Are there really Fat Beliefs?

In my post yesterday where I was talking about the election, I asked a rhetorical question that now is really bugging me. The post was about an absurd article I found talking about the ten fattest states being for McCain and the ten slimmest being for Obama. I said the article was absurd as asked the question: “Are there really fat Beliefs?”

I got a rather incindiary response from a commentor, Kay, about my post, and she specifically addressed the subject of Fat Beliefs. I tried to explain in a comment how I felt, but I’m not sure I was clear. I’m going to try again here.

Since Fat Acceptance has just recently become a part of my life, I’ve never thought about my fat as dictating my belief system. My beliefs are centered more on women’s rights, feminism, and human rights in general. For me, the fact that I’m fat does not dictate how I think, vote, etc. It has been an emotional hurdle for me to overcome, and has inspired me to act on behalf of this injustice, but I have not been able to translate that directly to action, political or otherwise.

Herein lies my problem: my beliefs are not Fat Beliefs. I can’t become an activist for fat acceptance if I can’t even figure out what that means. I can’t even put my beliefs in the realm of fat. Other things always come first: women’s rights, equality, promoting tolerance, etc. Are these Fat Beliefs? Are these just other beliefs that just happen to blanket my fat? What are Fat Beliefs?

This is something I’m really having trouble wrapping my mind around, and I’m curious about what all you think. Kay said in her comment:

I sure as hell absolutely am “voting with my waistline.” Staying alive is one of my top priorities.

I honestly don’t think I understand that comment at all. I’ve been pondering about it since I recieved it yesterday, and I don’t understand it.

So, someone, please help me put this into perspective. Are there really Fat Beliefs?


6 thoughts on “Are there really Fat Beliefs?

  1. I think the problem comes from thinking that Fat Beliefs are not at all tied into your Women’s Rights beliefs and Human Rights beliefs. FA is first about promoting the idea that discrimination based on size is not acceptable. I think that the longer I browse the FA blogs and readings and just work on my own acceptance, the more intertwined all of these belief systems become; they are not separate.

    I don’t somehow believe that women deserve equal rights with men but that fat people should be slapped with health insurance restrictions; I believe that we ALL deserve equal rights and consideration. Believing that fat should not be discriminated against is PART of that. I consider it wrong to tell a woman how she can go about using her body; it would be just as wrong to tell a fat person how they can go about using their body.

    So while the examples I tried to use might not help it boils down to this: I feel that “fat beliefs” are PART of at least my own set of beliefs regarding social justice overall. So when I vote I am rolling all of my beliefs about feminism, social justice, body acceptance and everything else that frames my life into the foundation for deciding how to choose the best candidate. Choosing a candidate that will not overturn rights for women is right up there with selecting a candidate who also won’t try to use the obesity-fear-mongering media scare policies to try and dictate my health care options. So in that way I AM voting both with my concern for my feminine body and my fat body (as well as that of others).

    Perhaps this isn’t at all how others work. That’s part of the beauty of everyone being different. But maybe this sheds a bit of light on another way of thinking about “fat beliefs”.

  2. According to wikipedia, “Belief is the psychological state in which an individual holds a proposition or premise to be true”. It is not the same thing as knowledge – belief requires some amount faith; generally someone who believes something will say that they know it to be true, so it can be a bit confusing to discern whether someone means “knowledge” when they say “belief” or vice versa.

    I think that may have something to do with why people fight over FA so much: the debate over what is believed vs. what is known. We all have different beliefs about the human metabolism, and there are enough studies out there that any side of the argument can safely cherry pick the ones to prove them right – thus enabling them to think that they have turned their belief into knowledge. Everything i’ve read tells me that we just don’t KNOW enough about the human metabolism to say we’ve got it all figured out. Thus, to me, any statement about the human metabolism is going to be interpreted as belief, not knowledge.

    The question then becomes: is fat acceptance a matter of something you believe, something that you have faith in… or is it a matter of something you know for a fact to be true? For that matter, “fat acceptance” is such a broad (heh) category, one has to ask, well, what aspect of fat acceptance are we talking about?

    This has put my nogging all a-spin. I’m going to need to ponder a bit more on this.

  3. I agree with much of what April D wrote. For me, I don’t have specific “fat beliefs;” I have “civil rights beliefs.” I believe fat people should be discriminated against no more than I believe women or non-whites should be discriminated against. Pigeonholing the concept of “fat beliefs” only serves to ignore the intersectionalities of oppression.

    And I don’t base my vote solely on one overriding issue. For instance, I disagree with much of Obama’s platform on obesity, but his position on issues of the economy, national security, women’s rights and health issues, poverty, health insurance, and his general character and moral fiber more closely align with my own personal beliefs and what I believe a candidate ought to represent.

  4. Fat people should be treated with the same dignity and respect like everyone else. Period. I think that’s the core of FA, but along with it comes trying to disprove the ingrained scientific and medical beliefs about fat; how fat people are used as political pawns for the gain (no pun intended) of government and special interest groups; media’s treatment and portrayal of fat in our culture; promoting HAES and physical activity for personal reasons and redefining health not to mean dieting and thinness, and other related topics. It is NOT about forcing everyone to find us “hot,” like many anti-FA’ers imply that is really behind FA/SA. And mixed in with all that is individual beliefs, values, mindsets, etc. that make into something that is not all cut and paste.

    And like Rachel, my reason for voting for Obama is because he seems to be more in tune with my personal beliefs and the issues that affect me directly. We will never agree with a candidate on every single thing, our minds were not meant to be hives.

  5. Let me put it this way: I’m not fat. I believe in the same things as many other FA supporters. It is literally impossible for me to believe in them because I am fat since I am not, so technically these cannot be fat beliefs. They are beliefs based on many different things that I have experienced and been told, but whether I’m fat or not hasn’t had any influence on that. There are fat people who do not believe in these things and thin people who do. All your waistline did was push you into the right direction.

    Maybe the person who commented on your other post thinks that you’d never have developed these beliefs if you were thin, which may be right, but you could also have ended up like me. I don’t know if that helps.

  6. I think it really depends on what the meaning of “fat beliefs” are.

    The thing is, there are all different kinds of fat people. I am considered by some to be fat. Sometimes I’m a plus-size, sometimes I’m not. Either way, I really identify with FA.

    I have a fat friend who believes very different things than me. I’m into progressive politics. She is conservative. I am vegetarian. She can’t live without meat. She is pro-war. I am a peacenik. She’s a dog person. I’m a cat person. Etc, etc, etc…

    I suppose someone could try to make the argument that many fat people are fat due to poverty… and that there was a correlation of fat and poverty and voting a certain way. However, trying to paint all fat people with the brush of voting a certain way or poverty is stereotyping.

    People are fat for so many different reasons. We really are a diverse group! Some people are fat due to mental illness (such as eating disorders) or trauma. Some people are fat due to health issues totally out of their control. Some people are fat due to genetics. Some people are fat cuz *I believe* they dieted themselves out of a lower weight range. Yes, I believe diets make people fat, contrary to popular opinion. Some people are fat due to poverty and only being able to buy empty calorie foods.

    So… personally, I take exception to saying all fat people are the same. To me, that’s too similar to saying “all fat people are stupid and lazy”.

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