Fat acceptance movement
The fat acceptance movement, also the size acceptance movement or fat liberation movement or fat power, is a
grassrootseffort to change societal attitudes towards individuals who are fat. [Saguy, A.C., & Riley, K.W. (2005). "Weighing both sides: Morality, mortality and framing contests over obesity" Journal of Health Politics, Policy, and Law. 30(5):869-921. [http://www.soc.ucla.edu/faculty/saguy/weighing.pdf] ] [Neumark-Sztainer, D. (1999). "The weight dilemma: A range of philosophical perspectives" International Journal of Obesity. 23(Suppl.2):S31-S37.] [Stürmer, S., Simon, B., Loewy, M., & Jörger, H. (2003). "The dual-pathway model of social movement participation: The case of the fat acceptance movement" Social Psychology Quartely. 66(1):71-82.] [ [http://www.size-acceptance.org/mission.html ISAA Mission Statement ] ] [ [http://www.naafa.org/documents/brochures/naafa-info.html#whatis NAAFA Information ] ] [ [http://www.cswd.org/index.html Council on Size and Weight Discrimination ] ] [ [http://www.fatrights.org/ COFRA | Coalition of Fat Rights Activists ] ] [ [http://www.reason.com/news/show/123151.html Reason Magazine - Fat Pride World Wide ] ] Murray, S (2005). "(Un/Be)Coming Out? Rethinking Fat Politics" Social Semiotics Vol. 15 No. 2] The movement consists today of a diverse group of people, who have different beliefs about how best to address the widespread prejudiceand discriminationagainst people whose girth is considered to be above average in contemporary Western societies. [Friedman, Roberta R (2008). "Weight Bias: The Need for Public Policy." Rudd Report: Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity, Yale University. [http://www.yaleruddcenter.org/what/policy/pdfs/WeightBiasPolicyRuddReport.pdf] ] [Himes, S.M., and Thomson, J.K. (2007), "Fat stigmatization in television shows and movies: A content analysis", Obesity, 15(3):712-718.] [Finkelstein, L.M., Demuth, R.L.F., and Sweeny, D.L.(2007), "Bias against overweight job applicants: Further exploration of when and why", Human Resource Management, 46(2):203-222.] [King, E.B., Shapiro, J.R., Hebl, M.R., Singletary, S.L., and Turner, S. (2006), "The stigma of obesity in customer service: A mechanism for remediation and bottom-line consequences of interpersonal discrimination", Journal of Applied Psychology, 91(3):579-593.] [Schwartz, M.B., Chambliss, H.O., Brownell, K.D., Blair, S.N., and Billington, C. (2003), "Weight bias among health professionals specializing in obesity." Obesity Research, 11(9):1033-1039.] [Murray, S (2005). "Doing politics or selling out? Living the fat body." Women's Studies, 34:265-277.]
Generally dated to the 1970s, the 1980s and 1990s witnessed an increase in activist organizations, publications, and conferences. [http://www.radiancemagazine.com/issues/1998/winter_98/fat_underground.html Life In The Fat Underground by Sara Fishman ] ] [http://members.tripod.com/bigastexas/2001event/keynote2001.html Big As TEXAS 2001 Event-Keynote Address ] ] In the 1980s new anti-dieting programs and models began to appear in the research literature, in response to new information dispelling common myths about obesity. [Robinson, B., and Bacon, J., (1996) "The 'If only I were thin...' Treatment Program: Decreasingthe Stigmatizing Effects of Fatness", Professional Psychology: Research and Practice Vol. 27, No. 2, pp. 175 - 183] The contemporary movement perceives negative societal attitudes as persistent, and based on the presumption that the rotund characteristics of a person's body reflect negative character traits of that person. [Puhl R, Brownell K. Bias, discrimination and obesity. Obesity Research 2001; 9: 788-805] For example in Chang and Christakis paper they state this belief by stating that obesity is detrimental to the community, by means of decreasing human efficiency, and that obese people interfere with labour productivity (V Chang and N Christakis, 2002). [Chang, V., and Christakis, N., (2002). "Medical modelling of obesity: a transition from action to experience in a 20th century American medical textbook." Sociology of Health & Illness Vol. 24 No. 2 pp. 151-177] Furthermore, these diet-touting trends and societal views have led to an increase in psychological and physiological problems among those who feel that their weight is above the "socially acceptable norm".Robinson, B., and Bacon, J., (1996) "The 'If only I were thin...' Treatment Program: Decreasing the Stigmatizing Effects of Fatness", Professional Psychology: Research and Practice Vol. 27, No. 2, pp. 175 - 183]
Fat activism covers several fronts but generally can be described as attempting to change societal, internal, and medical attitudes about fat people.
