Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I will not be your scare tactic.

There is so much flying around my brain today. Of course, I can’t help but heed Lesley at Fatshionista’s call, and as a result of comments made today on Shapely Prose by the most delightful Fat Nutritionist and Living400Lbs, my brain that probably should have been concentrating on work items instead spun and twirled and probably spurted some glitter at some point with all sorts of fat-related things. Whether or not I wind up making sense...well, start making your bets now. (Plentiful vulgarities lie ahead)

So, the PETA billboard thing. I’ve never had a high opinion of them, so the whole “Save The Whales” horseshit isn’t surprising to me. There isn’t a group of people they won’t go after in their efforts to allegedly help animals. There’s no major **newsflash** when it comes to them – their primary interest is publicity and nothing more. The animals they purport to be dedicated to saving would be better off being as far away from this group of complete morons as possible. I’d wager there are probably TRILLIONS of animal lovin’ groups out there far better suited to helping animals than the brainless dingbat douchefucks at PETA, as PETA only cares about itself and seeing how much attention they can get. Being the twerp that I am, I get a little sad clowny when I find out actors or celebrities I enjoy are PETA people because PETA is a gaggle of assholes. If you want to support animals and whatnot, I have to imagine it’s easy to find organizations that promote animal rights without using racism or objectifying women and who actually, you know, give a rat’s ass about a rat’s ass.

PETA talk then led me to a fantastic comment from Living400Lbs on Kate Harding's article at Shapely Prose, where she responds to a portion of Kate’s piece: “We’re all just so used to the framing of fatness as “other” that no one bats an eye when people who are actually speaking to fatties only speak about and around us.

…and they reinforce this to use pictures of people like, oh, ME to illustrate studies and pronouncements on people who are overweight or slightly obese because if they admitted that only 5% of Americans are in the “death fat” category they might have problems justifying the panic."

Whenever you’re watching a news report about the AAAHHH OBESITY EPIDEMIC, you get pictures of headless death fat people going about their business. For those who might not be sure what I mean by “death fat”, it’s a description coined by Lesley of Fatshionista to describe those of us who would be classified as beyond just “chubby” or “chunky” or “fluffy” – we’re full-metal fat. Despite what the mainstream media and the general universe would like you to believe, there’s only about five percent of us in existence in the United States. We’re the poster girls and boys for terror, however; they are doing a bang-up job of convincing all of you that we are sweeping (and eating) the nation. Basically, my body is meant to serve as a scare tactic, a cautionary tale as to what MIGHT (but most likely won’t) HAPPEN TO YOU if you don’t live your life “right”. My body is supposed to horrify you, repulse you, make you say to yourself “I don’t want to wind up looking like HER.” And, in turn, my body is supposed to horrify ME. But it doesn’t – not anymore. Oh, there was a time, a long time, where I wanted nothing more than to completely disconnect myself from my carcass – which leads me to the deliciously awesome comment on the same article by the Fat Nutritionist:

“Which gets me thinking — fat acceptance is not just accepting the fact that your weight may never change, but it’s the willingness to incorporate that physical fact into your identity as a whole person. The willingness to not violently divorce yourself from your body at every verbal and mental and social opportunity.”

