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Fuck you all, you smug bastards.

Fuck the people who think I have no will of my own, fuck the people who think I'm a victim. Fuck the ones who think that if I don't think like them I must be in denial.

Because obviously it doesn't matter how long I took to research and decide or how carefully I have been to avoid pushing my way down other people's throats. It doesn't matter that I hadn't been on a diet for fifteen years or that I had personal experience of so many of the psychological traps or that I have, in fact, achieved what I wanted to achieve, even though that isn't what I'm supposed to want. All that doesn't matter because if there is social pressure then it is impossible for anybody to ever make a rational decision again (unless it's to agree with you). I am a victim, and victims are in denial. Like all those women who like porn - you know the sort.

Well, fuck you, and all your horsies too.


( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
10th Jul, 2002 14:05 (UTC)
I am sorry that you are obviously upset but I dont understand why you have chosen to take this as a personal attack. I am genuinely pleased that you have made what was undoubtedly a difficult choice and obtained the results you wanted. I did say online today "To my mind fat activism involves women supporting each other in whatever choices they make about their size" and I meant it.
11th Jul, 2002 01:55 (UTC)
What ergotia said. I know you have a will of your own. You have proved it on many occasions. I know you have not pushed anything down my throat. I am not calling you weak; that would be ridiculous.

I stand by everything I said yesterday. It is not duplicitous to congratulate you on achieving something difficult whilst railing against the culture.

Frankly I'm fed up with this. I despair of the culture, and people on diets take it as a personal attack on their personalities, and counter-attack me. What is to be done?
11th Jul, 2002 02:11 (UTC)
It is especially depressing when you are talking about a highly intelligent group of people who pride themselves on their dispassionate approach to debate of all kinds.
11th Jul, 2002 02:52 (UTC)
Attempt at conciliation
OK. I guess that what's happened is that general statements about oppressive diet culture can come across as very hurtful attacks on individuals who are dieting, in the same way that general statements about dieting and science can come across as painful attacks on people who aren't dieting.

I certainly didn't take your initial post as a personal attack, but I did get hurt by being (or feeling) lumped together with all women who want to diet. And it did feel very much like there was a prevailing view that nobody should diet, and those that do are victims of the culture. If you and Ergotia say that that's not what you think, thoug, I'll believe you...
11th Jul, 2002 03:14 (UTC)
Re: Attempt at conciliation
Well, the first thing I would say is that the word "victim" seems to be a particularly emotive one, whereas all I meant it to mean is "individual who is negatively affected" (and in this case I would argue that *everybody* is negatively affected i.e. a victim of this, including thin people). I realise that the word is often used to imply that the individual is partly responsible for their plight, as they are not strong-willed enough, perhaps, to resist. I do not attach this pejorative sense to the word when I use it. I think this connotation has more to do with terms like "victim culture" and in the modern age the terms "victim" and "free-will" have been set up almost as polar opposites: that there is some kind of free-will/victim dichotomy. I suppose I may also have unwittingly implied this yesterday in my hurried scribbles, but it is not what I meant. Much of the problem comes down to how you define free will, of course. But we all know that that is a huge topic and I don't want to get into it here. But it does seem to be key to the disagreement.

The other conciliatory suggestion is more problematic - the question of dieting itself. The problem is that I do genuinely believe that no-one should diet, because I do genuinely believe that they do harm to the body in the long term. Now, this may, in time, be proved false, but there seems a reasonable amount of evidence to support it at the moment. However, I would also say that I appreciate that this is not where the world is at. In many ways, my outlook on this is analogous to the old idea of socialist countries. From your knowledge of history I'm sure you're aware that the old "communist" countries were technically speaking "socialist". That is, they were socialist countries whose stated aim was (philosophically if not in reality) to finally achieve a communist society. Hence the battlecry "Forward to Communism!"

So my attitude to dieting is a bit like this. A little dieting is necessary at present because people want to and decide to do it, but I am pushing at every stage for the Nirvana where nobody diets. Perhaps we'll never get there, and perhaps I'm wrong anyway, but in the meantime that is my position.

Sorry if that's not what you want to hear, and I'm sorry I can't exactly meet your requirements exactly, but hopefully this will be enough that we can meet half-way.
11th Jul, 2002 04:42 (UTC)
Re: Attempt at conciliation
The problem is that I do genuinely believe that no-one should diet, because I do genuinely believe that they do harm to the body in the long term.

It seems to me (butting into the middle of a discussion!) that there's been a blurring of the boundaries between 'diet' - meaning a short-term radical reduction in food intake, usually along with a change to specific 'diet' foods - and 'diet' - meaning a long-term change in eating patterns to smaller and healthier portions along with an awareness of nutrition. I think the former does a great deal of harm; I think the latter would be beneficial to most people in the Western world.

From your knowledge of history I'm sure you're aware that the old "communist" countries were technically speaking "socialist".

No they weren't - they were Stalinist. But that's a whole nother question!
13th Jul, 2002 08:07 (UTC)
Re: Attempt at conciliation
The problem is that I do genuinely believe that no-one should diet, because I do genuinely believe that they do harm to the body in the long term. Now, this may, in time, be proved false, but there seems a reasonable amount of evidence to support it at the moment. However, I would also say that I appreciate that this is not where the world is at.