The movement argues that large people are targets of
hatredand discrimination, with obese women in particular subject to more social pressure. [ [http://www.naafa.org/documents/policies/employment.html Naafa Policy On Employment Discrimination ] ] [ [http://www.naafa.org/documents/policies/education.html Naafa Policy On Education Discrimination ] ] [ [http://www.naafa.org/documents/policies/adoption.html Naafa Policy On Adoption Discrimination ] ] [ [http://www.naafa.org/documents/policies/legislation.html Naafa Policy On Size-Related Legislation ] ] [ [http://www.cswd.org/docs/faq.html Council on Size and Weight Discrimination - Discrimination FAQ ] ] Hatred is seen in multiple places including media outlets, where fat people are often ridiculed [ [http://www.health24.com/dietnfood/Weight_Centre/15-51-89,14715.asp Health 24 - Diet, Weight loss - Related ] ] [ [http://www.cswd.org/docs/media.html Council on Size and Weight Discrimination - Weight Discrimination on Television ] ] [Greenberg BS, Eastin M, Hofschire L, Lachlan K, Brownell KD (2003). "Portrayals of overweight and obese individuals on commercial television." Am J Public Health. Aug;93(8):1342-8.] or held up as objects of pity. [ [http://www.timeout.com/chicago/articles/out-there/24098/weighing-in Weighing in - Time Out Chicago ] ] Discrimination comes in the form of lack of equal accessibility to transportation and employment. [Maranto, Cheryl L., and Ann Fraedrich Stenoien. "Weight Discrimination: A Multidisciplinary Analysis." Employee Responsibilities and Rights Journal 12.1 (March 2000)]
Proponents also argue that people of all shapes and sizes can strive for fitness and physical health. [Ikeda JP, Hayes D, Satter E, Parham ES, Kratina K, Woolsey M, Lowey M, Tribole E (1999). "A commentary on the new obesity guidelines from NIH." J Am Diet Assoc. Aug;99(8):918-9.] [ [http://www.naafa.org/documents/policies/fitness.html Naafa Policy On Physical Fitness ] ] [ [http://www.size-acceptance.org/rfh/ ISAA's Respect | Fitness | Health Initiative ] ] [ [http://www.sizediversityandhealth.org/home www.sizediversityandhealth.org - Home - Mission ] ] Thus, proponents promote "health at every size", an idea that one can place their mental and physical health before physical appearance and size.
Through the works of authors such as
Paul Camposand Sandy Szwarc, the fat acceptance movement has argued that doctors should treat health problems of people of all sizes, recognizing that health issues are not defined by weight and are shared by people of all sizes, fat and thin. Some in the movement have argued that the health risks of fatness and obesity have been greatly exaggerated, and used as cover for cultural and aesthetic prejudices against fat.
Fat activism faces challenges. [ [http://www.bitchmagazine.org/article/big-trouble Big Trouble | Bitch Magazine ] ] Organizations such as the
National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance(NAAFA) and the International Size Acceptance Association(ISAA) are small in number, and people interested in the movement tend to be clustered in larger cities and spread across medium- to small-sized web communities. NAAFA changed leadership around the turn of the century.Fact|date=February 2008
The history of this movement is difficult to chart because of its grassroots nature, although it originated in the late 1960s and 1970s. Like other social movements from this time period, the fat acceptance movement, initially known as "Fat Pride," "Fat Power," or "Fat Liberation," often consisted of people acting in an impromptu fashion. To offer one example, a "Fat-in" was staged in New York's Central Park in 1967. ["Curves Have Their Day in Park; 500 at a 'Fat-in' Call for Obesity," New York Times. June 5, 1967, pg. 54] Called by a radio personality, Steve Post, the "Fat-in" consisted of a group of 500 people, eating, carrying signs and photographs of
Sophia Loren(an actress famous for her figure), and burning diet books.
