. Just don’t do it where I can see you.
  • ALSO! I am not “stealing health” from cancer patients! It is totally out of my control that some people get cancer! It is not my fault that their cancer cannot be cured by simply eating healthier and exercising. That sucks, but it’s not my fault. If me exercising and eating well would cure their cancer you can bet I’d be on that treadmill in 2 seconds. Sadly, I don’t have those magical powers.
  • One last thing. I “plastered” this shit “all over the Internet” to try and raise some consciousness about different types of fat acceptance, the acceptance of fat people who may actually be able to lose weight but choose not to. Because it’s our business what we do with our bodies and that comment thread just proves how not up to the challenge most people are. I didn’t write it to feel better about myself, or to be bratty or have a “bad attitude” or any number of other accusations being thrown around. It was not supposed to be a debate on MY eating and exercise habits. It was originally posted here, on my blog, where commenters who are savvy have thoughtful discussions without all the “for your health” crap I’m getting off Jezebel. I love the editors of Jezebel, we’re cool. But the readers run all over the map.

And to the lone commenter who snarkily stated that my writing was unimpressive, I’ll be snarky back. Whose article are you reading, and whose article are you commenting on? Not yours! So I’d wager a guess that your beloved Jezebel editors find my work, 3 times now, pretty damn good. Thanks.

Oh and next time, Tasha, don’t read the comments.

70 thoughts on “My fat, your issues

  1. I was over there, too. I played the old pro-HAES role just to see what kind of response I'd get, and I got exactly the type of comments I expected. Most people seemed to think that if you're active and eat a healthy diet and your BMI is still in the obese range, then you must be lying or doing something wrong. Depressing.

    It just goes to show you that the whole good fattie/ bad fattie dichotomy is meaningless. It's meaningless inside the fat acceptance movement because it depends on a health-based system of ethics which (as far as I know) none of us believe in. It's meaningless outside because we're all seen as "bad."

    And frankly, anyone can make herself sound either good or bad in the psuedo-ethical system associated with health depending on how she defines things like "healthy diet" and "physically active" and what level of consistency she expects of herself. For example, I don't see drinking beer and eating bar food once a week, then going out for a diner brunch the next morning as canceling out "healthy diet." Some people would.

    • Thanks for the link. It boggles my mind how people don't seem to understand how taxes work or what they're used for. They look at it like, their personal money is going directly towards taking care of an individual fat person with no insurance. Why don't they get upset that, say, Congress has a taxpayer funded comprehensive health plan that dwarfs most folks' individual private insurance plans. That's what I'd be upset about, if I felt like being upset at how my tax dollars are being used in regards to health.

  2. Just wanted to say thank you. I did find you through Jezebel and as I never comment I just wanted to thank you for bringing up this idea – my body, my business.

    A while ago I realized not everyone is going to know how awesome I am after all of me comes into the room and I stopped caring. The man I had just started dating commented on my 'Buddha Belly' so I told him to "either accept me as-is or good bye." We're engaged. And that's great for me, but also my choice.

    No one has a right to decide how anyone else lives. An individual makes choices and an individual must accept the consequences of said choices. Everyone else? I say they need to worry about themselves first.

    So, thank you.

  3. I read your article over there. You know the thing I hate most about those sort of comments? The classist idea that if you can't afford your own private health insurance you have no business being sick. And god forbid you have a CHRONIC condition!

    People police other people's food all the time though. I'm on food stamps, and once a cashier had the misfortune *grin* of commenting that I was buying some "pretty expensive, high-end food there". So I looked him dead in the face and said really loud, "Oh, I see, because I'm on food stamps, you think I'm only supposed to eat cheap box store brand high carb crap that's bad for me? Because of course, that's all poor people deserve to be able to eat. That's your own bullshit, not mine."

    He didn't say anything else after that. And I made sure to go through his line every time I shopped and he was working. 🙂

    Sometimes you have to rub people's face in their food policing s&*^%t. And that's what you did with your post. Good job. Not like you need my addirmation or anything.

    • I have never spent time on Jezebel as a commenter. My association with them has been purely "professional" and I usually don't read the comments on the pieces of mine they republish. Because what I've read of the comments is just out of control. And their modding is horrible. They let everything through and promote the most offensive comments.

