Link: 21 Things to Stop Saying Unless You Hate Fat People

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This wandered across my twitter feed. Excellent piece. I can’t recommend the comments, though.

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An Adult Conversation

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Studies are at it again. This time, a large federal study ended two years early because the results were so clear that they didn’t need to continue. The study was investigating whether diet and weight loss can prevent heart attacks and strokes in fat people with type 2 diabetes. And it didn’t. It was so obvious that it didn’t that, I’m going to say this again, they ended the study two years early.

There are the usual protestations from researchers about how surprised they are, they’re simply shocked, this wasn’t at all what they expected, they were so sure they were going to get exactly the opposite result. Of course. But at least this time they were honest enough to recognize what was happening, admit to it out loud, and shut the pointless thing down.

And the article contains this priceless quote from Dr. David Nathan, a principal investigator and the director of Massachusetts General Hospital’s Diabetes Center: “We have to have an adult conversation about this,” he said. “This was a negative result.”

Dr. Nathan also specifically said to “put ‘meaningful’ in quotes” when talking about meaningful weight loss defined as 5% of body weight. Awesome.

He does point out that while the test group (which was on a diet and exercise program) and the control group had similar levels of cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar, the dieters used fewer medications, so maybe there’s some kind of choice here between diet & exercise, and meds, which may be true, but personally I think that would need a whole new trial to test, especially since we already know that those things don’t help everyone.

There are, as usual, those in the medical world who are oh-so-dubious about the study, and I am absolutely certain that there will be a great many laypeople who will flat out deny and contradict it, and insist that these results are utterly impossible. But once again, there it fucking is.

I’m with Dr. Nathan. We need to be having a real, adult conversation about this. Weight loss is not a magic bullet or a panacea. Medical professionals need to stop pushing it on fat people as a cure-all and failing to actually treat the health problems that fat people have. We need to stop insisting that fat is the problem and address actual problems.

Fat Neo-Victorian

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The weather here is finally cool enough that I’m comfortable wearing layers again, so I’m trying to bring back my steampunk wardrobe again. Except that, as I was informed several time, this isn’t really steampunk, it’s more neo-Victorian. Funny, when a man wears new takes on Victorian fashions, but doesn’t make it grungy or have cogs or goggles or whatever the hell else we’re using this week to signal “steampunk” instead of “neo-Victorian,” a lot fewer people try to tell him it’s not steampunk.

Also, it apparently freaks people out that I do steampunk with OMG COLOURS, as if the Victorians actually lived in the sepia-tone of the old daguerreotypes, and color wasn’t invented until color film was.

Yes, I have All The Opinions about this. I do also have actual photos, though.

Ta-da!

Dress from Recollections; “petticoat” is actually extra-full palazzo pants from Holy Clothing, which make terrific divided skirts, are way comfy, and come sized up to a 70″ waist (warning: site keeps using the racial slur g*psy); various bits and bobs off Etsy, eBay, or created by friends.

A few of my favorite details from this outfit:

What is actually a very restrained and sedate lace jabot, with a pin made from a stack of buttons. I think both of these are off Etsy, but the jabot might have been made by a friend instead. I can’t remember.

Skirt lifter off Etsy. Really just a decorative pin with about 4″ of ribbon. You pin it to the skirt, loop the ribbon around, and run the pin through the ribbon, too. Brilliant.

That thing dangling from my waist above is called a chatelaine, and here’s a kind of crappy detail, but I love these things and am going to tell you all about them.

Most Victorian women’s clothes didn’t have pockets. Boo! (This dress does, which is awesome.) So many of them wore brooches or belt clips with chains or ribbons hanging off them to hold stuff that today we’d just stick in our pockets. (When the fashion industry deigns to give us pockets.) Keys, scissors, match safes, mirrors, perfume bottles, all kinds of things. People who sew still occasionally wear chatelaines with pincushions, scissors, tape measures, thimbles, and other notions.

This one is a brooch I picked up somewhere random and hung some chains off of. Hanging from it, I have a telescoping pen, a high-intensity mini-flashlight, a USB drive (that’s the pink pig), and a pocketknife. I’ve got a whole jewelry case of other chatelaines and things to hang from them, including compasses, a pocket microscope in a little purse, little notebooks, a card case for my calling cards, an antique match safe, and other toys.

And Mary Janes (brand Demonia), which are, please note, brown, and have cog-shaped buckled and grommets. So NYEAAAH!

