Size Matters: The Carrot and the Stick

Tasha Fierce
View profile »

Tasha Fierce is a Black feminist writer from Los Angeles. You can follow her on Twitter at @MissTashaFierce and read more of her work on her blog, Tastefully Ratchet.

Size discrimination is an unfortunate fact of life for many fat people working in a corporate environment. Fat workers are often passed over for promotions, denied raises, and told outright to their faces that they are undesirable to clients. Not only that, fat employees on average earn 1 to 6 percent less than employees whose weight is considered "normal." Fat people are also often the scapegoats for rising corporate health care costs. What protections are there for those facing size discrimination? Being classified as "overweight" generally does not entitle you to protections under the Americans With Disabilities Act or the ADA Amendment Act of 2008, however, under the ADAAA being classified as "morbidly obese" or having health problems considered "weight-related" does. The larger you are, the more likely you are to experience size discrimination, and the more protections you have under the law. But those who are not considered "morbidly obese" also need to be protected, and unfortunately there are no laws that prohibit discrimination based on weight.

As if size discrimination wasn't enough to deal with, many workplaces are instituting weight loss incentive programs, which further marginalizes fat employees. Incentive programs that include rewards for departments or teams that lose the most weight create a hostile atmosphere in which fat people are shamed for not being able to lose significant amounts of weight. For example, an alumna of Stephens College in Missouri recently pledged to donate $1 million to the college if the staff loses a collective 250 pounds by January 1, 2011. This puts undue pressure on fat staff members who may or may not be able to lose enough weight to contribute "their part" of the collective 250 lbs. The dean herself is expected to lose 25 lbs. to receive an extra $100,000 in addition to the $1 million. Since the dean accepted the challenge on behalf of the college, she apparently has no problem with being pressured to lose that much weight. I doubt the rest of the staff was consulted before the challenge was accepted.

Another type of incentive plan was instituted by Whole Foods that involves lower health care costs for those who maintain a certain BMI. Now, we know that BMI is not the best way to measure health in individuals. This program stigmatizes those who may be unable to reach a BMI considered to be within the "healthy" range, regardless of what their real indicators of health may show. In fact, this program could be seen as encouraging some to be at a weight UNDER what is actually healthy for them just to be in the "Platinum" group, since a BMI under 24 could potentially only be achieved by some people via losing unhealthy amounts of weight. Furthermore, the size discrimination inherent in this incentive program demonizes fat people by attributing high health care costs to those with higher BMIs and penalizing them for their perceived inability to lose weight. Why is it the business of your employer what your BMI is?

Legislation prohibiting size discrimination is desperately needed as more and more people are considered "obese" by the medical establishment and corporations continue to intrude further on fat employees' personal lives by taking stock of their supposed health indicators. The carrot-stick incentive programs being adopted contribute to the marginalization of fat workers and promote the idea that rising health care costs are the fault of fat people in general. We don't need to pathologize fatness by having it considered a disability just to fight size discrimination. We need size to be included along with race, age, gender, sexual orientation, etc. as protected under anti-discrimination laws.

Still Reading? Sign up for our Weekly Reader!

38 Comments Have Been Posted

@anonymous skinny

are you FUCKING KIDDING ME?! "you people" "writhe in slop" You, sir or madam, are no feminist, that's for damn sure.

if your drunk ass falls down and gets hurt, you may not blame the sidewalk, but if the injury's serious enough, you'll avail yourself of emergency services, just like anyone else. fatties pay taxes and subsidize your drunk ass, just like everyone else.

please do the world a favor and continue drowning your thoughtless vitriol as you like. kthxbai.

a chubster who loves her some carrot sticks.

It's really hard to lose

It's really hard to lose weight once you put it on. Don't let it happen to you. If you are fat, learn how to eat healthy and exercise most days of the week and you will feel better and look better too. It's healthier to be a few pounds overweight and living a healthy lifestyle than to be skinny by starving yourself. It's quality not quantity we should be focusing on.

