Tuesday, June 18, 2013

When the little fatty runs right past you.

A thing happened today and while it was funny it shows a lot of why I talk about the things I do.

Today I had to run about half a block up a steep hill, around a bunch of people and across an intersection to catch a bus.

A thinner woman commented to me with lots of surprise that I wasn't winded.

I just looked at her until she changed seats.

Look thin people, people really into fitness etc here is some free advice.

Don't do that.

I'm going to give you a whole bunch of free advice that will help you be a less annoying human being.

Before we start understand that these are things that I have actually experienced. This isn't theory, this isn't a what if. This is from my life.

Let's go.

  1. Do not introduce yourself to people by criticising what you think is their lifestyle. Also under this umbrella is what you think they eat, how you think they do or don't exercise, etc etc. What you're doing is assumptive, rude and frankly is an asshole thing to do. You may think you're being helpful but, if you walk up to me and tell me all about how you are the One True Knower of all and have the One True Way to beauty, fitness, health and whatnot I'm going to tell you to fuck off. More so if you know nothing about me save for what you see. Because you know nothing about me.
  2. Do not act like you're the victim if you do the above and get told off. That is entitled behavior. Here's the thing. You are not entitled to having an opinion about how I feed myself or how anyone exercises. More so if you then turn around and bully, threaten or berate someone for not wanting your strange advice. Let's put that in a different context. Let us pretend that I hate freckles (I don't so don't get upset) and I see that you have freckles and I walk up to you, point at your face and say "I can help you heal from that and be beautiful!" Is that okay? No not really.I don't feel like I should explain why, if you can't figure it out you have personal work to do.
  3. Do not presume that what is good and awesome and what makes you happy in your body is going to be the thing that makes me feel good in my body. Don't proselytize about diets, whatever yoga you're doing etc to me. Can we talk about it? Sure. If we're talking bodies and happy would I like to hear about it from you? YES give me it. But do not beat me over the head with it. Think about it this way. No one likes it when other people batter at us with their religion. Why would we be into it when it comes to something equally as personal as health, diet and fitness?
  4. Do not use your own body shame to try and shame other people into feeling equally as awful as you do. That means, don't say to the fat person in a wonderful outfit, "wow you are so brave I could never do that." You may think you are being nice, you're not. It's a shitty thing to say and we don't want to hear it.
As with all things, if we're talking about fitness or health say whatever you want to. If I don't know you, you don't know me etc keep your opinions to yourself. Or tell people you know but don't try and engage me on that level.

If you do try to engage me on that level, don't expect to be treated like the Thinness Messiah for telling me to cut down on eating sugar or white food or meat or whatever.

One of the most wonderful super fit people I have ever known told me once when I tried to emulate her exercise and diet that, it wouldn't do for me what I wanted it to because it wasn't for me.

Who involved in health, fitness and wellness ever says that?

We are supposed to believe that X thing is a panacea for everything and everyone.

If we understand that yes we are all different, it's clear how much bullshit that is.

If you want to talk bodies with people who are bigger than you here's how you do it.

Think of a conversation laid out like a message board thread.

Keep it on topic, don't bust in all ass and elbows thinking you are the One True Knower of things. If you do behave that way, don't be surprised if people think you are trolling or just a gigantic douchebag.

Understand that there is literally nothing you can say to a fat person about their weight and how you think they should lose it that they haven't heard before. Nothing.

Don't use fatness as your go to metaphor for every bad thing under the sun. You may not think it matters but it does.

Don't walk into fat spaces and expect to be catered to.

Don't ignore Death Fat people or say shit like, "I believe in accepting your body up to-" nope. Stop. Hit the brakes.

Don't lie.

Don't pretend to be into bodily autonomy and acceptance and then think there is a cut off number of pounds a person can weight where they no longer get those things.


Now I am talking to you too fat folks.

Those of you new to FA don't say shitty things about thinner people. Don't say shitty things about Death Fat people. Just Don't.

That is a false means of buoying your self esteem and in the end it is as empty as every magazine message is.

If we as a group of humans on the planet are ever going to do something about skyrocketing numbers of eating disorders, misinformation, sizeism, the awful state of health care etc we need to at least agree on a few basic things.

