Monday, March 21, 2011

Words mean things and the things I mean.

I've been sitting on an anon note that came through my Ask box over on Tumblr.

Basically this person was taking me to task for being USCentric. Also this is in the context of speaking about the personal and from a personal perspective. I'm not talking activism specific or academic.

Okay.

First of all of course I am US Centric in my posts because that is where I live and where I have grown up. I cannot be on intimate terms with a culture that isn't my own. I will not pretend like I can speak from inside the eleventy million cultures on earth. I have said repeatedly that I live in Seattle Washington. I have done some traveling but, the bulk of my experiences are born here.

And I will say in case it didn't come through I hate that term being tossed around like some kind of accusation.

I am fairly certain (especially in social justice circles) that most people realize that that the entire internet is not located in the US. Furthermore I think it's extremely short sighted to expect someone to speak to an experience that is outside of their own and expect them to be authentic.

I think that's a means of saying, well you're not from where I'm from so I'm not going to listen to what you're actually saying or take it in through the filter of my own experience.

To be perfectly honest it makes me incredibly angry that anyone expects me to speak from every experience but my own. Or anyone else for that matter. And yet, when people try often they get the epic call outs so popular on Tumblr for being appropriative. You can't have it both ways.

If you don't want to hear what an American person or X person who is not from your neck of the woods or is different from you in X ways, don't use centrism as the reason all the time. It's irritating.

Hell if you don't want to hear what I have to say, keep on stepping.

Next.

I have to confess that I hate the term Inbetweenie.

I hate using it, I don't identify with it. I hate it.

From the LJ community this is what it means:

This community is intended to be a space for those of us that are lower-end plus or higher-end straight sizes. Somehow the name "inbetweenies" came to be and just stuck. Shopping can be challenging for any plus size person and we recognize that we have a few more options than larger plus size folks, but it can still be a struggle to find clothing when one is not quite straight size and not quite plus size.

We welcome sales for clothing sizes 12-20 straight sizes but if you are selling clothing, please follow the rules below.

Ahem.

I hate this term for a lot of reasons and one of them is the usage of actual clothing sizes as markers.

I'm going to use Lesley as an example here because aside from size we have completely different body types.

Lesley and I are both fat people.

Lesley and I are fat people who are two very different sizes and two very different body types. Now look at this outfit post of hers. (Chosen because I really love both of those outfits) I believe her cardigan(s?) are sizes XXL.

The navy cardigan is, again, from Target’s straight-size section.

Lesley has (as far as I am aware) never identified as an "Inbetweenie" and yet, there she is rocking that straight size cardigan. She didn't magically get smaller, this is how she is proportioned. For my proportions, often times plus size tops fit me but not plus size bottoms because I don't have enough of a booty to fill them. Does that change my level or her level of fatness? No.

For me I can rarely if ever fit into Target straight sized cardigans because I have gigantic boobs. My clothing runs everything from a big ass size 10 to a tiny ass size 20 and they all fit me right now.

Clothing sizes are so arbitrary that using them as even a loose guideline frustrates the ever loving shit out of me.

Now my other beef with the term Inbetweenie is that I'm not inbetween jack.

The act of being inbetween alludes to there being two points that I am between.

Fat and thin?

Actually fat and not really fat? Fat but when clothed doesn't look all that fat?

I am not between fat and thin. I'm just a fat person.

I am a fat person in the context of the culture I live in, I am a fat person in the context of the population of this state. I am a fat person in the context of using a strictly BMI calculation. I'm a fat person when I go to the doctor. I am a fat person when I walk into a store and can probably not buy a pair of damn pants.

In the context of the FA realm I am a smaller fat person and me having a skirt that is labeled a size medium does not change my life as a fat person. No matter what size a piece of clothing on my current body happens to be, I'm still fat.

I often feel like being put under the umbrella of being an "inbetweenie" can get in the way of good discourse about being fat. Too many people in and around FA seem to have the idea that there is only One True Way of FA and that one must be really fucking fat to really get it. That's not true.

Also even if you use the phrase "inbetweenie" don't foist that identity on to people who don't want it.

I will be crystal clear that I don't want it.


I also often feel like (and no I am not linking nor naming names) that some people feel the need to say OMG WHAT ABOUT MEEEEEEEEEEE in ever yspace and that's not really awesome either.

Being a fat person is not NOT a monolithic experience.

Not every space is for everybody. And that is no reason to flounce from FA, send angry letters or even get upset. It is what it is and most of the time there's not really a lot you can do if you're coming from a hurt feelings position. If you do really take exception, calm down send a reasonable letter/response/etc.

That said, I will say that if you can't appreciate the experience of someone who maybe is a smaller fatty than you, don't take it out on that person and decide they can't be welcome anymore because you can't deal with it.

Also, words mean things.

If you are going to present something as being all sizes or all body/bodies positive, that doesn't mean only certain sizes or bodies. That doesn't mean you get to snark on someone for not seeming to be X enough for your tastes because it's a bullshit move.

If you want a space that is for say size 24 and up fat people, don't say that you don't mean to be exclusive because you do. Is that awful? No it's not. But words mean things and please don't use words that are contrary to your purpose.

Other words that mean things.

Fat.

Take care using the word fat.

I say that because fat means a lot of things to a lot of people. If you want to talk about fat in a specific fashion it helps to be specific.

Fat has context.

If you want to read someone the riot act for using words in ways you don't like, be prepared to be rebuffed. Vernacular and personal lexicons are not things any amount of shouting can change much of the time. Simply pointing fingers and saying (to quote the thing from my tumblr box) "You're just being UScentric" at least try and get some context to what people are saying.

And a little special note to this anon from Tumblr who sparked the first bit of this post.

Dear person who sent me that,
I am UScentric because it is the world I live in. I feel like approaching me like that without links, text or even any reference to what I said that got up your butt is extremely disrepectful.
Sincerely,
Shannon

Okay I'm done.

Homo Out.

PS..book news. The first new essay is DONE y'all. And S, holy shit thank you so much. Thank you thank you thank you.
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1 comment:

JeninCanada said...

Now my other beef with the term Inbetweenie is that I'm not inbetween jack.

The act of being inbetween alludes to there being two points that I am between.

Fat and thin?

Actually fat and not really fat? Fat but when clothed doesn't look all that fat?

I am not between fat and thin. I'm just a fat person.

I am a fat person in the context of the culture I live in, I am a fat person in the context of the population of this state. I am a fat person in the context of using a strictly BMI calculation. I'm a fat person when I go to the doctor. I am a fat person when I walk into a store and can probably not buy a pair of damn pants.


This is an excellent perspective and honestly one I hadn't considered before. I don't use 'inbetween' and I can see why you wouldn't, and why I wont be in the future. Small-fat is much more accurate for me and what I have used in the past.

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