The Power of Google

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It’s always interesting to see what search terms lead people to my blog. Some variation on “fat carries flavor” is, naturally, the most common, far and away. There’s a bizarre series of hits from Charmed-related terms (because of this post), including “powers that you can have like the charmed ones,” “charmed ones real thing,” “is there really the charmed ones,” “could i be the carrier of the charmed ones?” “how do we use real magic like the charmed ones did,” and, annoyingly, several about why Holly Marie Combs is fat in her current show, Pretty Little Liars. There are a whole run of hits about fat goddesses or some of the individual works I posted pictures of in my fat goddesses posts, which makes me happy every time they show up. There are several about Jim Carrey, which always makes me wonder how the hell far down through the results they had to go to find me, because I cannot have that fucking much google juice.

Some of the one-off terms really touch me. They make me want to reach out to the people who typed those phrases in and offer them a hug. Like “could never express my anger bc i was too scared or wasn’t allowed” and “if a doctor says i’m well-nourished does it mean i’m fat” and “how do i make my wedding queer” and “am i to fat to have an abortion”. (And to the person who searched that last one, if you make it back here, and to anybody else who may be wondering, no, you are not. A surgical or medical abortion can be done on anyone of any size, and any doctor who tells you otherwise is a fatphobic asshole. No, seriously, there is no reason for fat to interfere with these procedures. I know a lot of doctors don’t know how to operate on fat people — which is solely because med schools don’t teach them to, and don’t accept fat corpses to practice on — but abortion doesn’t require an incision, it’s strictly in through the vagina, and it’s deal with cutting through fat that freaks out ignorant surgeons. It’s like being too fat to get a pap smear. Not a real thing. Being fat does not make your cervix any farther away. If you do get a fatphobic asshole, I really, really hope you can find another provider, because knowing that one is lying to you isn’t much comfort if you can’t.)

Then there are the upsetting search strings. Some of them are actively trollish, some of them are just indicative of some serious fat stigma and/or thin privilege, and some of them… Well, I’ll get to those in a minute. Some of the most, er, stunning examples of ugly nasty strings are: “why the fat acceptance movement is stupid,” “discrimination against thin people,” “good trolls on fat people,” “fat hate mail,” “your fat and vile you must loose weight,” “why is it wrong to make fun of fat people but it’s fine to degrade skinny women?” “make fun of fat bodies,” “fat overweight ugly troll pic,” and more, some of it about individual people in FA, which I won’t reprint.

Really, though, the thing that upset me most are the fat admirer strings. People are coming to my blog looking for wank fodder, looking for pictures of fat people — of me, since I’m the fat person whose blog this is — to get off to. Which, again, people get to have their kinks and fetishes and attractions, but the moment they start objectifying people who have not consented to it, they have crossed the line and are being creepy assholes. They are, as I saw a recent post out there put it, doing something that is on the same continuum as rape. And I have not consented. I do not post my photos for other people to get off to. I am not ok with other people using my photos for that. And I know perfectly well that altogether too many fat admirers are looking for wank material on sites that are not for that purpose. They aren’t looking at porn sites, pro or amateur. They aren’t looking at forums where consenting fatties post their pictures for admirers to enjoy. They’re trawling through the internet, looking for any pictures they like, and taking them to use out of context. And sharing them with each other. And it creeps me the fuck out like a guy following me too far down a dark street. (And this is why I will never post a nude photo of myself here. I will never post a picture of myself in fetish wear here. Photos of me like this exist, and I have occasionally posted them discretely in parts of the internet where I feel safe doing so. This will never be one of those place. And no, hypothetical assholes, I’m not going give them to you if you ask.)

There have been several variations on the theme of fat nude brides, including a question about how to have sex with a fat bride, searches for very fat nude old ladies, one that I assume is actually for fat femme gay men but actually refers to men who act like women (ick, the bigotry in that phrasing), many variations on the theme of feeders and fat admirers, and “nude fate women from amarika”. These creepy strings are far from the most common ones I get, but they still turn up at least two or three times a week, and yes, they always gross me out.

Notice to people looking for people’s personal photos to jack off to: FUCK OFF. We don’t exist for your pleasure.

Reamed by Reamde

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I went back to flipping through Reamde, just to see if I could stand it, because I was still interested to see where he took the idea. I got another twenty pages or so before I ran into this exchange:

…Then it all got handed of to…”
“Skeletor.”
“Yeah, but we didn’t call him that in those days, because he was still fat.”

Fucking seriously?

So then, since it’s an ebook and I can, I started searching through it to see how often certain words were used. There were:

27 uses of Skeletor
12 uses of fat in reference to a person
2 uses of obese
and a whole bunch of uses of “weight” in reference to someone as fat, which were a pain to count separately from the other uses of weight.

