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Does the Big Fat Blog Belong Here?

We received an email the other day from a reader upset that we had Big Fat Blog listed in our blogroll. It wasn't that she didn't like BFB. She liked it quite a bit, she said. She herself was "moderately fat." She had a disability, too, she wrote.

But being fat isn't a disability, she said, and she thought having it listed on our site would give folks the wrong impression.

In other words, it would make folks think being fat was a disability. When it wasn't, she said.

This is certainly not the first time we've heard from people who insist on this kind of "distancing." Many -- maybe even most -- culturally Deaf people -- bristle at being joined with "the disabled." Being Deaf is a cultural thing, not a disability, they say.

But... but...

Fat people face as much if not more stigma and oppression from society's attitudes than do many people with the "typical" disabilities that create wheelchair users and service-dog users and white cane users. Society certainly perceives fat people as disabled, and it goes further by blaming them for their situation.

It seemed to us at Ragged Edge that the commonality of oppression was reason enough -- plus it's a darn good blog! We know some people want to use the Americans with Disabilities Act to fight discrimination based on size issues -- such as the Southwest Airlines policy requiring fat people to purchase two seats.

But it's a contentious issue and it remains contentious -- because, it seems, many fat people, rather than wanting to band together to face a common oppressor, think that disability is even more stigmatizing -- too awful to be associated with. That calling fat a disability somehow denigrates proud fat people. Making"disabled" thus the ultimate negative, the ultimate "thing to not be."

It would be interesting to get folks' opinions on all this.


The term obese sounds better than fat.
I do agree though.....that society looks down on big people.
Having have big people in my family I can certainly understand how they feel.
There are many police departments that demand/require their police officers to be "fit". Some departments have sought termination of these officers.
Being obese can lead to discrimination. But it is NOT a disability. Unless of course, being obese is caused by an underlining medical condition. And if the person suffers from employment discrimination or other forms of discrimination like being charged for two seats on a plane..... that issue can lead to an ADA violation. So its really a two edged sword.

Grouch. Grump. Bristle.

I got a bit snarky over there being both fat and disabled...what's it about..."I can be hurt by having my body judged negatively, but I won't make common ground with others who face similar judgments?"

Like the t-shirt says, "Same struggle --- different difference"...

Indeed, imfunnytoo, I'm with you.

There's a whole "blame" factor going on when I hear disabled people distancing ourselves from fat people. "We're innocent," we say, but those people are fat because they "brought it on themselves."

There are two problems with this line of thinking.

  • Us PWDs aren't all "innocent". Many impairments are acquired through our own actions. The #1 cause of spinal cord injury is male-pattern foolishness.

  • Many "obese" people are socially created. The very notion of body mass index (BMI), which is currently used to create the categories of obesity and overweight, has no, none, zilch scientific underpinning.

  • Paul Campos' book, The Obesity Myth (the paperback is titled The Diet Myth) is as brain-opening a book as Make Them Go Away. Campos convinced me that obesity and overweight are as socially constructed as disability. Who gets the "obese" label is dependant on race and class issues, as well as the scale or the tape measure.

    Read Campos' book before deciding that fatness isn't a disability. Making common cause will certainly benefit those fat people without impairments and those disabled people who are thin.

    I'm also fat and disabled.

    I've noticed the same thing in the autistic community. I've gotten into arguments lately because people have been saying it's degrading to identify as disabled, because autistic people are this certain way, not that certain way,, and want to be treated this certain way, not that certain way.

    And of course, the "this certain way" and "that certain way" stuff are all things that pertain to the disability movement.

    I've heard the same thing in the mad pride movement. Distancing from "disabled" people, etc, trying to prove it's "not a disability" to be crazy.

    I notice that when people do this, they always attribute all kinds of things to the notion of "a disability" that the disability community has been fighting for a long time...

    As for obese vs. fat, obese sounds medical, fat sounds factual, as far as I'm concerned. But I've never been one for euphemisms.


    I don't think being fat is a disability. That doesn't mean there isn't stigma. But there's stigma to being underweight too...the next person who calls me "anorexic" is going to find out exactly how much muscle I HAVE.

