Monday, July 22, 2013

How to know if you are not doing Fat Acceptance Right.

Not just fat acceptance but anything to do with body politics.

Ahem let's get started shall we?

Number one thing I see in FA and body politics in general especially from people new to any kind of body politic things is the set up of a good fatty/bad fatty or good self esteem/bad self esteem type dichotomy.

These things are normally rooted in a hard hold on sizeism.

Normally the belief that if we just show the world that us fatties, but you know only up to a certain magical number of pounds, are good and healthy and so awesome. We ear awesome diets, we work out in awesome ways and we are just like every other health obsessed asshole on the planet.

The problem with that is that it buys into and plays to health as goodness/morality and lookism.It is deeply detrimental to the idea of bodily autonomy if we promote the idea that if we look a certiain way or can somehow prove that we are better than those who are not putting forward an image of what health can be in a binarist, absolute heath or unhealthy way of looking at things.

Furthermore, it is also buying into the idea that there is a moral failing associated with being over a certain number of pounds.

Those ideals and ways of thinking are extremely detrimental to not only fat acceptance but to any body politics movement.

Second thing.

People in FA/body politics circles tend to be very narrow in their scope. All too often (read most of the time) our spokespeople are cis, good looking in a traditional way (as in closer to the Thin White Pretty Lady Ideal) and able bodied.

This sets up every one of us (myself included) who are nowhere near that ideal to even wave at, up for being bigger targets.

Not to mention the fact that a lot of us are ignored from inside FA/BP (body politics for our purposes) and eventually a lot of us wander off because we feel invisible, silenced, ignored or otherwise edged out.

This is especially a big deal problem in FA.

If I had a dollar for every conversation I've witnessed or tried to take part in where normally White people are asking where the POC, Death Fat, Disabled Fats etc were in FA conversations and there we were, only to be met with louder voices saying OKAY WE ARE WORKING ON IT rather than those people shutting the hell up to let the actually marginalized present people speak for ourselves.

It was a problem back in the day on Fatshionista and other LJ FA, it was a problem when I was talking body politics with a group of people here locally in Seatown, it was a problem when I first started reading books about body image 20 years ago.

It is a problem.

The solution to this is easy and almost impossible.

A lot of people just need to shut the hell up for five minutes.

No seriously it is in fact that simple of a fix to start safeguarding inclusion.

Shut Up.


Forever and always we cannot continue to not talk about really superfat people.

I'm talking about people who are fat enough to be the headless fatties of exploitative "Health" news.

They too deserve what we are all trying to get. Namely bodily autonomy, respectful decent health care, not to be demonized to the point of being terrorized out of living their lives or to death.

I am dead ass serious about this.

If your FA or body politics leave out the people who appear to be at the extreme ends of weight you are not doing it right. If you say I'm all for fat acceptance unless you're really really fat. Nope stop.



I'm talking to you thin people too.

Remove any caveats to statements about self love, bodily autonomy, respect, etc.

If you are prone to saying, believing or thinking that all this stuff is okay unless one weighs however much, shut the entire fuck up. Think about what you're doing.

If you engage in this type of behavior and your targets are Death Fat people or conversely people who are severely underweight you are doing it wrong.

Those sick looking (in your estimation) bodies don't need you to contribute to them being dehumanized. If you didn't realize before let me tell you now. If you play these kinds of numbers games, if you spout Real Women Have curves level shit, you are damaging not only the cause of any body politics or fat acceptance you ar actively contributing to a system that dehumanizes people.

If you can't bring yourself to believe that any person at any weight deserves the same respect you yourself do, at least have enough of a conscious to not say that to people. Don't help out the opposition by placing yourself in the good category.

I will leave you with this.

If you want to fix these things, sometimes you ned to take a step back and not take up all the space.  You have to swallow your defensiveness and need to be the One True Voice of All The Things.

Understand that intersectionality matters and to some of us is everything. If you cannot or will not understand why this is important, this is not the spot for you and I will go so far as to say that before you engage in any flavor of activism you take some time to learn about these things so at the end we are all successful.

That's all for now.

Homo Out.



Anonymous said...

I think this is a great post and it brings to mind another issue that I have run across in the general FA'sphere. Sometimes I'll read a missive by a super fat person who is basically saying FA is not for them because they happen to be really sick and really do have issues like joint pain, diabetes, high cholesterol, and other "fat related" illnesses and they say things like "you don't understand FA activist, I need diets, I need WLS!" and I just don't know what to say. Because if someone wants to do that, who am I to say no? It's their body. And yet i think FA has something to say to them, but I'm not sure what they can hear and what they are willing to hear. I hope this makes sense!

Laura (dusty_rose) said...

Anonymous, I come across that issue sometimes too. The best response I've seen is this post by Kate Harding. It's six years old, but still completely relevant:

The Real Cie said...

Thank you for this, Shannon. I admit that when I was a newbie to FA, I had an idea that there was a certain weight at which people are "unhealthy and need to lose weight." I was glad for a person who educated me on this without ripping me a new one.
There is a lot of intersectionality with healthism on this issue. My father was a good person, but he was a bit of a healthist because that was how he was raised. I honestly think people need to be educated to realize that a person who isn't in a healthy body is not an inferior person.

Subscribe To My Podcast