There’s a great new post on feminist philosophy and weight loss over at Fit, Feminist, and (almost) Fifty. Blogger Sam B sings the praises of philosopher Ann Cahill’s account of her experiences with weight loss in “Getting to My Fighting Weight” published in the Musings section of Hypatia (25 (2):485-492, 2010).
Cahill is a beautiful writer and I love her language when she talks about reconciling her decision to lose weight with her feminist values:
“I realized that maximizing my ability to move, quickly, effectively, strongly, was entirely conducive to my feminist aspirations and activities. I wasn’t aspiring to skinniness or frailty, just the opposite: I wanted to bring strength and vigor to whatever struggle I chose. I wanted to get to my fighting weight.”
It’s great to see the very fraught business of weight loss receiving philosophical attention. As a feminist who lost a good chunk of weight when I started running, I struggled with the experience. There are things about weight loss that I really enjoyed, but every time someone said “You look great!” I felt like a bad feminist. “It’s for health reasons, not aesthetic reasons,” I would sputter (even though I secretly, guiltily, enjoyed some of the aesthetic side-effects).
Here’s the link.
January 8 addendum: Alas, I’ve had to close comments on this thread following a series of unkind comments, which we have removed.
This is a group blog and each of the bloggers parses the blog’s policies a bit differently. (And, in general, the OP moderates the thread.) I lean to the more laissez-faire end of things. Although I support the blog’s approach of sometimes unapproving comments that lower the tone or make the blog feel less safe for contributors, I’ve never before tonight actually removed any comment myself. I’ve been wrestling with this thread from the start, though. I thought that one interlocutor’s initial comment was merely sarcastic. It made me sad to see it, but I decided, rightly or wrongly, to leave it up. Then, when that comment ended up leading to what seemed to me a thoughtful, interesting thread, I was glad I had. True, that thread included a couple of oblique jabs between some of the commenters, but these occurred within comments that were overall well worth reading. And then a comment appeared which engaged in name-calling against the interlocutor whose initial sarcasm had vexed me. Again, I struggled. I actually asked one or two colleagues whether to leave it up or take it down because I didn’t trust my own judgment. No one thought I should take it down. It was name-calling. It was uncharitable. On the other hand, I didn’t think that it was any worse that the initial sarcastic comment. Maybe I felt that way because I’d been on the receiving end of the first one. In any event, the sniping has continued; so I’ve closed comments. It’s very saddening. What can I say? I hope that I’ll be a better moderator someday. It’s hard.