Fatphobia, Fatshaming, and Me.
Thursday October 25th 2012, 2:16 am
Filed under: Commentary

OK team, time to write a blog post about ME.

As a non-fat person in a privileged body, I’m going through something and I want to talk about ME. You can talk about YOU on your own blog. Or on your twitter feed!

I’ve talked about my own privilege a bit before. I’ve come a long way since this post. I know that I’m in no position to talk about…anything. I know that other people live different lives and have different oppressions and live in different worlds, in many ways. That’s why I’m talking about my own world. Because I live in it.

My world is full of fatphobia and body-policing. My world tells me that I’m not good enough – I’m not tall enough, I’m not thin enough, I’m not smooth enough. I deal with it every day – magazines, tv shows, movies, pretty much every mainstream image includes someone who looks “better” than I do, aesthetically. The thin ideal is unavoidable. I have a hunch that I’m not the only one who feels this way.

I also want to talk about health. Because in my heart of hearts, I know that biological and bodily health is pretty distinct from beauty and those aesthetic ideals. We’re taught that it’s not, right? We’re taught that fat=unhealthy. And maybe sometimes the two things are related, like when your mental health manifests itself in your physical well-being. But I know that fat people can be healthy, and thin people can have serious health problems. Thin people get sick and die, just like fat people. Biology is real and health problems are real, and often separate from the aesthetic of the thin ideal.

The thing is, I think for women, or at least for me, there is often no line between those “health” reasons for losing weight and those “aesthetic” reasons. That’s why I’m so hesitant to go to the gym; because I’m afraid that in the back of my mind, I’ll want to lose weight to LOOK different (read: better). That I’ll feel healthy for being active, but secretly look in the mirror and hope to be skinnier, too. This is why I didn’t fast on Yom Kippur – because I feel like fasting is too similar to something else; I fear that I’d subconsciously feel good about starving myself. I know myself, and I know that I’m at risk for that dangerous behavior. Yes, even though I’m not overweight. Yes, even though I’ve never had a diagnosed eating disorder.

I want to live my life far from those thoughts and risks. That’s why when I hear people at work counting calories, or talking about their “lean cuisine” lunches or how those cookies are sooooo bad, I just don’t. I either tune it out, which is hard, or I say something innocuous and vaguely resistive, like “oh, those cookies are delicious.” That’s one of my favorites. Cookies are so delicious.

I’m having a hard time. Because I live here, in this thin ideal. I am here in this obsessively fatphobic culture that tells me I’m never good enough. I feel it even though I’m not fat. I know that I don’t feel it like other people do. I also know that I feel it, loud and clear. It’s self-care for me to reject all body-policing, to resist all fat-shaming and fatphobia.

I’m learning. I don’t want to be someone who doesn’t step back when I get called out. I got called out today. Maybe sometimes what I categorize as resistance doesn’t look like resistance to other people. I easily conflate everything about weight loss – the aesthetics and the health aspects. I can’t sort them out. And I think I didn’t realize that other people have sorted it out better than me. The body acceptance movement, as a facet of my feminism, has helped me so much and allowed me to love my body more than I ever thought I could (and don’t worry, I don’t love it all yet). I think today I made a mistake – I forgot that these theories don’t work the same for everyone. Especially people who live in different worlds than me. I want everyone to love their bodies and not want to lose weight for the “wrong reasons” but I forgot that I don’t know anyone’s reasons or anyone’s bodies or anyone’s problems.

My feminism hinges on one thing: Trust Women. That also means deciding for myself what’s right for me. For me, it means rejecting weight-loss, almost without exception, as my own route to body acceptance and self-love. For me, it means eating cookies without fear and without shame. But I forgot that my feminism isn’t everyone’s feminism – and that’s the whole point. Some people make decisions that I don’t make or wouldn’t make or can’t understand. And also, that almost all my decisions come from a place of privilege. I have a privileged body, and I’m sorry that I forgot myself today.

1 Comment so far
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You are like one of those Republicans who claim Freedom of Religion by telling people they can not be free to practice their own because it infringes upon yours.

If other people want to diet, whether it is to look better or feel healthier, or if it is because they genuinely need it to get healthier, you have no right to say ANYTHING.

I am a feminist and I am strong and I lost 50 lbs over the last year because I couldn’t keep up with my 3 year old. If I ran I got out of breath. I struggled with pains in my knees and my back that my extra weight exacerbated.

Your way does not apply to all. But the fact that you think that way proves that you still have a long way to go to becoming an open minded individual. Telling someone who says cookies are bad for them that they are delicious is like calling their beliefs or their decisions into questions. And it’s an arrogant thing to do.

There are reasons for every choice a person makes. It would do you well to stay the hell out of other people’s life decisions until you can handle them in a dignified and not a snide manner.

And if you trusted women, you would trust their responses as well as your own point of view.

Writing a blog post after publicly trying to shame somebody and never apologizing, never reaching out, isn’t mature and it isn’t dignified. It’s a sad cry for attention.

Comment by Justine 10.25.12 @ 3:14 pm

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