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Sarah Hrdy has some insightful things to say about innate biological differences. Here's a bit from Mother Nature: "“What magnifies small differences into major divisions of labor? The simplest answer is that people do, by following the path of least resistance. As Ed Wilson put it, “At birth the twig is already bent a little bit.” Where natural inclinations lead depends on how much effort is expended bending them back. Among humans, conscious effort can minimize preexisting differences. More often, small initial differences in responsiveness are exaggerated by life experiences and then blown out of all proportion by cultural customs and norms. … So the mother is more sensitive to infant needs than the father. So what? Who cares? And that’s just the point. The act of caring has its own consequences—habits of mind and emotion. When we get down to the “underlying mysteries” that George Eliot called attention to, the causes of difference can be just that simple….Just because the mother is more readily galvanized to respond to infant demands does not mean that fathers are not able to do so, or that they cannot become adequate caretakers, “good enough” caretakers, or that baby primates cannot form primary attachments to a male. Rather, a seemingly insignificant difference in thresholds for responding to infant cues gradually, insidiously, step by step, without invoking a single other cause, produces a marked division of labor by sex.
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I'm not an old-timer or major player in FA by any means and can't speak for everyone, but I BASICALLY agree with your first manifesto. With some important caveats: 1. You allude to or imply this at times, but it's really important so it needs to be stated clearly: Health is not a moral imperative. Society should try to make sure that the tools to be healthy are widely available, but it doesn't have the right to demand that we take particular actions "for our own good". 2. I'm not sure that this part would be related to the cause of Fat Acceptance/Fat Positive: "We passionately support healthy eating and exercise programs for children, since fatness in children can cause even more long-term harm than it does in adults... and is easier to address as well, at an age when set points and eating/exercise habits are more malleable. And we oppose the American food-industrial complex's use of psychological manipulation to sell excessive amounts of unhealthy, highly- processed, non- nutritious food, and their prioritization of profit over all other concerns." For the kids part, my biggest problem is that the primary "because" shouldn't be that it will change the kids' weights--my understanding is that the mainstream scientific consensus is that being fat with healthy habits is healthier than being thin with poor habits. So making the primary reason for those things being thin, rather than because they're good in and of themselves, elevates size above actual health. (At least some FA blogs have basically stated, "I would love Michelle Obama's Let's Move! program if she just said that we should help kids eat healthy and move more, instead of always connecting them to weight loss.") For the psychological manipulation part, that's bad, but I'm not sure it is "on topic" for Fat Acceptance/Size Acceptance. I'm noticing a very different description of Fat Acceptance/Size Acceptance/Fat Liberation/Fat Positive Movement on other websites than what I actually read on Fat Acceptance blogs. I suppose that a large part of it is that, as Greta Christina explicitly says, she's talking about the parts that she has a problem with, not trying to accurately describe the most common viewpoints. ["Many fat-positive advocates insist... Others insist... Still others insist..." That basically adds up to "some", not "most" or "all".] And some of it is probably that people who go comment on blogs not dedicated to FA will be different and have more of a feeling of anonymity than people actually doing a FA blog. I can't help feeling like this movement is held to a different standard--both compared to other movements, and compared to the average person who's not part of the Fat Acceptance movement. I don't think that "magazine math" and "anyone can lose weight" is scientifically valid, either. Don't even get me started on the use of BMI as the measure of first and last resort for INDIVIDUALS by people who should know better (doctors).
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In Sam's example, "Should attempts like mine be read as successes--I lost 60 lbs and kept it off for 3 years, and even now have kept the other 30 off for 7 years--or failures?" I don't know about "should", but my understanding is that for most weight-loss studies, as long as one has not gained back the entire amount of weight lost during the study period, it is counted as "success".
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Nov 15, 2010