eirias: (gay)
[personal profile] eirias
If you, like me, follow the debates about gays and civil rights, you have probably heard the following argument:

Gay rights supporter: This is just like the civil rights struggle for blacks!
Member of the black community: No it isn't -- your identity is a behavior and one you can hide -- we can't stop being black!

I think both parties are right here, actually. I think the gay rights supporters are right in that the existing structures are obviously unjust and are maintained at least in part because people who got a good spot in the hierarchy don't like people trying to butt in line. This is where they are similar.

But I think the black community is right in that there is some fuzzy space between being a thing and doing a thing. The simplistic way it's often put, between unchanging identity (on the black hand) and a chosen lifestyle (on the gay hand), is misleading. "Being black" isn't just about skin color: like any community, there are ways-of-behaving that carry meaning for group membership, too. And conversely, "the gay lifestyle" isn't something most people choose at random out of a catalog, but falls out of inclinations that are themselves very difficult to change. (Witness the relatively low success rates of reparative therapy even among the extremely motivated.) Nevertheless, I'm not convinced that blackness is the neatest parallel to gayness.

So lately I have been pondering a different parallel: fatness. Here's what I think they have in common.

Both fatness and gayness result from a very deep biological urge that is calibrated to make you want something different from what is considered normative. In the case of gayness, you want to have sex with people of the same sex; in the case of fatness, you want more calories than you will actually burn. While it is popular to talk about self-control, I think most people who are not fat probably don't have to exercise much self-control to eat the amount that they do: their satiety mechanisms very likely kick in at an earlier point and make the idea of more food unappealing. I think this compares rather well with gay sex, a behavior most people avoid chiefly by not being very interested in it in the first place.

This leads well to the next point: moral panics. Both fatness and gayness have inspired an awful lot of tsk-tsking in their day, sometimes at fever-pitch. Sometimes it is couched in moral terms, sometimes in public health terms -- but in both cases I am pretty convinced it is not actually about health. Not that you don't see different health risks faced by (some) gay individuals and (some) fat individuals. It's just that that's not what the conversation is really about. Underneath the moralizing, it's really about class; and disgust; and sex. And I don't have a lot of patience for that.

Finally, the most important commonality here: Even if there were solid scientific consensus that These People Must Change And Here's Why, solid science doesn't have a hell of a lot to offer either group. Reparative therapy, as I note above, has pretty low success rates... but in my understanding, dieting is even worse, if getting to "normal" is the goal. Yeah, in the short term you can abstain from sex or follow a calorie-limiting diet, and maybe you'll be "less gay" in some sense, and you'll probably lose some weight. We know the behaviors to target, in other words. But we don't know how to change the thing beneath the behaviors, the thing that made you gay or fat in the first place, some mix of genes and experiences and the choice landscape you live in. And without changing that, after the intervention is over, you're likely to revert to doing what comes naturally. So in both cases, the question emerges: Even if you're convinced that change is a good thing here (and, I should note, I'm not), are such modest changes worth the cost of shaming people on purpose?

I'm sure there are also a lot of ways that the two things are not parallel. (Feel free to point them out to me.) Still, the next time I hear someone bemoaning Fat America, I'm going to listen through my new gay filter and see what the conversation sounds like. It might be instructive.

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Date: 2009-07-30 11:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] leora.livejournal.com
Also, even if you maintain the diet that keeps you thinner, you are probably exerting more effort and undergoing more stress to maintain that weight than someone who simply is thin. This means that you are going to be adding health risks from the stress that a naturally thin person doesn't have. Plus, if you're just a bit overweight, you are almost certainly going to have the best odds on your life span if you live that way and not stress about it. (Being slightly overweight is actually the best category for long lifespan. Being slightly underweight is both good and bad, the people who are slightly underweight will be the category that has people living the longest, but on average they'll die younger because they have less resistance if any major health problem hits them. Being slightly underweight is basically a bit like a double or nothing gamble on your lifespan).

Not that any of that really matters. I think your point is fairly accurate. I usually think about it in terms of visible versus invisible disabilities. Both make you a minority. Both face problems and issues of discrimination, but they face different ones.

Passing is interesting. Having a choice to pass is interesting.