    There's also the Issue of some people who have a tendancy to gain weight easily just...ah...helping it along to get SSDI, should obesity in and of itself become considered a disabling condition. That's not cool, because for MOST overweight/obese people diet and exercise does quite a bit of good, any idiot with a blue book can see if someone is obese (therefore speeding up their claim while complicated people wait 10 months), and they're setting themselves up for some nasty health problems. Not worth it to stop working, but I've known people who'd do it.

    Discriminated against =/= disability. At least not in my humble opinion.

    I officially have a crush on Jesse the K.

    I'm fat/disabled. A medical condition (PCOS) predisposed me to being "big". Injury made me disabled. Being disabled limited my mobility and made me fat. Being fat limited my mobility further and made my limited mobilty even more limited. I can't separate the discrimination I face and the accomodation I need between fat and disabled. But I can say that the intolerance and stigma for being fat is worse and that I blame the disability community in part for that.

    Kassiane, are you aware that if you are fat enough, it does interfere with the standard performance of some pretty simple activities of daily living?

    I hate to put it that way, because I don't believe in the concept of "a disability" as that kind of noun, let alone that particular impairment-based definition, but the above is true.

    It's not as simple as "eat well and exercise". It is healthy to eat well and exercise, no matter what your weight. Weight-loss diets tend not to be healthy, a lot of the problems "caused" by "obesity" are actually caused by dieting and the weight fluctuations that go with that.

    I used to be very skinny, and a period on neuroleptics combined with a period of near-starvation changed that. But I have a problem with the whole idea that I should even have to justify my size to anyone, whereas, as someone else pointed out, a lot of spinal cord injuries are caused by people engaging in risk-taking behaviors I have never engaged in.

    I don't really think that the SSDI scenario is all that realistic, either. (Nor would a lot of people be fat enough to qualify for "not being able to work," anyway.)

    I really don't see it as different, and the problems that fat people face go far beyond "stigma". Think inaccessible seating nearly everywhere, needing assistive technology or assistance to do (vital) things most people can do without it, having to pay more to do the same things as other people, etc.

    And that's besides the "stigma" of being thought a lazy slob with no willpower and no desire to be healthy, all of whose health problems are supposedly caused by fat, including ones that have absolutely no relation to being fat, or ones that have the opposite relation one thinks they do. I've had life-threatening health problems overlooked by people who did not even bother with an examination and just said I was clearly fat and lazy and that was the only problem. A relative has had doctors try to blame things like ear infections on weight. I know someone who can't do vigorous exercise because of asthma, and always has to say, "No, it's not that I have asthma because I'm fat, it's that I'm fat because I have asthma."

    There's "stigma," but it goes far beyond "stigma". Being fat is a body type that functions differently from the norm and that society does not make things accessible for in some pretty fundamental ways. If that isn't "disabled," I'm not sure what is. The fact that it's possible for some people (not all) to become fat, and that it's possible for some people (not all) to lose weight, doesn't change that.

    I have two severly overweight people in my life. My Uncle and Godfather, who tips it at about 5 bucks, and my mother, who will probably never tell us where she tips it until it's too late. Now in both their cases, they became big later in life, and in my unlce's case, he continued to get bigger and bigger. I think that these may be circumstances where one can cause their own disability due to poor choices. This is likely a disability, such as the majority of spinal cord injuries, which we could teach people to avoid, but just like spinal cord injuries, not everyone will listen, it's just that simple.

    To get to my point however, why would we treat a fat person, who got that way on their own (not all fat people do) any worse than a physically diabled person who acquired a spinal cord injury on their own?

    I think when you can sort that out appropriately, you really get to the nature of the beast. Which is this, if it doesn't change your life horribly (which being fat can, my uncle has high blood pressure now, and my mom is diabetic) and it's fixable (which being isn't always), then you should "buck up" and take better care of yourself.

    I'm sorry that you don't like that people think you're anorexic Kassiane, but somehow, I'm not sure as many people view that as negatively as most people view fatness and other disabilities.

