Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Diets and fat fashion don't mix?

Firstly I should make some things clear. What I’m going to say is my personal viewpoint, in no way tainted by logical thinking or particularly well thought out argument.

Secondly I'm fat, healthy and in a happy mental state. Most of the time. Although I could do with a coffee.

There have been occasions when a fat fashion blogger has made reference to the fact that they are dieting. Whether for health reasons or whatever. I find myself having an emotional response to this. My emotional reaction based on my issues I know.
Not a strong one mind. I don't  burst into tears, scream the house down or throw myself down and cry ‘Why God why???’

What I think is this. There goes another one. Someone who is supposed to be a fat positive role model has 'buckled'.  I had been going to this site looking for fashion ideas for someone fat like me and found a weight loss story. It's her blog of course, so she can write what she wants right? Right, but readers can have emotional responses that have nothing to do with the blogger as a person and more to do with their own insecurities.

Is that fair? No.

When I first started blogging I read some articles about how to blog well and how to be a popular blogger (and I probably need to read them again!). What most of them said was this: as a blogger you need to set out your sign out the front and state that this blog is about X. I will talk about X mainly. Thus the world of Mummy Bloggers and Political Bloggers and Gay Bloggers and indeed Fashion Bloggers.

People who like X will read said blog. Now of course some bloggers go ‘this is me’ and that’s their X. Fine. Dandy. But what is common is that people go to these blogs know roughly what they are going to get. That’s not a bad thing. If I want nail polish reviews I know a fashion blog is going to be a more likely site to find one than a blog about fishing.

So if you are a fat fashion blog the implication is therefore that you will talk about fat fashion. Because you are most likely fat and like fashion. People who are fat and like fashion will read your blog. Not only because your blog is of interest to them in itself but also because it will be one of the few places that this topic will be discussed without scorn, abuse or pity.

Let’s face the reality: talking about fat fashion in most media spaces is going to get slammed with comments about obesity epidemics and whales wearing curtains. So having a nice place where we can talk about Asos Curve vs Evans isn’t just great, it’s brilliant. Being able to have those conversations where we aren’t bombarded by messages implying that we should be ashamed to wear larger clothes is nice. As is the idea that we won’t be made to feel guilty for not wanting to get smaller.

So what happens when a fat fashion blogger declares they are on a diet? For some it might be that this person is going through something the reader is interested in and wants to know more about. But for many I suspect their reaction is similar to mine. Annoyance that somewhere fat people can talk about their lives and fashion desires has got dragged back into the world of fat as bad.

I’m not saying fat fashion bloggers can’t diet. I’m just saying that for some of your readership, who are struggling with their self image and their need to feel that their lifestyle choices are valid, that it can be difficult to read that someone they saw as fat and happy might not be.

This isn't to say that fat bloggers can't diet or shouldn't. But blogs are more than just the story of the bloggers life to many of their readers, they are like a mirror up to their own lives. Not sure if that makes sense!
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not anti-diet talk. I listen to it all day long at work. I even follow dieters on twitter and read their blogs.

It doesn’t ‘trigger’ me. It doesn’t get me down. I am interested in living a healthy lifestyle that includes exercise and food that is nourishing and wholesome. BUT THAT DOESN’T MEAN I WANT TO DIET.

The question was asked of me: why did I have an issue with a fatshion blogger talking about dieting if it promoted a healthy lifestyle?

The answer is this: I think weight loss can be a healthy lifestyle choice but  I don’t think that dieting in itself is necessarily a healthy lifestyle. I’ve been on 800 calorie diets where I managed to eat a Mars Bar a day. Not that healthy.

You can lose weight by being incredibly unhealthy, and be healthy without losing weight or dieting.

Dieting leads, in most cases, to gaining the weight back and more and I’ve got better things to do with my time.

And even if the fashion blogger said by the way I’m getting fit and eating well and not dieting and not trying to lose weight ……. I would still suggest that maybe they might like to set up another blog to talk about that because I’m only interested in what you wore your new dress with, not your exercise plan.

Here endth the rant.