It's not about health, and we know it...

Don't let *what* happen to me? Being fat? Gaining even more weight once I became fat? Gaining more weight in the future now that I've been gaining weight for a really long time? How exactly do I not let weight gain happen to me, and why should I make that a significant focus of my life?

For many people, it's not a choice between being "a few pounds overweight" and "starving yourself." It's a choice between being genuinely fat, or being genuinely fat. And while it's great to eat nutritious food and to move around in a healthy way, it isn't always possible. In any event, doing those things might not even prevent somebody from gaining more weight. It certainly doesn't guarantee that a person will look better (I look just great, even though I'm fat) or feel better (I feel just great, too, even though I'm fat).

That's why these employer-sponsored programs are so hideous. They assume that if only a person does certain things, that their efforts will show a certain result. These programs don't reward behavior, because there's no way to verify that someone is eating nutritious foods and exercising. (And even if they did reward creepily controlling is that?? I don't want my employer knowing every time I eat a doughnut.)

These programs just assume that if someone does certain things, their numbers (BMI, BP, cholesterol, blood sugar, etc.) will look a certain way. (They also assume that they, as employers, provide their employees the time and money to take care of their health. And of course, the employers are generally wrong!)

I'm living proof that bodies aren't simple machines. Sometimes my efforts toward good health result in number changes, sometimes they don't. That doesn't mean that taking steps toward good health is worthless, but it DOES mean that I personally can't always prove my efforts by a blood test or the number on a scale. In fact, some of my numbers aren't even close to the "accepted" range, and never will be. My body doesn't respond that way. But these programs are a nice way to blame someone if they happen to not be in perfect health.

Unfortunately, my employer says that if my BMI, BP, and cholesterol isn't in a certain range by next year (or if I refuse to provide my private medical records to my employer because it's none of their damn business), then I get to pay even more for health insurance.

Please note that my employer doesn't monitor whether someone is a heavy drinker, or a bungee jumper, or a flying trapeze artist. The only thing they think can raise their premiums is being a Fatty McFatterson, and/or having high cholesterol or BP. (I have a feeling they'd like to discriminate against those who plan to have children because that costs them too, but they can't legally.)

And the conservatives were worried about the government becoming Big Brother when it comes to health care...

RE: It's not about health, and we know it...

As far as Big Brother goes, while I'm lucky not to work for a company that frets over my weight, I am disturbed that the practices already described occurs. I do still worry that the government will want join in the fun at some point, too. (I don't know what's in the new health care law, they may already have.)

But back to company sponsored weight loss programs. If they are creating animosity toward "fat" people, then that is completely backwards. If the goal is shed the most pounds per department, then they should create animosity toward the skinny, since they have less weight to lose! Ha!

Yeah, it is hard to lose

Yeah, it is hard to lose weight once you put it on, but did you consider that your body wants to be at a certain weight? And that it'll do anything to stay there?

Of course it's good to eat healthy and exercise, and that it's better to be overweight than underweight, but you need to consider that 1) some people are not skinny because they starve themselves and 2) the comment "don't let it happen to you" disturbs me. Sure, I gained about 50 lbs from the onset of my thyroid cancer (my thyroid stopped working, thus stopping my metabolism, and i didn't find out i had cancer until two years later, but my college habits certainly didn't help), but to insinuate that I "let it happen to me" is just wrong. My body rebelled against me. As most people's do. In her memoir, Crystal Renn talks about how during the height of her eating disorder, she started to gain weight, not changing any of her disordered eating and exercising habits. Her body simply started rebelling against her and she gained weight.

So before you go off saying that it's fat people's fault for being fat, consider that there are outlying medical problems that cause weight gain.

I agree

As an almost 42-year-old who has gone from a post-baby, adult low of 120 to a high of 245 and now settled somewhere around 185... I wish I could go back and tell my younger self "DON'T LET IT HAPPEN TO YOU". It *is* so hard to lose once you gain... Of all the things I've done in my life, gaining this amount of weight is my only real regret, because it causes me so much personal grief.