Several groups were formed in this period that promoted a fat acceptance agenda. The "Fat Pride" group,
NAAFA, initially called the National Association to Aid Fat Americans, subsequently renamed the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance, was begun in 1969 by William Fabrey. This group was at its inception more of a social club. A more radical group, the Fat Underground, was founded in 1973. The group had begun as a chapter of NAAFA, but had quickly developed an activist philosophy more radical than the group. To be more specific, they were inspired by the philosophy of the Radical Therapy Collective, a feminist collective that believed that many psychological problems were caused by oppressive social institutions and practices. The group consisted of a number of members including the founding members Sara Fishman (then going by Aldebaran) and Judy Freespirit, and subsequently Lynn McAffee. They quickly developed into a group that took issue with the developing science against obesity. One of their central sayings, "A diet is a cure that doesn't work for a disease that doesn't exist," reflects their dedication to fat acceptance as well as fat activism. [ [http://www.largesse.net/Archives/FU/index.html The Fat Underground ] ] Shortly afterwards, Fishman moved to New Haven, CT, where she, along with Karen Scott-Jones, founded the New Haven Fat Liberation Front, an organization similar to the Fat Underground in its scope and focus. In 1983, they collaborated to publish a germinal book in the field of Fat Activism, "Shadow on a Tightrope." [Shadow on a Tightrope: Writings by Women on Fat Oppression, eds. Lisa Schoenfielder and Barb Wieser. Iowa City, IA: Aunt Lute Books, 1983] The book consists of some activist position papers, initially distributed by the Fat Underground, as well as collections of poems and essays from other writers.
The movement today
Today the Fat Acceptance Movement continues to strive for societal, internal, and medical attitude change in regards to fat people. Proponents engage in public education about the myths about being fat and about fat people, [ [http://www.naafa.org/documents/brochures/myths.html Dispelling common myths about fat people] ] conferences and conventions, [ [http://www.naafa.org/events/index.html NAAFA Conventions] ] [ [http://www.sizediversityandhealth.org/ ASDAH Conferences] ] [ [http://nolose.org/ No Lose Annual Conference] ] [ [http://www.fatgirlspeaks.com FatGirl Speaks] ] and in writing newsletters [ [http://www.naafa.org/ NAAFA Newsletter] ] and books. [Fat!So You don’t have to apologize for your size By Marilyn Wann] [Tipping the Scales of Justics: Fighting Weight-Based Discrimination by Sondra Soloway] [Largely Happy – Changing your mind about your body by Lynda Finn] [Don’t Diet by Professor Dale Atrens]
In recent years there has been an increase in online zines, [ [http://www.fatso.com/ Fat!So] ] [ [http://www.geocities.com/ponyboypress/figure8zine.html Figure 8] ] bloggers, [ [http://www.kateharding.net/ Kate Harding's Shapely Prose] ] [ [http://www.bigfatblog.com Big Fat Blog] ] [ [http://www.the-f-word.org/blog/ The F Word] ] retail items for fat people, and online communities of activists. As well as a steady stream of books by fat activists challenging the medical belief that fat = unhealthy, and highlighting the issue of weight-based discrimination that the fat face by the community and medical professionals. [The Obesity Myth (2004) by Paul Campos republished as The Diet Myth] [Sandy Szwarc’s in depth examination of obesity research in the online magazine [http://www.tcsdaily.com/Authors.aspx?id=238 “Tech Central Station”] ] In addition to online and literature there has also been an increase in the arts on sizeism. Performance art groups such as The Padded Lillies, Big Burlesque and the Fat Bottom Revue just to name a few feature a variety of body types in their shows
There has also been an emerging body of fat political and sociological studies, some with a fat activist agenda, developing within the academy. The American Popular Culture Association has an area in fat studies and regularly includes panels on the subject. In addition, student groups with a fat activist agenda have emerged in a number of colleges including Hampshire, Smith, and Antioch colleges.
In addition to what the movement is doing to raise public awareness, there have been a surge in studies both for and against fatness in scientific journals on virtually all topics including medical, psychological, politics, etc.
Issues within the movement
As it has expanded, the fat acceptance movement has faced internal issues.
