The End of an Era

A long time ago I was just a fat person who didn’t have a voice. I was a fat person who was worthless, and I needed to lose weight. Today I’m a fat person who has a voice, who knows that I’m valued by others and myself, and I’m damn well happy in my skin A lot of my growth occured here on Axis of Fat.

And it’s now time to call last drinks on this place.

Axis of Fat has served its purpose, to provide a place for fat people to have a voice, and served it well. But times have changed. It is much easier to set up personal blogs. The needs of those who started AoF, and who took over when we could no longer go on, have changed.

It in no ways dilutes the value of Axis of Fat to my own self-development, and to the personal development and debate that many fat people who have been readers have experienced. The site will remain here in an archived state as a resource and a historical document. Comments are closed, but reading is free.



Damned if you do, damned if you don’t (Eating in public)

Ugh, I hate how much subtext being fat (or is that “living in a fat-phobic world”?) has attached to eating in public. I feel like I’m caught in a dichotomy where no version of eating in public leaves me free to just enjoy the food and/or company I’m in (let alone not eating at all).
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Paging Dr. Dolgoff

Fierce Freethinking Fatties has put out a call for all bloggers available to post about Dr. Dolgoff. So who is she? She’s not only the author of a children’s diet book, Red Light, Green Light, Eat Right (which no, I’m not going to link to), but she’s the paediatrician assigned to look after the kid’s on The Biggest Losers. What’s that? You didn’t even realize there were kids on The Biggest Loser? Oh ho! You’re in for a treat (by which I mean a major mind fuck)! So The Biggest Loser has decided that it can’t get by with humiliating and abusing fat adults any more. It need a new schtick. And what better prop than children? Three contestants, aged 13-16 years old, will be participating in Dr Dolgoff’s diet program, but not weigh ins. And don’t worry, the trainers promised not to yell at the kids… for realz.

Dolgoff’s diet program contains a hell of a lot of recipes for Splenda for which she’s a spokeswoman for. Now, that’s not bad in and of itself.. until you start talking about someone who’s looking after the health of our kids. Splenda is questionable at best as a health food and everyone knows the way to maximize health is to consume whole foods, not processed crap.. like splenda.

But of course their goal is not to increase health, as they claim, it’s to make the kids thin. Not only do they cite bullshit statistics about 75% of parents not knowing their kid is ‘overweight’ or ‘obese’ (can we see that study please? No? I didn’t think so), but they continually talk about a childhood obesity epidemic when obesity rates have been level for the past decade. Sure the number of ‘overweight’ kids doubled in 2007, but only because they lowered the BMI standards so that ‘normal’ weight kids became ‘overweight’ overnight. Dolgoff says the kids won’t be counting calories, presumingly to stave off obsession with numbers and thus not be accused of promoting eating disorders (in which 2700 in 100,000 kids have, compared to 12 in 100,000 kids with diabetes by the way).

What bullshit. Apparently they think teenagers are fucking idiots. The fact is that the message they’re receiving from society, from this TV show and, most fucked up, from their parents, is that they’re not good enough until they’re thin enough. This is straight up child abuse and child exploitation whether anyone in our fucked up society wants to say so or not. As a queer woman the only thing I can think of as similar would be conversion therapy when people still thought being LGBT was a disease. Now we think being fat is a disease and we’re putting people through fat to thin conversion therapy, and we’re doing it with children. We’re waging an all out social war on children. Everyone wants to scream “what about the children”? well what about the children? How can we think that involving them in anything deemed “a war” is appropriate? A war against what? A war against them. And again, kids aren’t stupid, they know the war isn’t just on their fat, the war is against them as human beings. Dr. Dolgoff should damn well be ashamed of what she’s doing.


Old Timey Photos Are The Best

It’s been a busy holiday season and I know I haven’t posted much. However I was doing some housekeeping stuff on my computer today and found this picture. I have no idea where I found it so I can’t acknowledge the source, but just look it! I know it makes me smile.


Hope everyone is getting along okay. If not, treat yourself to some tea (breast shelf optional).