I don't get grief from other people on it - so I don't have to deal with that shit- but I didn't feel good at 245 and I'm not thrilled at 185 because not only do *I* not like how I look, I live in a country (France) where a size 12 is usually the largest size clothing I can usually find.

So yes, if you are happy at a certain weight, make sure you stay there because gaining is easy but losing is hard!

Take one for the team!

I really like this post, especially the stuff about how much pressure these "lose weight!" incentive plans put on employees to "do it for the team!" And I'm really appalled at people tying weight loss into donations, especially. I mean, obviously everyone has rights to donate or not donate as they see fit (and I've always wanted to tie a large donation into accessibility awareness building!), but that's just unhealthy as well as unkind.

And it really places such a

And it really places such a strong emphasis on weight loss, as if that's the ultimate achievement or something, and if the weight-loss goal isn't achieved, then no donation is given? What kind of message does that send? "Oh hey so-and-so, the university doesn't get a million-dollar donation because you didn't lose enough weight!" What would that do to those employees? Donations should be given as donations without stipulations. Sure, it can be good for self-esteem and whatnot when the results are achieved, but when they aren't, it's more than bad. I can't imagine how I'd feel if I couldn't lose enough weight and cost my university a huge donation.

How donations ought to be done

My company routinely holds fundraisers for BBBS. Usually, they take the form of some type of pot-luck lunch, with everyone contributing food/drinks/dishes/etc. and then paying something like $2 - $5 for a plate. (Of course, anyone who wants to can throw in more.) Finally, the company matches whatever donations are brought in. It's kind of the opposite of the weight-loss scheme! And even if you forget/can't contribute to the meal, you can always throw in a few extra $$$. We raise a few thousand a year this way and no one has to feel guilty.

I think some really

I think some really interesting ADA/HIPAA issues come up with these programs, additionally, for employees with disabilities and health conditions who are also fat. Employers are not allowed to discriminate against employees on the basis of medical conditions and cannot ask about medical conditions, so when you have a situation where someone's weight is related to health (for example, someone taking steroids to treat a health condition who is gaining weight), and that person is put under pressure to lose weight, it sets up a forced disclosure situation. Either the employee has to explain why the 'incentive program' is dangerous/not feasible to get people to shut up, or the employee just has to take the abuse to avoid being outed. No one should be put in that position.

Aside from just how fucked up these programs are in general, CRITICAL point about using the BMI as the yardstick and the potential dangers thereof. (I'd also note that employees who participate in such a program and start working out might end up with a HIGHER BMI as a result of building muscle mass...)

Thank you

Thanks for this. I appreciate your delving into these initiatives because they seem to be on the rise in popularity. I think many people knee-jerk and think they are GOOD ideas, but they're not, for the reasons you write and probably a hefty handful more.

Really Whole Foods? I mean REALLY? Tasha, your paragraph succinctly states how wrongheaded and scary such a policy really is.


Programs like the college donor's promise to donate 1M if 250 pounds are lost by Jan 1 are ridiculous. Who hasn't been on a short term diet and lost weight? Who bets that a number of the dieters greet the New Year by gaining back what they lost PLUS? That's what the science says, that yo-yo dieting causes long-term GAIN and the unhealthy toll of loss-gain-loss-gain is WORSE for your heart than not playing the diet game at all. The negative impact of disordered eating is the hidden story of the reported health impact of weight, because many large people aren't simply large, we fight for years and years with yo-yoing, with the accompanying aggregate of physical and social stress. The lack of critical thinking of pseudo-health Czars with millions to throw around is baffling.

Really dislike the BMI

Really dislike the BMI measurement... it's so stupid.

At my mom's work, they have a fitness/nutrition program going on that you can choose to do. First thing participants do is get a full body scan which calculates, among other things, their fat and muscle percentage. The ideal weight for my mom, who's 5'7", is very close to the ideal weight for a woman she works with who's about 5'0". You couldn't get that from a BMI, because it doesn't take in to account muscle mass and the way fat is distributed on one's body...and other things I'm sure factor in with weight.

