Tuesday, March 09, 2010

A few words for non-fat people.

All too often there is a prevailing thought process in people who are not fat when they speak of or to fat people. Or even about fat people. For the record I'd like to give my home skillets who are not of the fat ass sort a few words of wisdom from the fat side of the force.

(Now I am going to use generalities here that are based on personal experience, talking to other fat people and 32 years of observation. Do remember, I'm not a stats thrower so if you want statistics do your own damn research.)

First thing.

Fat people are fully aware most of the time that they yes fat.

Yes there are people who are unaware for whatever reason as to the size of their body but a large percentage of us are fully aware.

That being what it is, you (as in the at large populace) do not need to stop and point, walk up to people and say ZOMG FATASS etc.

All that is is an excuse to be rude.

Here's the thing.

Bodies are not public property. My body is really none of your damn business. And if you feel perfectly within your rights to walk up to me on the street or where ever so you can declare for the world to hear (as if the world cannot see)that I am fat, I do hope that your philosophy goes both ways so I may then comment in turn. Honestly I probably wouldn't comment in turn out of spite but more out of a hope that you might find the taste of your own medicine bitter and gross.

The thing is nobody likes their body being examined and commented on by strangers. In American culture I fully believe that if we as human beings stop participating in that (and yes I mean even when it's gleefully full of schadenfreude) the impulse to have the media etc do it would lessen.

Next thing.

Maybe you have discovered the absolute fountain of thin. You have discovered that five servings of unicorn pee and never eating any white food is the miracle "cure" for having a body that does not conform to some arbitrary standard of visual health. Most fat people don't really want to hear about it. It's not that said fat person thinks you're a dick (though they might if you are behaving in a dickish manner) but, not everyone wants that.

For instance.

I had some friends who were on the Atkins diet and collectively lost a shit load of weight. When I expressed not only disinterest in playing but talked about some of the dangers of that diet and the dangers of losing a lot of weight that quickly they took it very personally. I was not attacking their personalities or choices. I did not all of a sudden think myself better than them in any way. I just offered a different viewpoint and it did not go over well.

That did not have to happen.

Simply because I personally have no interest in the latest greatest ass shrinking program does not mean that I will hate you or put you down if you are interested in said latest greatest ass shrinking program. I want you to make a fully informed decision that maybe includes more information than just OMG some celebrity lost eleventy dress sizes doing this.

I want you to know that most likely that person had things like professional trainers and chefs at their beck and call. That most likely that person was not doing whatever thing they are marketing and that whatever celebrity diet guru doesn't give a fuck about your health and just wants to make money. I want you to know that you're just fine and you don't have to torture yourself in order to be okay.

Moving along.

Fat people most of the time a.) don't care or need to hear whether or not you find them attractive unless they are trying to date you. If someone is walking along minding their own business there is no need for you to make sure they know that you do not think they are hot. That is yet another poor excuse to be rude and behave like you have no goddamn home training.

If you are doing this sort of thing whether on line or face to face, it boils down to two things in my mind. 1.) You have really terrible self esteem and upsetting other people makes you feel good and powerful. If that is the case I feel pity for you and genuine sadness. You really don't have to be that way to feel good. Really. 2.) You believe that for some reason you are the sole arbiter of who and what is awesome. Fact is you're not. No really you're not.

The thing about the entire concept of attractiveness is that it's highly subjective. Yes there are standard "ideals" of beauty but when it comes down to interpersonal relationships and yes the sex, no two people ever really want the same thing. Maybe you think one sort of person is the most pants tingling creature ever. Someone else looks at that person and says meh.

That is the facts.

Regardless of who you think is or isn't attractive, those people are going to continue doing their thing. They are going to go off and have some sex, they are going to go on dates, they are going to look at themselves like they are Mother Fucking Christmas and your opinion on the matter largely does not count.

More? Of course there's more.

Most fat folks if you are just some random person don't really care if you think what they are wearing is cute and/or appropriate. If you are not buying the clothes, wearing the clothes or otherwise involved with the clothes it's none of your business.


Even if you are family it is still inappropriate to hassle someone about their body. That means if you really care for someone badgering or belittling them is not okay. If you couch your harassment in pseudo-caring terms you are harming that person.

Let me repeat that so we get it.

If you are insulting, back hand complimenting, belittling, making fun of, poking fun at, even doing that passive aggressive not coming out and saying it thing, playing concerned for the persons health in a way that is little more than shame wrapped up in bullshit, you are hurting that person.

Ask any person who was a fat teenager with Moms especially who engaged in this kind of behavior, if you ask them honestly they were hurt. Some hurt so badly that their self esteem never recovers.

