Volume 2, Resources 14: Joy Generator and a Book on Anti-Fatness

Hi friends! I had another 3-day weekend last weekend and it was great. I got caught up on my huge backlog of snail mail. I did some reading and writing and podcast recording. We delivered a couple new air filters to my aunt and uncle in advance of fire season here in California. And yes, I had some down time too. We painted our nails and watched a couple musicals. We watched FAME: The Musical. It was not good, but we laughed for the entire two hours. Don’t get me wrong, the actors were incredibly talented but the source material left a lot to be desired. Still, it was fun. I did insist that we watch 42nd Street to wash our brains out, though. I do not know why tap dancing sparks so much joy for me but it really, really does.

It’s a resource week this week! Before I get to the resources, today’s gratuitous photo is from exactly 4 years ago when we were at Hong Kong Disneyland during our incredible honeymoon trip to China. This photo is of the Mad Hatter teacup ride at night.

Resource #1: NPR’s Joy Generator

Last week, NPR introduced a Joy Generator (works best on mobile, kind of crap on a laptop) based on research that says you can cultivate and practice positive emotions (such as joy) which makes them more easily accessible when you need them (e.g., when you’re feeling down). The article I just linked on the research gives some helpful background on what the joy generator is, but you don’t need to read the article in order to benefit from the joy generator.

I played around with it a bit and there are a range of delights that generate randomly. What I really like about it is that each thing that pops up is not only, for example “here’s a photo of a cute kitten and cute animals spark joy” but there is a bit of explanation of why that is. And then, more photos of kittens (or puppies, if that’s your thing). There is some interactive blackout poetry, some flow doodling, some nature sounds, and more. I really like the one on nostalgia because that is something that always works for me. Looking at old vacation photos especially, like our honeymoon, brings me joy. Or photos of me as a kid, because I was adorable. I mean, look at my little nose!

Anyway, check out NPR’s Joy Generator. It’s a lot better than rage-scrolling Twitter.

Resource #2: What We Don’t Talk About When We Talk About Fat by Aubrey Gordon, creator of Your Fat Friend

This book is a must-read for everyone. If you have a body, then this book is for you. If you are a person who has been reading various books on social justice and marginalized groups it is imperative that this book be added to your rotation. You cannot talk about anti-Blackness, classism, ableism, and any other tools of white supremacy without also addressing anti-fatness.

Content warnings for discussion of graphic catcalling and sexual harassment, anti-fatness from microaggressions to outright active aggression, discussion of eating disorders and disordered eating, death related to anti-fatness, and use of the word obese (used sparingly and mostly in quotes).

Yes I’m going to use the word “fat” as a descriptor because “fat” is not a bad word. The main focus of this book is on fat justice for very fat people, that is, there are many people who don’t even get basic needs met because they are fat. This happens in so many ways, such as the pay gap between fat and straight size people, lack of public safety due to anti-fat violence, and denial to public spaces.

Anti-fatness is the last “socially acceptable” (sarcasm) way to hate people. Most people are frowned upon for being racist or homophobic but anti-fatness runs rampant and unchecked. This book is not about “wellness” aka repackaged diet culture. It is not about body positivity and loving the body we’re in. It is not even really about body neutrality or fat acceptance or body sovereignty. This book is about fat justice. About including the fattest among us in our social justice movements and about making sure fat people have access to basic things like clothing and equal pay and travel accommodations.

The citations alone are worth the price of admission. I love a well-resourced book, especially to hand over to people who automatically think that being fat is the same as being unhealthy. The author goes in-depth into things like how BMI is a garbage indicator of health (fun fact, it wasn’t even created as such in the first place!), and how there is no solid data illustrating that dieting achieves long-term weight loss. In fact, some conditions associated with being fat may actually be long-term effects of dieting.

If you’re not outraged before you read this book, then you may find flames shooting from your ears by the end of it. I love a book that changes how I see the world and this is absolutely one of those books.

That’s it for this week! You can shop any books I’ve mentioned in this newsletter at my affiliate shop, The Infophile’s Bookshop, and support independent bookstores. If you want to send me some snail mail, you can find me at P.O. Box 21481, Oakland, CA 94620-1481. If you want me to send you some happy mail, feel free to give me your address.

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