But with all that aside, the fat discrimination is really quite appalling...

Actually no. It's healthier

Actually no. It's healthier for a woman to be "pear" shaped -- most of her fat distributed to her bottom and thighs.

Why would I lie about that? My mom and that woman should ideally weigh around 135 lbs. How is that crap? That's obviously not something BMI would calculate for their height differences.

YOU need to face the facts and get over your damned prejudice.

BMI is Messed-Up

BMI is super-messed-up. I had to say it twice. I already knew BMI was flawed, but I did a little reading to refresh my memory.

Slate has a good article on the history of BMI:

The article is two pages long, but in a super-tiny nutshell, BMI is currently used in reverse of it's original intent. The creator used the BMI equation to describe an existing correlation between height and weight among his contemporaries, not to determine what it ought to be. Furthermore, the equation was intended to describe large populations, not individuals.

I'd really like more meat

Size, body image, cultural notions of health and attractiveness, the intersections of these with gender, race, and class, and the way this shows up in popular culture—these are important topics for feminist critiques. I’m glad Bitch magazine is addressing them. This column, however, tends to be a series of finger-pointing at examples of what the author refers to as “fat shaming.” I get it. I get that “fat” is not appreciated in the culture. I get that “fat” people are treated badly. I get that this is painful and that many people who have experienced this kind of treatment find this column to be a place where they feel understood.

But I am not one of those people who has been treated badly because of my body size. More likely I am one who unconsciously participates in the “fat shaming.” But, excuse the metaphor, I’m not finding much to chew on here. A main justification for fat shaming, i.e., the belief that fat is unhealthy, is not allowed to be discussed. No support is offered for the various claims made in support of fat. Cultural representations of fat are simply condemned, not deconstructed.

So if the purpose of this column is to make people feel good about being fat who otherwise are encouraged to feel bad (and do something) about it, then the column is doing its job. However, if the purpose is to contribute to cultural change by providing an intelligent critique of cultural attitudes—maybe utilizing feminist theory or communications theory or some other theory as a framework—then it is not.

Trying to get people to change their beliefs by shaming them is no more effective than trying to get people to change their body shape by shaming them. It is simply an example of someone adopting the tools of oppression.

Anonymous, if you'll recall

Anonymous, if you'll recall how this "column" was received when it started, there was a clear lack of understanding of basic principles of fat acceptance and representations of fat in media that I'm attempting to address. Maybe if we had started out on some level where everyone had the same basic knowledge of why "cultural notions of health and attractiveness" were flawed and why many representations of fatness are problematic, we could have gone into the deeper deconstructions of them. But we didn't. Unlike say, race and gender, fatness has not really been addressed here on the Bitch blogs so I'm starting at square one and dealing with basics.

That's great that you haven't been mistreated because of your body size. A whole hell of a lot of people have. Why you feel the need to direct discourse when you admit you have not been affected by the -ism in question AND that you "unconsciously participate in fat shaming" (without any self-reflection, apparently, and if you know you're doing it it's hardly unconscious), I don't know. But I'm not particularly concerned with what you personally are looking for in a "column" about representations of fatness in pop culture. I'm not trying to get anyone to change their beliefs. I'm analyzing, again, representations of fat in pop culture. What support do you want? Studies that prove fat is represented negatively? I'm unclear as to what support I could offer that would be novel or has not been offered already.

Hope that helps.

Anonymous - Sounds like

Anonymous - Sounds like you're engaged in some hearty <a href="">Derailing for dummies</a>!

While you're certainly entitled to your opinions, you're not entitled to tell Tasha how she should frame her arguments or how to write her column.

<strong>Snarky's Machine, your friendly comment moderator</strong>
<a href="">Did someone say <em>Comments Policy</em>?</a>

I get it but...

I really like this magazine. I even enjoy and agree with many of the points made in this particular column, but....

