26
Oct
07

Evicted from The Movement

Addendum: Kell’s post has since been taken down. But I am going to leave my post up because I want folks to be able to discuss how they feel about what she had to say as well as what I had to say. I do want to add, however, please be respectful towards Kell in your comments–disagree, but do NOT be an ass about it because I will delete you.

Damn. Just when I was settling into the Fat Acceptance movement, I get word that my presence is no longer wanted.

Before I get to why I was put out the movement, let me share how I got here.

Bored one day, I managed to find Kate Harding on a visit to Elastic Waist.  Kate’s views inspired me to start a blog of my own (and was the first comment I ever had!) I love the sense of community on her blog, and I’m hoping to spread more of that feeling here.

I perused the archives and looked forward to new posts, as I do every day. One day, I came across a guest blogger that made me cry and think all at once. Wonderful, wonderful Heidi, who has recently had weight-loss surgery (WLS), wrote about how much she loathed the procedure that she felt was going to save her life. The comments were a mix of encouragement and gratitude. And, as always, there are folks who disagreed with Heidi’s decision (very respectfully, even). And I thought about Heidi’s situation. Now, while I am NOT a fan of diets or WLS, I do support PEOPLE who want to lose weight.

Pause. Let that sink in a second. Ok, now I’ll explain.

I tend to think of diets as a sign of all that is wrong in the world. Folks can’t be happy as they are, so they look to that “silver bullet” that will help them be happy with themselves. For fat people, it’s about their weight. Diets don’t help people work on self-esteem, in my opinion. And from what I’ve investigated, they don’t work at all, either. Diets don’t change who a person is, they change what a person looks like. WLS is about the same way. However, we live in a world of choices, and while I may not like diets or WLS, I will support ANYONE who decides that this is what works best for them.

And this goes double for Heidi. Because I always believe there are exceptions to the rule. Yes, WLS is over-prescribed for folks who want to lose weight. But it’s one thing to do it because of vanity, and a whole other thing to do it because you feel absolutely trapped in your body. This is the distinction for me. And while I feel sad that Heidi had to do this, I understand she had to do this–for HER health, HER peace of mind, and HER quality of life. And I respect that and wish her a speedy recovery.

What I don’t appreciate is being told that I am supporting a “suicide” because I am supporting someone going through life-altering surgery. I don’t appreciate being told that I can’t be for Fat Acceptance because I support a PERSON going through life altering changes. And I for damn sure don’t appreciate being told that I’m “worshipping death” through my support. Because, you see, supporting the PERSON has absolutely shit to do with supporting the PROCEDURE. Apparently, this is a distinction that has been missed–or not adequately shown.

Now, I don’t purport to know more about the Movement than folks who have been in it longer. I’ve said this before…I am a baby FA writer. I’m all of 22–I’m still learning myself. But I find it hard to believe that supporting a young WOMAN(again, NOT the procedure) excludes me from the Movement.

And if it does, then I’ll take that. I’m banished from some folks’ idea of Fat Acceptance. I’m ok with that. I like MY form of FA, where I (and, dammit, everyone else) cannot be lambasted for supporting PEOPLE in their endeavors, where I can rant about blatant fatism in the media and real life, and where I can comically shred bogus obesity information.

And with that, I welcome myself BACK into the Movement. It’s good to be home.


13 Responses to “Evicted from The Movement”


  1. 1 fillyjonk
    October 26, 2007 at 1:38 pm

    Welcome back, FN! Of course you know you were welcome all along.

    I don’t agree with Heidi’s decision either, but I completely understand it. And actually, it’s probably not quite accurate to say I don’t agree with Heidi’s decision — I don’t support WLS, but I can’t say that I wouldn’t have made the same choice if I were in pain. I don’t think WLS is going to fix all of Heidi’s problems — I think there are underlying medical issues that are being ignored because doctors can’t see past fat. But we’re talking about taking drastic steps to reduce drastic pain and an incredibly difficult standard of living. That’s a situation in which I don’t think you can second-guess people’s choices, in either direction. I understand why someone would make the decision to remove or reduce the source of the pain first, and determine the cause (and what else can be done about it) later.

    And more than that, I think it’s totally indefensible to wish real harm on a real person for making a personal decision you don’t agree with.

