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Dos Equis —

February 15, 2012
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February 15 is a proud day here at Fierce, Freethinking Fatties. Two years ago today, we launched this website with a simple intention: to create a broad, inclusive community of fatties who welcome disagreements, dissent and differences in lifestyle choices.

Since then, we’ve been hard at work generating fresh, daily content on the various social, political and health issues that have arisen with the War on Obesity. Personally, I’m not one to try and oversimplify the issue of fat and health. I know it’s complicated and I know there are many sides to any one story on being fat in America.

My goal, as Editor-in-Chief, is to encourage our readers to remain skeptical of what you hear about obesity. Be skeptical of what you read in the newspapers about the Fat Panic, but also be skeptical of Fat Acceptance and the messages we send as well.

The best way to find the truth, or something close to it, is to subject your beliefs to critics on both sides of the issue, and if you can survive that gauntlet, then you are either on the right path or else incredibly deluded. You can distinguish between these two options by judging your willingness to listen and learn from opposing viewpoints.

If you listen to those viewpoints, try to understand where they’re coming from, study their “proof” and ask probing questions, then you have a better chance of finding that right path. But if you shut down your opponents, ignore complaints, assume the other side’s research is flawed without reading it, and make hasty judgments and unfounded statements, then you are simply deluding yourself.

We’re getting that second reaction from Strong4Life, as I outlined yesterday, as they circle the wagons and refuse to answer any questions on any forum regarding Phase 1 of their advertising campaign. They aren’t refusing to do so because Phase 1 is over and they are moving onto a new phase that doesn’t involve the kind of stigmatization that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has condemned. They are refusing to do so because the NIH condemnation has destroyed their justification and instead of ending the campaign, they are now targeting the poorest urban areas of Atlanta.

Strong4Life hopes that by posting a new background on their website, and stifling any mention of their campaign on their forums, that the opposition will dissipate and we will lose our momentum. But if their advertising strategy were justified by the “health crisis” it purports to solve, then they would not be ashamed of their stance and they would engage their critics openly.

Instead, they banned the Weighty Eight, including myself, Bronwen, Jennifer Jonassen, Theresa Dyer Bakker, Wendy Brown, Keith Burgin, Laura Jennings and Amber Sarah. In an effort to improve Strong4Life’s transparency, we will be sharing screencaps of our offending comments on this Tumblr page, along with others that Strong4Life deems “inappropriate.”

For example, Angela Black asked why Strong4Life is deleting comments that are critical, but within the limits of their comment policy. Strong4Life responded to this simple question with an over-compensating announcement that “The ads will not come down.” Fair enough, but that’s not what Angela asked.

You’ll notice that they have declared that their supporters outnumber their critics, despite having cleansed their site of critical comments and commenters.

I now consider Strong4Life to be the antithesis of what we seek to accomplish on our site. We do not delete critical comments (unless they violate our Asshole Rule) and we do not ban users simply because they don’t like our stance. Unlike Strong4Life, our blog has very little influence on the psychological health of anyone, but that doesn’t stop us from promoting transparency and accountability for our ideas, opinions and behaviors.

And if an organization like Strong4Life, which is having a direct, negative impact on the psychological health of children, will take steps to limit transparency and accountability for its behavior, then that suggests to me that they are intentionally deluding themselves and their supporters.

If the NIH says that your ad campaign may be harming the health of children and you choose to ignore it, then you aren’t simply a well-intentioned, but misguided, public health organization. You are intentionally manipulating your reality to accommodate your needs without regard for the health and welfare of others. The only difference now is that the health and welfare in jeopardy are the poorest, smallest and most disenfranchised voices out there.

So, as we begin our third year of Fierce, Freethinking Fattivism, we add to our list of responsibilities the mantle of accountability. We refuse to allow powerful, wealthy organizations to exploit the public panic over obesity in order to promote unhealthy or stigmatizing anti-obesity campaigns or dangerous weight loss services or products. We will ask the questions and pressure these groups into preserving the dignity and health ALL people, regardless of their size.

I’m so proud of the community we have created here: our co-bloggers who share a diversity of experience and understanding; our readers who inspire us to dig deep into the issues, both person and public; and our critics, who help us to hone our belief system and strengthen our arguments.

Thank you so much for the most incredible two years and I look forward to what the coming year will bring to all of us!

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. Fab@54 permalink
    February 15, 2012 2:07 pm

    :::: applauds ::::

  2. February 15, 2012 2:42 pm

    congrats to FFF for am amazing two years. i am proud to support the FFF mission.

    • February 16, 2012 11:49 am

      Thanks Ivan, and we’re proud to have you on board.

      Peace,
      Shannon

  3. February 16, 2012 9:49 am

    I don’t always read blogs, but when I do, it’s Fierce, Freethinking Fatties.

  4. February 18, 2012 11:05 am

    This is the first FA space I’ve found where questions aren’t mocked but sizeist bullshit is. I appreciate this place very much. It’s a safe haven.

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