“Fatosphere” has good, bad points

By Anita Doberman: CNJ Columnist

I recently stumbled upon an interesting article in the New York Times about something called the fatosphere.

Yes, those who inhabit this corner of cyberspace insist on calling it the fatosphere, where fat is in, or at least not as out as it used to be. The people who frequent this space are writers, bloggers, regular “fat” people who want a place to vent, and visitors like me. Some of these blogs are hilarious.

The writers get straight to the point and tell it like it is. There is no room for polite comments and politically correct phrases, but there is lots of spice and truth. The language can be a bit strong but the message is powerful: writers urge “fat” people to stop hating their bodies and instead start accepting themselves for who they are. They say give up chasing weight and just enjoy life. Big is good.

Harriet Brown, from Harriet Brown.com endorses the “I love my body” pledge — we should all do it no matter how thin or big we are. Writers of rotund.com remind us “Thin people die, too” and urge you to “love your fat self.”

I think the fatosphere is great. Overweight people calling me on my assumption (diet and exercise equals fitness) is a necessary wake-up call. I am not walking in other people’s shoes so I don’t know how hard it is for someone who has always struggled with weight. Kudos to these writers for questioning our assumptions about weight or appearance or even status.
Spaces like the fatosphere are supposed to question people’s assumptions. There are many mommy-spheres out there and military-spheres where we hopefully question other’s assumptions about what it’s like to be a military family in time of war and peace or what it’s like to have many children (soon to be six, for example).

However, immersion in these spheres means risking going overboard. I know I sometimes identify with a group or idea, and before I know it, I start marginalizing not just opinions I disagree with, but even facts I don’t like. For example, I recently read that stay-at-home moms have a hard time getting back to work after their children are grown, and my reaction was to shrug it off as inaccurate, until I stepped back and gave the data some thought. We can be so interested in fighting the other guy’s propaganda, that we end up swallowing our own without chewing.

Same for the fatoshpere. When bloggers go as far as saying that obesity doesn’t lead to health problems or that being fit doesn’t improve health, it’s a bit skewed. It’s hard to stay objective when we care deeply about something, such as the fatosphere’s real pain over the fact that overweight people are often discriminated against. So it’s easy to get emotionally involved and intentionally overlook or disregard competing, mainstream facts that are often true.

No matter which sphere we are in, it’s tough to stay objective, but it’s important to remember that sometimes the other side may have some good points.

Anita Doberman is a freelance writer, mother of five and wife of an Air Force pilot stationed at Hurlburt AFB in Florida. The family expects to be moving to Cannon Air Force Base in the next year. Contact her at:
anita@anitadoberman.com

Anita Doberman is a freelance writer, mother of five and wife of an Air Force pilot stationed at Hurlburt AFB in Florida. The family expects to be moving to Cannon Air Force Base in the next year. Contact her at: anita@anitadoberman.com