Fat Talk on campus

Part I:

Good news, everyone!

My brown bag lecture/presentation/discussion on Body Love, Size Acceptance and Health at Every Size was two weeks ago today (and I didn’t blog about it right away because both of my computers are currently out of commission… one due to a dead hard drive and one due to a cat whose curiosity killed my LCD screen) and it went really well!

There were 40 people there, which I can still barely comprehend; we ran out of chairs in the meeting room, which usually holds 25 people max. The event was sponsored by my amazing friends at the university women’s center, and the written evaluations were overwhelmingly positive! There were a few not-so-great ones from people who refused to believe that I am healthy at 315 lbs., but with over 90% very positive feedback/raving reviews I can say “haters to the left” with confidence. One evaluator said (and I am paraphrasing here) something along the lines of “yeah, it’s great to have self-esteem!… but IF YOU GET TOO FAT YOU’LL DIE AND I AM TELLING YOU THIS FOR YOUR OWN GOOD,” but others suggested it should be done every semester.

Despite the person who allegedly advocates for positive body image but still thinks that fat is unhealthy, it was so amazing to hear from individuals–fat and not-fat–who were deeply touched by what I was sharing, which included statistics as well as personal experiences with fat hatred. I was impressed to see such a successful example of Real-Life Meatspace Fat Activism; I’ve often heard people bash FA for being a predominantly online movement, which really just proves that we’re all a bunch of lazy-asses who have nothing better to do than talk to each other on the internet using accepting ourselves as an excuse to sit on the couch all day eating cheeseburgers, AMIRITE?!? (JK, but seriously, my own roommate said that to me a few months ago.)

Part II:

Earlier this evening I took a survey, for which I was Randomly Selected about food at the university. The e-mail I got was fairly vague, but mentioned that it would be about the eating, health and environmental habits of the student body.

I was pretty excited; completing the survey could get me a free $5 (I’m broke), I tend to eat on campus way too often, and I would really enjoy some organic/healthier options besides frozen Amy’s meals (which are delicious but overpriced and, well, frozen) and “Healthy Choice” TV dinners–which, for me, are triggering by nature, and that discourages me from purchasing them (and I haven’t actually done the research to find out whether they’re actually “healthy”).

However, I wasn’t sure how to feel when I was prompted to enter my height and weight. I wasn’t surprised, but I assume they will calculate and use my BMI somehow–maybe to figure out the “average” or look at it alongside my food-buying habits or whatever it is surveyors would do with that sort of information.

I was a little annoyed because it isn’t relevant. I get that they want to find out whether there’s interest in convenient and healthy food choices on campus, but I don’t think they need to know my height or weight to effectively analyze my answers.

It was an “answer this question and if you say ‘yes’ we’ll expand on it with more questions” survey, and I didn’t see the questions I would’ve answered if I had clicked “Yes” when it asked me “Are you currently dieting to lose weight?”–but that shouldn’t be relevant to whether they decide to incorporate healthy options either. Just because I’m a big fat fatty and will most likely stay that way doesn’t mean I have any desire to eat a burger and fries for lunch every damn day, and just because I want to eat a healthy meal once in a while when I’m on campus all day with no time to cook lunch/dinner at home doesn’t mean I want to lose weight.

Maybe I’m just worried that my school will end up like Lincoln University and make us fatties take a glorified phys. ed. course before we can graduate, but I’m considering e-mailing the psychology department (a primary sponsor of the survey) to inquire as to why they asked for height and weight and, if they say they did it to measure our health, politely give them a piece of my mind.

Am I over-analyzing this shit? Taking it too personally? I’m not ashamed or afraid of telling them my height and weight, but with a little bit of fat-positive buzz going on around these parts in the past two weeks (at least in my bubble within the campus) I would be real disappointed if this lead to the university being all “uh oh, our students are too fat! let’s save them from themselves!” any more than it already is (I haven’t seen a doctor at the university clinic in a while so I’m not totally sure what that environment is like).

I might just be way eager to keep talking about HAES with people who don’t “get it” yet, but maybe some body-positive good will come of this.

December 3, 2009. Tags: , , . FA.

3 Comments

  1. bri replied:

    Yay for your presentation! Sounds like it went awesomely!

    And I would definitely be contacting the psych department and asking about their methodology and survey design etc. It would be very interesting to hear what they have to say!

  2. Catgal replied:

    You are spot on here. I wouldn’t have entered the information either. And contacting the creators of the survey is a great idea, BMI is not an index of health.

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