The Fat Underground Speaks (1974)

Title (as given to the record by the creator): The Fat Underground Speaks
Date(s) of creation: 1974
Creator / author / publisher: Fat Underground
Location: Los Angeles, CA USA
Physical description:
 mp3 audio file
Reference #: VOFL-FatUnderground
Largesse Fat Liberation Archive
Links: [ MP3 ] [Fat Underground video on YouTube]

About this recording: This recording came to us from Largesse’s Fat Liberation Archive, but contained little information. Some of this recording appears to come from footage used in Marge Dean’s film of 1979, which incorporates footage shot by Shirl Buss a few years earlier . The rest is unknown. If you have more information about it, please leave a comment. –Max

Transcriber note: It was difficult to differentiate between speakers and some of the names were unintelligible to the transcriber. 


Linda: [00:00:00] My name is Linda. We are a group of radical feminist women. We see our oppression as fat women as being inherent to sexism. We are an activist group who do public speaking, facilitate problem solving groups for fat women and generally try to publicly bring out suppressed medical information as well as offer support to other fat women. [00:00:19][19.2]

Aldebaran: [00:00:25] I’m Aldebaran. And I used to think I was real crazy because I would see that I didn’t eat very much and that, in fact, the things that were called fattening like pastries and fried potatoes and all that, I didn’t eat hardly at all. And yet I was always fat. And so obviously I was just wrong about my perception of things. And I guess that that gets down to one of the paradoxes that we have in the Fat Underground, where in order to get our point across and make people believe us when we say that the medical profession is lying when they paint us all as gluttons. We have to quote medical research that we’ve looked up in medical journals. And it would feel much better to me if I could just say, you know, I eat totally normally. I eat no more than the average slim person and you would believe me. But since you probably wouldn’t, I think that that’s why I would have to say that, first of all, for me, one of the first actions that I did as I started to become aware of being oppressed as being a fat woman and starting to get indignant about it was I began to read in medical and nutrition [cut out] was that across the board, the nutritionists find that the average fat person doesn’t eat any more than the average slim person. And that what goes on is that we’re being punished on this supposition that we do. And there’s a whole bunch of legal discriminations based on our eating so much more like you can’t get a job, etc. And I think that that really has to change because it makes us crazy and it invalidates the way we see the world. And it means that, in effect, we end up having to spend our lives starving and thinking that that’s normal. [00:02:19][113.9]

Speaker 3: [00:02:24] One of the things that’s really hardest for us to come to grips with, and it’s been most difficult for us to convey to other fat women, is that we are never going to be thin and that what we can do is diet the rest of our lives. And what we found and we found this in study after study after study is that there is a 99% failure rate for dieting. It’s 99% that 90% of those – now this is over a five year period – 90% of those who lose weight gain back more than they lost within that five years. So you have 99% of the people gaining back weight within five years. 90% of the people gaining back more weight than they lost. And this is – I saw a study that’s been repeated many, many times in the literature. It’s outrageous that we had to go to the literature to find it to be believed, because every comic knows that it’s a joke, that fat women always diet and gain back more than they lost. But we had to feel crazy until we went to the literature and and did a medical study on it. We also found a number of diseases that are caused by dieting when we’re in the gaining and losing weight is a causative factor in something like atherosclerosis. So if one spends a lifetime on a diet and dieting is not by definition successful because you have a 99% failure rate. 90% gain back more. You are going to be gaining and losing weight all your lifetime. That means gaining and losing weight causes atherosclerosis, which means dieting causes atherosclerosis. [00:04:01][97.1]

Aldebaran: [00:04:03] I just want to add a guess-what kind of thing, because atherosclerosis is none other than hardening of the arteries, which leads to those heart attacks and strokes that fat people are so famous for dying from early. And so we think that’s real, real spooky that the cure actually causes the disease that we’re supposed to lose weight to get cured from. [00:04:22][19.0]

Linda: [00:04:23] We have another of – few diseases. Fat women have problems with their kidneys constantly because they go into ketosis, which is a disease. It’s caused essentially by dieting that our kidneys get thrown out of balance, that there are any number of diseases that are caused by this gaining and losing of weight. And what the doctors say is, well, of course, it doesn’t make sense to gain and lose weight. You’ll just have to lose it and keep it off. But then there’s a 99% failure rate, and they know that and it’s been repeated many times in The Lancet, in the New England Journal of Medicine, in JAMA. You know, and these are widely read publications and this is definitely suppressed information. [00:05:09][45.4]