  4. I wonder if the folks on Jezebel crying out about hot unhealthy you are or making drug addict analogies in their responses are talking to non fat folks about their unhealthy choices. Because I know plenty of thin people who eat crap diets all the time and would never be what I would call remotely healthy (and no, I don't mean this in an eating disorder way, just in the way of them being thin people who have unhealthy eating habits). Or do they not get preached at because these people would rather look at an unhealthy thin person than any kind of fat person, healthy or otherwise?

    • Ugh, "how unhealthy you are" not "hot unhealthy you are". Damned early morning typing! 😉

      • @inge…I hope you tie them to the back of the motorbike and take them for a nice long ride…so none of us can hear them scream.

        • Hmmm… as office job and the motorbike are the only part of that persona I did not make up from the whole cloth… (*eyes ropes*)

      • I keep saying this, but it's as if people don't understand that if their tax dollars weren't used for someone's health care they'd be used for something else. It's not like you'd get them back.

    • It's like they felt more empathy with my gallbladder than with me as a person. So many of them could not get past that part. I could never spend time on a "community" like Jezebel. It would drive me up the wall.

      My gastroenterologist pointed out when I saw him about the stones that it really doesn't have much to do with weight, the gallbladder issues. But again! I find myself justifying and I hate it. I hate that I am made to feel like I have to justify. That was my whole point, and it was completely lost.

  5. "'I can’t support someone with such disregard for their bodies' refrain because that can be applied to any fat person you want it to be applied to, regardless of their eating habits."

    Yet, oddly enough, we don't hear that refrain about THIN people who are supposedly-ruining their bodies, do we? No, only fat people people's bodily maintenance habits are criticized, proving our point that it's not about the habits, about policing a particular kind of body.

  6. This is kind of a vent, for which I apologize.

    Oh man, the "if you just…" people. I am fat, but people leave that issue largely alone in favor of the depression. Oh, you're depressed? Well you just need to…

    Yeah. Just like I exercise and eat better (and less!) than 3/4 of my friends, I also have done pretty much everything you can do about depression short of ECT. And really? ECT? Not so fun. Nobody says "Well you just need some ECT."

    They say, "Wait, they still DO that?"

    Yeah. I'd like people to (a) stop judging my body and (b) stop judging my brain.

    I would also like to send a shout out to all of those thin people making tons of babies and blaming ME for high health care costs. Um, your kids? Yeah, they get sick more often than I do.

    • I wish they’d realise that they don’t earn their OK by making someone else not OK – there isn’t a fixed amount of OK to go around.

      I like that. Women are constantly made to feel like they're crabs in a barrel, one tries to get out and the others pull them back down again. We can't let anyone escape from the wheel of shame.

  7. Welcome to why I no longer spend a lot of time on Jezebel! I used to love it for the community… but the community started being the same war between people who want to be offended at everything and people who want to be pc at everything and people who don't want to be pc at anything that so much of the rest of the internet is. It's really amazing how so many of the commenters are apparently psychic and know everyone's motivations, isn't it? And that applies both to the fat haters and the fat defenders!

  8. I gave up on Jezebel because of the comments. Self-righteousness? Check. Disregard for the feelings of others? Check. Stereotyping fat people? Check. There are many who are thoughtful and intelligent, but it's not worth wading through the nonsense to find 'em.

    Another point – gallbladder issues usually stem from yo-yo dieting and gastric bypass surgery. There are a myriad of reasons for the disease, but it's just easier to blame it on those fatties who eat too much.

    In my family, it's genetics. Both of my sisters had their gallbladder removed (one was triggered by giving birth!) and several of my female cousins have too. Women are more apt to the disease because we produced estrogen, which stimulates the liver to get rid of more cholesterol through the bile duct instead of our blood. I've had symptoms of gallbladder disease – which were triggered from my binge eating disorder, which I'm now in recovery for.

    Oh, and the whole health insurance thing? I got mine through a private company (like the majority of Americans). I pay for it monthly, and hold myself responsible for any co-pays and deductibles that will pop up in case of emergency. Luckily, I've never used it. So I don't want to hear all this nonsense about how fatties drive up your health insurance – ESPECIALLY when insurance companies are now rewarding its customers with lower costs for following along with their "healthy living" plans. If you really want to bitch about it, go after all the old people with Medicare.

