In the comments section of my last post, it became apparent that I need to create a page, to appear with the Disclaimer and “About” pages, that establishes some rules. Since we are a disparate community with two primary groups, weight-loss maintainers and size acceptance proponents, it is easy to see how something said by one may rub another wrong. Actually, what I have found amazing is how we are on the same basic pages.
We agree that:
- Fat people, on average, are as smart and well informed as naturally trim people and people who are intentionally weight reduced.
- Diet culture has disappointed all of us, repeatedly.
- Science is incomplete and confusing, rife with arrogance and bias, and often does not advance health or well being, especially with regard to human body weight.
- The medical profession, which relies on science and is influenced by diet culture, does not give fat people equal regard to trim people. Moreover, it has no idea what to do with body weight as it fits into the overall health picture, given its disease model, which promotes problem solving and fixing broken things, rather than nuanced lifetime strategies for dealing with issues that are not clearly broken.
- Public policy has also been influenced negatively by incomplete and biased science, as well as diet culture.
This common ground has led to interesting discussions. Perhaps these bullet points are the beginning of a set of site assumptions.
Despite this common ground, our differences occasionally lead to inadvertent slights or well intentioned challenges that cross the line and become attacks. Most of these kerfuffles, day to day, are manageable and can be gently set right. They become more difficult when someone intrudes with an agenda that includes self-promotion. Even self-promoters, however, can have good hearts and if they had a page to consult, they might not go so far astray.
My goal is to create a space where discussion is free but safe. Both of the primary communities here are tender and vulnerable. Social pressure to lose weight (always assumed to be permanent) has created enormous tension for all of us. Fat people who embrace their size are told they are in denial, lazy or ignorant. Weight-loss maintainers are lauded for a “healthy” lifestyle that they dare not question or critique (and God forbid their weight start to slide). Both groups operate in a society that is happy with insufficient information and a glut of unhelpful opinions. We must challenge the cultural mythology that makes all of us miserable, and here are a few of my thoughts on a framework for doing that.
- It is always okay to challenge Debra, the convener. I am the author of this blog. I’m putting my ideas out there for critical examination.
- It is always okay to challenge cultural mythology from any public medium: magazines, blogs, etc.
- It is always okay to challenge scientists – their conflicts of interest, their methodology, their conclusions, their assumptions. Scientists are in the field to advance our knowledge, and if they make a bad call, we need to call them on it.
- It is always okay to challenge the medical field. Our health may depend on it. When we see the dietary equivalent of blood letting, for example, let’s go after it.
- It is always okay to challenge public policy that advances weight bias in place of good health practices.
- It is okay to correct one another on facts, or present opposing evidence, but opinions are to be handled with care.
Everyone here may self-define and we should all feel free to examine our personal assumptions in light of the topic of the day or the research in question (without fearing that our noses will be shoved into humble pie).
Some of us are weight-loss maintainers who are only now stepping down from (or breaking free of) the lofty pedestals we stood atop (were mounted on) during our weight-loss phase. Others have been struggling with maintenance for some time. Many of us have chosen the difficult path of promoting size acceptance while practicing something other than the recommended health program of that movement, “Health At Every Size.” Are we hypocrites? Most of us are willing to entertain that idea in private, but we feel no need to make a fundamental change until science and medicine hands us better information. We do know that yo-yoing is the least healthy thing to do, so many of us have dug in our heels, and we are watching to see our personal experiments play out. Maintainers appreciate when our size acceptance buddies let us just go about our business, mostly unmolested. In exchange, we may reveal something useful for respectful discussion in your other forums.
The size acceptance proponents here, especially if they are personally fat, have access to unlimited disrespect and disgust from mainstream media. They don’t need to feel like they’re getting more of that here. They don’t need to be subjected to any weight-loss maintenance cheerleading, and we maintainers are perfectly capable of talking about the process without pushing it. If we want inspiration for ourselves, there are bazillions of sites that provide just that. This site need not be one of them.
In order to make sure that these assumptions and rules play out, I would add one more precept: that the site convener (that would be me, Debra) reserves the right to limit the number of comments from any particular poster, or ban posters all together. I would number that as “7.”
What am I leaving out, with regard to assumptions and rules? I know I couldn’t have possibly thought of it all.