I'm a smoker, and I worked for 10 years in IT for a large health insurance company. Being "discriminated" against for unhealthy habits is nothing new. Smokers have been dealing with it for a long time. Forget plain uncomfortability and ostracism; you can actually be fired from or be denied a job now, if you smoke. We have many of the same health risks that overweight people do, plus second hand smoke puts others at risk as well. It is a fact that both smokers and and fat people do contribute to rising premiums because they typically use more services. YES asshat CEO's and other executives in the insurance AND provider industries drive the costs up more because they want fatter wallets, but usage is still a significant contributor.

Here's my point: I love smoking, it comforts me, yes it's very unhealthy, at some point I'll quit, but not any time soon, and in the meantime I'm not going to beat myself up about it. I accept who I am. BUT.... you also will never hear or see me bitch, complain, or write columns about how unfair the world is treating me and how I'm being discriminated against because I'm a smoker. Just sayin'...

I've also never been an asshole to a fat person. A lot of my friends are big gals, and I prefer to date men with a little pudge on them. More to hold on to. :-) But if I had a dollar for every time I got called a skinny bitch, or glared at by a fat person just for being in their line of sight, I'd have my dream home overseas somewhere. There are a lot of fucked up things about how fat people in society are portrayed, but if you want the discrimination to stop, it has to also work both ways.

smoking vs. fat = invalid comparison

I see what you're trying to say here, but making a conscious choice to smoke and comparing it to being fat is seems kind of problematic. It's making the assumption that being fat is something that you are choosing to do. It leads back to the idea that people that are fat are in such a state because they decided to eat shitty food and lots of it. And from what i've read on here, that seems to be the opposite of what Tasha has been trying to get at through her posts. People are fat, for many different reasons, and those reasons shouldn't matter. Although a comparison can be made in the sense that you can quit smoking at any time just like you can lose weight at any time, that isn't the case. Smoking is proven as being unhealthy and dangerous. Simply being fat doesn't mean that you are also unhealthy, but more so if it affects your blood pressure, cholesterol, etc. Additionally, often times people on particular medications tend to gain weight as a side effect. In fact, many Psychiatric medications cause weight gain which can lead to diabetes. Should the person be stigmatized because they are fat, and stop taking the meds to lose the weight, and experience an increase in symptoms just so they can earn the incentives of an organization like Whole Foods? Comparing Smoking with being Fat just seems to go down a very complicated road.

Tasha - i really like these posts, keep it up!

I hear ya. I really do, and

I hear ya. I really do, and in some ways it might be an invalid comparison. I realize that not every person is going to be able to be skinny, ESPECIALLY to the ridiculous standards that are shoved in everyone's faces. I like that this column and this magazine celebrate those differences, and expose the ridiculous, and I support and encourage them to continue to do so.

You are right, smoking is a conscious choice for ALL who undertake it (though no less difficult to quit than it is to try and lose weight) and not all fat people are making a conscious choice to be fat. Where I get concerned though is when it seems to make it ok for people to hide behind excuses (and there are a LOT of them - many NOT valid) while waving and shouting the discrimination banner, especially if their fatness or amount of overfatness really IS caused by poor habits. If someone is big boned, very pear shaped, or otherwise genetically predisposed to more pudge and overall curvy roundness, then no worries and they should be accepted for the beautiful people they are, and companies have no business attempting to "regulate" that. I would just hope that people are being truly honest with themselves and not immediately tossing out the discrimination card. It's similar to a lot of those cliched phrases. Great that you want to change the world and all, but maybe start in your own backyard.

Hide behind excuses? Who are

Hide behind excuses? Who are you to say that they're not valid?

I am one of those people with "excuses." Sure, some of it was poor eating habits, but my eating habits didn't cause 50 lbs of weight gain in 2 years. Thyroid cancer did (and depression and alcoholism). I was still active, I just didn't eat that great. Plus, you don't realize that a lot of people gain weight because they have an eating disorder: binge eating. Most don't recognize it as an eating disorder, but it absolutely falls in the category of disordered eating, just like anorexia and bulemia.