But here, have some quotes:

“His weight crept up to near-fatal levels…”

“In those days, Devin had been a mere tenant, living alone in a thirty-year-old mobile home that gave and groaned beneath his weight whenever he troubled himself to get up and move around.”

[Devin being the OMGDETHFATS man who later became “Skeletor”.]

“She was struggling with her weight, and was dressed and coiffed in a way that, seen on the streets of Seattle, would have been incontrovertible proof of Sapphism.”

[As a fat queer woman in Seattle: FUCK YOU, STEPHENSON.]

“Jones propped himself up on his elbows, taking some of his considerable weight off Zula…”

“Then she was stuck, sitting on the floor with Csongor’s full weight on her lap. He must have weighed well over 250 pounds.”

“At 190 centimeters, Marlon considered himself unusually tall. But in looking at Csongor, he’d had the unaccustomed experience of seeing one who was taller. And he was tempted to guess that Csongor was twice his weight, but he knew that couldn’t be possible. He carried some weight around his midsection, but none of it was what you’d call flab; his head was big and wide, but it did not support any redundant chins.”

[That makes Marlon 6’3″, which is tall, but not stunningly tall. (About 10% of the male population of the US is over 6’2″ — which means an American should have met dozens of people that height. A “shorter” basketball player is considered anyone below 6’8″.) If Csongor weighs “well over 250 pounds” — lets call that about 300 — then if Marlon were half his weight, he would weigh around 150 pounds. Which is rail thin. 6’5″ and 300 pounds is roughly a football player. A college freshman football player, not necessarily even at the size of a pro player. Like Kent Perkins here. Also, I’ve had 300lb men sit on me. It’s really not that heavy.]

“Its rated strength, he knew, would probably be high enough that two strands of it would support his weight—somewhere north of 250 pounds—in theory.”

[Interesting that Stephenson keeps using that same number, 250 pounds, over and over.]

“During his sporadic, Furious Muse–driven efforts to lose weight, he had been forcefully reminded of a basic fact of human physiology, which was that fat-burning metabolism just plain didn’t work as well as carbo-burning metabolism. It left you tired and slow and confused and dim-witted. It was only when he was really stupid and irritable—and, therefore, incapable of doing his job or enjoying his life—that he could be certain he was actually losing weight.”

[Good to see he’s aware of some facts about weight loss. One wonders, then, why this character works while on a treadmill for hours on end, and why he would want one of his employees — the aforementioned “Skeletor” — to do so even more of the time.]

“Richard, looking behind him, saw that trail and noted its embarrassing width and, even here, heard the voice of a Furious Muse reminding him that he needed to lose weight.”

[The “Furious Muses” are the voices of ex-girlfriends in Richard’s head who badger him whenever he thinks he’s done something wrong or badly. They’re clearly his conception of his inner critic, but he personifies them as his seven exes. Nice. Real nice.]

“According to this morning’s stats, Devin’s body fat percentage was an astonishing 4.5, which placed him into a serious calorie debt situation that in theory should extend his life span beyond 110 years.”

[Again, Devin is “Skeletor”. 4.5% body fat is not fucking healthy. It’s a level pro body builders get down to for competitions, to show off every single muscle and vein, but it is not healthy, and they generally don’t maintain it out of season, because it’s fucking unhealthy and generally requires manutrition. Also, as Stephenson should know if he’d actually done his fucking research, caloric restriction studies a) do not have consistent results, b) are often jiggered and buggered and half-faked every which way, and c) don’t actually give anything like that kind of effect. 110, my fat ass.]

“…the long radio silence suddenly broken by one-word text messages blossoming on his phone (LANDED, TAXIING, STILL TAXIING!, WAITING TO DEPLANE, FAT LADY BLOCKING AISLE)”

“…he was now wandering around T’Rain in the guise of a fat merchant named Lottery Discountz. It was possible to change the name—as well as take care of the fatness—for a modest fee…”

“THE BIG FAT Russian had been trying to create feelings of terror in Qian Yuxia’s heart…”

“Igor raised the fingertips of both hands to his temples, making his huge fat hands into blinders, tunneling his vision at Sokolov.”

“The fat hands became flesh pistols, index fingers aiming at Sokolov’s eyes.”

“…he was making for a head-on collision with a fat man riding down the middle of the road on an all-terrain vehicle…”

“…make it more difficult for Jones to just drill him in his fat ass while strolling along in his wake.”

