Lynne Murray says:
In recent years, as the drumbeat stirring up hatred of fat and fat people has got louder, I have heard some pretty horrifying stories from fat activists whose only crime has been to say, “Yes, I’m fat and it’s okay.” This simple sentiment seems to provoke a disproportionate amount of rage expressed as hostile, hateful remarks, vicious e-mails, and even death threats.
I tremendously respect people who are attacked and manage to defend themselves in an elegant and effective manner.
Tonjes has also set up Project Lifesize, a YouTube area for body positive videos. She says, “When I was younger I didn’t have anyone in my corner telling me that I was beautiful, regardless of what the media or my peers told me. I wanted to create a dialogue about not weight acceptance, but self love.”
Another video blogger, SikaResult’s, response to Weight Bigotry was pointed out on the blog Living ~400 lbs:
When an attacker protests that the attack was warranted “for the fat person’s own good,” that’s concern trolling, and sometimes it’s necessary to call it out for what it is. Short and limited responses seem to be wisest; dialogue with the mindlessly hateful (or determinedly clueless) can be an exhausting exercise in futility. Just because we are self-accepting fat people doesn’t make us saints or sages, and doesn’t gift us with an endless reserve of patience and limitless positivity. I love the expression “sanity points” because you can run out in a hurry in such debates.
I usually don’t engage in the dialogue of measuring different kinds of body acceptance against one another. But just in case someone else has the slight reservation I had, I want to share a hesitation I had about the two videos above.
My appreciation for Meghan Tonjes’ YouTube videos was a little tempered by her suggestion that having lost 60 pounds equated with taking good care of her health. Then when I looked at her other video blogs I had a “Yikes! Oh, dear!” moment when I found that she’s tracking her “progress” in videos entitled “Weightloss Challenge.” I’m not including the link to that video log. It’s easy enough to find if you want to. But it really triggered some negative emotions for me, and others might have a similar reaction. I put the word she used, “progress” in quotes just now because those of us who have engaged in weight cycling will recognize the honeymoon phase of early weight loss. Five years down the road (by which point 95% of those who lose weight by any means will have regained it) Tonjes may reassess whether or not this was either progress or taking care of her health. Been there, done that, got the T-shirt and that T-shirt doesn’t fit anymore.
On the same axis, SikaResult’s response to Weight Bigotry video blog shows the young woman engaged in some very impressive physical activity. Clearly she made her point that you can’t judge what someone is capable of doing physically by that person’s body size.
Those two aspects of these totally positive videos put me off a little because the weight loss in one and the intense physical activities in the other seem to be offered as proof of how each woman was taking care of her body as if somehow that made it okay for her to be fat. The flip side of that coin is that fat people like myself are not “okay” fat people. It’s sort of like the deserving poor versus “those lazy bastards.” I admit that I’m particularly sensitive to those arguments. Maybe I need to have a Lazy Bastard T-shirt made confirming my affinity group.
Let me stress that in neither video did either young woman say anything about it not being okay to be heavier or less capable of physical exertion. But I think these concepts lurk under the positive statements as a defensive tactic. I don’t think we should need a reason to demand to be respected as a physical being. Our bodies are our bodies and relative fitness for any given task shouldn’t define our worth.
I admire these women’s courage in words and actions. When it comes to defending oneself or others against hatred, I value every effort. We are totally on the same side in this struggle. In the heat of battle, no actions will be perfect. Taking imperfect action beats standing by and letting evil flourish unchecked.