A wonderful post about assumption

January 25, 2007 at 8:44 PM (Able Bodied Antics, Assumptions, On Being Fat) (, )

Is here., and made me think about my own frames about communication and realized that I need to broaden my perception of how communication happens and what constitutes facile communication…and, it also jogged my memory the assumptions folks can make about my impairments.

1. “I know bunches of people with CP who drive…you should drive [Subtext: “She doesn’t want to drive and she really could and she won’t because she’s lazy and likes having people run her around.]

Um no. My depth perception and lack of much clear peripheral vision in the right eye are “off” enough for me to have no sense of lenghth of the vehicle or be in danger of anyone who wanted to come up on my right. My reflexes are further shot since the chemo…just no.

I live in the freakin’ Rockies…with some of the best scenic driving around in the other three quarters of the year…do you think that if I *could* drive through Rocky Mountain National Park, that I wouldn’t *beg* for that license?

Wake UP!

2. “You’re smart, so you’re not really disabled…why are you asking for all this help?”

Smart gets you 50 cents and a cup of coffee at Denny’s. If the physical plant of an entertainment venue, a job, a school, a rec facility, a church etc etc…is not wheelchair accessible, or is only minimally so…I have to go collaborate immediately with those in charge to work to find an acceptable solution. *That’s not whining!* It’s necessary.

3. “I could never live like that.” [Subtext: I don’t want to, no one should so let’s minimize the validity of that life, that particular experience]

It’s amazing what you find you can do, because you must do it. So don’t tell me the strategies I use to live my life are “impossible.” It’s your imagination that has limits on it, placed there by fear

4. “I don’t understand how you can possibly [insert activity here].”

And, I don’t have time to explain how I can possibly [insert activity here.]

And the most annoying assumption of all. Running through some abled’s strangers heads, never really spoken:

“Simply because you are 1. Disabled and 2. Fat, that means the clothes you wear, the food you eat, the things you like, the workarounds you do, your dating life, your recreational habits, your spirituality, your relationships with friends or family…are all open for me the abled to poke my nose in *and pontificate* about things that are….(wait for it)…actually none of my business, personal things I would *never* offer an opinon or judgement about to an able and /or thin person.”

The only thing right about *that* of course is that how any one individual with impairments or any group of people handle their impairments is, very very often: None of an able stranger’s business.

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A "Journalist" actually got paid [Updated!]

August 28, 2006 at 12:19 PM (Idiocy, On Being Fat)

to write this

I found this via Big Fat Blog.

And unfortunately for me and for the “journalist” in question, this was the original text that generated my answer

Are you a fatty? Want to be in a book? Waddle over to a computer, grab your typing stick (those sausage fingers hit too many keys at once, don’t they?), go to stacybias.net, and fill out the contact form for your chance to contribute to Bias’ FatGirl Speaks, a short-fiction anthology inspired by her event of same name.

I then emailed the editor:

Karla Starr, one of your reporters obviously thinks fat people haven’t been treated like acceptable scapegoats for *everything.*, society’s losers for long enough . Obviously she feels writing like the paragraph above is appropriate language to use describing to anyone who is overweight. She felt that in order to promote author Stacy Bias’ project she had to say this.

Here’s my answer included in the email and cc:d to the reporter:

Are you a fatty?

Yes and I’ve been working to be Healthy At Any Size (HAES to the uninitiated) since I was 17. I’m 44 now.

Want to be in a book?

Possibly, as long as Karla Starr won’t be one of the contributors. I don’t want my story mangled by the arrogant, nasty, ignorant, egregiously stupid prose above that you make the mind numbing mistake of paying her to write.

Waddle over to a computer,

Fat people, like thin people *Walk* to their computers.

grab your typing stick (those sausage fingers hit too many keys at once, don’t they?)

Oh. Okay. Demean fat people with the “sausage” remark *and* piss off those of us with disabilities for which typing sticks are important tools to level the playing field.

Yeah I’m a dual eligible. A heavyset woman with disabilities I’ve had from birth.

go to stacybias.net, and fill out the contact form for your chance to contribute to Bias’ FatGirl Speaks, a short-fiction anthology inspired by her event of same name.

Now, this paragraph shows some promise. She should have stuck with the facts (name of website, name of anthology.) It might have gotten her a C- passing grade in any Journalism 101 Class. Because, while factual, that paragraph, like the rest of the sewage in the piece, shows not an ounce of creativity, inspiration, positive humor, or a sense of who Stacy’s (the author of the project, not the author of this ridiculous blurb) target audience really are–human beings of any size worthy of respect because they are human.

Update 6:05 pm MDT:

Karla Starr has sent me a letter. There are a number of reasons I will not publish it here…a nearly identical response did get published in the comments to the post over at Big Fat Blog

I’m going to try and be as fair as I can without going so far as to publish her response. My reasons for not publishing it will become clear.