If you think you are acting out of love and you are only causing harm even if the person you are harming never says anything you think about it. If the person you are talking to this way tends to cower, if they get angry if they seem to just kind of start disappearing you need to know that you are responsible for that.

If you really care for and love your fat family member or loved one, you will not participate in their shaming. You will learn to support that person and help them build the self esteem so they want to care for themselves. You will not judge them because their body isn't the body you want. You will celebrate that person when they come out with high self esteem and a good sense of self.

That is part of your role.

And if you cannot bring yourself to do that for whatever reason at least have the decency to leave the person alone about their body.

Now what can you as a non fat person do?

The first thing is to look at your own biases and assumptions. Learn how to check yourself when you start buying all the bullshit.

Learn how to debunk your own ideas about fatness.

If you want to keep going read what fat people have to say. Or talk to fat people without judgment. Subscribe to any one of the fat feeds or fat blogs that's around there are a bunch.

If you're really revving to do something about the "Obesity Crises" start learning about what it's really about. Learn about who makes money in the industry of weightloss and dieting.

If you're science minded start reading some of the well debunked studies about obesity.

If you want to help yourself from a Fat Acceptance standpoint you don't have to be fat. Yep I'm saying it.

You do not have to be fat to learn about Health at Every size.

You do not have to be fat to stand up to prejudice and discrimination.

You do not have to be fat to decide not to indulge in body hate talk.

You do not have to be fat to call bullshit on things like fat taxes and when people spout disinformation about health care.

You do not have to be fat to when you hear someone say something that offends you say, "hey that is not cool."

I will say that doing any of these things when you personally don't have a stake in it (as in you are not a fat person) is hard.

But I believe that if you start on the path you'll find yourself feeling happier and healthier.

Fat acceptance in my book is not just about fat people but about people with bodies.

So that's all for today.

Ask me questions if you like.

Use my Ask Nudiemuse Form, use Formspring, or if you want to hang around for awhile, lurk until you're moved to say something.

And do be warned, if you say something jack assy to me you will get called on it anonymous or not. And I do not promise to be nice.

Go forth and be awesome my homies.

Homo Out.


Daniel said...

Great essay. Shared on the BBW Northwest Facebook group: http://BBWNW.com/facebook

Twistie said...

(sighs and looks adoringly at you)

Once again, I'm blown away by your awesome ability to Lay It All On the Line and cut through all the shit.

O.C. said...

Sadly, for some family members, hurting us through criticism of our bodies is a feature, not a bug.

I lived too long with the assumption that my family didn’t MEAN to hurt me with their constant criticism of my body. It was only when I cam to the painful realization that, yes, they really do mean to hurt me, to use that criticism to keep me in my place (whatever screwed up meaning that has for them) that I was able to stop caring about their behaviors and move on.

I think sometimes our assumption of good intent can stop us from protecting ourselves. Sometimes people, even family members, especially family members, really don’t want what’s best for us.

Anonymous said...

So when other people talk to you about the dangers of being fat, it's unwanted concern trolling.

But when you talk to others about the dangers of dieting, it's "hey why so offended? I'm just trying to be helpful!"

lol, hypocrite. Game, set, match.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous: Saying "this diet may not be healthy" is VASTLY DIFFERENT from saying "the way you look means you are unhealthy". Personally, if people start talking about diets around me, I just say I'm not interested and don't care about losing weight.

Meems said...

Um, no, "Anonymous," just no.

1. Telling someone that a state of being is unhealthy is totally different from questioning the value (from a health standpoint) of an action such as dieting.

(Or, you know, what Cat said.)

2. If you're going to be critical, maybe you should have the (proverbial?) balls to say it under a real name.

3. Even if your position had merit, you make yourself look douchier by being so self-congratulatory. "Game, set, match"? Not so much.

Anonymous said...


Thankyou for posting this. I'm still smarting from an impromptu debate a little while ago about obesity, where a girl refused to listen to anything I had to say (Really, I should have known that was going to happen when she informed me that Aboriginals have a shorter life expectancy than most Australians because their genes are defective). I just need to remember that there are people out there like you.

-hugs- Thankyou.

TsaphanBabe said...

*Excellent* post. Thank you so much for it!

DRST said...

Yes there are standard "ideals" of beauty but when it comes down to interpersonal relationships and yes the sex, no two people ever really want the same thing. Maybe you think one sort of person is the most pants tingling creature ever. Someone else looks at that person and says meh.

Word. Especially helpful to remember while trying to do the dating thing, regardless of your body type.

Anonymous said...

THIS: shame wrapped up in bullshit

Oh please can I use this Nudemuse? I'll totally credit you!

I'm going to share this EVERYWHERE. Great no bullshit piece.

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