Quick observation

I found one comment on the epic thread on The Stranger’s blog (called the Slog) in response to Lindy West’s (I love you Lindy!) “Hello, I am Fat” post that seemed to make something click for me. It’s comment #755 out of a current tally of 1235 comments.

“Most people would describe me as fit or athletic or thin. If I dropped 10 lbs, I’d be in model or pro-athlete range. In other words, I’m what most people are aiming for. I eat as much as I want at thanksgiving, christmas, and on my birthday. Every other day, I think about my diet, and exercise restraint. That is 362 days a year of not eating what I want to eat. That is called discipline, and it is why I’m not fat.

Lindy, et al, seem to think that what I have is trivial and effortless. The reality is that I work at it.”

(emphasis mine).

The point isn’t that we (fat acceptance folks) think that what #755 (nickname “OhTheTrees”) has is trivial and effortless. I just think it’s not important or worth the effort FOR ME. Me me me me me. Not OhTheTrees OhTheTrees OhTheTrees OhTheTrees or anyone else.

I am sure that there are many people who work hard at being thin. I know several of them. But I do not run around telling them at every opportunity about all of the volunteer work that I do, or the writing that I do, or my work, or how much it takes for my marriage to stay intact. That does not make what I do trivial and effortless. It matters to me, and that is enough. Most of the time.

If I wanted to exercise more, and eat less, it would mean giving up some combination of the following:

Sleep (of which I now get 7-8 hours a night)

Time spent with my 6-year-old (and I work full-time, so there’s not enough as it is)

Time spent working

Time spent volunteering

Time spent writing

Time spent with friends/family/husband

I don’t go around judging people who don’t spend as much time with their kids as I spend with mine. Or people who don’t volunteer in their communities. Or people who don’t write, email or call their elected officials. Or who don’t have jobs. Does it require discipline to manage all that I have going on my life? You betcha! Does it require discipline for me to work on not exercising my judgment muscles right and left. Yes sirree!

I don’t criticize your life — OhTheTrees — why do you find it necessary to criticize mine? Just because I’m obese (class 3 booga booga obesity, mind you)?

This is part of the heart of the matter. Your choices are yours, and you don’t need to put fat people down in order for your choice to work hard at being thin to matter. My choices are mine, and I don’t need to put the non-volunteering people down in order for my choice to volunteer to matter.  I do not need to make myself feel better about the sacrifices I make in order to volunteer by comparing myself to the “non-volunteers” out there. I get what I need out of doing it — without needing to feel superior because of it.

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7 Comments

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7 responses to “Quick observation

  1. SoyShake

    Quick observation to your quick observation: I think the statement you highlighted (“Lindy, et al, seem to think that what I have is trivial and effortless. The reality is that I work at it”) is very telling. It sounds like some textbook cognitive dissonance.

    I work hard so I’m not fat -> I’m not fat and I reap the societal rewards of this -> if others have the same societal standing as me and they don’t do the work -> my hard work is meaningless -> YOU’RE TRIVIALISING MY HARD WORK.

    This is why privileged people genuinely feel threatened when someone comes along wanting an equal slice. They feel like they’ve “earnt” it.

  2. Building a ship in a bottle is an “achievement” too. I wonder why people who do that don’t plaster it ALL OVER EVERY BLOG IN THE KNOWN UNIVERSE IN SEARCH OF DAILY CONGRATULATIONS. Barforama.

    You tell ’em, AW. They don’t want to admit it, but if every fat person was to devote their lives to thinness like OhTheTrees does, starting immediately, the world would grind to a screeching halt. And even a lot of people who devote their lives to thinness don’t attain or maintain it.

  3. I am sure that there are many people who work hard at being thin.

    I’m sure there’s a whole lot more where its vice versa, they think what they ‘do’ is ‘working hard’ merely because they are thin, it is not an objective statement of effort put in, but confirmation bias.

    Ditto ‘eating what they want’, some people think that if you pass your local bakery and smell 5 different kinds of cake and keep going, you’ve resisted eating 5 different cakes which you have not eaten, there’s got to be some reason why you’re thin. If there isn’t and you insist, you’re brain will just try to come up with stuff.

    A lot of fat people don’t even consider things like that because it’s not only ‘cos it fits within the bounds of agency but because we are not expected to exercise any conscious decisions over our eating or activities (something that is virtually impossible) so normal existence retains its proper perspective.

    In the same way we’ve been sent on a false scent to find and defeat our inner eating monster, thinz trying to access ‘privilege’ also must locate their innate goodness, they tend to end up in the same place, identifying the norm as the ’cause’ of their weight.

  4. Emerald

    What I love is the way in which people frequently try to have it both ways in this kind of comment. In other words, many of these people who ‘work hard at it’ can simultaneously believe that for them, staying thin is super-difficult and worthy of applause, whereas for you, losing weight is super-easy and it’s only your greed and laziness stopping you from being thin. The lack of logic is staggering.

  5. But thin people *do* need to constantly promote what they do as an achievement and put-down the fatties, otherwise everyone would forget how awesome thinness is and look at it as a value-neutral physical trait.

    /sarcasm

  6. I love this post and I love the comments.

    People who argue against fat acceptance have such a problem with bodily autonomy. The way I live doesn’t threaten how OhTheTrees goes about their business. I don’t attack their right to ‘restrain’. What I attack is the belief that everyone must ‘restrain’ to be a worthwhile human being.

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