Eavesdropping on Teenagers

Ok, even though this post is titled “eavesdropping” I don’t think it really counts when it’s on a train and you have to stand back a little bit in order not to be deafened as said teenagers are both listening to music on shared headphones and talking extra loud at the same time. But even so.

The teenagers in question were two girls who were having the special sort of inane conversation of teenage girls (which is to say, exactly as inane as grown men talking about sports but much more viciously maligned). They were initially talking about “old music” and having fun exploring tracks on the shared iPod – and treated those of us in the carriage to a singalong rendition of Wham’s “Wake Me Up Before You Go Go” (is it just me or do you always think of this scene from ‘Zoolander’ when you hear that song?). Not the most considerate of public transport commuters for sure, but I was at about the same level of awareness at that age so it doesn’t usually get to me unless I’ve got a vicious headache.

Anyway, aside from the wince I had when one of the girls remarked upon how lucky it was for all us old passengers that we were playing old music because anyone under 30 wouldn’t know young music, the thing that really had me was when the conversation turned to how “isn’t it weird that there were no fat people back then?” “Oh I guess they were all busy dancing”.

Two thoughts:

1. This is why you shouldn’t base your knowledge of history on music videos. I doubt the daily level of dancing is very different today.

2. This is why it’s SO important for a true diversity of bodies and sexualities and races and abilities to be represented in media. Not only for those of us today who can feel like we’re all alone, but because we deserve better to be erased from history. People talk a lot about the ‘War on Obesity’ – well, remember that history is written by the victors.

And so I give you this image from the tumblr Old Time Fatties. We exist!megadelicious:</p><br />
<p>(via pussybow, thechocolatebrigade-deactivated)<br /><br />
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A Break From Regularly Scheduled Programming

I’ve been meaning to post for a little while (and have had a few ideas floating around in my head) but for now I just wanted to quickly share this poem I came across at my Chinese Doctor’s practise today:

Parra says in the poem “Inflación” (Inflation):

Inside the cage there is food.
Not much, but some.
Outside there are only vast stretches of


The Unhealthy Fatty

I get a lot of mail from fans and haters alike. I get trolls, I get my images stolen, I get mail praising me or chastising me, and it’s all in the name of art and fat acceptance. Lately I’ve gotten quite a few about how unhealthy my images are with one person saying that “a little bit of weight is fine, but” and another saying “aren’t you glorifying obesity?” I already wrote a post on my own blog about glorifying obesity, but I also wanted to address the “but health!” argument. Now, I could go into a whole rant on why fat isn’t unhealthy. I could post statistics and studies and links  on research and then I could try to justify my fatness by talking about how healthy my lifestyle is… and I’d just be playing right into the troll’s hands. You see, because they don’t care about health and, even if they did, my health is none of their business.

The big thing I wanted to talk about today is ableism. As it sounds, ableism is the intolerance and/or discrimination of people who are less able bodied than the social ideal. I myself see the fallout of ableism as I have bipolar disorder, hypothyroidism, chronic tendonitis, and plica syndrome (and a few other things). All of that means that I’m often in pain, tired, moody, and/or unable to perform normal daily activities. My spoons get used up fairly quickly. It’s even worse for fat people in general because our bodies are touted as diseased and flawed in and of themselves. Even worse are illnesses that people think of when they think of fat like heart disease, diabetes, joint problems, etc. Because even though thin people can and do have all of those same problems, fat people get double the dose of ableism because they’ve already had their humanity stripped away by fatphobes who see their bodies as an illness and nothing more.

What’s my point? My point is that it doesn’t matter how unhealthy a person is. They’re still human beings. They still deserve to be treated with human dignity, compassion, and fairness. This is why I don’t need to justify my health to  anyone- because I’m a human being regardless. Because you being an ableist fatphobic dick isn’t on me- it’s on you. Someone being in poor health isn’t a reason to discriminate against people or to hate them or loathe them… I mean really, what’s wrong with these people who think they can take a person with diabetes and treat them as sub human just because their health status is different, not worse, just different, from their own? The solution to discrimination and bigotry isn’t unhealthy people getting healthier, it’s ending the discrimination and bigotry.