Yep, there is just no way I can read this book. Stephenson is simply incapable of using fat any way but negatively about a person here. This is way above his usual levels; this is downright creepy. By contrast, Diamond Age uses “fat” for a person three times, “weight” in no negative sense to do with people, and “obese” not at all. There are at least two fat characters in the book, both of whom are on the protagonist’s side, more or less. They get described as “bulky,” “thick,” having a “belly [that] had created a visible divergence between his two rows of brass buttons,” “rather thick around the middle, and evidently in decent health.” No, this is definitely not a constant thing with Stephenson. I cannot begin to fathom what the fuck he was thinking here.

I don’t have e-copies of any of the books published between Diamond Age and Reamde, but the worst fat stigma I can recall is some stuff about chubby geek guys, and an older fat man in the Baroque Cycle who was maybe the object of a little “humor,” but there was certainly nothing like there is in this fucking book.

I just . . . I do not even. How the hell does someone go from being on the high side of average to such nastiness?

Oh, Neal Stephenson, No

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(Not as catchy as Oh, John Ringo, No, I know, but it’s heartfelt.)

I’ve been reading Neal Stephenson books for a long time now. Diamond Age is one of my favorite books, hands down. I have two hardcopies, the audiobook, and the ebook. I’ve read most of his fiction (I skipped The Big U), and really enjoyed it.

I finally started his latest novel last night, Reamde. Chugging along happily, giggling at the pokes at “ironic” hipsters, enjoying the building up of the though experiment that’s the core of the book. The couple of paragraphs about how the main character spent a decade playing video games, put on a lot of weight, then learned to play while walking on a treadmill and lost it all again made me wince, but I gritted my teeth, shrugged, and moved on.

Then I came to this passage:

Just how dirty and squalid that trailer had been, and just how much Devin had weighed, had been greatly exaggerated since then by Devin’s detractors in the T’Rain fan community. It was true that his reluctance to travel had much to do with the fact that he did not fit comfortably into an airline seat, but that was true of a lot of ­people. It was not true, as far as Richard could tell, that he had grown too obese to fit through the doorway of his trailer. Later, when the money started coming in, Devin moved into an Airstream so that he could be towed around the country with no interruption in his writing schedule—not because he was physically unable to leave it. Richard had seen the Airstream. Its doorway was of normal width and its sanitary facilities no larger than those of any other such vehicle, yet Devin had used both of them, if not routinely, then, well … when he had to.
It was all kind of irrelevant now. Richard had shared with Devin the trick of working (or at least playing) while walking on a treadmill, and Devin had taken it rather too far. Obesity had not been a problem with him for a long time. On the contrary. The nickname Skeletor was at least four years old. There was a web page where you could track his heart rate, and the number of miles he’d logged that day, in real time. He graciously credited Richard with saving his life by telling him about the treadmill thing, and Richard ungraciously wondered whether that had been such a good idea.

Holy fuck. No. Just no.

Now, for the record, I live in the same area as Mr. Stephenson. I’ve seen him at readings, been introduced once in passing, have friends who hang out with him. He is a classic ectomorph, very tall — well over six feet — and very thin. He’s into martial arts, especially unusual ones, like Renaissance-style swordplay and Bartitsu, a Victorian martial art that employs canes and parasols as weapons. Staying thin for him requires literally no work at all, and, frankly, wouldn’t even if he wasn’t as active as he is. He might get a bit of a pot belly, but that would be it. He could never be actually fat. He enjoys massive thin privilege. He has no idea of what it means to be fat, and no idea of how major weight loss works, or, more precisely, doesn’t. His idea of what it takes is “just start exercising.” Except, of course, that what he’s actually showing is an exercise addiction, something that is not healthy, either. Here is a man who spends a couple of years at a time researching cryptography, or the history of calculus and the Baroque era, or ecoteur’s methods, or monetary systems, just because he can and he feels like it. But he can’t be bothered to spend one fucking day researching the actual science of weight loss, eating disorders, compulsive exercising, and their effects on the body.

And for extra hatefulness, he throws in ugly stereotypes such as fat people being poor trailer-trash, being slovenly, being so fat they can’t get through doors, not using “sanitary facilities” often, and the idea that losing large amounts of weight is automatically life-saving (ignoring that the metabolic problems that kind of weight loss causes can be quite dangerous in and of itself, that exercising that much puts a serious strain on heart, lungs, muscles, and joints, and, oh, btw, that being fat doesn’t actually shorten your life span, no matter how often that lie is told). And then he throws in the disgusting body-shaming epithet “Skeletor,” demonstrating once again the Catch-22 that a fatty is reviled for being fat, and then can be reviled again for weight loss or attempts at it.