However, there is one other huge difference between being gay and being black. Being black will almost never get you kicked out of your own family. It will almost never have you rejected by your own parents or tossed out as a teenager. Being black runs in the family, so while the rest of the world may be against you, your family will likely be on your side. At worst, if your parents are still alive, if they are mixed race then maybe the rest of your family hates you, but they should accept you.

Gay people can't count on that. Gay people are one of the few minorities that face a real risk of being cast out of their own families, even before adulthood. Gay people are one of the few groups that face a real risk of being abused by their family because they are gay (sure some people are abused for no reason at all, but that's a different issue).

That's a pretty major downside that goes with the ability to pass.

But then, it's not a competition of who faces the worst discrimination. I just wish people wouldn't try to minimize the discrimination just because a gay person might be able to pass. Nor do I wish to minimize the discrimination a black person may face, just because his/her parents probably will not be the source.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-07-30 11:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eirias.livejournal.com
However, there is one other huge difference between being gay and being black. Being black will almost never get you kicked out of your own family.

Excellent point. What it buys you depends on what sort of family structure you're born into, but it is unquestionably better to have it than not to.

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Date: 2009-07-31 03:10 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] razberriswirl.livejournal.com

My only addition to any of this is that if you are white and fat and/or queer you still have white privilege...which may not buy you familial happiness, but will buy you a whole lot more.


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Date: 2009-07-30 11:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eirias.livejournal.com
That is a really excellent point. Aspirational comparisons are very important indeed.

I understand your annoyance at hearing things like "don't let teh gayz touch my history" and sympathize with it. I have mostly tried to stay out of it because it isn't ~my~ history on either count, except as I'm an American and care about things like rights. But that isn't usually what those conversations are about....

(no subject)

Date: 2009-07-31 12:31 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] marcusmarcusrc.livejournal.com
One difference: I'd be willing to support policies designed to decrease obesity rates where I wouldn't be okay with policies designed to decrease gayness rates (if such a thing were even possible). The kind of policies I'm thinking of include things like healthy school lunches, eliminating subsidies that encourage production of high-fructose corn syrup and other cheap unhealthy food, encouraging the production and easy availability of healthy food that would be less expensive, and, of course, my favorite, a creating a less car-dependent society where walking is more encouraged.

I wonder how many separated twin studies have been done on obesity rates. My uneducated guess is that obesity results from a combination of genetics and environment, such that some people won't gain weight regardless, some will gain weight as long as food is present, but a decent proportion are in the category where early-childhood experiences will determine their adult body type. My only evidence is a) the fact that obesity rates (and associated issues like diabetes) used to be lower in the US, and I don't believe it is just due to people being able to afford less food, and b) the difference in obesity rates between different industrialized nations.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-07-31 01:39 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ukelele.livejournal.com
My mom and her identical twin -- of course not separated at birth, although in very different environments for the last 40+ years -- will both tell you that the other twin is the thinner one ;). I, personally, can't detect a whole lot of difference in weight, although it is slightly differently distributed -- but I think only because my mom had a kid, and my aunt did not.

Their metabolic genes, by the way? Clearly did not get passed on to me :P. Harrumph.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-07-31 03:08 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eirias.livejournal.com
and, of course, my favorite, a creating a less car-dependent society where walking is more encouraged.

My personal predilections being what they are, one could make up virtually any justification for this and I would support it :).

About the variance in obesity rates, yeah, for sure something is going on and it'd be nice to know what that is. But I think there is still an annoying and important question: is it really possible, in the long run, to turn fat people into thin people? If it is I don't think we've found the way, or else we'd see a lot fewer fat people. It doesn't *benefit* anyone here to be fat. It's just very, very hard to act counter to one's biological imperatives over a span of years. (And by biological, I don't only mean genetic. Ingrained experience is biology too!)

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Date: 2009-07-31 03:31 am (UTC)
paperkingdoms: (jaime blue dancing)
From: [personal profile] paperkingdoms
I'd like to see all of those things encouraged because we like everyone to be healthy. I'd also like to see it separated from a weight-loss driven goal. (1) None of these things have been demonstrated to result in sustainable long-term weight loss for a large portion of any population. (2) While there is some degree of correlation for some people, there are plenty of very healthy and active fat people out there and plenty of skinny people who can't climb stairs without wheezing.

And making unattainable goals [sustained long-term weight loss] the *reason* for people to engage in activities doesn't help anyone. Helping to people to find ways to feed themselves and move their bodies that make their bodies feel better is an excellent goal.

