I read this article today: http://www.theveganrd.com/2012/04/body-shaming-fails-vegans-and-vegan-advocacy.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+TheVeganDietitian+%28The+Vegan+Dietitian%29 It covers the issue of using body-shaming tactics in advertising. It got me thinking of the tactics used by organizations like PCRM and PETA, and their vilification of obese/overweight individuals. A lot of vegans and vegetarians have been expressing complaints that they are rejected from the vegan/vegetarian community if they are the slightest bit overweight, outright or subtly. The stories range from refusing to provide larger shirt sizes at conferences, to insisting that they must secretly be eating animal products behind closed doors as a gluttonous slob in order to carry around excess weight.
The letter in the article from Dr. Barnard is particularly enlightening- you get the impression that if you are overweight and vegan, you should step out of the way so as not to set a bad example.
I know paleo has had it's missteps with sexism when being represented by the media (summarized here: http://huntgatherlove.com/content/rant-alert-sexism-and-paleo ). I don't always have my ear to the ground on all the paleo blogs and websites out there (ya'll write so much), but I was wondering if paleo is at danger of having the same trend happen to it. As we gain popularity and critical mass, will we be represented only if we are good looking (or at least a little "wild eyed")? The recent burst of pro-real-female-bodies in response to a statement that female paleo-ers just don't look as fit is heartening to see, but I worry that it might be a dark sign of judgement that is soon to come.
Have you ever gotten the "step aside" impression that sidelines individuals that don't have the "perfect paleo body"? Do you worry that you cannot "represent" paleo if you aren't at peak physical conditon? Is the risk of being judged by the media as an unsafe or fad diet tended towards representing paleos only with fit individuals (or, at the very least, a good set of before and after photos)?
I think because we are outside the mainstream, we tend to be more careful of what we say. I have a friend who is great, but his girlfriend is a dietician. ALL THE TIME she makes quips about how dangerous things like cheese/bacon/butter are and how they make you fat. At a potluck a girl made some crumble thing and she was talking about how much butter she used. Dietician!girl is like "OMG thanks for telling me! You have to be really careful with these things."
Last night I met a random woman who was smugly telling me all about how Americans are all going to die because meat is making us fat. I hadn't even told her I was into paleo or anything. She had just met me. Can you imagine the reaction I'd get if I said things like like that about wheat or cereal? I mean it's humbling to be outside the norm. But I see smugness creeping in.
Me? Since I don't go around telling other people what to do or pretending I have all the answers, I don't have to worry about representing anything.
I think that because paleo and veg*nism both are associated with "health" trends there's a lot of focus on how externally healthy followers of those lifestyles look. Personally, I believe there's a lot more to health than the perfect body. Lord knows I don't have the perfect physique after having two kids and recovering from a long-standing eating disorder. It is very dangerous to both movements, really, to shame people for body size/shape--especially since both groups claim to look past that and be welcoming to new people.
Re: the dichotomy of having pro-real-woman and also anti-fat conversations within the vegan community and possibility of such in the paleo community. I see it now, and I don't like it. Maybe, again, it's because we've got the goal of "health". Maybe not. But when I was vegan I saw a boatload of judgment against some prominent vegans because they weren't skinny and classically pretty from the same people who claimed that they were healthier than all meat eaters because they were vegan. I have noticed some of that within the paleo community as well. A false acceptance of "people of all sizes and shapes" while in the background there's some serious judgment happening. I hope it doesn't go that way.
For me? I don't look as skinny or "pretty" as I did when I ran 50+ miles/week and ate nothing. But I also don't suffer from debilitating anxiety or suicidal tendencies anymore, either. However, it sucks pretty hard to be called fat when I wear a size 6-8 and can deadlift well over 200 lbs. (It's happened.) If that starts happening, I'll officially not be part of any "community" any longer. Just like I left the vegan community long before I ceased eating a vegan diet.
I think many lifestyles get smacked around every once in a while - growing pains, media, et al. I'm Ninja about my lifestyle but if directly asked for some reason I'll talk about it - but instead of using Paleo I prefer saying "I eat whole foods" as it makes the conversation, I've found, to be more fruitful. I've had too many arguments about tubers to count - boring.
I'm not a doctor but have self diagnosed myself with: Feel Good/Look Good/Healthy syndrome which I think supersedes everything else. I have other things to worry about than what the media says unless it's an article slamming a movie I really wanted to see.
Weird, I was just thinking about this yesterday and saw that link. That ad makes me shiver!