I am just completely disgusted. I’ve put up with a bunch of eye-roll-inducing stuff from his books because I enjoy so much about them, but I am really not sure I can keep reading this fucking book.

Fat Activism, Feedism, and Fat Admirers

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Since the conversation seems to be going around again, I thought I’d have my little say.

First, a couple of definitions. Technically, Fat Admirer just means someone who thinks fat people are sexy and/or beautiful and/or handsome, but it is much more usually used by straight cis thinner men who have a thing for cis fat women. There are certainly gay men who like fat gay men, but they generally have their own subcultures and terms around it, most notably Bears and Cubs. Lesbians don’t generally feel the need to describe themselves as Fat Admirers, even when they prefer fat women, although they’re generally just fine with saying they prefer fat women if they do. Fat people who prefer fat people, of any gender or orientation, generally don’t seem to use Fat Admirer to describe themselves, although I’ve heard a few fat straight men use it. I have never heard any trans people use the term Fat Admirer for themselves, although I’m sure there are some who do, so I can’t really comment. I have encountered straight cis men who are interested in fat trans women use it, but only ones who use the offensive term “tr*nny chaser” or some other equivalent for themselves as well. This usage makes it a far more specific term, one that is gendered and heteronormative, than it might at first appear.

Feedism, aka Feederism (although I understand some Feedees object to that term, since it puts all the focus and agency on the Feeders), is the fetish of feeding or being fed, usually with the goal of weight gain (Gainers, Gainerism) to greater or lesser degree. I’m told it can be used simply to mean getting erotic pleasure out of food, feeding someone or being fed, like feeding each other strawberries dipped in whipped cream for the sexiness of it, but I know a lot of people who are into that, and I’ve never heard any of them use the term to describe themselves. The way I see it used in actual kink communities is a) in conjunction with gainerism, and/or b) in conjunction with dom/sub play, with the feeder as dom and the feedee as sub. (Subs feeding doms usually comes under the heading of “service” instead of “feedism,” IME.)

I am both kinky and poly. I have a big ol’ toy collection, including many things for restraining people and hitting people. I hang out at the local kinky community center. The last time the women’s party there had a food orgy (rules: you cannot feed yourself, someone else must feed you), I brought a bunch of the food for it, because food is damn sexy. I think fat people are sexy, and most of my partners, past and present, are fat people. I am a big damn advocate of Your Kink Is Not My Kink But Your Kink Is OK (YKINMKBYKIOK).

People get to enjoy whatever consensual erotic activities between they like between consenting adults. People get to be attracted to whoever they are attracted to.

But who gets you hot and what gets you off does not excuse being an asshole.

Every minority group I can think of has some subset of the majority group that is attracted to them. And that’s just fine. What’s not fine is when those members of the majority group unconsensually objectify the members of the minority group, turning them into not people, but [insert group here] who have no other personality attributes and who exist only to be letched on by the “admirer” or “chaser”. It happens to black people, various Hispanic peoples, Native peoples, Asian and Asian-descended people, queer people, trans people, fat people, etc, etc, etc. And some members of each of those groups are into being objectified that way, and they should definitely hook up with the objectifiers and have some mutual fun if that’s what they want. But nonconsensual sexual objectification is nonconsensual sexual behavior, and it is bad. Do not come steal my personal photos for your wank collection without my permission or knowledge, it’s creepy and invasive and fucking nonconsensual. (And yes, I do definitely get hits here look for fat nude photos for wanking.) I am a human being, not your personal wank fodder.

And this is the fucking distinction. Do you see it? A lot of fatties — a lot of members of any minority group — do not want to be sexually objectified. People who objectify us without our permission are including us in their sex lives without our permission. There is nothing ok about that. On the other hand, having the hots for fatties is fine. Is, in fact, pretty awesome. Having the hots only for fatties and not skinnies is just peachy. Seeing a fatty walk into the room and getting wood or getting wet is even ok — as long as you continue to treat them like a human being, deserving of respect, possessing a many-faceted personality, and in every way your equal, until and unless they give you enthusiastic consent to treat them some other way.

You like to feed people who like to be fed? Awesome, have fun, go to town. You like to feed them in order to make them fatter, because that’s what gets you off? As long as they’re into it, too, woohoo, awesome! You go up to some moderately fat person and start telling them lasciviously how much you want to feed them and make them fatter, without having any idea how they feel about that? Fuck off and die, you creepy jackass. [Note: I have never actually heard of anyone doing this, ever, at all. Just trying to illustrate the distinction in a sharp and extreme way.]