One point of contention in the movement is found between those fat people who are attempting to lose weight and those who are not. Opponents of weight loss attempts cite the high failure rate of all permanent weight loss attempts, and the many dangers of "yoyo weight fluctuations" and weight loss surgeries. [There are many citations, starting with Sandy Szwarc's list of links at [http://www.junkfoodscience.blogspot.com] , as well as books by William Bennett, Joel Gurin, Paul Campos, etc. as delineated below. A USDA discussion of the recent U.C. Davis study suggesting that fat acceptance maintains and improves health more than dieting may be found at [http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/AR/archive/mar06/health0306.htm] ]
Due to intrinsic linguistic misunderstandings and differing definitions of the word "acceptance," some "fat activists" believe the phrase refers to any fat person fighting for equal rights and opportunities, regardless of whether or not that person believes that the pursuit of reduction in a person's body mass is feasible. Other "fat activists" define "fat acceptance" more strictly, applying that phrase only to fat people who are not pursuing a reduction in their body mass, and use phrases such as "fat activist" to describe fat people and "allies" working more generally on civil rights issues pertaining to fat people.
An additional issue with regard to language is that many in the fat acceptance movement find the terms "obese" and "overweight" offensive, as they are often used to make overtly prejudiced statements seem more clinical or scientific. The word "fat" is generally preferred.
In practice, the only way to know the position of any particular individual member of the group on weight loss attempts is to ask, or read specific position papers on the issue.
Despite advocates' claims to the contrary, many studies show that fat people are more likely than others to be in poor health, at a time when
health carecosts are rising, [http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/guidelines/obesity/ob_gdlns.pdf] [ [http://www.hms.harvard.edu/news/pressreleases/df/0902high_startch.html Harvard Medicine ] ] [ [http://www.hms.harvard.edu/news/pressreleases/meei/0603bodymassindex.html Harvard Medicine ] ] [ [http://www.hms.harvard.edu/news/pressreleases/df/0703obesity_coloncancer.html Harvard Medicine ] ] [ [http://health.msn.com/health-topics/breast-cancer/articlepage.aspx?cp-documentid=100193435>1=10904 Obesity Raises Cancer Risk - MSN Health & Fitness - Breast Cancer ] ] though this may be a result of fat people avoiding doctors because of weight discrimination in the medical profession. [ [http://xnet.kp.org/permanentejournal/sum03/stigma.html Stigma and Discrimination in Weight Management and Obesity] ] In 2006, the CDC estimated that 10 percent of current health care costs are due to obesity. [ [http://blogs.chron.com/sciguy/archives/2006/11/should_fat_peop_1.html SciGuy: Should fat people pay higher insurance premiums? ] ] A Dutch study concluded that lifetime cost of obesity are less as these individuals die at an earlier age, while obese individuals have higher annual health care costs. [Van Baal, P.H.M., Polder, J.J., De Wit, G.A., Hoogenveen, R.T., Feenstra, T.L., Boshuizen, H.C., et al. (2008). "Lifetime medical costs of obesity: Prevention no cure for increasing health expenditure", PLoS Medicine 5(2):e29, accessed Feb 16, 2008 at [http://medicine.plosjournals.org/perlserv/?request=get-document&doi=10.1371/journal.pmed.0050029&ct=1] ]
There are many health related problems associated with
obesity, including heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and joint problems caused by overloading the skeleton with too much weight. One study found that obesity reduces life expectancy. [cite journal |author=Calle EE, Thun MJ, Petrelli JM, Rodriguez C, Heath CW |title=Body-mass index and mortality in a prospective cohort of U.S. adults |journal=N. Engl. J. Med. |volume=341 |issue=15 |pages=1097–105 |year=1999 |month=October |pmid=10511607 |doi= |url=http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/full/341/15/1097] Public health officials regard widespread obesity as posing significant costs to society.
Fat acceptance advocates' positions have sparked criticism. Some critics, while acknowledging that fat and obese individuals are subject to inappropriate discrimination or pressure, contend that fat acceptance advocates' goal of unconditional acceptance of obesity is itself unhealthy. [ [http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/22/health/22fblogs.html?_r=1&oref=slogin In the Fatosphere, Big Is In, or at Least Accepted - New York Times ] ] They contend that accepting fatness will make people less likely to aspire to achieve a healthy weight.