Veganism and paleo are reactionary movements, right? We've looked out onto the way people currently live their lives propped up by medications, suffering from various chronic illnesses, unable to run up a flight of stairs, or are weak from dieting attempts. Because we don't exist in a cultural vacuum, the way the media conflates obesity with all these modern ailments seems to be central to many food movements, including paleo/ancestral health. However, we're pretty good considering the world we live in. There are lots of people on here who have spoken up about body shaming/assuming what body type is ideal (the 'Women's bodies' post), and many users have come to paleo last, disillusioned with past experiences and just looking for improved quality of life.
I was scouring the fat acceptance tumblr movement, and there seems to be a significant outcry against this sort of body shaming within veganism. Like others have said, veganism's popularity is not helping- you get the PETA-types who use thin models in lettuce leaves and support the snarky paradigm of thinsexyVegan!/fatSADmeateatingslob. This idea is everywhere and no one is immune. Comparing my experience as a vegan to now, I see that folks used to treat me as if I was a healthy eater, and explain my body type as a result of my diet. Now they look at my food and assure me it'll 'catch up with me' one of these days...
It makes me mad that vegans who feel strongly about the cause are alienated because they don't fit the mould. I think paleo might have more trouble with this as it gets more popular. We're all so afraid of being sick and unfit that we idealise the fit crossfitter with glowing skin. But we all have different goals and it's not about becoming a dashing muscular Adonis all the time. For example, I just want to fix my digestive issues, be more energetic and feel better mentally. I know that in the vegan world, especially the raw vegan world, being obese is a starting point and it is assumed you don't want to stay there. But I think people go on diets for all kinds of reasons and if a fat vegan is trying to do something good for the planet or heal their digestive issues, it's not cool that they get that "Why aren't you skinny? I thought vegans were skinny" attitude.
I totally respect the body image stuff that came out of Paleo FX, but I just can't identify where the perceived criticism is coming from. I can't help but feel that it's coming from an internal source of insecurity that is then being externalized or projected. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I just haven't seen any direct salvos against Paleo women being unfit or unworthy of Paleo representation.
Because, honestly, I was at Paleo FX and I thought it was great to see folks of all types, shapes, and ages there. We all have different issues and different starting points, and it broke my heart to know that so many women felt anxiety about it.
I find Paleo to be, on the whole, pretty woman-friendly. The Crossfit community in particular because they shift the attention from image to capability, strength, and accomplishment. That's pretty awesome.
But I'm also troubled by a reactionary response to the "criticism." Forgive the rant to come, but it drives me nuts that everyone is so freaked out about miraculously causing someone to contract anorexia that they don't want to talk about what is SO MUCH MORE of a problem, that of obesity. Obesity is by far the biggest health threat we face as a society and even if you don't want to get involved for health reasons, we're already all being hit in the pocketbook. I just find it unproductive to refuse to discuss obesity rationally. The idea that you can be healthy at any weight really troubles me, not least because it's not about weight at all, is it?
Paleo folks are all here for their reasons. And by-and-large, I think it fuels a sense of compassion amongst everyone here. I hope so, at least.
I switched from being vegetarian of ten years to paleo precisely because of weight - I found myself struggling to eat enough and filling up on starches, grains, tubers, bread, pasta, and found that was pretty antithetical to my post-baby weight loss goals.
I imagine whatever diet you choose, there's a healthy way to go about it and an unhealthy way, and I support any diet that a person finds that helps them maintain a healthy life.
Communities that turn on themselves (not just turn on its leaders and celebrities) are at a stage of unhealthiness. Paleo hasn't been around that long to suffer that yet to have self-appointed guardians of community image enforcing community norms of shaming and shunning.
Maybe give it time . . . but I hope to heck it never happens, seeing there is so much less of a political/ideological angle to it, I don't see how it could. But we'll see.
It seems as though it's started to surface in the Paleo community...with the comments comparing the men and women at PaleoFX. I think any diet/lifestyle that bills itself as healthy eventually gets this criticism because the obesity epidemic paranoia has associated health with thinness...and that is in no way a clean association. It's kind of a crazy place we live in now, idolizing thinness and fitness, shaming those who don't fit those ideals, while also criticizing those who we deem too thin or too muscular regardless of the person's actual health.
How to address it? Next time anyone hints that my thighs are too fat and my arms are too muscular, I'm going to say, "Forget the package, check out how healthy my contents are!"
lol just a thought a woman on a group I am in, told me "have fun cooking the tapeworms out of rawmeat." I just had to laugh, that was all i could do. Some people are entertainment in such away they have no clue what they are talkign about. I love this one vegan page where they put a cancer patient up some famous dude and he is vegan. I feel bad for the guy, but antinutrients and not being careful of toxins from the environment will do that to a person. Which is healthier Vegans or Paleo? I think Paleo.
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