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Date: 2009-07-31 01:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] narya.livejournal.com
I found Good Calories, Bad Calories to be an interesting read. It's basically a survey of the nutrition science and how it has (and mostly, hasn't) informed policy. Despite the fact that the title makes it sound like a diet book, it was a good read.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-07-31 12:39 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ragnvaeig.livejournal.com
Does the analogy fit with those who are committed to a lifestyle that encourages fitness, even when they'd otherwise be overweight? I'm very conscientious of the web of choices I make about what I eat and how many kcal I burn so I don't follow the body type on my mother's side of the family. I really can't say I make a conscious set of lifestyle choices about the gender to whom I'm attracted.

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Date: 2009-07-31 12:44 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eirias.livejournal.com
The thing is, you don't actually know what kind of body you'd have if you didn't make those choices. I strongly suspect that your natural satiety point is somewhere near what you choose to do. You might not look the way you do now, but I doubt you'd have a BMI of 40.

I mean -- to get what I'm saying, think about how much you would have to eat to get to that BMI anytime soon. Does it really sound tempting? It doesn't to me and that's where I think the analogy comes in. We make our choices out of a set of possibilities that is limited by what sounds appealing in the first place.

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Part I

Date: 2009-07-31 12:42 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] smarriveurr.livejournal.com
I think it's still a bit off to talk about "being a thing" vs "doing a thing." While it's the behavior associated with homosexuality that people notice, it's the attraction that defines being homosexual - and that's something I don't believe you can really change, thus I tend to think of sexuality as something you are. It may evolve in your lifetime, and you may discover more about it, but it's intrinsic to your nature when all is said and done. The differences between the two civil rights struggles, to me, are in visibility and recognition and safe spaces.

(Note up front: I've had this same discussion with pagans talking about their minority status/otherness, which is where most of my thought on the topic originates. I don't have the experience of being queer, but I do have the experience of being part of an invisible minority while still being an assumed a member of the privileged class.)

If you're black (or any other racial minority, for that matter), everyone who sees you knows it. You don't have the privilege of "playing down" that part of your identity for acceptance - you are black 24/7 (except perhaps over the internet), and you can't avoid the reactions. If you're queer, and not a stereotype of the lifestyle, you don't have to "wear your otherness" (so to speak) in every encounter. It informs your decisions, but not the decisions others make about you.

That's simultaneously good and bad. It means that you can try to "pass" in a homophobic atmosphere, you can just deal with passive as opposed to active prejudice, which can be beneficial. It also means that there's no sense of your prevalence in the population unless you choose to wear your otherness on your sleeve, which opens you up to accusations of "flaunting". The public image of that part of your identity is informed primarily by those who already fit the stereotypical mold, because they are the visible aspect of the minority. Unless you make an issue of it, most of the people you meet will never know you're "like that", and if you do make an issue of it, you're seen as over-aggressive.

Likewise, if you're black, latino, or otherwise part of a racial minority, you can immediately see when you're in the company of fellow members of your group. You can be fairly sure that you can approach X person in a relative safe zone, because you have a shared experience, and you won't be rebuffed or attacked. You can take comfort in seeing other members of your group regularly, and occasionally have the solidarity of knowing you're not alone even in a crowd of strangers.

Not so when you're gay. Again, with the visibility issue, you might never know who around you is "safe" to talk with openly, without a lot of careful and exhausting verbal probing, etc. You don't know that if someone starts pulling homophobic prick bullshit and getting aggressive, there are witnesses who might stand up for you, or to whom, you can look for protection. You don't have that solidarity on the same level.

Likewise, as mentioned above, if you're black, you were born black, and probably raised by black parents, who have no objection to your being black. You don't have to worry about explaining to your parents that, after a lot of soul searching, you've decided you're black, and you don't have to worry about their reaction to your black friends and/or lovers who act as your circle of support. You don't have to worry about how to break it to a long-time friend that you're black, or how they'll react. You don't have to worry that someone you've known a long time will "find out" you're black and explode. That factor of your relationship is right up-front, generally can't be missed, and the dynamic isn't going to change, so you're not under any pressure to hide that part of who you are, or get it into the open early, etc. If someone is uncomfortable with black people, they're most likely just not going to be very involved in your life. There's immediate recognition of your status as an ethnic minority in a way there isn't for homosexuality.