Additionally, the common fat acceptance
mantrathat "diets don't work" is considered by some critics to be an oversimplificationthat may discourage a person in need of a healthier lifestyle from making responsible and potentially beneficial changes in eating habits. [ [http://www.salon.com/sept97/news/news970912.html SALON Daily Clicks: Newsreal ] ]
* [http://www.bigpeople.org.uk Jo Morley] , founder of [http://www.ukbigpeople.co.uk Big People UK] [London, UK]
* [http://www.stacybias.net Stacy Bias] , founder of [http://www.fatgirlspeaks.com FatGirl Speaks] [Portland, ORE]
Paul Campos, author of books such as " The Obesity Myth"
* Charlotte Cooper: London-based writer [ [http://www.charlottecooper.net CharlotteCooper.net is here! ] ]
Laurie Toby Edison, photographer, published the book " [http://laurietobyedison.com/galleryWEL.asp Women En Large: Images of Fat Nudes] "
Nomy Lamm, performance artist and writer of "I'm So Fucking Beautiful"
* Debbie Notkin, writer of the texts for "Women En Large" and the body image blog " [http://laurietobyedison.com/discuss/ Body Impolitic] "
* [http://www.sizewise.com Judy Sullivan] , author of "
Sandy Szwarc, author of [http://junkfoodscience.blogspot.com/ Junk Food Science blog] and articles challenging widely-held beliefs on fat and health [http://www2.techcentralstation.com/1051/searchauthor.jsp?Bioid=BIOSZWARCSANDY]
Pattie Thomas, Ph.D., co-author of "" [http://www.pearlsong.com/PattieThomasexpandedbio.pdf Sociological memoir about the stigma faced by fat people (written in collaboration with Carl Wilkerson, M.B.A.)] [http://fattypatties.blogspot.com/ blog]
Marilyn Wann, author of " FAT!SO?" and Activism Chair of NAAFA
* Berg, Frances M. (2000). " [http://www.healthyweightnetwork.com/wate.htm Women Afraid to Eat: Breaking Free in Today's Weight-Obsessed World] ." Hettinger: Healthy Weight Network. ISBN 0918532620
* Braziel, Jana E. (ed) and LeBesco, Kathleen (ed) (2001). " [http://books.google.ca/books?id=kxvlP_3AH40C&printsec=frontcover Bodies Out of Bounds: Fatness and Transgression] ." University of California Press. ISBN 0520225856
* Brown, Laura S. (ed) and Rothblum, Esther D. (ed) (1989). " [http://books.google.ca/books?id=eQRyrbvYnQEC&printsec=frontcover Overcoming Fear of Fat] ." New York: Harrington Park Press. ISBN 091839371X
* Campos, Paul F. (2004). " [http://books.google.ca/books?id=AtTl2A3IlJIC&printsec=frontcover The Obesity Myth: Why America's Obsession with Weight is Hazardous to Your Health] ." New York: Gotham Books. ISBN 1592400663 (Later issued in paperback as " [http://books.google.ca/books?id=47WsAAAACAAJ The Diet Myth: Why America's Obsession with Weight is Hazardous to Your Health] ." ISBN 159240135X )
* Cooper, Charlotte (1998). " [http://www.charlottecooper.net/docs/books/fatproud.htm Fat and Proud: The Politics of Size] ." Women's Press. ISBN 0704344734
* Fraser, Laura (1997). " [http://www.radiancemagazine.com/issues/1998/winter_98/losing_it.html Losing It: America's Obsession with Weight and the Industry that Feeds on It] ." New York: Dutton. ISBN 0525938915 (Later issued in paperback as " [http://books.google.ca/books?id=KzbMAAAACAAJ Losing It: False Hopes and Fat Profits in the Diet Industry] ." ISBN 0452272912 )
* Frater, Laura (2005). " [http://www.igpub.com/fatchicks.html Fat Chicks Rule: How to Survive in a Thin-Centric World] ." Gamble Guides. ISBN 0975251716
* Gaesser, Glenn A. (1996). " [http://books.google.ca/books?id=CztwyjRb_bMC&printsec=frontcover Big Fat Lies: The Truth about Your Weight and Your Health] ." New York: Fawcett Columbine. ISBN 0936077425