    Plus, I'm betting you still get dates. Some of these people have a hard time getting friends.

    Something I've noticed with a lot of these things, is that not only don't some people want to be associated with the disability community, but a lot of the (mainstream, powerful) disability community doesn't want to be associated with that kind of disabled person.

    So, some fat people take offense at being described as disabled, and some disabled people take offense at the idea that fat people are disabled. Same goes for autistic people, same goes for crazy people (especially those of us who refuse drugs and institutionalization and medicalization), same goes for cognitively disabled people in general, etc. There's pressure from both sides on many of these things to divide where we shouldn't have to.

    Being severely underweight can be physically disabling, too, of course. It can cause osteoporosis, heart disease, kidney disease, and a weakened immune system among other things. At the more mild end of the spectrum, it makes it very difficult to regulate body temperature and causes muscle weakness which would make certain types of jobs difficult. The main reason there isn't as much stigma attached is that this culture is completely obsessed with modern conceptions of beauty.

    There is often an assumption that the two percent of adult Americans who are underweight must be either neurotic, empty headed 'valley girl' types, using illegal drugs, or suffering from eating disorders. I suspect such assumptions will effect the way medical professionals treat such people, but it probably isn't anywhere near as obvious as it is for those who are severely overweight. (Again, this would be due to modern conceptions of beauty. "Pretty people" almost always get treated better.)

    Still, as someone who is on the more mild end of underweight and always has been, I'd have to say that being overweight or fat is probably more likely to cause negative responses and rude behavior from the general public.


    Yes, I am aware that the fat body type functions differently. So does the can't-hold-weight-to-save-one's-life type. And I think that a lot of the stigma against people who are big/fat/obese/chubby/pick word here is ridiculous. This isn't the first time they've had to expand things, I have a pair of glasses from 100 years ago that'd NEVER fit another adult (yay microcephaly). That was "normal" then.

    Living in a homeless shelter I saw a lot of intentionally unhealthy fat, then being blamed for everything from not following rules about showers and changing clothes to kicking people out of the kitchen to not getting a job to not being able to do chores (that people the same size did just fine, it wasn't backbreaking labor). 3 fried meals a day kind of thing. THAT is intentional. Medication related weight gain starting a vicious cycle like you're talking about, well, isn't (don't hear people lining up for Zyprexa).

    For what it's worth, thin people get things overlooked because of their size too. My personal favorite was the doctor who decided I didn't have a car crash three days before (in spite of glass still wedged just by my eye), I was just anorexic! Still haven't figured that connection out...

    And Matt:
    I wouldn't treat a fat person differently from someone with a spinal cord injury. Damn do they treat me differently though. I'm thin and I can walk (hi. I was secretary for an Illinois disability rights group till they decided I didn't LOOK disabled enough). As far as I'm concerned, people are generic people until they become SPECIFIC people. Welcome to my flavor of autism.

    And that date comment was uncalled for. Not a lot of people lining up to date those of us with intractable seizures, autism, adrenal failure, et cetera. I've known people who were significantly overweight who got more dates in a month than I've had in my life.

    Thank you for an example of the kind of prejudice UNDERWEIGHT people have to go through.

    You call it what you want, but your best bet is to stop taking it personally. Consider this like a forum, a discussion of views. I'm not saying you're a bad person because you're skinny, just like I wouldn't say a fat person is a bad person because they're fat, or any other disabled person is a bad person because they have a disablity. You may think the comment was uncalled for, it was only intened to make the point that obese people ARE treated differently, and as for not treating spinal cord inury victims and fat persons differently. Good for you. Now let's work on getting the rest of the country on board with that. This discussion is not to say that skinny people DON'T face being treated differently, it's to say that obese people DO.

    Commenting on my dateablility actually DOES bring my weight into it, and make it personal. But it's also one of those impossible situations, where if I ignore it it's ok and if I comment on it I'm lumping like with not-like.

    If fat people feel they have a disability that deserves accomodations, I agree with them. There's just places that GOES that can make things extreme. I'm all for bigger seats on airplanes and in movie theaters etc.

