I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be a “good fatty” lately, and stumbled across this awesome comic by Stacy Bias that perfectly illustrates, describes and explores various types of “good fatties.”

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Check it out here.

You can even download this amazing artwork as a zine!

In an article titled A Dadbag That I Made For People Who Want A Dad Bod Without Eating Junk Food, it was announced that a designer intends to sell designs for a fanny pack that looks like fat peoples’ stomachs.

The designer says:

I made the dadbag because I’m desperate to have dad bod but I’m also very concerned about the health risks associated with it. The solution is quite simple, a bumbag with a proper dad belly printed on it. Now I can put on a dad bod whenever I feel like it and even store my valuables in it.

The Dadbag is currently not available to buy, but I’m on the lookout for partners and manufacturers to hopefully go into mass production soon.

This is a terrible idea for the following reasons:

Fat bodies are not fashion accessories for thin people.

Just how blackface is a fucked up thing that white people do, thin people often dress up as fat people in ways that temporarily locate their bodies in fat identities without actually giving up any kind of privilege. Our bodies are not for you to use as a joke, make money off of, parody, or mock (despite what Hollywood might tell you with its plethora of thin actors embodying fat characters).

When you do this, you perpetuate fat oppression and discrimination. You are making jokes at our expense. You are making jokes about things that you do not suffer from. You are being a part of the problem. You are being an asshole.

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Moving into fatness temporarily as a joke is cruel.

Many people who identify as fat have suffered relentlessly from the social opinion that fatness is a choice and something that can be shed. For those of us who move through this world as a fat person, watching people put on and take off a fat identity (something we have most likely tried to do ourselves using harmful and traumatic methods) feels like a cruel joke. It is rubbing in the faces of fat people something that we are told to desire, yet despite our best efforts, will never have.

We will never get to laugh along because we will never get to take it off.

Just how it’s not okay to say you “feel fat”  – would you ever say you feel “black” or “poor”? – when you mean to say that you feel “bloated”, “uncomfortable”, or “full”, it is not okay to put on something that encourages others to put down fatness as something to be laughed at or ridiculed. When it comes to this product, fat bodies are the punchline, and your shitty joke isn’t funny.

Using the term ‘dadbod’ reinforces harmful stereotypes about men and parents that intersect with gendered, classist and racist forms of oppression.

The idea that parents have “let themselves go” after entering parenthood is fucked up.

The “dadbod” stereotype is used to control adults (who have now entered a job that is literally 24/7 ~forever~ until they die and therefore can never escape this identity as a parent) in ways that encourage them to work even harder to ward off the looming threat of physical changes (often in the form of weight gain) that understandably come about when you a) grow and birth a human, and/or b) get older, and/or c) enter a new period in life with increased levels of stress, anxiety, and responsibility.

Considering that 90-95% of attempts to lose weight don’t work, and actually result in weight cycling in which more weight is gained after the fact, this pressure is torturous. You can see it in the tabloid coverage of celebrities who have given birth, monitoring how quickly one loses baby weight and judging those who seem to fail (i.e. move into fatness). You see it here, where the bodies of fathers are a joke-turned-gag-gift that implies that these bodies are moral failings.

The “dadbod” is an image associate with gendered, lower-class and racialized stereotypes of men as being lazy, ignorant, and unproductive – the hairy, fat belly being a visual representation of these undesirable characteristics. Fuck that.

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Dressing up as fat people isn’t funny.

Retire these jokes already and come up with something original. And remember: it’s only funny when you punch up, not down.

Please, explain the joke to someone who looks like this and let me know how it goes.

Rating and trivializing the physical attractiveness of fat people doesn’t just harm fat folks.

You’re also hurting people who love, are attracted to, and have sex with fat bodies that look like this. Wearing this product in a public space would silence, humiliate, and shame not just fat people, but people who love fat people.

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Equating fatness with poor health or food consumption is factually inaccurate.

Healthist and fatphobic attitudes are incredibly pervasive in our culture – but that doesn’t mean these opinions are right. Research has shown that healthist and fatphobic attitudes in regards to food and public health actually cause health problems. As does shaming fat people.

Just do your homework with this one; there’s lots of fat-positive public health literature and critiques of existing public health literature and research within the area of fat studies that would negate these ideas.

A great review of Roxane Gay’s Hunger, by Keah Brown.

For most of my life, that fear of people has kept me from really living, from feeling free. Even now, with my newfound like for my body, I still tense up when I catch people staring. I still have to actively keep negative thoughts at bay when I hear their snide comments and muffled laughter. I live differing versions of my graduation ceremony if not daily, weekly, and if not weekly, monthly…

… I was particularly appreciative of the way in which Gay told the story of her body in a circular narrative, adding in memories and moments that pushed it along but also reminded the reader what we’ve been told already. It works because that is what life is: a series of moments, both big and small, good and bad, that we keep going back to, that shape us and influence our decisions whether we want them to or not

… There is both comfort and loneliness to being invisible. My own comfort lies in having convinced myself that invisibility is better than the questions and the stares, even though invisibility doesn’t grant me any peace of mind. Invisibility allows people to see right through me, but they still find ways to broadcast their discomfort. In Hunger, Gay shows us the limits of invisibility. She describes how she was often the punching bag in her past relationships. She tells of a time when she got her makeup done to impress a partner, only to have him tell her how she might further improve her appearance. There were partners who cheated and made her feel lesser. Still, she found herself hungering for these relationships, reciprocating the interest of the partners who pursued her first, even if her own interest wasn’t initially there.