* Gard, Michael (2005). " [http://books.google.ca/books?id=GAq8CQM_xK4C&printsec=frontcover The Obesity Epidemic: Science, Morality and Ideology] ." New York: Routledge. ISBN 0415318963
* Goodman, Charisse W. (1995). " [http://books.google.ca/books?id=vzXqX5r1nQQC&printsec=frontcover The Invisible Woman: Confronting Weight Prejudice in America] ." Gurze Books. ISBN 0936077107
* Kater, Kathy (2004). " [http://www.randomhouse.com/catalog/display.pperl?isbn=9780767916080 Real Kids Come in All Sizes: Ten Essential Lessons to Build Your Child's Body Esteem] ." New York: Broadway Books. ISBN 0767916085
* Kolata, Gina B. (2007). " [http://us.macmillan.com/rethinkingthin Rethinking Thin: The New Science of Weight Loss -- and the Myths and Realities of Dieting] ." New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux. ISBN 0374103984
* Koppelman, Susan (ed) (2003). " [http://books.google.ca/books?id=gxBPU3m-WdAC&printsec=frontcover The Strange History of Suzanne Lafleshe: And Other Stories of Women and Fatness] ." Feminist Press. ISBN 1558614516
* Kulick, Don and Meneley, Anne (2005). " [http://us.penguingroup.com/nf/Book/BookDisplay/0,,9781585423866,00.html Fat: The Anthropology of an Obsession] ." New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin. ISBN 1585423866
* LeBesco, Kathleen (2004). " [http://books.google.ca/books?id=W7Wz4EKksUcC&printsec=frontcover Revolting Bodies?: The Struggle to Redefine Fat Identity] ." University of Massachusetts Press. ISBN 1558494294
* Louderback, Llewellyn (1970). " [http://www.amazon.com/Fat-Power-Whatever-Weigh-Right/dp/B0006CAKQG Fat Power: Whatever You Weigh is Right] ." Hawthorn Books. ASIN B0006CAKQG
* Manheim, Camryn (1999). " [http://books.google.ca/books?id=6eUecocCjuoC&pgis=1 Wake Up, I'm Fat!] " New York: Broadway Books. ISBN 0767903633
* Oliver, J. Eric (2006). " [http://books.google.ca/books?id=YsS_nj8E_OcC&printsec=frontcover Fat Politics: The Real Story behind America's Obesity Epidemic] ." Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195313208
* Poulton, Terry (1997). " [http://books.google.ca/books?id=VCsBAAAACAAJ No Fat Chicks: How Big Business Profits Making Women Hate Their Bodies-How to Fight Back] ." Birch Lane Press. ISBN 1559724234 (Also issued as " [http://books.google.ca/books?id=OTc6AAAACAAJ No Fat Chicks: How Women Are Brainwashed to Hate Their Bodies and Spend Their Money] ." ISBN 1550137409 )
* Schoenfielder, Lisa (ed) and Wieser, Barb (ed) (1983). " [http://books.google.ca/books?id=11seHgAACAAJ Shadow on a Tightrope: Writings by Women on Fat Oppression] ." Iowa City: Aunt Lute Book Co. ISBN 1879960249
* Seid, Roberta Pollack (1989). " [http://books.google.ca/books?id=uHRxAAAACAAJ Never Too Thin: Why Women Are at War with Their Bodies] ." New York: Prentice Hall Press. ISBN 0136156002
* Solovay, Sondra (2000). " [http://books.google.ca/books?id=i5xF3O6ky9cC&pgis=1 Tipping the Scales of Justice: Fighting Weight-Based Discrimination] ." Amherst: Prometheus Books. ISBN 1573927643
* Thomas, Pattie and Wilkerson, Carl (2005). " [http://www.pearlsong.com/takingupspace.htm Taking Up Space: How Eating Well and Exercising Regularly Changed My Life] ." Pearlsong Press. ISBN 1597190020
* Wann, Marilyn (1998). " [http://books.google.ca/books?id=UdDrk3rMTxYC&printsec=frontcover Fat!So?: Because You Don't Have to Apologize for Your Size] ." Berkeley: Ten Speed Press. ISBN 0898159954
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