    Anyway, Kell’s deleted her post and her blog so I don’t know what to do about that. But I think your response is very eloquent and needed to be said.

  2. October 26, 2007 at 1:50 pm

    My best friend underwent bariatric surgery several months ago. She spent months researching not only her surgery, but all other surgeries available. She didn’t base her decisions on the sole advice of doctors; she spoke to countless numbers of women who have undergone the procedure to see what their lives were like before and after the surgery. She did not go into this decision unarmed and uninformed.

    I remain skeptical and troubled by what I’ve read about WLS. But, I completely support my friend’s educated and informed decision to undergo a procedure she believes is in her best interest. To denigrate someone for making a medical decision like this is tantamount to those who proclaim obesity to be a national health epidemic.

    At its heart, fat acceptance should be about self-agency and bodily autonomy to decide what is and what isn’t healthy for a person based on one’s own physical and mental cues. Kell’s attack on Heidi is completely at odds with this.

  3. October 26, 2007 at 1:53 pm

    Thanks for the welcome back! And I definitely agree with you–no WLS won’t fix everything, but it’s important to do what one can–especially in this situation.

    And I have to admit, Kell’s post (even though it’s no longer there) makes me sad–if only because there are people who think exactly as she does.

  4. October 26, 2007 at 2:28 pm

    Yes, but I think the fact that she’s turned tail and shut down not only the post but the blog shows that she may be in the minority on this.

  5. October 26, 2007 at 3:21 pm

    My position on it was always very much like FJ’s — I despise this surgery, despise the cottage industry that’s arisen from it even more, and hold my breath in mortal terror every time someone says she’s having it. (It’s almost always a “she,” too, another reason to hate how this crap is being marketed, since there are roughly equal numbers of “morbidly obese” men and women.)

    I don’t know whether this is the “right” thing for Heidi or not. How could I know? I’ve never been 530 pounds and rapidly gaining and in excruciating pain rendered immobile by rapid and dramatic weight gain without a treatable endogenous cause (NOT merely by being fat, there’s a difference) and continuing to binge, without a frigging clue of how to put the brakes on. (And yes, binge eating coupled with complete immobility WILL make you gain weight. Even people who don’t binge eat who are immobilized almost always gain weight unless they have truly hummingbird metabolisms. Bingeing just makes it happen faster.) That is a truly rare and unique situation, and nobody that I know of has ever come up with any effective treatment modality for this (in part, because it is so rare) that does not involve serious risk.

    One thing’s for sure: I don’t believe for a minute that Heidi chose this surgery to “kill herself” deliberately. There are easier and cheaper ways to do that, by far. I understand Kell’s point that binge eating alone would not have caused Heidi’s situation to happen and I agree with that, but it doesn’t change the fact that whatever did make it especially easy for her to reach 530 pounds has not, so far, been diagnosable or treatable, and it’s not like she hasn’t tried to pin down an answer, and tried, and tried, and tried.

    Heidi isn’t looking to swap wardrobes with Halle Berry, or even me. All she wants in the world is to be Kell’s size and be as healthy and active as Kell is. I couldn’t possibly begrudge her that in a million years. And not having walked the proverbial mile (or even five feet) in Heidi’s shoes, I can’t look her in the eye and tell her she’s wrong. Especially now that the surgery has already been done.

  6. 6 nuckingfutz
    October 26, 2007 at 3:44 pm

    Can I just pop my nose in here and say that I totally agree with you all?

    Any movement that’s supposed to be about ACCEPTANCE should do just that – accept people, regardless of whether or not they agree with every single decision that person makes in their lifetime.

    And can I point out here that what I got from Heidi’s own words was that she seemed to be at the very end of her rope. This is IT. If this doesn’t work, she’s going to be dead anyway. (That’s what *I* got out of it anyway.)

    How can you NOT support a PERSON who has thought and researched and thought and talked about and thought and then finally decided to do something to SAVE THEIR LIFE?

    I know I’m new ’round here, but to see something like this happen… it just breaks my heart.

  7. October 26, 2007 at 3:45 pm

    “And not having walked the proverbial mile (or even five feet) in Heidi’s shoes, I can’t look her in the eye and tell her she’s wrong. Especially now that the surgery has already been done.”

    My point exactly!