  9. These "OMG my *money*! Fatties are taking *my money*!!!" commenters drive me up the wall in so many ways. Yes, we get that you are cheap, miserly, curmudgeonly, self-serving, avaricious, empathy-challenged sorry excuses for human beings. Get help.

    Someday I'll lose control over my trollish impulses and give them something to cry about in the persona of someone who works 10 hours a day in an office (hi, back problems), and whose hobbies are playing soccer, riding a motorbike, barbecues and DIY around the house (and the motorbike). And who goes skiing in winter. With two grandparents with a history of heart problems who both died before they were 60. Salt of the earth. BMI of 22. Perfect insurer's nightmare. S/he's after your *money*! Growl!

  10. My stance is*: mod your body how you want — be thin, be fat, be muscled, be androgynous, be femme, be goth, be butch, be tattooed, be dyed, be pierced, etc etc etc….or don't. Do whatever you want, but not because you think you're only worthy if you achieve X look. Diversity is much more fun.

    For me, I'm going to stay curvy and short-haired, tattooed and pieced and gauged. I'm going to go running because I enjoy it, and I'm going to eat a ton of cookies because I like cookies.

    *[Just as an aside: the recent-ish story about the women who wants to gain a ton of weight, and an interview with the person who played Gaga's jailhouse girlfriend in Telephone got me into that headspace.]

  11. badhedgehog says:

    There is no troll that needs to SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP like a concern troll.

    I wish they'd realise that they are not doing anything magical to purify their souls and their destiny by being uptight and sanctimonious about their own eating habits or anyone else's. I wish they'd realise that they don't earn brownie points by displaying their beliefs about the morality of eating like some kind of St James scallop badge on a pilgrim's hat. I wish they'd realise that they don't earn their OK by making someone else not OK – there isn't a fixed amount of OK to go around.

    Most of all I wish they'd SHUT UP.

    And I don't actually find myself on the direct receiving end of this shit very much. I'm thin. I get to walk down the street eating a meat-and-potato pie or a doughnut without looks or tutting or being used as an object lesson. What I hear of food moralising and food paranoia in conversations and in media tits me off bad enough, though.

  12. Trabb's Boy says:

    Hi Tasha Fierce.

    You offer some of the best writing on fat acceptance and feminist issues. It's awesome having such a strong voice out there. Thank you!

    I agree completely about what you wrote at Jezebel, both the "it's none of your business" part and the "look at yourself and notice how you don't have these health views about thin people" part.

    What I would like, in addition to people learning to mind their own business, is for people to try to develop a little empathy here. When you say that people are making the wrong choices in life, you are assuming that you understand their choices. And you probably don't.

    There may be some "bad fatties" that revel in their doughnuts and inactivity, and more power to them. Probably most, though, would like to be healthy, just not at the cost to the rest of their lives.

    Take me, for example. Yes, I wish I ate more nutritious food and less sugar, and I really wish that I got more exercise. But these are not just a matter of "do it" for me. I work full time. I commute. My husband works evenings and our marriage is kind of shaky. I have two elementary school kids. One of them has Asperger's and associated sensory issues. The other is having trouble with his printing. I try to find time to help with that every day. I try to find time to play with them so they don't feel neglected. I try to find time to visit my mother in another town more often, because she's old and needs help around the house. I try to make some quality time for my husband, so we can stop drifting apart. I try to put in extra hours at work, because I'm on contract and my status is always precarious. I try to floss regularly, because my dentist shames me. I try to have lunch with friends at work, because that's my only opportunity for sociability. I try to do the doctor-prescribed exercises for the arthritis in my knees every day, because the arthritis stops me from doing other exercise. I try to buy new clothes for the kids before the old ones get them teased at school. I try to follow our budget so that we don't get caught in debt, but it's hard, because my husband' job is irregular and mine is uncertain.

    And blah, blah, blah. It's not the details. It's the fact that time is the most precious commodity for people these days. And to say that someone "should" be spending the time to exercise and eat healthily is saying that they "should" spend less time with their kids or spouse or job or elderly parent, etc. People, especially women, are pounded with "shoulds" and guilt trips all the time. Can't we stop judging each other, not just because it's not our business, but also because we're all just trying to get by in life?