(cont. on reply to this comment.)

Part II

Date: 2009-07-31 12:43 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] smarriveurr.livejournal.com
(continued from above)

Further, if you're straight and black, you know you can approach another black person, at least, and let them know you're interested in them, and they're not going to react in fear or aggression. Again, there's still interracial complications, and hitting on a white woman as a black man still has risks, but in general, you need little more than quick visual confirmation to say "We're both [race], so I won't risk getting beat up, run out, or shunned just for offering to buy him/her a drink." The only way to have that kind of safety, if you're queer, is to only approach people in settings with clear "queer markers", where you know that, even if they're not interested, they're not homophobic. You need a safe zone, you can't (as easily) just chat someone up at the grocery store or a random party.

Naturally, I'm coming at all of this from the outside, and my queer friends can and should correct me, but those are the major splits I see. The black community is right, in that the struggle isn't the same - but the queer community is right, in that they're fighting the same fundamental iniquities. There are plenty of parallels, and to say they're not at all the same is as disingenuous as saying they're exactly the same.

Speaking as a fat person, I'd say the black parallel is at least as fair as the one you're drawing. The simple fact is, I've been losing weight accidentally since I moved last year, without making any conscious choice to do so, and I could lose more with minor alterations. It's not nearly as significant a part of my identity as the gender to which I'm attracted, and changing it wouldn't impact my life nearly so severely. To add a further complication - overweight is something I happen to be, not so much something I am. I don't "own" it, as an identifier, so to speak.

Re: Part II

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Re: Part II

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Re: Part I

Date: 2009-07-31 04:10 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] leora.livejournal.com
This all seems pretty accurate to me, but I am a straight, white female, so my experiences are not going to be dealing with issues about homosexuality or race that much (plus the one thing that all of my family agrees on is how horrible prop 8 is and how it needs to be overturned, so if I were gay then I wouldn't have the typical experiences for that either).

But the issues of passing versus not passing is something I do deal with a lot. It's different for each minority group status. The one I most deal with is disability. Disability is very different from homosexuality because people don't usually blame people for being disabled and when they do other people tend to think they're assholes. Most people don't tell me things like I should just stop being blind. So, it's different.

But I can't help thinking of one time at a party talking to someone I didn't know, a friend of a friend. My cane was propped up by the door, since I don't generally need it indoors (I have some vision and houses tend to be pretty simple to navigate and have good lighting). She was talking about the statistics for various health risks. And she said how she didn't think they really applied to people like us, because our parents were exposed to all sorts of things and their parents smoked and such and we grew up so much safer. And I was just thinking, why do you assume this about ~my~ childhood? And I said, well, I don't think that is true for me. And she said, well how would you rate your current health? And I said, well, I'm severely disabled. And she said oh. And then the conversation died, and then she started talking with someone else. And that was the end of me talking to her.

Passing can be weird. Of course, the interactions I get when I have my cane and my wheelchair are ~also~ weird. But in a very different way. I do wonder what she would have said to me, if anything, from the start if I had looked visibly disabled. But mainly I remember that it felt really annoying to have this assumption that I was raised in a safe, happy environment where I was sheltered from dangers, which she seemed to just assume was the case for me. It really felt like she was saying I was a person ~like her~ that ~our kind~ didn't fit into the lower end of the statistics. And then was disturbed that a friend of a friend was actually not one of those people. It's hard to put into words. But it was kind of like, oh how did one of those other people, those people who aren't well off and on a track for success get mixed into this group?

Maybe I was imagining it. It's so hard to know. Another issue with not being in the privileged group... is this person really having an issue or are you reading things into it?

Oh, I think it's that feeling of someone suddenly realizing they need to be on guard because there is a minority present and they don't want to offend the minority, but they kind of resent that the minority is present, because now suddenly they need to be careful not to offend that person and that's effort and annoying.

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(no subject)

Date: 2009-07-31 01:13 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cognative.livejournal.com
No, it's not exactly the same. There are some similarities, some differences. Most that I can think of off hand have been noted. Another thing is that, IMO, black people are sensitive about ownership. Given the long history of things being "stolen" from them by the dominate group (read: white people). Not saying it's a good response, but I think that's part of what's going on.

