Originally published: 15.09.15
If anyone reads this blog …it’s going to cause a little upset….I predict.
I’m tired of the two communities that talk about fatness the most…and the EXTREMES that they go to in order to protect their “safe” spaces or their status quos. Those communities are the fat shamers vs. the extreme size acceptance/HAES believers.
Fat shamers believe that fat people are a problem because they are ….fat. They believe that all fat people have personality defects that cause them to gain weight. These defects include laziness, bad hygiene, over eating and a lack of intelligence or self love/worth. Fat shamers also believe that every fat person is dealing with potential life threatening illnesses and often use the correlation between size and things like diabetes and heart disease to further stigmitize and harm fat people. At the end of the day …fat shamers don’t want to see fat people. They don’t believe that fat people have the right to be visible, to take up space, to have a voice, to not be abused etc. Fat shamers will demand a fat person become thin before that fat person is given a legitimate voice, before they are even allowed to speak up on their own behalf or ask people who are hurting them to stop. Fat shamers are EXTREME but they make up a huge part of our culture. They are the ones who believe in maintaining the traditional idealized standards of health and beauty and they will not be told anything that competes with that standard….whether it is true and factual or not. Fat shamers actually contribute to dysfunctional relationships that people have with food, and the cultural fear of fat. And make no bones about it, there is a huge difference between a fat model (showing off underwear, work clothes dresses) and someone who promotes a lifestyle. Fat people have to buy clothes. PERIOD. so getting mad that they want choices in their clothes and people who look like them to model said clothes…is irrational and bigoted. A lifestyle is what you do. The only thing a fat model is glorifying is the wearing of fashionable clothes and the purchase thereof. No one looks at a fat model and thinks hmmmmm I wonder how I can look like that. It is simply NOT the way our society works. We have chosen thinness as our obsession and a few fat models in lingere or a pair of jeans is not going to miraculously change that. But if a fat teen can find a shirt that fits her well or a fat mom can find a pair of jeans she can play with her kids in because of an AD, then I’d say, we’ve promoted the buying of clothes. No one goes after burger king ads for glorifying obesity when they present a new triple decker (probably more than 1500 calories for the sandwich alone). Or the family eating at BK…but a fat person in clothes glorifies obesity?! No honey. You’re prejudice. You aren’t concerned because you’d be writing letters to food companies and not commenting on articles about fat people wanting better clothing options. But you tried it.
Then you have the HAES/size acceptance movement extremists. Their major approach is that loving yourself is revolutionary (it is), that you CAN be healthy and fat (this is true as well, as backed by research) and that fat people have the right to exist, have the right to safe spaces and competent service providers etc. All true. The bone I have to pick with this movement is the idea that weight can NEVER be the cause for a person’s illness. That is just as extreme as saying that weight is ALWAYS the cause of a person’s illness. It is negligent as fuck to tell someone pushing 450lbs who is dealing with a weight related illness/disease that they should not consider treatment options that include losing weight. Now it is not every one’s business that weight loss may be prescribed to save someone’s vision, back, joints etc. and it is not the prescription for EVERY illness that a large person has. In fact, that medical decision and diagnosis is between a fat person and their doctor of choice. I have a serious issue with the all or nothing-ness of a large portion of the size acceptance/haes community (I slash them because they overlap). Never mention weight loss, never mention dieting…..these are like blasphemy in a lot of these circles and that is dangerous. The fact is that there are medical conditions, like IIH, that can be treated with weight loss and then there are extremists in this community who would encourage someone with IIH to ignore their doctor’s advice, to take weight loss off the table and valid research all in the name of protecting HAES…..is dangerous and selfish. There are fat people who are facing medical conditions that have nothing to do with their size and there are fat people with no medical conditions. There are fat people who are extremely active and do amazing things with their bodies and who feel happy and accomplished and LOVE themselves. But the idea that losing weight means you don’t love yourself anymore is dangerous. Just as dangerous as the dumbasses who think having a lot of weight on you means you don’t love yourself. We should be encouraging people to love their bodies at EVERY STAGE they are in and we should be respecting each other’s decisions in regard to their bodies, especially in respect to their medical health. I don’t advocate for weight loss in order to meet an idealized beauty standard. I am not disgusted by fat or thin bodies. I don’t care who wears lingere, who walks their dog in daisy dukes or who goes on the beach. I care that movements that encourage self love and acceptance, include people who use their self determination to make the best decisions for them without judgement and most importantly? Without outcasting. Having been a part of the size acceptance community, I can say that it’s so beneficial …but it closes itself off from people trying to lose weight, without really caring why they are trying to lose weight. It assumes every person on a weight loss journey hates their body or has a bad relationship with it and that’s just not true. Make space in the movement for people who love their bodies AND want to lose weight. Size acceptance and health at every size….fundamentally are about loving yourself, enjoying your body and working on it’s health…..not fixating on lbs but on fitness and health. And believe me….you can want to lose weight and work on it, without being OBSESSED with it or yoyo dieting and all the other horrors. Personally? I want to lose weight….first time i’ve felt this way but losing 70% of the vision in my left eye due to IIH has caused me to start trying to lose weight. Prior to the diagnosis I worked out 2 or 3 times a week and lazily watched my food intake…and now I work out 6 times a week and am considering surgery. Because I don’t want to go blind. And like that? No place for me in the movement anymore. No support. Yet choice is not one of vanity.
We get so obsessed with “protecting” our safe spaces that we start excluding people who need them most because they don’t fit our criteria. And I wonder if these safe spaces (which are supposed to be free of triggers for people in recovery for E.D etc.) are really that safe. We still live in the world. How small does the space have to get for it to stay “safe”? It is not ok to police people’s bodies for being fat, visible etc. and it’s not ok to tell people they don’t belong in the size acceptance movement because they want to lose weight. As participants in the size acceptance movement, we often tell people that they don’t know what our lifestyles are like, what only our doctor and we know, therefore they cannot guess our health by looking at us. The same goes for people in the size acceptance movement who are trying to lose weight…you do not know their relationship with their body or why they’ve chosen to do this. You do not know if they are facing something scary or life threatening which has caused them to make this decision. One thing I love about size acceptance is the validation you get for just being alive….being present. Fat people losing weight who have a healthy relationship with their body…STILL need that validation. They STILL need a place to go where they aren’t being oinked at, where they can rant about strangers taking their pictures, where they can share pictures with people who look like them of them reaching fitness milestones. They still need spaces where they can feel safe just loving who they are, NOW, presently. Where they don’t have to be told that their body is a prison and don’t they wish they were skinny, shouldn’t they try harder etc. So much good is done in the size acceptance/haes communities…I implore them not to do harm by being close minded.
Fat Fem Pin Up: I am a fat activist, child rights advocate, womanist/feminist, poet with an affinity for selfies. I have a bachelor’s degree in social work and I work for a children protection agency. I plan to obtain a masters before I become a mother. I’m single but quite taken by good books, fancy living and chicken wings. @FatFemPinUp