Hmm. Maybe it would do me good to try and write out what
I think, because sometimes I slide further into "no-one
should ever diet under any circumstances" than I want to.

I think my attitude is basically that I believe dieting is usually harmful in the long term, but metabolisms vary sufficiently that I consider it possible that this is not true for everyone, and I am also aware that it can have short-term benefits. I believe many of those benefits can be achieved in other ways, but that not all methods are equally convenient to every person in every context.

I believe that given my own personal history, I will be healthier if I do not diet and concentrate instead on increasing my trust in my own body's instincts, increasing the quality of what I eat and finding forms of exercise that I enjoy. The first two of those are sometimes in conflict, which I am in the process of figuring out how to resolve.

I believe that others have the right to reach their own conclusion on where the balance of the risks and benefits lies for them, and to implement their conclusion, and indeed I include in that the right to choose to self-harm [*], through dietary restrictions as through anything else.

I share your concerns about the difficulty of making such choices freely in our current culture, but I don't believe it's impossible, and I prefer not to second-guess the choices of a particular individual, or the freedom of those choices [*], unless either I am responsible for them (my kids, say) or they have invited my opinion. I have acquired more knowledge of how diets work in the short-term than was good for me, and if someone has made an informed choice to diet, I am usually willing to share anything from my experience that seems like it might help them to achieve their goal in the most healthful way possible, provided I think I can do it in a way that won't add to the social pressure on them to diet (and if I can't, I consider that a fault in my own communication skills).

On the other hand, I think activism that increases general awareness of the risks of and alternatives to dieting increases both the ease of making a free choice to diet and the ease of making a free choice not to diet, and is therefore a Good Thing.

I also think that activism that makes women who choose to diet feel guilty for not being feminist enough, or variations on that theme, decreases the ease of making either choice freely, and is therefore a Bad Thing [*].

[*] I am not suggesting that anyone on this thread or your original one is doing any of these things; they are all patterns I have sometimes come across elsewhere.
11th Jul, 2002 03:26 (UTC)
Re: Attempt at conciliation
I will simply quote another of my comments yesterday "You should not be defensive about wanting to lose weight any more than someone should be defensive about not losing weight". I still cannot really believe that anyone reading that together with the previous quote I refer to above could really believe that I would attack/was attacking any woman for losing weight/wanting to lose weight. I see nothing contradictory in simultaneously suggesting that supportive non - critical consideration/discussion of the reasons behind these choices is a good thing.

When I think of the years of my life spent with many others in feminist consciousness raising groups and Marxist self criticism groups painfully and earnestly discusssing false consciousness *among many other topics* and trying to support each other apparently to accomplish precisely nothing I also despair.

I am still enraged and excruciatingly upset by the simplistic statement that diets work backed up by selectively chosen research with the obvious implication that anyone "overweight" chooses to be so, presented in the context of a serious debate among women by a *man* who has never had a weight problem in his entire life, but none of this refers to you.
11th Jul, 2002 04:04 (UTC)
Re: Attempt at conciliation
You see, I don't see the 'obvious implication' in what Paul has said. Just because eating less can mean people lose weight doesn't mean that overweight people are choosing this, or that choosing it would be bad. But then I know how helpful and supportive and non-judgemental (and how *not* like "a man") Paul has been with me, both during the nine years he's been with me while I wasn't dieting and during the one year when I have been. I would have hoped that other people who know him and me would also know this, and would have been less swift to leap to damning conclusions, but then, as I said, it's a terrifyingly emotive subject.
11th Jul, 2002 04:21 (UTC)
Re: Attempt at conciliation
Noted but not agreed;however further discussion of this aspect of things should obviously be between Paul and I.
11th Jul, 2002 04:26 (UTC)
Re: Attempt at conciliation
Also, I dont really see in what way anything I said, today or yesterday, implies that I dont consider Paul to have been supportive *of you* in the ways to which you refer.
11th Jul, 2002 04:04 (UTC)
Re: Attempt at conciliation
This may not be helpful but… I think of you as someone who has a healthy approach to eating/dieting.

It’s a really emotive subject, especially for us lasses, because we are bombarded with so much stuff about it from every angle and then you add to that people feeling that they are absolutely entitled to make comments about our body size as part of everyday conversation, whether it be criticism (you are/this bit of you is bigger) or praise (you’re smaller). Then we have to deal with what’s in our own heads which might be conflicting thoughts one week or even one day after another. Some days I think I’d like to have Jennifer Aniston’s body, other days I’d like to say “Ha! Ha! Jennifer, you can never eat chips, can you? Perhaps if you worked out less you could concentrate on your acting more and then you wouldn’t be the least funny character in ‘Friends’”.

Today? Today I’d like to be able to calm down on the debate a bit. So in parting I will offer that I see the women who have contributed to discussion here, including yourself, as powerful people who’ve at various times done amazing and productive things and who I admire. What does that have to do with anything? Perhaps that we’re of so much more value for ourselves than for what we might weigh that we should at least allow ourselves to relax a little about it.

Disclaimer one – I said subject is emotive for women, but there are men I know who have issues with their weight also.

Disclaimer two – I do not claim to speak for all women when I talk about conflicting thought processes around body size.

Trish – backing against post with blindfold on and (candy) cigarette in mouth and waiting.
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )