After reading the essays on the reclamation and acceptance of fat bodies, I am left baffled. On the one hand, I find McAllister’s Embodying Fat Liberation absolutely delightful but, on the other hand, I cannot help thinking that pro-fat publications, like FaT GiRL and Women En Large, serve little good. Initially, I agreed with Kent’s argument but now I find it troubling. While fat abjection is something that needs to be addressed, I struggle to reconcile the reclamation of the fat body with health related issues. First, fat is never defined in concrete terms. Is there a difference between fat, overweight, and obese? Is fat liberation for all of these identifiers? If so, I have some criticisms. These articles seem to gloss over the changes in American consumption habits in the last fifty years. In 2000, Americans consumed roughly 57 pounds more meat per capita than they did in the 1950s. In the same timespan, Americans’ consumption of sugar has increased by 39 percent. Fast-food sales have increased in the last years by ten billion dollars. I do not think there can be a real conversation about fat liberation or fat acceptance without addressing these facts (all people for that matter!). Is fat liberation culturally specific to America and its consumption rates or can it transcend cultural lines?
Also, I am curious to learn more about the origins of dieting in America. Is there a correlation between dieting rates and the rising food consumption rates? (“Americans spend $61 billion a year on everything from diet pills and exercise videos to meal plans, health club memberships and medical treatment.” – NPR) Tisdale paints a picture of dieting as a restrictive process. She writes, “It didn’t matter which diet I was on; diets have failure built in, failure is in the definition” (20). The term diet needs to be clarified as well. If she is referring to the miracle diets on television, then I would agree that dieting is always a failure. However, I think dieting is much more than restricting the types of food you consume. There is a need for more education about the health effects of processed foods, genetically modified foods, and food related diseases. While it is troubling to read about the differences in perception in the Part-Time Fatso essay, my gut reaction is to advocate for no soda for anyone!
Ultimately, I agree that there needs to be a restructuring of the health debate in American society. The slender body does not equate to healthiness and productivity just as the fat body does not mean laziness and sickness. One reason I find Big Burlesque so fantastic is that it brings sexuality back to the fat body and rejecting fat abjection. (Maybe parts of this movement could help people like this – NPR) Media is constantly bombarding our senses with ideas that larger people are lethargic and unattractive, but these articles demonstrate that fat acceptance can bread self-acceptance. I wish, however, that these essays included more about the change in consumption habits in America during the last fifty years. This conversation would lead to other important topics, like environmental degradation and social-economic disparities, but I do not think there can be fat acceptance until this happens.
Update: Just saw the trailer for this documentary after class.