Archive for February, 2011

The All Bodies Directory (Australia)

All Bodies Directory (Australia) logo

Not too long ago, the radiant Kath and the fab Bec spoke to Triple J’s Hack about their experiences, as fat people, with health care professionals (the story is ace, go listen). As part of their research, producer and host Tom Tilley called me to see if I had a list of body positive doctors. I didn’t.

I realised what a massive gap this is. Going to get a check-up, a consultation or a pap smear can be a hugely stressful event for a fat person. Finding a GP, a psychologist or an OB/GYN that won’t stigmatise your body is primarily down to luck.

So I’ve set up the All Bodies Directory (Australia)http://allbodies.wordpress.com. This is a site that will collate health care professionals from across Australia who treat all bodies carefully and respectfully. Listings will be organised by state, by regions and by specialisations. I want this to be a really valuable resource for the fat community.

The site will rely on user submissions, so if you know a body positive health care professional anywhere in Australia, please please please email me at corpulent.blog@gmail.com. Make sure you include the following information:

Name:
Area (e.g. GP, psychologist, OB/GYN):
Private or public:
Contact number:
Address:
Comments (optional):

The site is brand new (and I mean brand new; I thought of it this arvo), so if you have any suggestions or feedback please leave me a comment here or over at All Bodies.

Is Frances OK?

Until I did that interview with Hack, I had no idea that so many people out there were so heavily invested in my wellbeing. This is just a sample of the ~500 comments the story got on Triple J’s facebook page:

“Can she run 5km?… What are her cholesterol levels?… Does she still get a period (many obese women do not due to their size and are unable to conceive)?”

“Id like to hear what her diet and exercise regime is if she feels so healthy.”

“Frances needs to wait until she’s a bit older and suffering from osteathritis, unable to move due to the risk of her excessive body weight shattering her bones”

“Are Frances’ parents happy with her health/size? Are they happy with their own?”

“While Frances may not feel unhealthy, she is not doing herself any favours long term.”

“imagine how good she would feel if she was healthy and not obese then!”

“If she is technically obese then the reality is she is unhealthy wether she feels that way or not.”

“Being a fattie for 10 years till last year I lost my 14kgs of weight and feel great! Maybe Frances should do the same.”

“Frances may not feel unhealthy, but unfortunately, if she’s obese because of excessive fat mass and too little muscle mass, then the reality is that her body is not healthy.”

“she can feel fine with her body if she wants to but she’s not going to live past 50″

YOU GUYS. I AM SO TOUCHED.

Under normal circumstances I would be totally creeped out if a strange man living in another country was thinking about my untimely death, or if an unknown woman was speculating about the regularity of my menstrual cycle. But this is different. This is borne from an unselfish and unwavering concern for my precious, precious health.

After all my ranting about weight stigma and thin privilege, it never occurred to me that these people actually loved me. Why else would they care about my parents’ approval of me? Or the details of my food intake and physical activity? Why else would they ignore my lived experience to insist that I am not living my life to the fullest? Their concern is not a general ‘I care about my community’ sort of thing; they genuinely want to know microscopic details about my life.

Some cynical folk may try to say that comments like these are intrusive and offensive. And maybe that’s true of some, as Triple J did have to explicitly state that personal attacks on me would not be tolerated. Fortunately, however, others have been able to recognise that it’s all just a bit of tough love:

“[H]ave any of you ‘no fat chicks’-type commenters (excluding anyone who is genuinely concerned about people like Frances) thought about the impact of your comments?” (emphasis mine)

See? That woman knows that most were just being cruel to be kind.

Please know, random facebook folk, that I truly appreciate your concern. Unfortunately, I’m pretty busy and I don’t think that I have room for all of you in my life. I have a full-time job, a relationship, a great circle of friends I don’t see nearly enough, a family, a social life and an internet life. I just don’t have the energy to constantly reassure a few hundred people that I’m doing alright. But it is clear to me that, without this reassurance, you are going to keep fussing over whether my femur has shattered into a million pieces due to the sheer bulk of my arse.

To put everyone at ease, I have created a twitter: @IsFrancesOK. That way, no matter where you are or how little you actually know me, you can see daily updates about how I am faring. No longer will you have to spend sleepless nights worrying about whether I’ve developed Type II diabetes or if I’ve suddenly died as the result of a massive heart attack.

You’re welcome, babies. I love you too.

Fat on the air

Yesterday, I was interviewed on Triple J’s Hack program. For those of you outside Australia, Triple J is the national youth radio station. It’s part of the government funded Australian Broadcasting Corporation, it plays a lot of alternative music not heard on commercial radio, it fosters unsigned Aussie talent and it’s generally very cool. Hack is their current affairs program.

For context: On Wednesday, the Heart Foundation and the Cancer Councils in Australia released the results of their National Secondary Students’ Diet and Activity survey. The research surveyed 12,000 students in years eight to 11 across 237 schools to determine their dietary and physical activity behaviours. The research memos can be found here and they make for some interesting reading.

Unfortunately (unsurprisingly?), the conclusions the organisations drew from the research fixated on the inevitable, detrimental effects of obesity. Despite finding that adolescents across the board weren’t meeting the recommended amounts of fruit/veg intake or the recommended levels of physical activity, the organisations chose to recommend the implementation of a “comprehensive obesity strategy”. Cancer Council Australia CEO, Professor Ian Olver, even trotted out the tired old line “We may see today’s teenagers die at a younger age than their parents generation for the first time in history” (an unnecessarily alarmist statement that has never been supported by any evidence).

This story got a run on Hack and, being the enterprising young go-getter that I am, I wrote to host Tom Tilley in the hopes of getting on the show to present an alternative, fat positive view. It worked like a charm! I even dragged in the coolest academic on the block, Dr Samantha Thomas, to provide some academic rigour to the proceedings.

Click here to check out the story on Hack. (I bloody love that the title is ‘Fat Defenders’ as it makes me sound like a superhero.) I sound Very Serious in this interview because I was sweating bullets. (My nerves were not helped by the fact that Lindsay MacDougall, the object of my deep pubescent desire when I was 14, was recording in the booth next door.) It’s mainly Fat Acceptance 101 stuff, but it’s amazing how contentious the idea ‘fat people are people too’ can be.

This whole thing is a pretty big deal for me. Triple J is awesome and this was my first go at live radio. (Luckily, Tom and the Hack crew are ace. Thank you again, guys!)

As is my way, I spent the entire night after the interview thinking about all the things I should have said. Above all else, I wish I had said this:

Even if all fat people are the way they are due to their bad choices, even if every single fat person is unhealthy, that does not justify sub-standard treatment. How can the health of strangers possibly inspire such vitriol? If you remain convinced that others’ bodies are your business and that people must justify their existence to you, perhaps you should consider the possibility that you are an arsehole.

We have a(nother) winner!

Last week, my Antipodean only By Ro Designs giveaway (take two) closed. According to the the all-knowing of Random.org, the winner of the giveaway is…

Comment 29

Congratulations, JoJo! I’ll put you in touch with Ro to organise your brand new cossie. A big fat thank you to everyone who entered (and extra love for those that entered twice).

(Remember darlings, there’s still free shipping to Australia and New Zealand on all By Ro items, but only until the end of the month.)


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