Aldebaran: [00:05:10] When at again, the theory. Of course, any fat woman could tell you that the reason why we keep gaining it back is because there is no way that a normal human being can tolerate the kind of hunger that you’re supposed to endure pretty much for the rest of your life to keep it off. [00:05:26][15.4]

Linda: [00:05:28] So we feel that dieting kills us and that to tell someone to go on a diet is to tell them to die, not diet, die. And we’re very angry about that. And we feel that it’s medically irresponsible and genocidal for doctors to put us on diets with the information that is available. [00:05:47][18.4]

Gudrun: [00:05:49] My name is Gudrun. I just want to mention that we’re talking about women who are fat like ourselves, that your average thin woman who is dieting her 5 pounds is doing some damage to her body and is doing an unnecessary injustice to herself and her lifestyle. But when we talk about diet, we’re talking about, you know, women like ourselves who are forced to diet our entire lives because we’re naturally fat women and who are talking about 100 pounds weight loss that is killing us, not just, you know, the 5 pounds that we could all play around with or even the 20 pounds where you think, you know, you eat an ice cream and you think, well, I gained a pound and so I won’t eat the ice cream. That’s like kids stuff compared to the kind of diet rituals that any of us have been through that are really the causes of the early deaths in fat people. I want to talk a little bit about the aesthetics and how that plays a part in our oppression. Like, even if there was no medical information, we would still need a political movement and that movement would just be very much linked up with the women’s movement. It would just be the looksist movement. You know, the reason we’re more than a looksist movement is because we are aware of a diet industry that goes beyond, you know, pancake makeup on your face and mascara goes into, like, things that make us seriously ill. This is – the diet industry is between like $16 and $21 billion dollars a year, billion dollars. And there is no way that our society and our culture, which is an industrialist, capitalist culture, is going to allow that industry to be destroyed and is going to allow medical information to get out that will destroy that industry. The economy couldn’t withstand it. So, we stress that we’re a very serious political organization that is fighting, you know, a very serious enemy that doesn’t want us to win, that cannot afford us – for us to win. When we talk about job discrimination, one of the major causes of job discrimination is the life insurance and health insurance that goes along with getting like a civil service job. And most major companies have a life insurance plan. The new actuary tables in the last 50 years, the weights for men in our culture have gone up. They’re allowed to weigh more because we’re an affluent society and eat more, whereas it’s gone down for women and they have a little footnote at the bottom that says it’s gone down because of fashion. [00:08:39][169.9]

Speaker 4: [00:08:43] There is a serious contradiction between the findings and nutritionalists and the rationale assumed by medical specialists in reducing. Research documented in, “Obesity and Health: A Sourcebook of Current Information,” published by the US Department of Health, Education and Welfare finds that the average fat person eats the same amount of food as the average slim person. There is no distinction between the eating habits of fat and thin people that can be considered a reliable cause of obesity. Even the medical establishment admits that the failure rate for reducing diets is 95%. For example, “Obesity and Health” reports that people on diets undergo metabolic changes similar to starving thin people. What does this mean for most fat people? To keep weight off once it is lost, one must follow a lifelong regime of eating less than what a typical thin person eats. Hunger, especially chronic hunger, hurts. Very few people can endure prolonged, voluntary hunger. And that, in our opinion, is one reason why at least 95% of all reducing diets fail. A consequence of repeated losing and gaining weight is characterized by elevated levels of serum cholesterol during periods of gaining, increasing the risk of atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is one of the chief health hazards attributed to obesity. In fact, there is no disease that is caused by obesity and no disease unique to fat people. Besides physiological destruction from dieting, fat people as a social group are under especially fierce stress because of their size. Whatever health problems, if any, may be inherent in obesity, we think that efforts to lose weight increase the problems enormously. We think perpetuation of societal conditioning and myths about fat, which increase stress for fat people and encourage fat people to attempt to reduce, will ultimately leave fat people just as fat as before and a lot sicker. The viewpoint that the diseases attributed to obesity should be attributed rather to the effects of starvation and stress is supported by the few existing studies of fat people in non stressful environments. For example, the famous Roseto studies found that in a minority community where people were encouraged to eat as they liked, the fat people were healthy with in fact a lower incidence of diseases attributed to obesity than found in the majority population. We think that ending the oppression of fat people by not perpetuating the medical misinformation and constraining acculturated standards will relieve much of the stress and resulting health hazard suffered by many fat people in the society. [00:08:43][0.0]

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