I am into BDSM. I’m a switch. I like to tie people up, hurt them, and dominate them, and I also like to be tied up and hurt and dominated. Sometimes, I like to be tied up, hurt, and dominated by men. But when — as does happen to me about one time in three or four I’m in pansexual kinky spaces — a guy comes up to me and starts trying to dominate me without consent, or grabs my wrists and tries to restrain me, or assumes that I will want to play with him and acts like I’ve already consented to do so, or touches me sexually, or starts undressing me with his eyes or whatever, nonconsensually, then he has crossed the fucking line, and what he is doing is bad, and occasionally borders on or is actually sexual assault. (And yes, the same applies if a woman does the same thing. Never happened to me in kinky spaces, but it’s happened to some of my friends and partners.)

Being into fatties or feedism doesn’t excuse being an asshole. Being into fatties doesn’t mean fatties have to be into you. We are not lucky to have your personal admiration. Many of us don’t want to be objectified by you. Don’t act like an asshole.

Consent is the line between rape and sex. Consent is the line between S/M play and assault. And consent is the line between having the hots for fatties and being an asshole about it.

Consent has been a big thing in the kink community for a long time. When I was first getting into it in the mid-90s, people talked about BDSM being Safe, Sane, and Consensual (SSC). Now Risk Aware Consensual Kink (RACK) is preferred by many. Notice what they both have in common? CONSENT. Informed consent, in particular. Both principles include the idea that all parties involved know what’s going on, and actively consent to it.

Look, there is definitely a problem with sexual conservatism in Fat Activism that contributes to Fat Admiration and Feedism not being accepted in FA circles. But there is also a very real problem with Fat Admirers and Feeders objectifying fatties without consent, and with Admirers being complete fucking assholes to fatties. We really are told that we’re lucky to have anyone think we’re sexy, so we owe Admirers our attention and sex. We really are told that Admirers are treated sooooooo badly for being into us, so we should give them kudos and cookies for admitting to liking us anyway, because we’re a dirty secret. We really are told that even though Admirers think we’re sexy, we’re not good enough to be girlfriends, only booty calls. Fat Admirers (and, partially by extension, and partially for other reasons, like, again, not all of us want to be objectified like that) aren’t widely accepted in FA circles because so many guys who call themselves fat admirers are fucking assholes to us.

Also, I do not fucking want to hear from any thin person who is dating a fat person or is into fat people about how fucking hard they have it, about how they’re judged for their preferences and dating choices. Fuck you. You’re coming in for a little bit of the fat hate we get full force and continually. If you want to ally with us and help fight fat hate, awesome, welcome to the fight, but don’t expect us to give you cookies for it, and don’t expect us to agree that you’ve got it soooooo haaaaaard. No. You don’t.

So. Just to be clear here: Fat Admirers in particular, and Feeders and Feedees to a lesser extent, need to get their act together as a group (or groups), and need to actively advocate for respect and equality for fat people, if they want to be accepted in FA circles. They need to do this within Admirer/Feedism circles as well as in society. And yes, definitely, FA needs to work on being more sex positive, including being positive about kinks and fetishes, but even if we do that, Admirers and Feeders will not be widely accepted unless they do the fucking work. Seriously.

More Diddling — and Ignoring — Of Studies

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So, this has been making the rounds in fat spaces, especially on Tumblr:

Someone posted this in a Fat Studies group on yahoo.

I don’t have permission to use their name so I’m going to keep them anonymous, but this BLEW MY MIND.