You choose to be a smoker (and I was one too, so I know how difficult it is to quit) but you don't choose to have a thyroid condition. You don't choose to have depression. You don't choose to have an eating disorder.

Ummm, what?

You choose to have an addiction but you don't choose to have an eating disorder? So addictions like smoking are a choice but alcoholism isn't?

You choose to start smoking.

You choose to start smoking. I did. Everyone does. But you don't choose to have an eating disorder. Usually addictions to food and alcohol are triggered by depression or an imbalance of chemicals in the brain, or genetics. And, people with a history of addiction like alcoholism are more likely to be alcoholics. As someone who has struggled with problem drinking, I can tell you, it's a compulsion and it's a very difficult compulsion to break. Smoking, on the other hand, introduces a chemical into the brain, nicotine, which makes it difficult to quit, but it's possible to.

Basically put, cigarettes introduce an outside influence and substance into the brain, while food and alcohol addictions are brought on by a preexisting condition in the brain. I've dealt with all three, and I can tell you, it was a LOT easier to quit smoking than to stop binge eating and to change my eating habits, and to quit drinking (something I haven't quite yet accomplished).

Does that make sense?

Addiction is a little trickier than that....

I'm not attempting to dismiss or derail anything by this. I don't think we can equate substance use (smoking) to fatness, as they are both very different issues. I just have a concern about the statements made on addiction, and I feel like too often, people inform themselves on this subject by watching Intervention (BLEH). As a social worker who works in substance use/abuse and harm reduction, and also has personal life experience with substance use, I think it's important to be careful about how you're universalizing your experiences with nicotine and applying it to all smokers.

Firstly, one has to look at the social determinants of health, and the fact that there is evidence that people from certain groups are more likely to smoke cigarettes and use other substances than others. So, much like alcohol or any other drug, there are more factors than somebody simply picking up a cigarette because they chose to. Cigarettes are a drug, just like any other substance, and people don't wake up and think "I think I'm going to try smoking crack today", more often their environment/life experiences/history of trauma/etc... is just more conducive to substance use. And I hate to use the word alcoholic, but though there is a link about the genetics of alcoholism, it isn't always a defining factor in why certain people drink and others do not. There are a number of factors, which is why I encourage you to do some more research on the idea of social determinants of health.

Also, in my professional experience, cigarettes are often the first and last substance a person uses regularly in their lives, and it can be one of the hardest things for a person to quit. I've seen people have a tougher time quitting smoking than they had quitting heroin.

Otherwise, great article!

A few reminders...

Hi everyone,

A few things to keep in mind here (because some of you may be new to this blog series, and some of you maybe just need a reminder):

1. This is a blog about pop culture and fatness, NOT about health.

2. Fatness is not inherently unhealthy, nor is it inherently negative.

Please remember those two things, as well as the rest of our comments policy, when commenting on this thread.


<b>Kelsey Wallace, web editor</b>

<i>Ask me about our <a href="">Comments Policy</a>!</i>

Gooooooood Lord this was one

Gooooooood Lord this was one big offensive rant!

Some of those "excuses" are valid. I am one of those people with a thyroid problem. AKA, I don't have one. Because it was cancerous. and you know what happens to cancerous thyroids? They stop working. And you know what happens when a thyroid stops working? You gain weight.

I don't hate on skinny women. What I hate is when people complain about "how fat" they are and beat themselves up over their body image. I've made a lot of progress myself over my own body image over the last month or so (this blog series + reading Crystal Renn's autobiography). And how dare you say that all fat women hate on skinny women? I believe in beauty at every size.

"We don't judge you or think we are better than you."

Your whole post is judgmental and reeks of "holier than thou" abuse.

"But it is really hard to be your friend when you are constantly projecting your internalized sexist self-loathing onto us."

Don't sit there and pretend that only fat women are upset with their bodies. I work in the bridal industry, and I encounter women of all shapes and sizes who are unhappy with the way they look. It's a problem that is all around, not just with one group of women.