First, from my side I’ll admit to a vitriol in tone that far outweighed the importance of what anyone thought about that piece. So, for about a fifth of the intensity of my response, I apologize. Also it takes courage to admit an error, and if what I received is genuine, I admire her for having been forthright about her mistake.

Ms. Starr’s letter seems effusive….she makes a point of several items:

One: When written, Ms. Starr thought the piece “sarcastic” and “funny”

Two: She (and by implication her superiors), expected laughter rather than rage.

Three: She put down some of it to her own body issues.

Four: She apologized at length

… but this is the reason I’m not comfortable publishing it.

On the Internets, and email, there is always a difficulty regarding the tone of an email. On the surface it “reads” as genuine upset and a conciliatory move in the right direction…And, I’ll allow that I could be completely offbase with my cynical mistrust of same.

This could be a genuine “lightbulb” moment for the editor of the paper and perhaps Ms. Starr as well. I hope so.

But, there were ostensibly editors and controls in place that would have reviewed the original before it went out….So if someone put together this lovely piece of writing in order to avoid any more pointed verbal darts being directed at the Willamette Weekly, and those who report therefrom…

*While* they were writing it, if they continued to mentally snicker behind their hands at the project they discussed and the fat persons involved…

On the off chance that they are now merely continuing to believe and disseminate privately what they eschew publicly in a well written apology, then if I published her apology, I’d be just another candidate for “Ha! She actually *bought* that fairytale…You owe me a beer!” etc.

Fool me once…shame on you.

Fool me twice. Shame on me.

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I’ll be here ’til I’m not.

May 28, 2006 at 7:32 PM (cancer, On Being Fat) ()

Every so often (more often than I like) I have to wrestle with people who mean well.

I was a person who ate too much of what is known as “junk food.” That was at least three years gone, and possibly further back than that. By 1998 I realized I was severely lactose intolerant and that caffeinated soda (yes, diet sodas too) made me almost as ill as milk did.

Now, I don’t have “junk food” in my house, because my roomate is a type II diabetic.

Also, due to a medical condition, the things I ought to eat are rather limited, cutting across what the rest of the world sees as “bad” (Limit servings of high sugar, high fat food because I get ill if I don’t. ), as well as quite a few foods that the world cannot believe aren’t “healthy,” for me, (only allowed to eat small servings at the end of the meal of: raw or cooked veggies, items high in whole grain, citric acid or tomato based sauces, or fruit) and rarely or *never* (foods high in insolulble fiber, nuts, seeds, or fruit with seeds in it like strawberries, popcorn, caffienated drinks, dairy without Lactaid, [milk, milk based sauces, milk in baked goods, cheeses,yogurt, ice cream. ] Provided I have Lactaid with me, a single slice of cheese on a sandwich or a small amount of milk used in cooking a sauce or baked good is fine, but I have to be paranoid about labels or recipes.

I’m still extremely overweight and likely to remain that way. But, my health is good, my blood pressure low.

To everyone who when seeing me, feels they *must* weigh in (shudder.)

I’m not stupid, and I know what my family history contains, in terms of health problems. Unlike some others I can look them in the face and admit to them in public.

I’ll be here till I’m not, and if I can figure out a way to schedule some exersize, (Work makes me tired, and I find it extremely hard to motivate myself to do more than that eight hour shift…) perhaps continue to come down more than the forty pounds I’ve already lost.

I can’t stress this enough.

I’ll be here ’til I’m not. That’s okay. Really.

I wasn’t expected to survive when I was born with bad vision and cerebral palsy. I did.

I was married to someone with a terminal illness I could have caught myself. I didn’t catch it because I can read labels on prophylactics and I was quite lucky.

I had cancer. I had to take medicine that made me gain 100 pounds to *survive* as part of my chemotherapy.I’ve survived more than fifteen years since my diagnosis, and more than 14 years since my last appointment with my hometown oncologist when he said I was in remission.

I’m still here, and I really wish family and friends would focus on the full part of the glass, rather than *their* expectations I have not met.

I’ll be here ’till I’m not, and if you’re not happy with how I’m handling now, that’s your problem.

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Unfriendly Skies

April 25, 2006 at 5:17 PM (Fat, On Being Fat, Sizism, Travel and Accessibility)

First, no real food on a plane

Then, if you’re a big person you must pay for twice the room on some airlines…

Now, apparently if this is implemented *the seats themselves* will cost more, be *optional* or be gone alltogether.

Has *any* bright boy tried to spin this move that effectively *bans those who cannot stand* from flying???

I’ve contacted Airbus. We’ll see if I am answered.

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