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Baby Steps —

July 15, 2013

From our blog’s very inception, I have been critical of the coverage that Huffington Post gives to issues surrounding fat people and fat health. When I began criticizing the fact that HuffPo’s moderators permitted hateful comments toward an “inspirational” couple (who happened to be fat), I was shocked that one of the people in charge of their moderation system contacted me to ask if I’d like to be a moderator.

I was shocked because at that time, back in 2010, if you searched for “Fat Acceptance” on HuffPo’s site, you were taken to this page:

HuffPo AntiFatAcceptance

You’ll notice that whoever coded the results for the “Fat Acceptance” search included a little Easter Egg that spelled out “Anti-Fat Acceptance” in the related search terms.

I became an active moderator, cleaning up fat-hating comments from any and all stories related to fat people. I was a moderation ninja, slashing any body shame or fat jokes from all of the concern troll linkbait. I think I did a damn fine job of it from August 2010 to December 2011, when I was informed that “Community Moderator program and the front-end deletion privilege is being retired early in 2012.”

As a direct result of that decision, when you go to the HuffPo story on the Smile, Sizeist project by Substantia Jones, you find comments like:

Once more, we find Huffington Post sharing a fat positive story only to allow knuckle-dragging, mouth-breathers to shit all over it.

This seems to be the new MO for HuffPo: present token Fat Acceptance stories, but let the fat bashing continue.

Yes, Huffington Post now has an actual, legitimate search option for Fat Acceptance topics, but — BUYER BEWARE — it includes stories with fabulous weight loss tips for me and you.

Or how about this classy juxtaposition from last week?


You see, Huffington Post has come to recognize that there is a market for fat-positive linkbait, like Golda Poretsky’s TEDxTalk (again, don’t read the comments), which they will gladly promote for the clicks. But at the same time they’re still the foremost expert on SEVEN WAYS TO LOSE WEIGHT WITHOUT EXERCISE! Likewise, HuffPo will openly mock the absurd “Skinny Minny” speed dating service, and then share the touching story of an anorexic woman and obese man who met at an ED clinic, fell in love, and have announced that she will finally marry him once he loses 110 pounds.

Sadly, it seems that Huffington Post wants fatties to have their cake and mock them for eating cake too.

I’m not really sure how I feel about it, to be honest. Clearly there have been great strides made by HuffPo to be more inclusive of Fat Acceptance viewpoints. For example, HuffPost Live recently held a 30-minute, all fat-friendly panel with Linda Bacon and three Fierce Fatties bloggers (Angela, Shaunta and myself) on the subject of fat-shaming doctors, while another panel featured Golda, Deb Burgard, Virgie Tovar, and Marilyn Wann on the Fat Civil Rights Movement.  Thanks to the support of Nancy Redd of HuffPost Live, these are just some amazing improvements over the status quo of three years ago.

But while we’re celebrating increased exposure from this one news source, we have to keep in mind that HuffPo has an entire section dedicated to weight loss and that there will continue to be tasteless linkbait like this:HuffPo2

So what do we do with this complicated relationship? Do we encourage activists to embargo participation in HuffPo stories and miss opportunities to promote Fat Acceptance and Health at Every Size®? Or do we bite the bullet and continue our uneasy partnership as the token Good Fatties for HuffPo?

Personally, I don’t know. I honestly, completely do not know what to do with this new, mixed-bag reality. There is a constant battle raging within me between the idealist and the realist, and I find myself yielding to the side that can produce the most substantial steps toward educating the public on why being an asshole to fat people is always wrong and why weight loss is not nearly as important to health as a sensible balance of diet and exercise. The idealist in me wants to reject any and all partnerships that require a deal with the devil, but the realist in me understands that no mainstream media group will ever totally assimilate the teachings of FA and HAES.

But my instinct is to keep fighting in this public forum to let our ideas and perspective be heard and to let the public find them and decide what to do with the differences in mainstream concepts of health and our own. Unfortunately, as it currently stands the comments section is so toxic that it’s nearly impossible to have a civilized debate without some spellcheck-averse dipshit sharing his thoughts on “fet peeopel.”

At the very least, I hope that the front page of The Huffington Post will stop celebrating body love on one side and mocking those disgusting cheeseburger-guzzling fatties on the other.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Duckie permalink
    July 15, 2013 4:53 pm

    Thanks for fighting the good fight!

  2. violetyoshi permalink
    July 16, 2013 4:06 am

    I think Huffpo is afraid of whiners who will respond to being modded with things like, “What about my freedom of speech?”, “You’re being too P.C.!”. As well as the responses that appear to be written by confused little children, who only were trying to be good, and help. “I was just concerned about their health!” “UUUWWAAAAH! Why are they being so MEAN, because I don’t want them to kill themselves with food?” “My precious fee-fees were hurt by a big bad fat acceptance advocate, who called me names!”

    The problem is most anti-fat commenters are like the ones who behave as confused small children. I’m not sure if it’s a manipulative strategy, or they really are that ignorant. It puts Huffpo in a bad position if someone as like a vengeful toddler would says, “You’re MEAN! I’m telling ALL my friends you’re MEAN to people who want to help fat people!” You can’t win with adults who truly believe that regarding oppression like a privileged spoilt child throwing a tantrum is not just reasonable, but is a matter of freedom of speech.

    It might help if you modded Atchka, but it would mean you’d have less time for your blog. It’s almost as if Huffpo is frustrated with the job of babysitting thousands of adult-children, and are challenging you to play babysitter to them. If Huffpo knows it has a problem with moderation, they need to fix it. Not push the responsibility on to the person who complained. If they honestly think a sizeist’s temper tantrum and puppy-eyed “But I only wanted to heeeelllllpppp!” whining is to be respected, then they have serious problems.

    I think the solution to this is for Huffpo to realize they need to act like big boys and girls, and stop trying to be everyone’s best friend, by refusing to tell people no. Then again those sizeist adult-children will lose out in the end, as society continues to accept fat people. It would serve Huffpo right if their only commenters left were these adult-children, and they had to spend the rest of their time fixing their fee-fee boo boos, and permitting their tantrums. Perhaps it’s time fat acceptance found a new outlet, one that doesn’t believe that hosting fat acceptance stories in an environment like a nursery for sizeists is a good idea.

  3. Dizzyd permalink
    July 16, 2013 7:31 pm

    Violetyoshi – BWAHAHAHA!!! Dude you crack me up!!

  4. Dizzyd permalink
    July 16, 2013 8:10 pm

    Answers to all the oh-so-clever (sarcasm) playground taunts of the 5 year-olds who make up Huffpo’s fan base:
    – A whale is a sea mammal. Fat ppl don’t live in the sea. Don’t confuse inanity with truth.
    – Did you see any thin ppl in WALL-E? (My fave movie, btw!) Didn’t think so.
    – No excuses for being stupid exc. you are!
    – Boy are you original. (sarcasm)
    – I refuse to do activities with stupid ppl whose only experience with ‘obese’ (sic) ppl is the one they made up in their heads cuz they obviously never ran across a real one.
    – What can I say about this one? They practically hang themselves with this rope! ‘Stupidity and ignorance shouldn’t be accepted’- and yet somehow these idiots are allowed to run wild. Well, my thought is if they can be tossed a bone and their stupidity tolerated by society the way a tantrum-throwing brat is coddled by an over-indulgent parent, we should be allowed to freely live our lives as well.

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