  1. "Someone who is supposed to be a fat positive role model has buckled." Really? Buckled? I'm having physical health problems, to which the best reaction is for me to change my diet and get some exercise to work through these problems. As a side-effect yes, I am losing weight, but that's not the aim; The aim is health. And health at every size.
    I appreciate your opinion can I just ask why you went and made this post regarding me (I assume, it's pretty obvious,) without pointing it out to me? I'd rather people talk to me about these things, I like hearing peoples opinion. For example I wasn't aware how Lauren (Pocket Rocket) felt on the subject before she spoke to me about it, and she was the first person that had mentioned triggers and the post being a problem.
    I'm sorry if people feel that way about my blog, but my aspiring health is a part of me. I am fat, I will probably ALWAYS be fat, and I am HAPPY being fat. How does that make me "lost"? Or "buckled"? I am happy with my body, the shape, the size, the lumps, the jiggly bits.. But my health I am not happy with, I have gone through a series of illnesses lately and found out that some of my foot problems and headaches are most likely due to my weight, after a lot of tests, and my glucose levels are dangerous, indicative of possible future diabetes thanks to tests I had.

    TLDR: I'm fat. Always will be. Disappointed you feel I've "buckled" but I aim to be healthier, not skinnier.


  2. See, I'm all for each to their own....I often thing the way we're quick to pigeon hole bloggers into boxes is too much sometimes....I worry that my own isnt specific enough, and that I like to quite often go off topic of being a fat fashion blogger....but thats because my life isnt just about being fat or wearing clothes, there are so many other sides to me that I'd want to be able to talk about.

    For me as a person I believe that diets dont work. But I dont agree that is the case for everyone, and some people are very happy doing just that. I sometimes get a bit frustrated by the need to always be positive about myself and about my body, because thats not realistic, actually. Should I do what I think most bloggers do and self edit my blog until its a Disney-fied version of myself, or be open and honest?

    We can all choose not read something afterall, and imho, as long as we're upfront with what our blog contains, why not talk honestly about our viewpoints and decisions? We dont have to agree with everyone just because we're all fat.

    I dont just read fat blogs, I read blogs from all sorts of people, and it doesnt really matter to me whats in the blog, its about the positivity that comes from it that makes a difference to me. As well as good writing, obviousy!

    we all have to live our own lives, and if going on a diet works for someone, then thats right for them. It wont be for me because it hasnt in the past, but it doesnt make either of us right or wrong, just different.

    But I do get what your point was, even if it got lost a bit in translation, and I think your intentions were well meant. Plus, to be an outspoken fat blogger sometimes encounters a bit of contraversy methinks!

  3. The post was written in response to the discussion centred around your post this morning, but not completely focused on your blog as such. It was more a comment on the fact that fat people are seeking safe spaces to talk about their lifestyles and interests without dieting talk.
    As i said it's not fair to the blogger, but us readers are an unfair bunch. The blog becomes bigger than the blogger themselves to readers.
    Us readers are looking for validation. A place where we feel our choices are the same as your's. If you can be fat and happy, so can we. That's the message we get.
    Am I saying you are a bad person for losing weight? Of course bloody not. Am I saying it can be difficult for people to read about it, yes... but only for the reasons above. It's about us, not you.

  4. Oh boy! This imploded didn't it? I understand where you are coming from G - I don't have anything against anyone wanting to diet for whatever reason. I too have to lose weight (grudgingly) at the moment so I can adhere to stupid NHS IVF regulations BUT that's another story. However, I too get that "oh there goes another one" (as in "I really liked her style and loved her shape, will she be the same when she's lost the weight?" rather than a roll eyes "urgh diets" moment) and as someone else said - it does make me feel inadequate and brings up dieting demons that I thought I had long lost. I solve it by not reading the blog anymore. Not because I don't like the blogger - far from it - because I don't want to feel fat and ugly and useless because I just can't/don't want to diet.

    Blogs are each to their own and they are more about the writer than the reader - if you like what you see, you read it, if you don't you either un-follow or as I do mark as read on Google reader.

  5. With fat fashion, I think the problem lies around the boundaries of fat acceptance/activism. All too often we assume that fatshion bloggers are also part of the fat acceptance/activism community too. I am learning that many aren't. We just have the commonality of being fat, rather than the commonality of fat acceptance.

    Personally, I opt out of reading any that do not embrace fat activism, but that's simply my choice.

    However, what I do have a problem with is fat fashion blogs co-opting the language and culture of fat activism to draw themselves a bigger audience, or to piggy-back on what is an important civil rights movement. Fat activism can be fun and use fashion to spread it's message, as well as supporting those businesses who cater to fat people, but fat fashion cannot, must not be allowed to, use fat activism to peddle a blog, a product or clothing.

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