Wednesday, March 23, 2011

About Spaces, exclusion etc.


This may ruffle some feathers. Be forewarned.

There seems to be a lot of misunderstanding going around the Fat World right now.

First I want to say that some of the discussion over on Tumblr about the latest Fuck Yeah Chubby Girls thing, has been not awesome.

There were people who snarked directly on/in the direction of/did not specify they weren't a young woman's photo who is not chubby.

I will say without reservation that it is not that girl who deserved or needed the call out that she is not chubby. Some people were assholes and that's not cool. Not cool at all.

The thing about Fuck Yeah Chubby Girls is that it's not user run. In other words the people who have pictures there do not directly put them up. The photos are submitted by users/readers and approved to be posted by moderators.

So the snarky shitty comments about that girl and her body were bullshit. If you found yourself among those snarking her directly, that was a bullshit move and you were being a jerk.

That said, it is entirely appropriate to take the moderators to task for posting content that seems like it would be out of place.

Speaking of Fuck Yeah Chubby Girls in particular (as in, I'll get to fat specific spaces later).

To quote their submission rules:
# If you submit photos of yourself with little to no clothing on I will only post them if you include your age and are over the age of 18. This includes underwear.***IN OTHER WORDS, IF YOU ARE WEARING LESS THAN WHAT I WOULD WEAR TO GO GROCERY SHOPPING***
# You must be female to submit photos (questions, comments and encouragements from men are appreciated, but I will post them with my own discretion) if you’re a chubby fella, go submit at Fuckyeahchubbyguys.
# If you submit obscene, disgusting comments they will not get posted.
# If you submit rude and offensive comments I will not post them. (and it takes a fair amount to offend me)
# If you have suggestions on how I might better run FYCG, suggest away… but do not be offended if I don’t respond, or if I do not put your suggestion to good use.
# All photos are subject to approval. While this is a Body Acceptance blog, its called Fuckyeahchubbygirls for a reason. If you are of average weight or are under weight, do not include a story as to why you are submitting to FYCG, I will assume its solely for attention and delete your submission.
# Lastly, this is NOT a porn site. Please only submit TASTEFUL photos, and use your better judgment on what TASTEFUL is.


As far as this space goes, there are no set standards of their definition of chubby. Notice the bolded bit there, the moderators have self identified Fuck Yeah Chubby Girls as a Body Acceptance Blog.

If people looking at it decide (which it seems to be a lot of people did) that Body Acceptance=Fat Acceptance then yes, posting a photograph of a visibly thin person would be hugely problematic.

Also please note I'm not really going to discuss the content of individual submissions, see my post here about that.

Body Acceptance and Fat Acceptance while both involve the body politica, identity and whatnot are not the exact same thing.

Something like Fuck Yeah Chubby girls on a strictly visual basis appears to be more about normalizing and encouraging body acceptance for people who identify as chubby. No where in the site information is there a single word about it being a fat people specific space.

On the flip side we have Fatshionista over on LJ.

Fatshionista is a clearly defined fat space. Matter of fact look at this here:

Welcome, fatshionistas! We are a diverse fat-positive, anti-racist, disabled-friendly, trans-inclusive, queer-flavored, non-gender-specific community, open to everyone. Here we will discuss the ins and outs of fat fashions, seriously and stupidly--but above all--standing tall, and with panache. We fatshionistas are self-accepting despite The Man's Saipan-made boot at our chubby, elegant throats. We are silly, and serious, and want shit to fit.

I will assume you can see the difference here.

Fuck Yeah Chubby girls is not presented as a safer/safe space for fatties. It just isn't.

Feel free to question what they mean by chubby. Feel free to talk all you want to about the subjective nature of the term chubby and the things that intersect with how people self identify, what a shame it is that a young woman who maybe wears a size 6 feels that she is in fact chubby.

Other great discussions. The context of being chubby. The cultural norms (as in whatever culture you belong to on a macro or micro level) that impact how someone might or might not identify as chubby.

What is not awesome is holding a space to a standard that has nothing to do with what the owners/creators have said.

Not only is it unfair to call out people for things they did not say, it's also plain rude. It's bad manners.

Now let's move on to exclusion and spaces.

Exclusion makes people uncomfortable. I believe it is human nature to be distrustful of spaces that may make you feel unwelcome or that will tell you straight up no you can't come in.

Exclusive things have a long and bad history especially in America.

That said exclusive all by itself is not an evil or awful thing.

Exclusion can be a vital and necessary component of life. Also exclusion can bring out the worst in us because we want to feel needed, important and welcome.

For instance. Taking fatness out of it let's talk about say a resource group specifically intended for women of color who have vitiligo.

Now I am a woman of color, I don't have vitiligo. I might see an advertisement for that group, or a blog talking about that group and what they do and I might think it sounds like the best thing ever.

I want to join that group.

I want to really badly.

But, I don't have vitiligo. I don't know what it's like to navigate the world as a person of color who has vitiligo. I may empathize, I may sympathize, I may want to add my skills to what they are doing. At the end of the day however, I am still not a woman of color with vitiligo and that space was not intended for me.

That isn't a personal slight. It's not a fuck you it simply is.

As I keep saying all the time, not all spaces are for all people.

If you can't deal with a space intended for Body Acceptance rather than Fat acceptance, don't interact with that space.

If a space does not include you for whatever reason, don't lose your shit over it. I say that not in meanness but in a kind of frustrated love.

Not everything is for everyone.

It's okay if a space isn't for you because it's not intended for you or if you just don't really feel welcome.

It is okay.

Shit this post is huge.

Because giant post is giant I'm going to stop here. I'll pick this up tomorrow and talk more about exclusion and some not quite accurate things I've read about fat acceptance in general.

Homo out.

Also as always feel free to ask stuff. No really I won't bite.


heavyaura said...

I'm nodding the biggest nod I've ever nodded.

Meems said...

I think it's actually really confusing that their submission guidelines specifically say that they won't post pictures of "average weight or underweight" people when there's no real way to tell how much someone weighs based on how the look. If I was a moderator, I probably would have hesitated to post the picture that got the whole debate started, though.

Anonymous said...

I agree 174%.


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