  8. 8 Jae
    October 26, 2007 at 5:30 pm

    Thanks for posting this…I wasn’t going to comment on this issue at all because I’m new to all this stuff, but when I read your post I just had to pipe up my support.

    In my mind, everyone is free to do to their body as they wish. We were given these bodies, for better or worse, and we have to decide how to live comfortably in them. It seems to me as though Heidi had an impossible choice. I can not imagine a life where I can not get up and move any time I wish. I can not imagine not having the strength to care for myself. I can not imagine all the pain that must be associated with that. And I can not imagine telling anyone that they shouldn’t try as hard as hell to escape it, because I know that if it were me, I would certainly be looking for a way out.

    I may not agree with the idea of WLS, but I do agree with the idea of people doing what they have to do for themselves and I think that’s all Heidi’s trying to do. She’s just trying to get by. And I hope she gets well and returns…I would like the chance to know her better. There’s too much hate in the world as it is to go turning away good people because we don’t agree with everything they say and do.

  9. October 26, 2007 at 10:13 pm

    Amen to what all of you have said. I hope everything goes well for Heidi, she has my best wishes and kindest regards.

  10. 10 Charli
    October 27, 2007 at 3:24 am

    I can only send my positive thoughts Heidi’s way, and Kell’s way as well.

    Heidi was being tortured. Constantly. By her own body. I don’t think almost anybody can understand that (I know of a few exceptions, but still). I absolutely agree that she HAD to take action so that she could stay alive, ad actually *live*, instead of becoming a veggie fused to her bed with her mother taking care of her for the rest of her (probably considerably shorter) life.

    Now, if she had chosen that, I would also support her, but I do know that, as a fiercely independent woman, I would hate it, and I would opt for the surgery as well. The poor woman is stuck between a rock and a hard place right now, and she has been handling the situation with the utmost grace and humanity, I believe.

    Kell, I send you my positive thoughts as well. I have often been in the position of feeling ostracized from my own community because of my rather radical viewpoints. I know it can be extremely difficult and gut-wrenching to have to tell all those around you that you really must disagree. I feel for you, because I know you’ll probably get some, if not a lot, of hate mail.

    On the flip side, though, I do believe that you definitely misdirected your anger and frustration, and that perhaps this will be a good time for you to get your mind sorted out to talk about this stuff in a slightly more rational (and humane) manner.

    We’ll all be here for both of you, Heidi and Kell, when you come back! Can’t wait for it!

  11. 11 sweetmachine
    October 27, 2007 at 7:09 am

    I absolutely agree that she HAD to take action so that she could stay alive, ad actually *live*, instead of becoming a veggie fused to her bed with her mother taking care of her for the rest of her (probably considerably shorter) life.

    Charli, I agree with just about everything else you’ve said in your comment, but I think one of the reasons that it is so hard to talk about Heidi’s scenario honestly is that I think it involves both fat acceptance and disability. While I totally see where you’re coming from in the above quote, I do think it sounds a bit able-ist (I’m not trying to call you out! just pointing to a pattern I’ve seen in certain well wishers out there). People can and do have fulfilling lives despite mobility issues and dependence on caretakers. Our society doesn’t make it easy, but Heidi would not be a “veggie” by any means — and even if she was, she’d still deserve our welcome and respect. That’s not to say that she shouldn’t do whatever’s in her power to retain more independence — just that being immobile in itself does not have to be a death sentence.

    That said, what I think comes through so clearly in Heidi’s SP post is that she is in constant pain. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never been in constant pain, and I have no idea what decisions I’d make to try to alleviate that — I might get a very risky surgery too. I imagine I would. That’s another reason I support Heidi in her decision — if she can get respite from that pain, then she should.

    The issues of fat and disability are really tangled up in our culture, and Heidi’s scenario is one that makes it even more difficult to sort out. I just wanted to point out that it’s not the fact of immobility that is so poignant here, at least to me; it’s the pain, shame, and fear that Heidi experiences every day that is heartbreaking.

    fashionablenerd, great post!

  12. October 27, 2007 at 4:24 pm

    Even people who don’t binge eat who are immobilized almost always gain weight unless they have truly hummingbird metabolisms.

    I should add to that, “If they can keep down any intake at all.” I know there are people who are immobilized who also can’t keep down any food or water, and they do frequently lose lots of weight. They are also, in most cases, even more desperately ill than immobilized people who can eat or drink.


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