    Just like I'm all for ramps. And I'm all for people NOT STARING at those of us who neurologically handwring under stress (or flop on the floor and seize or whatever). And wider aisles. And honestly, I'm for disabled parking for people who have difficulty walking the distance, be it because of weight, flat out inability to walk, or getting so overwhelmed they forget which shop they're going into.

    As someone said above, and this applies to ALL OF US, not just the large or the small or the spinally injured or the autistic or the epileptic or those with degenerative musculoskeletal conditions or any of a million things: Same struggle, different difference.

    Hi, just zipped over here from the Big Fat Blog. I'm one of the people who think that being fat (or "obese") isn't a disability. It's not because I don't want to be associated with the disabled community. It's simply because I'm not disabled.

    If you go to the URL above, there's a web page with pictures from a camping trip I went on a few years ago. My BMI was about 32 at the time (30 is the cutoff for "obesity). I hauled a 55 pound pack around for over a week. There's also a picture of me doing a cartwheel.

    I'm a little heavier now (BMI around 34). I walk to work and back every day -about a mile each way - and occasionally go to Dancefit classes, where I'm usually the biggest participant and have no trouble at all keeping up. I regularly beat my (thin) husband at squash.

    I'm 36, have been fat since I was a kid, and have no health problems. My blood pressure and cholesterol are normal. When single, I don't have trouble getting a date. I'm not aware of having experienced employment discrimination. I fit into most public seating. I'm probably slightly more fit than average.

    I can't buy clothes at regular stores, and I was teased a lot as a kid. Those are the biggest inconveniences my size has caused me. But, that's just social prejudice. It's not about me.

    Please explain how I'm disabled.

    This isn't to say that being fat doesn't start to resemble a disability at very high weights - it does. But, remember that "obesity" is defined by BMI, and a lot of people who are active and healthy - and who may not even look fat to you - are still defined as "obese" by the medical community. Healthy, fit fat people are a big part of the community that BFB serves.

    Ok, I'm weighing in as Ragged Edge editor here:

    Much of the discussion, while good, misses the issue.

    The issue isn't about whether any one individual fat person has "impairments" caused by weight or not.

    The issue is simple: It's about discrimination against people who are fat.

    Fat people in U. S. society, as a group, face bigotry, oppression, discrimination, job discrimination, discrimination on airlines, etc. etc. etc. That's an undisputed fact. They're scorned, attacked in the media, made fun of, ridiculed, cursed, hated. (In fact, there's a new entry right now on Big Fat Blog that explains this quite well. Go read it.)

    That's the commonality. That's why Big Fat Blog is listed on our website.

    It's about discrimination. Bigotry.

    It's very important that we not mix up individual impairment and societal bigotry. A boy whose face has been scarred severely in a fire may have virtually no actual impairment -- perhaps his eyes, nose and mouth still work fine. He'll be scorned by people, avoided. He'll have a hard time getting a job. Schoolmates will shun him, make fun of him.

    That's disability discrimination.

    People who are fat -- as a group -- face discrimination.

    My weight limits me my interaction with society. I have met physical and attitudal limitations that have affected my participation in everyday life. I have experienced discrimination based on my weight as well as my visual limitations.

    I have a hard time understanding the need to differentiate. Sounds somewhat like the book Animal Farm. "Four legs good, two legs bad."

    Is membership in the "disabled club" limited to those meet some contrived criteria? We must find common ground that brings us together in this "club" if we are to have any success in the area of disability rights.

    Let's not be a microcosm of what society does to the disabled and discriminate against those who don't fit yet another contrived label.

    But, if it's about discrimination, are African Americans disabled? Are people with Acne disabled? Are older workers disabled? I'd say "no." I've always thought that "disabled" means that you can't do something that most people can do. For example, you can't walk, can't see, can't hear, etc. You're lacking some kind of ability. That's why it's called "disability."

    That just isn't the case with fat people as a group, nor is it the case with African Americans, people with zits, older workers, or many other groups that are discriminated against. That's why none of those groups are disabled. I'd question whether someone with a facial disfigurement is disabled. However, I'm not even disfigured. I'm just larger than average.