    • You offer some of the best writing on fat acceptance and feminist issues. It’s awesome having such a strong voice out there. Thank you!

      Thank YOU! I love what you said about time, I do feel like it's in short supply so you have to pick and choose what you want to spend it on. Personally I don't feel like spending it on being ashamed of what I choose to put in my body. Life is short.

    • This sums it up very well–as a response to "why?". "Why don't people treat their bodies better?" "Why don't they treat them like I think they should?"

      Because everyone is dealing with their own stuff, and they have to set their own priorities. We don't really know what is going on with someone else, but we can assume they are doing their best.

  13. Unfortunately there are people like this all over the internet. A lot of them would never say that sort of shit to your face, but hide behind their internet-granted anonymity (although there seemed to be a few over at Jezebel who might confront you in the street too). I too am fat and I too have been fat-shamed. Every woman has body issues and every woman's identity is judged by others on their appearance. It's a societal thing that is drilled into us from birth. I see it with my two nieces and their mother and it saddens me to the point that when I finally get pregnant I hope I have a son, because daughters have to go through so much SHIT.

    I'd love to know how many of those people on Jezebel were eating "bad" food while they posted their comment and not seeing the hypocrisy.

    • Unfortunately there are people like this all over the internet. A lot of them would never say that sort of shit to your face, but hide behind their internet-granted anonymity (although there seemed to be a few over at Jezebel who might confront you in the street too)

      I got the feeling that some of them would physically assault me if given the chance. Some people who are locked in the system and don't have the temerity to step out of the vicious circle get really angry when someone else does.

      • I got the feeling that some of them would physically assault me if given the chance.

        As appalling as that is, you might be right. Judging by what they've said, some of them have watched friends and relatives die, and they somehow managed to connect those tragedies with your personal eating habits. Even though there's no connection whatsoever. They're carrying around so much grief and anger, and they're lashing out so inappropriately… I'm just sorry you caught all that blame, because they have no idea what they're talking about.

  14. leedevious says:

    Hey Tasha, this is my first time over at your blog. I wanted to say that I really liked your post. I used to think, yeah being fat is ok as long as they're healthy. But now I realize, what does it matter whether they're healthy or not? Someone's eating and exercise habits are none of my business. Just because someone doesn't eat super healthy and exercise frequently doesn't mean they don't respect their body. Even if someone doesn't respect their body, we should afford them the same amount of respect as we would anyone else.

    I resent how fat people are expected to diet and exercise more than everybody else because they happen to be fat. I don't exactly have the best habits either, and yet people don't judge me and moralize over me, because I'm skinny. It's dumb and it isn't fair.

    • I really think accepting what other women choose to do with their bodies is an important part of feminism. You may not like it, but it's not your place to try to make other people fit your mold of how a fat woman should act.

  15. Trabb's Boy — this:
    It’s the fact that time is the most precious commodity for people these days. And to say that someone “should” be spending the time to exercise and eat healthily is saying that they “should” spend less time with their kids or spouse or job or elderly parent, etc. People, especially women, are pounded with “shoulds” and guilt trips all the time. Can’t we stop judging each other, not just because it’s not our business, but also because we’re all just trying to get by in life?
    is something I've been thinking about for a long time trying to find a way to talk about.

    I wonder if some of the fat-bashing comes from sour grapes of wanting to not feel guilty about the time spent away from more rewarding/fun/good things like the ones you describe doing (and most of the fat women I know, as well as women who aren't fat but bemoan that they don't able to do as much as they used to with regard to eating and activity). I had a great conversation with a colleague who I didn't really connect with much before — as a new-ish mom she seemed to have more compassion before, but I also didn't really know her before. What I want to point out to these women I know who are not as "in shape" and "healthy" as they were before trying to balance working full time and having children is that they might not feel themselves, but, did they just keep gaining and gaining weight? Are they still basically in the same weight range? Because if it really was calories in = calories out, why haven't they just continued gaining and gaining until they gained hundreds of pounds? The difference between their "usual" weight and their current weight isn't that huge.