"Then maybe we can create a critical mass of loved female bodies to turn back this tide of hatred so your daughter and mine don't have to waste their precious emotional and physical energy fighting these socially constructed demons. Because, let's face it. Your daughter will probably be fat and mine will be skinny. And they should be friends and feel awesome about their bodies no matter what."

I find this ironic because this is precisely what this series is about, the fat acceptance movement, fatphobia in the media, etc. We DO love ourselves, we ARE learning to love ourselves and we ARE ok with our looks.

I think you have a lot to learn about feminism and body acceptance. Everyone has their own personal demons, no one is blaming you or skinny women for being skinny, the problem is the way society treats fat people. I'm sorry you were made fun of for being skinny, but that does not mean you can go on a rant demeaning and demoralizing fat women.


So the comment that I responded to (and in the next couple of comments) was deleted, and rightfully so. Her comments were pretty upsetting to me (since I am very new at this whole body acceptance issue, and finally am starting to "get it.") Anyways, what I say here still stands.

If you want to be an ally,

If you want to be an ally, act like an ally.

Sometimes you just need to shut up and listen. That's what I learned about when talking about and learning about systematic racism. I'm white, and it's inappropriate for someone like me to intrude on a person of color's space (aka an anti-racism blog), and talk about *my* experiences. I can be an ally by listening and learning, not by talking about how mean a black girl was to me when I was in grade school. Or by how I am discriminated against because of the way I look. I can still actively try to stop racism, but still let people of color have their space while acknowledging my white privilege.

"I agree that the way society treats fat women is a problem"

Yet you felt the need to bash fat women in your post when you talked about how fat women have such a problem with their bodies and project it onto you. And talk about how poor skinny women are being treated. But there is inherent privilege in being thin, just like there is inherent privilege in being straight, cis, and white. Accept it. Sometimes you just need to shut up, listen, and learn. This is a space to talk about how being fat is negatively portrayed in the media. This is not a space for you to complain about being treated differently because you're skinny, just as an anti-racism blog isn't a place for me to complain about how I am being treated differently because I'm white. Understand?

"I am not sorry that you have to deal with shit for being fat."

And yet you say you want to be an ally? Judging by this comment, you don't care that fat people are treated differently and with prejudice. So do you want to be an ally and acknowledge that there is a problem, or do you want to say that you don't care that I am treated differently because of my weight?

"The fact that we have the luxury to express ourselves over the internet reveals that both of us have less shit to deal with than most of the women on this planet."

Don't start the Oppression Olympics. Please. This is a space to discuss fatphobia and fat-shaming in the media.

"I am trying to get you to look past your own oppression and see how you participate in the creation of the divisions between women."

I'm not sure what you mean by this... Like I said above, I believe in beauty in all sizes. I don't understand how talking about fatphobia and discrimination against fat people by the media and by companies translates to creating divisions between women.

Fatphobia and discrimination against fat people isn't solely limited to women, Tasha has been very careful to include men in the equation.

"But perhaps so do you, love, and in this "fat-acceptance movement", I ask that you don't ghettoize yourself to this single issue but rather see the larger systems that keep us divided and caught up in the distraction of self-and other-hatred."

Ghettoize myself? I hate to repeat myself (and repeat what Tasha and Kelsey have said repeatedly), but this is a blog devoted to fatphobia, discrimination of fat people in America, and such. If you want to read about other issues relating to feminism and pop culture, <i>Bitch</i> offers a plethora of other articles regarding a multitude of other issues, from ableism, to racism, and so on.

"It is far more radical to acknowledge that your experience of oppression ain't special, just a piece of the puzzle."

No one is. You really ought to read the whole series from the beginning, you do have access to Google and the Bitch archives.

"I want to be your ally, fat girl. I have your back, if only you would let me. Can you handle that?"