I’ve been working on this long-form, investigative piece for Daily Xtra for the past 8 months, and I can only assume that this is what it feels like to birth a child after a long wait and lots of work. It’s also the longest (published) piece I’ve ever written (almost 5,000 words!).

The students at TWU and their stories have come to mean a lot to me in that time, and I am grateful for their willingness to speak with me.

If you have time, check it out. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

View at Medium.com

Because I had read that autoimmune conditions could be triggered by chemical exposure and by diet—some thyroid patients are sensitive to gluten, which can exacerbate their symptoms—I became hyperconscious of what I ate and what I exposed myself to. On more than one coffee date, walking through the leafy streets of Fort Greene, my friend Gina and I talked about the mysteries of chronic illness. “How are you doing?” she asked one morning. “I don’t know if I can take this anymore,” I told her. “I just want to get better. I want to go for a day without thinking about my body.”

A common symptom of autoimmune diseases is debilitating fatigue. Complaining of fatigue sounds like moral weakness; in New York City, tired is normal. But autoimmune fatigue is different from a sleep-deprived person’s exhaustion. The worst part of my fatigue, the one I couldn’t explain to anyone—I knew I’d seem crazy—was the loss of an intact sense of self.

It wasn’t just that I suffered brain fog (a usual autoimmune symptom); and it wasn’t just the “loss of self” that sociologists talk about in connection with chronic illness, where everything you know about yourself disappears, and you have to build a different life. It was that I no longer had the sense that I was a distinct person. Taking the subway to N.Y.U., where I taught, I felt like a mechanism that moved arduously through the world, simply trying to complete its tasks. Sitting upright at my father’s birthday dinner required a huge act of will. Normally, absorption in a task—an immersive flow—can lead you to forget that you feel sick, but my fatigue made such a state impossible. I might, at the nadir of my illness, have been able to write one of these sentences, but I would not have been able to make paragraphs of them.

To be sick in this way is to have the unpleasant feeling that you are impersonating yourself. When you’re sick, the act of living is more act than living. Healthy people, as you’re painfully aware, have the luxury of forgetting that our existence depends on a cascade of precise cellular interactions. Not you…

… And so the person suffering from chronic illness faces a difficult balancing act. You have to be an advocate for yourself in the face of medical ignorance, indifference, arrogance, and a lack of training. (A 2004 Johns Hopkins study found that nearly two-thirds of doctors surveyed felt inadequately trained in the care of the chronically ill.) You can’t be deterred when you know something’s wrong. But you’ve also got to be willing to ask how much is in your head—and whether an obsessive attention to your symptoms is going to lead you to better health. The chronically ill patient has to hold in mind two contradictory modes: insistence on the reality of her disease, and resistance to her own catastrophic fears.

Full article here.

A fantastic analysis of the intersections of race, fatness, and gender.

I don’t like using they/them pronouns because it feels so foreign to me. It’s really no shade to those who have found a home in they/them, but more so calling into question the terms “gender neutral” and “neutrality” in a world where nothing is neutral or objective, and often all defaults are based in masculinity and whiteness.

Read the full article here.

Ancient humans must have decided, once their bellies were full, that there was more to life than mere survival and staring mortality in the face. They went on to build things in which they could find distraction, comfort, recreation, and meaning. They built cultures in which death became another rite of passage, not the end of everything. They made structures to live in, wrote songs to sing to each other, and added spices to their food, which they cooked in different styles. Humans are supported by a self-created system of meanings, symbols, rituals, and etiquette. Food and eating are part of this…

… When it comes to food, Becker said that humans “quickly saw beyond mere physical nourishment,” and that the desire for more life—not just delaying death today, but clearing the bar of mortality entirely—grew into an obsession with transforming the self into a perfected object that might achieve a sort of immorality. Diet culture and its variations, such as clean eating, are cultural structures we have built to attempt to transcend our animality.

By creating and following diets, humans not only eat to stay alive, but they fit themselves into a cultural edifice that is larger, and more permanent, than their bodies. It is a sort of immortality ritual, and rituals must be performed socially. Clean eating rarely, if ever, occurs in secret. If you haven’t evangelized about it, joined a movement around it, or been praised publicly for it, have you truly cleansed?…

… Our omnivorousness gives us an exhilarating and terrifying amount of freedom. As social creatures, we seek safety from that freedom in our culture, and in a certain amount of conformity. We prefer to follow leaders we’ve invested with authority to blaze a path to safety.

The heroes of contemporary diet culture are wellness gurus who claim to have cured themselves of fatness, disease, and meaninglessness through the unimpeachable purity of cold-pressed vegetable juice. Many traditional heroes earn their status by confronting and defeating death, like Hercules, who was granted immortality after a lifetime of capturing or killing a menagerie of dangerous beasts, including the three-headed dog of Hades himself. Wellness gurus are the glamorously clean eaters whose triumph over sad, dirty animality is evidenced by fresh, thoughtfully-lit photographs of green smoothies in wholesome Mason jars, and by their own bodies, beautifully rendered.

There are no such heroes to be found in a peer-reviewed paper with a large, anonymous sample, and small effect sizes, written in impenetrable statistician-ese, and hedged with disclosures about limitations. But the image of a person you can relate to on a human level, smiling out at you from the screen, standing in a before-and-after, shoulder-to-shoulder with their former, lesser, processed-food-eating self, is something else altogether. Their creation myth and redemption—how they were lost but now are found—is undeniably compelling…

… If you are free to choose, you can be blamed for anything that happens to you: weight gain, illness, aging—in short, your share in the human condition, including the random whims of luck and your own inescapable mortality.

Read the full article here.