  16. Thank you for these pieces of writing. I'm one of those people who still often pull the "good fatty" card when I'm cornered in a discussion about (my) health. You challenge the boundaries of my thinking and that's always a good thing. Keep it up.

    • Thank you for the words of encouragement. It's hard not to feel like you have to pull that card when in the face of confrontation. I'm glad you're thinking about other ideas now.

  17. Of course you get judged – don't you know that all women's bodies are public property!?! I mean – how dare you walk around in public being too fat or too thin!

    Seriously – great posts… Made me think back to my Peace Corps days in Africa, where people would tell me that I was really fat – as a compliment.

  18. Tasha:

    You know what else is funny about this? I've transitioned from female to male, so of course my body fat has shifted. Along with it, society's view of it…um, they no longer seem to see it. Funny that! 🙂

    Unfortunately now, I see it more! Whereas I didn't care so much about my body as a female, now I'm constantly (almost always subconciously) measuring myself up in how I "fail" the stereotype of what a man should look like. (muscles, the whole 9). I fonally realized this about 3 weeks ago and it pisses me off!! GGrrrr..arrrggggghhh…the unlearning never ends!!

    *semi-sarcastically shaking my fist at the ceiling*

  19. My size 10 SIL had her gall bladder out. Me? 14 years older, 80 pounds fatter, and still have my gall bladder. How can that be?!?

  20. Tasha, the comments there are Sucktown but the original piece, THIS piece, and the comments here are certainly worthy reading. Thank you for this.

  21. As a very very casual Jez reader I was pretty horrified to see some of the comments on your republished article. I actually had one of my blog posts (about being fat and wearing skinny jeans) republished there and most comments were supportive.

    I think you're an excellent writer and a fantastic role model. Your original post made me think about how I absolutely try and reframe my fatness in a more positive way, even though I've been involved in FA for a while. I feel like I can exhale now. Thank you.

    • The fact that Tasha is a woman of color is probably something to be factored into the equation. It definitely changes how the message will be perceived. Jez, in my experience tends to be pretty hostile in regards to unpacking subtle forms of privilege, particularly as it relates to those within its ranks. It's far more concerned with pointing at overt forms of bigotry and calling them out and then being super proud of themselves for doing so. There is no real work in regards to dismantling systems of oppression and privilege happening over there as far as I can tell.

  22. Tasha, I found your blog through the Big Fat Deal article. Your original post and this one are brilliant. Thank you! I realized that I have replaced a lot of my self-directed chub hate with a lot of external, "hey, look at how I do x, y, and z. Isn't that great? Now you know this whole fat thing is not my fault." That's been rattling around my head for a while, but you managed to articulate all my uncomfortable feelings around WHY I feel the need to justify how I look. Thank you!

  23. good cripes it sounds like my decision not to read the comments was a good one for my blood pressure. you know, so my fat self wouldn't get higher blood pressure, therefore causing the world to implode with my fatness and my sucking away all of the tax monies from the non-fatties. whew.

    also? you are god damn fantastic and I am so happy to have been introduced to your work.

  24. I'm a regular Jezebel reader and commenter, and I'm really sorry that so many of the comments on there were ignorant and offensive. I just wanted to let you know that I loved your article, and in fact commented on it to say so. Thank you for what you wrote. Hopefully Jezebel readers will become more educated as the editors publish more about this subject.

  25. Loving the fat girl says:

    I love your blog. Even though I’m not a “fat girl” reading your posts (particularly the ones on Bitch) has really helped me to change the way I think about myself and other women, whatever their size. As women, we have a responsibility to embrace ourselves however we are and we should only change that if it’s right for us, not because society says we should.

    Keep up the good work, love it love it love it. 

  26. Loving the fat girl says:

    I love your blog. Even though I’m not a “fat girl” reading your posts (particularly the ones on Bitch) has really helped me to change the way I think about myself and other women, whatever their size. As women, we have a responsibility to embrace ourselves however we are and we should only change that if it’s right for us, not because society says we should.

    Keep up the good work, love it love it love it. 

  27. who the hell…!??! Thank you for not wasting another sentence on mentioning the haters. Good post-keep it up.

  28. who the hell…!??! Thank you for not wasting another sentence on mentioning the haters. Good post-keep it up.

Comments are closed.