    (BTW, the backpacking trip URL is below, not above my previous post. Oops.)

    You beat me to it, Dee. I was going to point out that a friend of mine is Iraqi, and you'd better believe he faces discrimination today because of it. Does that make him disabled?

    Your comment about "I'm not even disfigured" stuck out to me, though. Because when I was a child I thought I was disfigured. I thought I was disgusting, hideous, a horrible monster. It felt no different to me then than having a huge scar across my face would probably feel. And I think coping with reactions to size might not be all that different from coping with reactions to other "disfigurements" (for lack of a better word) such as scarred faces, or a woman I saw on a talk show with a birthmark that took up most of her face.

    But I don't really see those issues as disabilities. In an of themselves, they don't hinder a person in any way. What hinders people with purely cosmetic issues are other people. And I don't see how that's a disability. Smart kids get picked on, and that obviously affects their social interactions. While obviously not as severe as some of these other situations, does being smart then qualify as a slight disability?

    Also, I want to say that I'm somewhat playing Devil's Advocate here. I actually haven't decided how I feel about this, as I can see how weight can become a disability, and I don't think that those of us who are "less obese" should try to distance ourselves from the larger obese people, and I can see denying that fat is a disability could have that impact. I don't believe that fat is always disabling, though, so I'm still working through my thoughts on the issue.

    Your comment about "I'm not even disfigured" stuck out to me, though. Because when I was a child I thought I was disfigured. I thought I was disgusting, hideous, a horrible monster. It felt no different to me then than having a huge scar across my face would probably feel.

    Yeah, I felt like that as a kid, too. Stinks, doesn't it? Then I did a lot of body image work in my 20s, and I don't feel that way anymore. And, I don't think that most other people ever saw me as deformed or horrible. Nowadays, I think I'm cute. Not perfect looking, even for a fat chick, but good looking enough.

    I'm currently working through being in my mid-thirties and married to a man 8 years younger than me. Should I try to look younger than I am? Dye my hair? Wear trendy clothes? Is he going to run off with a 25 year old lab assistant when I start to look middle aged? My appearance issues aren't even centered on my size anymore. LOL

    I am also wondering why experiencing discrimination -- esp. based on a visual, physical trait -- is a disability.

    It's not that I want to distance myself from the idea of disability. (At my school, I am registered as a disabled student, but not for reasons of being fat.) I just don't understand that logic, I suppose.

    What exactly is the definition of disability, anyway? I think this discussion is very interesting.

    I took the liberty of looking up some words on webster.com


    1 a : The condition of being disabled
    b : Inability to pursue an occupation because of physical or mental impairment
    2 : Lack of legal qualification to do something
    3 : A disqualification, restriction, or disadvantage


    Incapacitated by illness, injury, or wounds; broadly : physically or mentally impaired

    So maybe this will help the discussion along...

    I would greatly appreciate it if BFB was listed as a related blog, and not a disability blog, as suggested by Dee (over at BFB.)

    Topics are shared between the two communities, yes, but insofar as the label goes, I feel it's missing the mark. I'd feel the same if BFB was listed as a "feminist" blog, for instance.

    To A M Baggs:

    What is "mad pride"???

    Thanks in advance for your answer!

    Posted by: A M Baggs on May 11, 2006 01:53 PM

    I've heard the same thing in the mad pride movement.

    Here's what I think it comes down to:

    Some people who identify as fat also identify as disabled for reasons relating to their weight. Some people who identify as fat don't identify as as disabled for reasons relating to their weight.

    This is true for just about any phyisical, mental or emotional difference that we can think of. In particular those differences that are medicalized (as obesity is).

    (For the record: I identify as fat and as disabled. I don't consider my weight to be a factor in my disability.)

    For example, as AM brought up, there are people with Autism who don't want to identify as disabled. Does that mean that Austism/Asperger's blogs shouldn't be included under disability blogs?