If you want to be an ally, act like an ally, and shut up and listen. Don't call me "fat girl" and don't insinuate that I'm "not letting you" be an ally. Your comments indicate that you don't want to be an ally by the way you demonize fat women, and by your need to call me "fat girl." If you want my back, act like it. Talk like it, walk the walk. Don't go around talking about how fat women have wronged you in the past or how mean they've been to you, or how they have so many problems with their body image. If I went on an anti-racism blog and ranted about how Mexicans or black people or Asians have treated me badly in the past, but how I want to be an ally to anti-racism, it wouldn't fly. so you can understand my skepticism when you say what you said and then say you want to be my ally.

I don't want to deter you

I don't want to deter you from learning about this, or from being a feminist, or anything, but just please, read the series from the beginning. It just seems very apparent that you haven't.


This particular blog is not about pop culture. This particular blog is ALL about health--it's ALL about corporate wellness policies and and incentives for people to lose weight because of the perception that fat is associated with significant health problems. That perception is one that Tasha addresses (as do you) but readers cannot.

This particular blog ends with a call for legislation to protect fat people from discrimination, which is politics, not pop culture. And I, for one, will not be convinced to support such legislation without a legitimate, open discussion of the health issues involved.

Well, Anonymous, I guess the

Well, Anonymous, I guess the fat acceptance movement will have to proceed without your vital support. I hope we make it!!

Opening up the topic of health is something I'm sure concern trolls would LOVE to see happen, but it's not going to. Because the only reason I can see to have a debate over whether or not being fat is healthy is to give voice to those who want to tell fat people how unhealthy they are.


Tasha, if you don't want the vital support of people who do not already see the world from your point of view, then the culture around you is unlikely to change.

My point, however, was that you opened the door to the topic of health in this blog when you made it about corporate wellness policies, but only to your point of view.

No, corporate 'wellness'

No, corporate 'wellness' policies and their concern trolling made this about 'health.' Tasha is specifically discussing size discrimination, and unlike many commenters here, she is not conflating fat and health.

Side note - It seems like

Side note - It seems like some people also wants to designate "good fat people" and "bad fat people" as in when its okay for people to be fat as in they have a medical condition like thyroid problems or need medications that cause them to gain weight but "bad fat people" pig out and gain the weight. This reminds me a bit of what society did with HIV a couple of decades ago. People who got HIV from a blood transfusion or some other non sex related activity were seen as "good" where as the people who contracted the virus from people who got it from sexual activities were "bad". With fatness and HIV one is assumed to be bad unless they somehow prove they quality to be "good".

Clarification - By that

Clarification - By that comment I didn't meant to compare fatness to HIV, just wanted to point out how society tends to look at what they see as disease and then further judge people into good and bad if they have the right to judge.

Fat Is A Feminist Issue

Everyone who read this or commented/both needs to read Fat is A Feminist Issue. Now.

Required Weight loss by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois.

I work for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois, who has offices in Illinois, Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico. It was announced this week by Patricia Hemingway-Hall that we as company must loose 20 tons in 2011. They indicate that is only four pounds per person. This will be a goal tied to our Annual Performance Incentive goal “gain sharing” for 2011. This weight loss excludes the Union employees in Chicago.

We are to enter our weight in a program called “Motiva” so that the company can track our performance. This Motiva site has listed all of our doctor visits, weight, all vital signs, test results, reason for the visit and all drugs taken by the employee. All of this information is downloaded to our employer from a local medical facility. Of course I realize that claims would come to Blue Cross Blue Shield with the diagnose code for payment, but not for weight, vitals, etc. During the years since this program started, I would get calls from the Nurses in Chicago, asking about a medical problem that I have had since birth. I often wondered how they knew about this problem and where they got their information. I now understand how this information is being collected.

Is this legal for an employer to review your medical history? What about a persons privacy rights under HIPPA. Do employees that work for Heath Care based facilities no have a right under HIPPA? Is it legal for a medical facility to feed medical information to your employer? Is it legal to disregard the Union employees? We all work for the same company.

Add new comment