Long Beach, California's Club Bounce caters to fat people "who might have some trouble getting past the velvet ropes at other night spots because of their size." And where there are happy fat people, there's controversy!
The semi-reasonable controversy that attends any fat-specific gathering or event — nightclubs, yoga classes, pool parties, reality dating shows — is not even mentioned in the article, but I'll recap it here anyway. "But why should fat people be segregated?" it goes. "Isn't the point to be more inclusive, not to shove some people off to the side?" It's a well-meaning argument, but I'll tell you what, I rarely hear actual fat people making it. Because we know that while there may not be "No fatties" signs on many doors, there are velvet ropes and bouncers. And yoga instructors who have no clue how fat bodies work, and assholes who will sneer and snicker at the lardass who dares to wear spandex to the gym or a bathing suit to the pool (as if we don't even know how gross that is!), and Bachelors who would laugh the cutest, sweetest chubster right out of the mansion on the first round. And even though there are absolutely fantastic, size-friendly clubs and studios and gyms and pools and probably even reality show contestants all over this great nation, if they don't explicitly advertise themselves as such, fat people can only find them by trial and error. And by "error," I mean "public humiliation."
So hell yes, I would rather go to Club Bounce than someplace where the bouncer may or may not even let my fat, thirtysomething ass in the door, the bartenders may or may not acknowledge my existence, and the other patrons may or may not give me dirty looks or fail to stifle their laughter. (And all of this goes double for a lot of people fatter than me.) Full inclusion at establishments for "normal" people is certainly the long-term goal, but in the meantime, if somebody rolls out the fatty welcome mat, you can bet I'll be happy to spend my money there, just to remove the stress of not knowing if I'll be treated like a real human being.
But like I said, that's not even the controversy mentioned in the article. Instead, it's the same old argument used against making fashionable plus size clothing available, or increasing the visibility of fat people on TV, or granting us health coverage at all, let alone without penalties, or saying out loud that it is possible to find love while fat: But if we give them nice things, they won't have any motivation to lose weight! "The very nature of such venues," says the Associated Press, "has led some to question whether they are encouraging people to remain fat in a society where, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one-third of adults are already obese."
As in all of those other cases, the argument is fundamentally a load of bigoted horseshit. But in this case, it's also patently absurd. If we want to solve the obesity crisis, we can't let fat people dance! Why, that's a form of exercise, and if we want fat people to be healthier, we can't have them...
Wait, what? How does this make even the tiniest shred of sense? Answer: It doesn't, unless you believe that allowing fat people to get within a country mile of anything that smacks of self-esteem, happiness, or enjoying their bodies as they are is "encouraging obesity." Which, of course, is exactly what a lot of people do think, as demonstrated by all of the above arguments. If we just stopped letting fat people wear clothes and go to the doctor when they're sick and, you know, ever leave the house, they'd all either die or get thin! Obesity crisis solved!
So, naturally, a writer who thought that was a line of reasoning logical enough to acknowledge in the first place concludes that the good thing about clubs like Bounce is that they might motivate people to lose weight! "Although obesity remains a serious problem, with links to diabetes, heart disease and other health issues, says sociologist Karen Sternheimer, creating a place where people can feel good about themselves can build self-esteem, which in turn can prompt people to do something about their weight." Or, you know, it can prompt them to pursue health and happiness and love and the full human being treatment just as they are, instead of fighting a losing battle with their bodies (plug plug), but Sternheimer doesn't seem to care so much about that. Nevertheless, I agree with her on one point: "Anything that helps people feel better about themselves, there's something positive to that."
Related: Living Large [Salon]
Fear Of Fat [Bitch]
Heavy Infant In Grand Junction Denied Health Insurance [Denver Post]
The Museum Of Fat Love [MoFL]