    Why is it up to us to police people's disability? It is clear to me that there are at least some fat people who identify as people with disabilities due to their weight and we've got to respect that self-identity.

    I think the problem is talking about obese people as a group. (I'm deliberately using the medical term.) Dee, who is just a bit obese, is not disabled -- she's not limited in activities of daily living. But people who are really, really fat (I believe the technical term is grade III obesity) are limited in their daily activities and qualify as disabled in my book. You have to draw a line, and BMI 30 isn't it.

    Nothing new here. Because I can't see the third line on the eye chart, although I can see the second, I am classified as legally blind and disabled. If my vision were just a bit better, I wouldn't be. Fine with me.

    W.A. I hear what you're saying. But, do we only want to count as disabled those people who doctors (or whoever is drawing the lines) classify as such? In your post you say "You have to draw a line, and BMI 30 isn't it." Do you really have to draw a line? I understand that people managing Social Security might need to draw a line but do we need to draw lines around the disability community? I don't think so. I think that inclusion in the the disability community should be based on self-identity not on some arbitrary lines.

    I'm with the self-identity idea...not least of all because I am class III morbidly obese (BMI 44/45), and I'm also not limited in the activities of daily living. In fact, Dee and I often go out together, and most people would be hard-pressed to determine the difference in weight between us, even though she weighs significantly less than I do, at about the same height. Line-drawing is a funny thing that way :)

    While I'm not good at portraying thoughts into words, here is an attempt. (This will take patience on the part of the readers--fair warning and whatever else needs to be said in advance of someone who has a handicap due to brain damage, with portraying thoughts into words).

    The word "Disability," limiting it to physical/mental et-cetera just doesn't seem right. Here why:

    Handicapped would more fit to what is now being called "Disability." And while there's been years of indoctrination into this word of 'disability' and what all it entails; it still doesn't convey what the above discussion is really and truly about.

    The above discussion has a rift because in there, if "Disability" included all groups who because of Societal Bigotry/Bias/Prejudism, are Discriminated against, that would make more sense.

    We are all "Disabled by Society" (most of us anyhow) and it is the Bigotry, Bias and Prejudice that connect most all of the above groups together. Society has seen to this. We are the "outcasts" of this world throughout most centuries and it's time that changes. Or one can hope.

    Whereas, Handicapped would convey a physical, mental or other some such handicap that limits ones who live with it, to not only Societal Bigotry/Bias but also due to the structure in which this world is made.

    For example, If every building had a ramp, and every street had sidewalks and curb cuts and everywhere there were translators for the deaf, bigger/wider seats for the fat, et-cetera then our Quality of life would be much better. Of course I've left out a slew (sp?) of groups that go along with how this Society is built and Structured to keep those of us with "Handicaps," out.

    What that does and what the Societal Bigotry/Bias/Prejudism has done is stigmatize all of us.

    What it has done is blend not only the physically, mentally handicapped et al together in one way but with us the Blacks/Some Fat peoples and other groups like the Deaf,the poor, the Autistic and many others into one large group of misfits.

    Until we realize that Society has Bigotry/Bias/Prejudism in their hearts and thus the Fat/Autistic/Deaf/Black/Skinny and other communities have also been exluded from many of life activities to their FULLEST EXTENT possible, then and only then is there a possibility for us all together share in the same camp as what is now being called "The Disabled."

    Not because we are just physically/mentally handicapped but also because we don't fit Societies "Norm." Thus, the Black Americans, the Fat, the Deaf, the Wheelchair user, the Blind, The Mentally Handicapped,the Skinny, the poor, the Paraplegic, Quads, and so on, are all "DISABLED BY SOCIETY."

    That's a very short and brief post to pass on such deeper thoughts than possible for me to elucidate upon to see where it leads.

    I hope that all of the above made some sense. It is my belief, it did.

    It is my hope also that someone with better ways of wording thoughts can elucidate upon this subject at hand.

    If we go back and read and reread what has been shared from the point of view of the various disabilities, not just here but other [stories] on RE and elsewhere, "we" are continuing to segregate ourselves from ourselves.

