Tuesday, August 12, 2008

On Presentation.

I've read Julia's post several times and I think it's fabulous and very on point. I am not going to rehash anything she said because I don't think it's necessary.

I have a lot of thoughts about what Julia said. A lot and I'm having trouble organizing them so let's talk about presentation first.

When Julia talks about the pressure to present herself in a certain manner and her sense of responsibility that is something that resonates deeply with me.

However where we differ is that I rebelled. From a young age I have gone out of my way to be sure to present myself however I am feeling rather than according to some unwritten code of conduct that has nothing to do with me.

This has manifested in my life in ways that as I'm getting older I find shocking.

In the last decade or so I've come to realize that I have no interest whatever in supporting, portraying, speaking for or otherwise involving myself in reassuring people whom I make uncomfortable.

That's what it comes down to for me.

Especially being a black woman.

When you live in a place with not a whole lot of black people in general, the accepted definitions of blackness come to play and they bite. And unfortunately it comes from everywhere.

Please excuse my thoughts being everywhere. I have a banging ass migraine and it's really difficult for me not to just type KILL KILL KILL over and over again.

Where was I?


Okay I used the term accepted definition of blackness.

You could interchange blackness for fatness, womanhood, manhood, humanity etc. What I'm talking about are the often unspoken but very clear ideas of what the experience of a person is "supposed" to be and how you are "supposed" to present yourself.

Within the black community there is a schism that is and probably will be there until we get a few things straight with each other. The fact is that regardless of where you might come from, how you are raised etc there are a shitload of people who have a pre-made expectation of how you are to be.

As Julia said, you dress well, don't speak too loudly, you are controlled, acceptable etc.

In other circles you listen to only hip hop, you wear the latest "urban" fashions, you do what everyone else is doing.

In yet other circles you look down on other black people, you separate yourself from them, you drive a nice car, you show a "positive" face to the rest of the world to say, Look we're not all that bad.

And I see a sad parallel in the Fat Acceptance community budding. It may not be as pronounced and right in your face but it's there.

For me there is an instant kind of disconnect here.

I don't as a fat black woman want to deal with this kind of rift. I just don't. I also don't want to deal with a fractured solidarity because it's all there is going on.

The fact is this FA.

As Julia pointed out, assuming that because I'm a fat black woman I have had an easy road to loving myself is a racist assumption built on a narrowly defined idea of the black experience.

Also, I don't want to keep explaining this.

I don't want to have to over and again, point out that my skin color has an effect on my experience. I don't want to explain continually that, me arriving at this point is not all wrapped up in my fatness, but yes my fatness is a part of that.

I'll probably do a whole other post about the black community and my experiences there but not right now.

You see where I'm going.

At some point it needs to go without saying that, it does all have an impact. That the road I've been walking for 31 years in this skin, hasn't been all Fat Rants and Sassiness.

It needs to go without saying that a different experience does not negate your experience it's just different.

It's different like someone being fat because of an eating disorder.

Or someone being fat because they feel like it.

Or someone being fat because genetically they hit the fat ass lotto.

There is parity here. Diversity will not break parity nor will it make it so we must all then compare our oppressions and spend an eternity working that out.

Can we do that?

Until we can accept parity among fat people (smaller fat people, disabled fat people, mentally ill fat people etc) how can we expect anyone else to?

If we want to get anywhere, let's start amongst ourselves and work our way out.

Okay that's not all but that's portion one.

Head still hurts so I may or may not post again in a soonish time frame.

However I do have an open letter to Black folks in the works.

I also have some sexy times questions that I'm working on answering.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As someone new to FA (and a slew of other issues it's pointed out) I've noticed (especially recently) the schism developing also and I fall in strange places within... which has left me wondering where or if I even belong at all. Thank you for this post.

Subscribe To My Podcast