Our Fat Dude homie who wanted advice and I had a conversation via email and he is really shy so I answered his questions privately.
One of my regular readers sent me in a long (and lovely) note where she asked me how I feel about a few specific things around the Fatosphere and I've been sitting on her questions trying to come up with a way to answer her questions without a.)being an asshole or b.) being an asshole.
Before I get started let me make a few things clear.
I am not going to put this readers entire question here because she quite frankly doesn't want to be outed.
Second of all no I am not naming names or calling names or aiming to point a finger at anyone in particular.
Third, this is a personal level (as in heart not brain to begin with) answer to a personal question. I have been ruminating on how to be honest about this and not be an asshole but I can't promise I won't be an asshole. I'm going to try.
Okay this regular reader asked me in a very touching way how I feel and deal when I feel like my place in the community is questioned.
That's not exactly what she said, I reworded it and removed some links but that's the jist of it.
Okay fuck it's hard to not out her/be clear.
Stay with me.
And let me remind you that these are personal reactions not ideological edicts.
To be honest it really depends on the context.
So to use one issue that never fails to make send me into a flailing butthurt state are clothes.
I honestly sometimes have to stop reading a lot of plus size fashion blogs because frankly I just cannot financially afford to support the vast majority of plus size retailers.
I am of two minds about it.
While I am very glad that there are higher end plus size options I also feel like I'm relegated to some plus size fashion void because I just cannot afford say (let me remind you that none of what I say here are attacks this is how I honestly nakedly feel) 70 dollars on a cardigan.
All too often, the options are just not there for me on the whole.
I remember at some point yonks ago there was a discussion in Fatshionista about having outfit posts need to be mostly plus size retailers. I don't think I commented at the time but I felt that by being poor I would be kind of tipped out since I shop at most of those retailers maybe once every year or two years.
That wasn't instituted but the idea and the ensuing discussion lingered in my head, I felt that moment of oh shit, ouch okay so not welcome there.
No one said that but it was how I felt and that's a powerful thing.
For me I had (have to) take a moment and remember that it's not a reflection on me personally that there are fatshion reindeer games I can't play. It was also a powerful thing for me because it's what led me to start figuring out for myself how to approach privilege and deal when I don't have whatever privilege in a way that I hadn't before.
On the other hand, I am learning to take what I can in the way of ideas about color or shape from any body that happens to be clothed in something I think is fancy. There is something really freeing about consciously a.)not comparing my body to someone elses, b.) not getting upset with myself because I can't afford to be as fancy as I would like to be and c.)most importantly filling my eyeballs and brain with visions of fucking awesome.
When it's a size issue. (Oh LORDY how I hate these conversations)
I don't like it on a personal or theoretical level when conversations come down to who is or isn't really fat.
The context of whether or not someone is fat is a huge thing to me.
I will use myself as an example.
I have gotten comments here, at Flickr and elsewhere decreeing that I am not really fat.
My first instinct when someone says that to me is to tell them to fuck off.
Mainly because I find it highly disrespectful to directly contradict another persons means of identifying themselves. It irks me.
The underlying reason is that the message is that well I'm bigger than you so therefore you're not really fat and frankly I think that's bullshit.
I really feel like I fought long and hard to even start accepting my body in the state that it is. It's been really fucking hard, really hard. And when either in spirit or to the word someone questions that because I don't appear to be what they think fat is, I get pissed off.
Working to actively reject the dominant views on anything is difficult and I don't like seeing the struggle sullied by this kind of thing.
Not just for me personally who yes in the Liminal Universe of the United States is shorter than average with average size measurements but who is treated as a fat person.
Yes, regardless of the privilege I may have that being the size and shape I am means sometimes I can fit "straight" sizes I do experience life as a fat person.
I don't like the idea that unless you are at a glance holyshitfat, your voice is somehow less than.
And please don't tell me that this attitude doesn't float around because it does.
No, a lot of people don't say this blatantly but, sometimes whether people realize it or not I (and some other folks) have gotten that impression and that's not awesome.
I do realize that it's not in my best interest to take even flippant comments so personally sometimes. I do.
The thing is I take this shit really fucking seriously as not just awesome politics and things to be pissed off about but as an integral part of the human being I am growing up to be.
I really get weary way down in my heart when I know it's not my litterbox (as in not my blog or somewhere I feel comfortable calling someone on things that I take issue with) and I have that moment where I want to yell and cry and ask why would you fucking say that?
Since I've been involved with body politics of any sort I've learned so much about not only the process of talking about these things with both dissenters and those who agree but about how I take these things in and deal with them. I'm enormously thankful that I've gotten to learn these lessons and I sincerely hope that other people will learn them too.
If I could have a big with for FA and all the bloggers and activists etc, I'd wish that all of us could take a minute before saying something, be mindful and work out how that might come off. It's difficult when we don't all know each other personally but if we could all do that, I think it would be pretty fucking awesome.
There's more but I think I will get to that tomorrow.
So there, you now know me a wee bit better.
Now I need to take my allergy medication before my head explodes and then do a little bit of stretching.
Goodnight my darlings.