    Until we finally get it *TOGETHER* cross-disability, until we finally start looking at each other as the same, as equals, as people and not just someone to think of ourselves as better than ("Oh, I'm not this way or that way, so I don't want to be associated with them."), how in the World can we ever expect anyone else to do the same..? :\

    The U.S. Census says it all.. 51+ million strong *TOGETHER*..

    That's one [heck] of a Voice, Friends. :)

    Correct me if I am wrong but I think "Disability Laws" includes any physical-medical condition that can cause a person to be stigmatized and to be discriminated against.

    Yes, PWD's and AB's are both "Disabled By Society" in terms of society's Societal Bigotry/Bias/Prejudism attitude.

    But "Disabled By Society" includes PWD's and AB's alike. AB's do not personally know what it is like to being a PWD. AB's do not live with a personal Disability 24/7/365 whereas PWD'S live with their Disabilities 24/7/365.

    There is a dividing line between PWD's and AB's in the terms of AB's are not able to personally relate to PWD's in the terms of personally walking the Disability Walk and personally talking the Disability Talk. Whereas PWD's can relate to other PWD's in the terms of personally walking the Disability Walk and personally talking the Disability Talk.

    PWD's want to retain their personal identity of who they are and what they are and "Disabled By Society" blurs the identity line between PWD's and AB's. I do not want to lose my personal identity of who I am and what I am and I do not want to see the Disability Culture to be lost by the blurring of the identity line between PWD's and AB's.

    The Disability Culture is a separate unique culture which should be preserved. The Disability Culture is a different culture than AB culture.

    PWD's should be included in the AB General Mainstream Society but PWD's should keep their personal identities of who they are and what they are and the Disability Culture should be preserved as a separate unique culture from the AB culture. The AB General Mainstream Society should eliminate their Societal Bigotry/Bias/Prejudism attitude towards PWD's and various AB groups. PWD's ahould keep their personal identities of who they are and what they are within the AB General Mainstream Society and the Disability Culture should be preserved as a separate unique culture from the AB culture.

    I prefer the word "Disability". I do not prefer the word "Handicap". A Disability counselor once told me that the word "Handicap" came from the action of taking your hand out of a hat and that beggars used to beg with their hand extended out with their hats.

    Both me and my only child are PWD's.

    Because there's been so much confusion about the term "disabled," let me offer some background which I hope will clarify some of the points raised by commenters:

    "Disability" and "disabled" are terms that are undergoing change due to the disability rights movement both in the U.S. and U.K. To a lesser extent this is occurring worldwide, but I can only speak for the U.S. and to a lesser extent the U.K.

    Conventional definitions of "disabled" and "disability" stem from social service programs and benefits programs such as Social Security. These definitions, dating back many years (right now I don't have time to look this up -- see Deborah Stone's book 'The Disabled State' for more on this) uniformly used the term "disabled" or "disability" to mean "unable" -- to work, to handle gainful employment, etc. If you look up definitions of "disabled" you'll find these kinds of definitions.

    To most people today the term "disabled" still means that, and, more broadly, means "unable to perform" this or that physical or mental function.

    Even more broadly, a large group of physical or mental conditions are considered to be "disabilities" -- things people have also called "afflictions" or "impairments" or "injuries" or "diseases." The language here is not precise, so please do not quibble with it at this point. We are trying to get to a larger understanding, so let's move on:

    Beginning in the 1970s, people labeled as 'disabled' (either because they fell under the Social Security definition or because they had some sort of injury or condition considered a "disability") began seeking changes in society that would allow them to have a better life. Since the 1980s, this effort has generally been termed "disability rights" advocacy or "disability rights activism." The term is "disability rights" -- not "disabled rights" or "handicapped rights" simply because historically and politically that's the term that the activists themselves have come to call it.

    So the correct term is "disability rights."

    Back to "disabled":

    Another term that grew in popularity during the first part of the 20th Century was "handicapped." The conventional wisdom has it that this was a term first used by the social service field; it's intent was to focus on social conditions: to say that an individual was "handicapped" by such and such -- by paralysis, by being kept out of buildings, whatever. (It is not true, as some have said, that the term comes from "cap in hand." See snopes.com for a good discussion of this.) The term comes from sports: handicapping mean assigned some extra burden or weight.