"the gay lifestyle" isn't something most people choose at random out of a catalog

They have a great spread on page 6.

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Date: 2009-07-31 03:09 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eirias.livejournal.com
They have a great spread on page 6.

*snerk* You said... uhh... nevermind.

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I have nothing useful to contribute

Date: 2009-07-31 01:47 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cynic51.livejournal.com
so here is a random crude joke, courtesy of my fabulous gay former roommate:

Q: Why is it harder to be gay than it is to be black?
A: If you're black, you don't have to tell your parents.

Something at the back end of my end says there's a problem with the fat analogy. That's speaking as a fat guy (45+ too much, depending on the chart). But it's eluding me at the moment.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-07-31 03:43 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rms10.livejournal.com
There are definitely parallels between the gay rights movement and the civil rights movement, but that's because there are parallels between all rights movements.

I have been trying to avoid "people don't choose to be gay, so that's why they deserve equal rights" argument. What does it matter what two consenting adults do, and why they do it? (Plus, then there are still counter-arguments that gays shouldn't "act on it", or that bisexuals should stick to the opposite sex, etc.)

And I'm not sure if my thinking is internally consistent, but I've lost what little patience I had for religious objections to homosexuality and/or gay marriage. People don't object to those things because they have a strong religious conviction -- they object because they have chosen a belief system that condemns it.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-07-31 04:08 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eirias.livejournal.com
I have been trying to avoid "people don't choose to be gay, so that's why they deserve equal rights" argument.

Oh, agreed. I think they deserve equal rights because that's the moral answer. (Granted when I was ten my reasoning was a little different -- back then I just figured, heck, I didn't choose to have a crush on the dorky kid who sits next to me in band, so gay people probably don't have a choice either...)

But I still think the question of how to situate biological drives, on the spectrum of choice vs. fate, is an interesting one. I think it's common for people not to have the degree or kind of choice in these situations that the anti-activists expect. That said, I'm all for exercising choice if you have it.

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total tangent

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Re: total tangent

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(no subject)

Date: 2009-07-31 11:07 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] chilimuffin.livejournal.com
So I've been cogitating on this. I like most of your points, and I think that it's as good a comparison as any, if you're going to make a comparison.

But there's a few things that I think make the comparison problematic, and most of it comes from being in health care.

I'm a physically healthy fat person, and I believe in giving all my obese patients the benefit of the doubt. That said, I'm a physically healthy queer person, and I don't really have to think about giving another queer person the benefit of the doubt. Sure, there are epidemiological risks associated with being gay - AIDS (though not as much anymore, not nearly as much as being young, black and female), and... well, that's really the big one, isn't it? And it's really only epidemiologically true for a small percentage of the queer community.

The converse is not true. There are many healthy fat people in the world, and there are many people like me, born with "genes for the Apocalypse" that can squeeze every measly calorie out of a piece of lettuce and hang onto it like it's the last food we'll ever taste. But there's a huge population of obese people who are not healthy, and there is some pretty strong evidence for that particular group that obesity and their risks of significant health concerns are linked.

Do I ask my patients to lose weight? No. I ask my patients to develop healthy habits, and truthfully, for many of them this will lead to weight loss (Dealing with the geriatric population, I also get to be the one type of doctor who regularly insists people gain weight). We live in a world disconnected from self-awareness, from our own set points and satiety factors, so I think it's fallacious to assume we all are choosing to stop eating when those are met, and that our bodies can tell the difference between the 2500 calorie double cheeseburger and the 500 calorie one in the span of the 5 minutes it takes us to eat it.

People are born queer, surely, and people are born with certain satiety set points. But people don't make life choices and become gay, while some people can make choices and become obese, or more truthfully, people have no knowledge that they are making such choices because that is the nature of food politics.

I agree that judgment is ridiculous for both groups, and that people should be judged on far more meaningful criteria. But it's not quite the same thing, from a medical standpoint, at least.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-08-01 12:33 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] some-kitten.livejournal.com
I also did a lot of cogitating.