“I’ve been mulling over where and when I should post this as, while I think it is an important personal testimony that gives insight into the politics of BMI research, I also still work for a related organisation and there would certainly be severe personal consequences to an overly public critique at this time.
Over the last few years, my research management career (previously researching ecological toxicity thresholds) moved into the sphere of public health and back at the end of 2010 I found myself being offered an opportunity to coordinate the latter stages of a prestigious global metabolic risks project. The project was the culmination of over a decade of concerted efforts to collect data from across the globe on blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar and BMI. It was (and is) hosted at a major UK research institution and is staffed by an all-star team of public health statisticians, modellers, and demographers combined with several clinical research fellows with various non-communicable disease specialisations. As research coordinator, I oversaw all aspects of grants, budgets, contracts and reporting of progress to funders. I also tracked progress internally toward specific research objectives and helped ensure all the various researchers remained on track.
So…as the data collection phase came to a close, the analysis phase ramped up a gear. Our institution has excellent access to national (and international) mortality and disease incidence data and the researchers in the team went about the process of applying statistical models to examine the data trends by region and over time. They were able to extrapolate with a very high degree of certainty the trends in each of these metabolic factors. In the case of BMI, the trends were of a general and very slow increase worldwide. Various countries had differing results and there was variation within countries by sex and by age but the general trend was clearly shown to be that the increase in BMI is slowing and will continue to slow over time and then level out.
This was not what our primary research lead had expected to find and so, where there had once been talk of publishing findings to verify the gravity of the soon-to-be-apocalyptic `obesity epidemic’, instead the directive that came down to me was that we would not seek to publish our predictions. The researchers I worked with were serious people who had invested a lot of life into their work and there was quite a lot of frustration at this decision.
The next phase of our research plan was to put our global data set to use to compare country metabolic risk (BMI, blood pressure, cholesterol) trends over time with incidence of cardio vascular disease (CVD) over time. To the greatest extent possible, all other factors were controlled for within the models used for this with the aim of demonstrating the direct relationship between CVD and each of the risk factors on their own.
In the case of cholesterol and blood pressure, there was a clear relationship between those countries with higher recorded data and their heart disease outcomes and mortality. In the case of BMI there was a very weak negative correlation. That is to say that the countries with the highest BMI levels showed lower rates of CVD than those with the lowest BMI levels… and that, generally speaking, the relationship between BMI and CVD wasn’t anything to write home about once other factors were controlled for.
This was when the primary research lead (my boss) started to get really concerned. The statistics were sound. The models were sound. The results of the models went as expected for blood pressure and cholesterol. He wanted to publish but, in his words; “the BMI lobby will destroy us if we publish a negative correlation between CVD and BMI”. I asked him what he meant by `destroy’ and his explanation was that we would be blacklisted for research money… and worse than that become a target to be discredited by `some people with a lot of money and power’ with the result that his credibility as a researcher would take a serious hit.
Kudos is everything in the prestige pyramid that is the world of medical research (and, I suspect, all high-level research). Driven by the ever-increasing scarcity of research grants, the way that such senior researchers often behave toward one another could probably be most politely described as `Darwinian’… it certainly isn’t the kind of collegial or collaborative way in which you might imagine science to be conducted.
So, from the perspective of my boss, there was a problem. He commanded the researchers to change the research specification whereby instead of just looking at the relationship between BMI and heart disease, they were to only consider the BMI data in conjunction with diabetes prevalence. This essentially created a forced relationship in the data between BMI and diabetes that ended up demonstrating a correlation that wasn’t specific to BMI. The actual relationship was one between diabetes and heart disease.
Again… for clarity… the largest data set in the world shows us that the relationship between BMI and heart disease is weak and negative. The relationship between diabetes and heart disease is positive. Countries with higher BMIs often (not always) had slightly higher rates of diabetes but there is no statistical rationale to lump the two together as a conflated variable.
No rationale… unless you have a pre-existing bias to confirm and your future research funding to secure I suppose?
End result… ten years of data… and many years of constructing a statistical model is thrown out of the window. No results are published. The world carries on assuming that there is a positive causal relationship between BMI and heart disease.
I was appalled by this. However, while I am a scientist, I wasn’t qualified to the same level of my colleagues and was aware that my own bias could have been stoking a fury in me that wasn’t entirely justified.
A week later, one of the most senior statisticians (who had lovingly – there is no other word – spent the previous 2 years building the over-ruled statistical model) decided to leave the team on account of the `farce’ that was the senior researchers decision not to jeopardize his career by not publishing the ‘negative’ result with regards to BMI. I admired her sense of principle and followed suit
(albeit one month later as soon as I had secured another job!)”

And I thought bringing this up here was appropriate, especially after my last post. Now, this is unsourced and possibly unprovable (although, if it’s real, it would probably be possible to figure out what study it’s referring to, check the published results {if they’re out} and see if they match up with this report, but I’m not going to do it, because I really don’t have time or energy), and as such we can’t simply trust it right away. But it certainly does fit the pattern. Again and again, we see studies on fat, diet, health, and lifespan all jiggered to fit the preconceived notions of what’s true and what isn’t, whether it’s to fit researchers’ ideas or the ideas of grant givers or institutions.

This story is unsourced, but both the findings and the cover-up are part of a general pattern. Again and again studies find the same sorts of things. Ones that actually publish results showing that fat isn’t bad are regularly ignored. Fat people are less likely to die of diabetes than thin people (except for OMGDETHFATS people, and the study explicitly says that hypertension accounts for it, and when you control for that, very fat people with diabetes have the same mortality rates as thin people with diabetes); fat people who have heart attacks are less likely to die of them than thin people (and there are more studies with the same results, but they’re on protected sites); and fat people have less geriatric depression and better overall quality of life in old age than thin people. And it’s been demonstrated repeatedly and in different ways that being fat is not bad for you, but repeated dieting is.