    Back to the birth of today's disability rights movement: budding activists did not like having been 'defined" by the social service system basically rebelled against the term "handicapped" SIMPLY BECAUSE IT HAD BEEN ASSIGNED TO THEM BY OTHERS -- and, in choosing a new term, chose "disabled." Anecdote has it that Judy Heumann led the change, arguing that "others handicap us but we are disabled people" -- this is in no way an exact quote but it carries the flavor of Heumann's thinking.

    So, activists in the U.S began using "disabled." As in "disabled person."

    Then a movement came along to change the wording to "people first language" -- so, it was argued, use the term "people with disabilities."

    Britain's disability rights theorists and disability studies leaders reject that, and stick with "disabled person." Currently in the U.S. activists seem divided.

    This is a very very brief overview.

    We must keep in mind in all of this that the disability rights movement and its thinking is almost unknown outside the movement itself.

    Many people still use "handicapped" or "crippled" or "afflicted." None of these terms is looked upon with favor by anyone in the organized U.S. or U.K. disability rights movement. "Handicapped" is truly detested in U.K. circles.

    In the U.S. what we often call a "disability" is called an "impairment" by British disability rights theorists.

    There's the physical/cognitive/neurological condition -- what U.S. crips call a "disability" and what UK crips call an "impairment" -- and then there's the social/societal burdens imposed on folks who have such conditions.

    Ragged Edge Online is about the latter.

    Does this help?

    Hi again. It's absolutely true that the almost-10 BMI difference between Peggy Nature and me is almost undetectable, visually and in terms of stamina. She looks about 20 pounds heavier than me. And, I say that as someone who looks about 20 pounds heavier than some other people who weigh about 140 at my height. (I weigh 200)

    That’s because, when you compare people who are healthy and moderately active and don’t yo-yo diet, muscle mass goes up in tandem with weight.

    I have another good story. Another friend of mine, me, my mom, and a family friend and I went walking in Toronto’s fashion district and Chinatown. My friend is very heavy, close to 400 pounds. My mom weighs about 115 and is very short. My mom’s friend is also thin (skinnier than my mom). I don’t know what her lifestyle is like. Mom is short, my friend and I are medium height; and Mom’s friend is a little taller. Who was the most tired afterwards? Who had trouble keeping up? Mom’s friend. The thinnest, and quite, possibly, the least active. Of course, it’s possible that she has health problems that I don’t know about.

    The point is, moderately active people with radically different BMIs can have similar abilities. There is no set relationship between BMI, fitness and health. Our bodies do the tasks that we require them to. If we’re sedentary, our bodies adjust to that. If we’re active, they adjust to our requirements, no matter what we happen to weigh.

    Of course that’s an oversimplification. But, it’s fundamentally true. It also brings up a weird question about whether disability might be a choice in some cases. When we get heavier, we can adjust or fail to adjust. We can diet and lose fat and muscle and then gain back mostly fat, or we can choose not to diet and keep a good fat/muscle percentage.

    Unfortunately, our society pressures fat people to yo-yo diet and become weak and disabled. Size acceptance activists, who tend to maintian a steady, high weight for many years, generally look smaller and are in better shape than chronic dieters. When chronic dieters discover size acceptance, they often become stronger and more fit. I think that's the reason why size acceptance is not about dealing with a disability. It's - partly - about dealing with your weight without letting it become a disability (or contribute to your disability). And, I don't want to sound like a biggot. But, I understand the disabled people who don't want fat included as a disability because they think it's a choice. I don't think that the size of our bodies is necessarily a choice, but I think that there are things that healthy fat people can do to prevent their size from becoming a disability. And, that doesn't cut off at any particular BMI.

    Some of you might be interested in an article by Emi Koyama that I recently read. Here's the link:

    A New Fat-Positive Feminism: Why the Fat-Positive Feminism (Often) Sucks and How to Reinvent It

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