  • Everyone is entitled to their own bodily autonomy. Fat people, Death Fat people, thin people, average people, able bodied people, Trans* people,  gender non conforming people, you know. People. 
  • People (all those mentioned above and more) don't deserve to be shamed or bullied about their bodies ever period. 
  • Neither you nor I are entitled to press our own personal habits on other people. 
  • None of us are ever going to be or feel okay unless we are given a modicum of respect and flat out are left alone.
  • We deserve health care that is not abusive or so classist/sizeist/racist we cannot bring ourselves to seek it out.
  • We deserve health care that is not suddenly sexualized because we may have vaginas or breasts.
If you are one of those people who is gung ho about fighting Obesity, how about we start with these things?

How about if instead of just wanting people not to be fat, you use that big beautiful brain for the good and talk about how yes even the fattest fat fat fat person ever deserves respectful health care. That person who is used as the medias headless, soulless inhuman Obesity Terror deserves not to fear seeking medical attention, deserves to go outside without being abused. 

If you cannot do even these basic things, you don't care about people, you don't care about bodies and you are a liar and need to deal with that.

For everyone else, sit down, buckle your safety belt and let's go.

Homo Out.



Susie Kline said...

I love this! By the way, my super fit husband was buying new weights and some muscle bound jerk came over and tried to get him to buy weights that were half the size he was buying. "Dude, you can't start this heavy." Start? He'd passed that weight up eons ago. You know what they say about assuming...

Anonymous said...

I don't know you... but I think I love you. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU. A million times, THANK YOU.

JC Andrijeski said...

Awesome post...thanks for writing this, I'm sharing. I loved the mention of projecting onto other people your own crappy body image and/or self-esteem. I've run into a lot of this.

fatosphere said...

Hi Shannon,

Just discovered your blog after someone posted this on facebook. After reading some of your other recent posts I wanted to tell you that I love your blog, and your writing (and congrats on the new puter) and to say welcome to Notes from the Fatosphere. If you have any questions, you can contact me via fatosphere at gmail dot com. You can also delete this comment - I just couldn't find any other way to contact you.

Very best,

Ang :)

Jaleh D said...

You are so right! While I am what I would consider a moderately slender size, my husband is a heavy man, part of which is because of his build and part from fat. He does actually want to lose the fat weight for the sake of his bad knees and back, but he runs into that attitude you were describing all the time. Because of his bad knees and back, he can't 'just exercise more than he eats.' He has to be careful of what he does or he will hurt himself. (And I'm NOT strong enough to move him if he does. His back going out is probably one of my biggest fears.) And one of the worst people we've run into since we got married was when we went to see a dietician probably a year post-pregnancy for me. She took a look at us and before asking any meaningful questions about what we did and ate (or giving me a chance to explain about being post-pregnancy), she made assumptions and almost off the bat she told us to stop eating so much fast food (we only had it once a week) and pulled out this plastic lunch plate and plastic food and snidely demonstrated how big our portion sizes were supposed to be. One size fits all. Yeah whatever. She might have had some good info, but as soon as we got out of there, we chucked every paper she gave us and never went back. We went because we wanted to learn more about meal planning for healthier eating, not to be treated like children.

And you being able to run without being winded is awesome. It's something I'm still trying to be able to do. Size certainly doesn't matter.

Urbancowgrrl said...

This post made me very happy. I have to go look up somewhere on this blog though what you mean by "death fat". I think of "goth fat" like "death rock" but I'm thinking that is not what you mean.

I'd be the chubby person on the bus who would say "Wow, you're not even winded - I'm so jealous!" because even in my super skinny days I've never had good endurance/lung capacity. I tried. I jogged, did areobics, etc but I've always gotten winded easily. And I don't have asthma. And A LOT of people have the magic answer for how I can "fix that" about myself and none of them ever worked (and I've tried them all so I can already hear someone thinking of the comment they'll write to tell me to "just try this"). What I'm trying to say is, I totally relate.

Nina said...

Love this entry. Thanks for being so articulate, and for sharing.

The quote I have on my mirror: "We fat women own our own bodies. We are under no obligation to exercise more, make love less, eat better or apologize more than any other body." --Nancy Barron, in an article in RADIANCE many years ago.

Anonymous said...

I am a mother of a 19 month old little girl (and am cooking another unknown gendered human). I have body issues. I have weight issues. One of my most ardent goals is to raise her with confidence in her body regardless of how her body looks - while encouraging health and fitness. So I'm trying (trying trying) to learn to model this, but I'd be very interested in hearing your input on how to just not break her in the first place (not break her myself and not let society do it, either). I ask not because I don't already have ideas and not because I'm not already committed to this cause, but because I'm quite sure I don't have ALL the ideas. Thanks in advance for any input.

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