I will be using Fuck Yeah Chubby Girls from Tumblr as part of an object lesson. Just so we're on the same page here this is not at all a personal level indictment of the person who was running that tumblr nor of any of the posters. This is as Webster defines it:
Definition of OBJECT LESSON
: something that serves as a practical example of a principle or abstract idea
For our purposes today I want to broaden this from being about fat. It's not really about fat it's about bodies. If you are a 5'10" size 00, fat, thin, inbetween, able bodied, disabled, somewhere between and no matter where you fall on the gender spectrum I'm talking about everyone here.
The first thing I want to say is this. Acceptance is not about any of the following:
- Who will or won't fuck you.
- Who you will or won't fuck.
- Promoting or advocating any particular lifestyle, diet (as in way of eating), level of ability, health status etc.
- Rejecting all other ways of being in a body. As in "Real women have curves" type shit.
- Acceptance "in spite of" insert phrases like-"no boobs" "fat ass" "flappy arms" "big feet" etc here
- You approving of anyone.
- Anyone approving of you.
This is acceptance. A statement of acceptance is in my mind negated if you add but.
For instance if you say, fuck yeah I'm awesome even though I'm fat and kind of limp and wear ugly shoes.
(Yes, I'm using some hyperbole because it can't be all srs business up in here.)
So the first part of that is fantastic. Adding conditions indicates that the speaker is not in fact accepting at all.
This is one of the things I saw the Fuck Yeah Chubby Girls tumblr called on a lot and rightfully so if that was being presented as a body positive/accepting place.
Personally when it comes to a body acceptance space, conditional acceptance does not fly with me. Let me give you an unrelated analogy.
Let's say you and I meet on the street and we talk and I am suddenly smitten and say to you,
"Holy SHIT I fucking love you even though your left toe is ugly and I don't like your bag."
Now if I said that to you I imagine you might feel like my love of you was not really what I said it was no?
I believe that part of learning to accept your body and the bodies of other people is to learn to knock off the conditions. It's hard work. It's hard especially when you are just starting out to look at yourself and say, yeah this is okay.
It's a serious feat to learn to reject this kind of teaching especially for women.
As I have pointed out time and again women are taught that while we can be confident we can't be too confident, we can't just say fuck yeah my ass is awesome without adding something that sounds more self deprecating.
We're taught that women who do say fuck yeah my ass is awesome are either lying, deluding themselves somehow, trying to get attention or are for some reason no one can ever fully realize an enemy and someone we must compete with.
It's important to teach ourselves (men women etc) that it's not unhealthy or weird to be content. It is not unhealthy or weird to look at our bodies in the state they are in and say, yeah okay.
There is a huge and lucrative business in teaching people to not accept themselves. Go into any bookstore and find hundreds of thousands of self help books. There is always some guru or some other person to tell you, okay you might like yourself but-
If you are going to begin to accept your body I believe you must begin with rejecting the notion that you must still have issues with your body.
The dichotomy of the culture of being obsessed with that one other (or fifteen other) thing that makes you not as awesome as you could be is that after you've paid your money, read the book and gone to the seminars there's someone else right there to tell you that it's time to do it all over again.
Now when talking about Fuck Yeah Chubby Girls in particular I stopped reading because I personally am really fucking annoyed with conditional statements of acceptance. I don't blame anyone it's just not to my taste. I don't like empowerment language being twisted into "I'm awesome but.."
I believe that if you are going to run something like FYCG and you present it as a space about body acceptance it is important to ask your contributors to abide by that. And if you are going to present this thing you're doing as one thing, please remember that people pointing out the flaws in your presentation is not generally an attack on you individually.
I've said this time and again but if you care about something like body acceptance or Fat Acceptance, you are likely to make your voice heard when you think this thing you hold dear is being screwed with or misrepresented.
If you want to contribute to something like that, before you take it to heart when someone says statements like, "I'm awesome even though I have back fat" are problematic in an Fat acceptance or Body Positive environment it is not an indictment of you as a person.
It is the voice of someone who probably cares about that environment and wants to make it better.
To wrap up this teel deer, acceptance is not something made out out of exceptions, exclusions and reasons why you or someone else isn't actually awesome. It's just not. The quicker you teach yourself that the quicker you will figure out that is a huge leap beyond the average person and you're on your way.
I'm taking off my Mama hat. This (see this entry for this whole Mama thing) is important to me because not everyone is past 101 yet and because I want more people to come to acceptance. Again, this is not a diss on FYCG, not a diss on the people who contributed but an object lesson.