I've been thinking a lot about everything said here, but right now I just can't get past "Both fatness and gayness result from a very deep biological urge that is calibrated to make you want something different from what is considered normative...in the case of fatness, you want more calories than you will actually burn." Because, the idea that there is a one-to-one correlation between how much (or what foods) you choose to eat and how much you weigh just isn't true, and it really bothers me to see a friend and ally assert this unexamined. (I've been crawling the internets of late, and fillyjonk (http://kateharding.net/2009/03/12/try-this-on-for-size/) and kate (http://kateharding.net/2007/10/11/call-it-impulsive-call-it-compulsive-call-it-insane/) have more coherent things to say than I do on the subject).

Now, that being said, it may not entirely be relevant, because it's still part of the cultural narrative that people are fat exclusively because they eat more than thin people. And that it's socially acceptable to tell a random fat person you barely know that they have to lose weight for their health. I am highly in favor of everyone making lifestyle choices that are better for them--eating a variety of foods that their bodies are telling them they need, exercising in a fashion that is healthy for them (Hi, [livejournal.com profile] leora!). I just don't like the connection being made that losing weight should be the goal, rather than better overall health.

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From: [identity profile] eirias.livejournal.com - Date: 2009-08-03 04:17 am (UTC) - Expand

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From: [identity profile] ksledgemoore.livejournal.com - Date: 2009-08-02 02:28 pm (UTC) - Expand

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From: [identity profile] chilimuffin.livejournal.com - Date: 2009-08-02 05:21 pm (UTC) - Expand

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Date: 2009-08-02 02:26 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ksledgemoore.livejournal.com
This is an interesting post. As a thin person, I always got upset when people complained about "fat people" and said those people should all be on a diet or should exercise. I knew early on that genetics must play a huge role, because I was able to eat anything without gaining weight, yet I knew that many of these fat people were trying their hardest to lose weight. As a child and teenager I tried as hard as I could to gain weight and it didn't even work! (Now things have changed, but I am still thin.) It's a complete myth that it's easy to change your body from what you've been dealt, or that it's even necessary to do so.

There are a few places where I don't see a parallel here. We know that obesity is often (but not always!) bad for you and expensive to the health system (i.e. bad for society). There is absolutely nothing to suggest that being gay is bad for society...and the only extent it's "bad for you" as a gay person is because of discrimination.

Also, as far as I can tell, there is more that can be done about obesity than about gayness. At a group/societal level we know what causes obesity and we can take steps to reduce it. There will still be great individual variation and plenty of overweight people who are quite healthy, but we would still have an overall improvement in health if we were able to feed people better and encourage more activity. I'm not convinced there is any such "cure" for gayness, nor -- based on my previous paragraph -- do I think we should try to implement one.

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Date: 2009-08-02 05:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] vfoxy.livejournal.com
I am inclined to think this is a surface analogy. Being fat seems to me likely much more multivariable than being gay. And I'm not sure if fat people have a higher satiety threshold. Maybe, maybe that's why the surgery works where they make your stomach smaller. But eating is not just genetic, nor not just a decision you make. It's hugely emotional. Plus, satiety can be reached by more means than genetic-by well-balanced meals, enough water, etc.

I do think that it is important to point out that often the same people bemoaning the bigots with moral objections against gays have often holier than thou sentiments towards lazy fat americans (sarcasm here).

Also, I do have to point out that I have not seen a single fat person yet in the NL. Wait-I did see one, a fat woman in Amsterdam. Who knows if she was dutch or not. So-??

I find thinking about fatness complicated. Much less complicated than thinking about gayness.

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Date: 2009-08-03 09:07 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] some-kitten.livejournal.com
Wow, wish I'd seen this while this thread was active--it appears someone has been thinking along the same lines (http://lefarkins.blogspot.com/2009/07/fat-rightsgay-rights.html).

The only thing I have to add about the other thread is that there are some people who are fat because they're just built that way, and I'm not comfortable with the assertion that at some point they must have eaten more than they burned. However, I'm realizing that this only makes sense if we're working from a consistent definition of fat, which I'm not sure either of us has presented. (My only thought on that is that however we define it, in order to have a reasonable conversation this definition should not be based on a 150-yr-old sociological tool never intended for that purpose (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Body_mass_index).

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Date: 2009-08-04 02:42 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eirias.livejournal.com
Yeah, the definition gets to be a problem -- see my response to [livejournal.com profile] chilimuffin above. We all grow, after all, in multiple dimensions. What is the norm one is "supposed" to hit and when have you overreached? I'm not sure.

And thanks for the link. I'm glad I have my commenters and not his commenters...