Expectations warp science, and money warps science. No scientist should go into an experiment or study determined to get a particular answer. No scientist should ever change or have to change the results of a study to match expectations, whether to support their own opinions or to ensure that they can still get grants. This is not science, this is lying with numbers.

Over and over, in articles about these studies, researchers who work in these fields express surprise at outcomes like these despite the fact that there are lots of studies out there showing that fat isn’t bad. This information is out there, and it’s findable, and it’s verified, and people still just keep ignoring it and/or lying about it and telling us that being fat is bad for you, worse than anything else, and OMG WE’RE GOING TO DIE IF WE’RE FAT OH NOES. But if they were right, they wouldn’t need to lie.

No, Actually, Monkeys DON’T Live Longer On Fewer Calories

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A 35 year study of rhesus monkeys on reduced calorie diets show that they don’t actually live any longer. Quelle surprise! Oh, and the 2009 study that came up with opposite result? Diddled the numbers to get those results, throwing out half the deaths. (At least one of the directors of that study has an admitted bias, and calls himself, “a hopeless caloric-restriction romantic.” Yeah, he has no motivation at all to fudge his study to make it confirm his pet theory.) In addition, more mice studies on restricted calorie diets show that while some breeds of mice live longer, others live shorter lives, and other have no change. Naturally, scientists are ignoring the data left and right, insisting that there’s something weird about the mice, that researchers who get results they don’t expect are doing it wrong somehow, without making concrete criticisms of methodology, and generally going, “No, really, calorie restriction is good for you, even if we can’t demonstrate it!”

This is not the scientific method. This is not science. This is confirmation bias in action.

And once again, I say, if they were right, they wouldn’t need to lie, including making shit up, making claims they can’t back, and diddling numbers. FAIL.

Pardon me for a moment while I rant about something else entirely

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I’m on a tear about this, so y’all get to hear about it, too.

I had an abortion. Thirteen years ago now.

I got pregnant at 21. I was, at the time, taking the first medication for bipolar that had ever actually helped more than it hurt. Since I was so depressed as to be frequently suicidal, this was a good thing. Unfortunately, the medication was a pretty serious teratogen — it caused severe birth defects. No doctor would allow me to stay on it while pregnant. My choices were go off the meds and probably kill myself (especially as the pregnancy was making me far more depressed) before I could find anything else I could take while pregnant that actually worked for me (there wasn’t much available at the time, and I have bad reactions to a lot of things), or have an abortion. Doing anything that made it more likely that I killed myself was not an option. I had shit to do.

So I had an abortion. It was the right choice for me. I’m glad I did it. It is a good thing. I have never had a moment of regret or shame over it. I regret getting pregnant at that point, and that was a terrible thing in my life. My abortion saved me from that terrible thing, and saved my life.

I think that abortion in general is a good thing, in the same way that I think heart surgery and brain surgery and indeed most kinds of surgery are a good thing. Medical procedures that save lives and alleviate pain are good things.

I am pro-abortion. I am pro-abortion on demand, for anyone, whenever and whyever they want it. Abortion should be available and accessible to everyone, and I will fight for that my whole life.

And I am sick and fucking tired of people saying I don’t exist. I am sick and fucking tired of people saying that there are no women who are happy they had an abortion. I am happy I had an abortion. I am sick and fucking tired of people saying that no one thinks abortion is a good thing. I think it abortion is a good thing. I am sick and fucking tired of people saying no one is pro-abortion. I am pro-abortion.

I am particularly sick of pro-choice people saying it. It is capitulation to the anti-choice viewpoint, the view that abortion is bad. Saying it’s a necessary evil is not actually supportive of abortion, abortion providers, or people who need or have had abortions. It is not supportive of the ability of people to make that choice. It is not pro-choice.

And anyone who says that there is no one who is happy about their abortion, no one who thinks abortion is good, no one who is pro-abortion simply isn’t paying attention. We are here. We are telling our stories, as loudly and as often as we can. People who say that shit simply aren’t listening, and aren’t looking anywhere outside their own little echo chambers of people who say the same things.

There is a whole damn website full of stories of people who have good experiences with abortion. It’s called I’m Not Sorry. My story is up there, the long version with the morning sickness in. And it’s not the only place to find them.

If you have never heard that there are people who are glad they had an abortion, now you know better. Don’t say that shit. And go educate yourself.

[Not: Not gonna accept any anti-choice bullshit any more than I accept any fat-hate bullshit.]