I’m sorry and I don’t mean to step on your childish little toes, but there is no such thing as perfect health. People are different, not superior or inferior to each other. I’m not inferior to someone who doesn’t have hypothyroidism and I’m not superior to someone who has diabetes. We’re not playing the good fatty/ bad fatty game and we’re not playing the healthism game anymore. You can complain about it draining your tax dollars, but you could say the same about children with disabilities or people who do sports or kids who jump out of trees. Their health, their business. Back off.


Diet Talk

[TW: Dieting]

I recently became employed full time again, and that means I sit in a cubicle surrounded by other cubicles for a large portion of my work day. Overheard conversations often waft my way, particularly from the two rows of women who sit behind me. I’ve noticed some trends in the discussions so far: job duties, complaints, family/friends/pets, jokes, politics, health care (they are nurses), and dieting/weight loss. Because they are nurses, many of them have a pretty good idea of health in that they want people to care for their bodies, but it seems even nurses try fad diets; one nurse talked about South Beach, Atkins, Weight Watchers, and something about eating nothing but cabbage.

In all the quiet corners of office talk, I hear women talking about diets and weight loss, if only for a minute or so, but only when the men have gone. Women only seem to be comfortable talking about their bodies to each other–understandably so. Men habitually and often agressively comment on women’s bodies even when those comments are unwanted (see: street harassment), so it’s no surprise that diet talk is often a conversation women will only have with each other. In the break room during lunch, women chat about eating habits, exercise regimens, weight loss, weight gain, and diets. It seems many women bond over diet talk:

Coworker #1: “You look like you’ve lost some more weight.”

Coworker #2: “Yea, another two pounds.” [smiles]

Coworker #1: [Puts down fork in shock] “Good for you!”

Coworker #2: “Yea, look: this dress is loose on me.” [Sits up straight and pulls the fabric around her waist]

Coworker: #1 “Sweet! You can give me all your old clothes.” [laughs]

Coworker #2: “I will! Some of the stuff is brand new, tags on still and everything.”

These two women exemplify the bond between women over weight loss and gain because Coworker #2 is beyond willing to donate the clothes that no longer fit her to Coworker #1 all because Coworker #1 showed support. This a bond over bodies, and in a way, it’s excellent that women can form such bonds with each other over their bodies; I especially like how encouraging they were to one another. However, the context of the discussions women have about their bodies hinges on gains and losses (or victories and defeats) rather than the way we show our bodies kindness and respect, how we care for our bodies by responding to their needs, and how to show our bodies love and appreciation. We are always discussing our bodies as something that needs to be fixed, tweaked, lessened, or manipulated.

I’m not saying it’s wrong or bad to discuss the triumphs and challenges women share about their bodies, but wouldn’t it be a breath of fresh air to be part of discussion about women’s bodies that doesn’t dissect and measure them? Wouldn’t it be inspiring to instead share techniques for self love and acceptance? I think that the conversation could go in this direction if just one woman in each diet discussion could bring up modes of self love and acceptance.

Of course, we don’t hear those types of conversations coming from the body-hating media and advertisers; we see conversations about how to get the flattest stomach, reduce thigh size, and lose “winter weight.” Again, it’s all about “fixing” broken bodies. Because body hate is all we really see and hear from the media, family, and friends, it’s difficult to be the one voice of body love and acceptance in a world full of people having a different conversation. But starting that conversation is an act of rebellion; it is active dissent against beauty standards, fat shame, pro-anna, self hate, and girl hate. Instead of sharing trends for fixing bodies with diets, let’s share the trend of body acceptance.

If you are reading this, I hope you will consider asking your friends–especially those who engage in diet talk–how they show their bodies love, kindness, and respect. Mostly likely no one has asked them before, and it could open up an entirely new line of thinking about bodies. This kind of conversation could deepen our bonds to each other by letting others become intimate with the love and acceptance we give ourselves. They could deepen our bonds to our own bodies as we stop hating, dieting, and obsessing and start loving, valuing, and accepting. Let’s start a new conversation, right here, right now: one in which we discuss love and respect instead of loss and gain.


Speaking Up

I did something that I don’t usually do the other day: got drawn into commenting actual real opinions contrary to the mob opinion on something that came up in my Facebook feed.

There are a few reasons why I don’t usually do this: obviously to start with I’ve self-selected my friends to a large extent and so I don’t tend to have a lot of things come up on my feed that aren’t somewhat related to my personal politics/jokes. Of course fat activism is a big (ha! No one’s made that pun before!) step beyond most people’s garden variety “real women have curves!” sort of malarkey that tends to pass for body acceptance in a lot of circles, so that’s not something I generally see, but I don’t get a lot of “straight marriage is the only real marriage!” sort of updates, for example.

Anyway, the actual thing to made me so eye-twitchy was a picture of a woman that a friend of mine had snapped on his phone and posted referring to her as a “bogan” (Australian version of a hick/hillbilly). The photo was taken from behind so you can’t see her face, but she was an average size blond white woman who was wearing a tracksuit and ugg boots (with one leg badly half tucked into the boot). Quite a few people had liked and commented shaming remarks.

My comment shaded into a bit of a rant along the paraphrased lines of: How do you know she hasn’t been with her sick baby in the nearby hospital and this is the first time she’s been out for three days? How do you know she’s not sick herself and had to choose between using her energy to shower and dress well or to go to the shops for food? How do you know she doesn’t work three jobs and hasn’t had time to do laundry? Or is it just that she’s committed the ultimate crime of daring to be female and in public without making herself suitably fuckable?” (Did I say a bit of a rant?) Anyway my friend tried to make a few jokes but I simply stated that I wasn’t trying to have a go at him personally but given how much public ridicule and shame are heaped on marginalised groups like women and poor people and people of colour that perhaps as a gay man he might understand how that would feel and he could be a better ally.

I believe in everything that I said but I have to admit I was a little bit scared. The last time I got into a FB argument all of my friend’s friends piled on and tried to shut me down (that one turned into an argument over whether you could diagnose health by looking at people and the cognitive bias was pretty painful). Also defending personal politics is always more vulnerable and emotion-inducing than trying to be an ally towards other groups. I’ve been trying to make more of an effort to call out racism or homophobia when I hear it but there’s a part of me that doesn’t want to know what some of my acquaintances really think when it comes to feminism or fat acceptance.

Anyway I was angsting over this little incident when I logged onto Facebook today, and found that my friend had taken down the picture. So: win! I had a feeling that I might be able to get my point across with this friend and obviously I did. I feel so much better.

I know that when people have called me out on saying stupid shit (unfortunately I did not spring from the womb a fully formed social justice advocate) I have felt embarrassed and sometimes defensive, but those conversations have often helped me pivot my world view. One of my goals for this year is to be more politically vocal and so I feel like I’m making a good start.

How about you guys? Do you call people out or walk away? When was the last time something like this has happened to you?


Going out in public can be hard

“I was aware, the entire time, that the people around me … were very likely judging me. Or at least, some of them were. Maybe some of them pitied me, maybe some of them thought I was “inspiring” for being a fat lady exercising in public (maybe I was on a Weight Loss Journey ™ !) Probably some of them just thought I was gross, disliked having to see my fat body in tight swimwear, and wished I had stayed at home under a blanket. Such is life.”
The Fat Nutrionist

While I don’t think Michelle (quoted), or me, or any one person can speak for all {insert subset of people here}, including fat people, I think this is pretty commonly what it’s like to be a fat person in the world, all the time. Welcome to my head-space, every time I choose an outfit. Every time I go outside into the world. Every time I meet my skinny and/or pretty friends. Every time someone mentions swimming in public. Every time I sit down so my muffintop rolls over my pants. Every time I am handed a menu in public, or asked if I want one of the snacks provided.

Yes, I literally mean Every. Time.

That doesn’t mean those thoughts always have to have the last say in the way you live your life. Sometimes I think I look ok. Sometimes I sit down without putting my handbag in my lap to obscure my stomach. Sometimes I will have that cupcake, thank you very much. The fat acceptance community has played a big role in that.

I realise these thoughts and insecurities aren’t exclusive to fat people. But if you’ve managed to avoid most of the crippling self doubt our culture tries to heap on us, you may not realise what it’s like to be a fat person in our world. This is what it’s like, every day.

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