When I read this this morning, all I could do was say “YES! YEEEEEEEEEES!!!” (inside my head – I didn’t want to alarm my co-workers who are probably already alarmed because OMG DEATH FAT IS WORKING BESIDE THEM!). I couldn’t reconcile my inner self – my “thin self”, of course – with my outer self for years. My thin self, the “real” person that I was, the Fantasy, she didn’t have rolls of flesh or varicose veins or flibbety upper arms, no no no. My Thin Self was Linda Hamilton in “Terminator 2”, my Thin Self was Janeane Garofalo in “Reality Bites”, my Thin Self was any body but the body that I looked at in the mirror. I was the Queen of Self-Deprecatingland, I didn’t let one opportunity pass to let people know that I thought my fat ass was as horrific as (I was certain) they thought it was, what a walking punchline I was. If my appearance was remarked upon in a positive fashion, I immediately provided a list of reasons why it actually wasn’t worth any kind of positive comments. Even now, I have my days where I have a gander at my body and wish for a magical unicorn of thinness to appear and give me a whole new outer me. And then I have to remind myself that all the things I’ve done in my life I’ve done as a fat person. I’ve been to London, Paris, Australia, New Zealand, I’ve been on stage at the Chicago Theater, I’ve performed a one-woman show, I’ve sang in front of hundreds of people, I’ve kissed boys – all those things, I’ve done as a fat girl. All those things that I was told weren’t possible for me to do because I was fucking fat. When you think about it – when you really, really think about it – it’s fucking absurd. It’s fucking absurd that we exist in a world where the message is sent each and every day that if you’re fat, you shouldn’t be doing until you’re thin. And not only that you shouldn’t be doing it, but that you don’t deserve to do it. It’s absurd. Not only is it absurd, it’s downright fucking obscene. And offensive. And from my perspective, far more terrifying than this:

You want a cautionary tale? Here’s mine: I waited far too goddamned long to realize that I was good enough. I waited far too long to realize I was lovable. I waited far too long to embrace my body AS IT IS and all of the nifty things it can do. It’s your time. Don’t wait one second longer.

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Monday, August 10, 2009

Taking it personally.

Embracing what is different, unusual, or goes against the grain is not something a goodly majority of the world has in its skillset. And certainly embracing something like *GASP* fat acceptance is just plain wacko in many, many, many, many people’s eyes. Now, when I come across something that doesn’t quite twirl my skirts or baffles me, my tendency is to either do research to find out more about said thing, ask people who have experience in said thing about said thing, or simply say, “okey-doke” and move on with my bad self to whatever next thing catches my interest. However, there is a certain breed of cat out there that will stomp feet and screech derision until the end of time not only about the O-beeeeeeeeeeesity Epidemic that Ees KEELING US ALL, but also absolutely anything that deviates from that cat’s personal norms.

Recently, I read a Dear Abby column in which a grandmother was given tremendous shit by her daughter-in-law for sending only $5 in a card for her grandson’s eighth grade graduation and then following said shit-blowing with a “thank you” card from the grandson that was, as expected, passive-aggressively awful. I thought it was simultaneously horrific and yet, amusing because I tend to be evilly entertained by awful people that believe being grateful and polite is for the weak. I started a conversation about it on a message board and it soon turned into a discussion about graduations and experiences with graduations. It appears that graduations vary by region – I graduated from eighth grade, while others graduated from sixth grade, and for others, the move from middle school into high school wasn’t marked at all. Which is fine and interesting and whatever, much like how I drink pop while others drink soda. However, one poster got sweaty and hyperbolic about how graduating from anything other than high school or college was ridiculous, clearly a money grab created and sponsored by the big bad corporations, it’s a waste of time and money and if ZIE was invited to anything even resembling such a thing, zie would practically take a dump on their porch for suggesting zie would endorse said practice in any way, shape, or form. It was impossible for hir to comprehend the notion that things are done differently in other parts of the country, things that will continue to go on with or without hir endorsement, and that hir outrage was fuckdiculous.

The Takin’ It Personally people (TIPPs!) are the people who paint fats as being food-shoveling, sweaty, lazy fools who are making the choice to be fat because they don’t want to stop eating Suzie Q’s and Ho-Ho’s while they lay on the couch/floor/bed, and are certain beyond any doubt that the fats are destroying America one stick of beef jerky at a time and should health reform ever come to pass, will bankrupt the system before you can say “but the population as a whole is aging and bringing with it increased medical needs because of age-related afflictions”. “The Obeeeeeeeeeeeeese/the poor/the disadvantaged/’the lazy’ are going to REACH INTO MY POCKET/PURSE/DITTY BAG and TAKE MY HARD-EARNED MONEY to support THEIR UNHEALTHY LIFESTYLES,” they rage before falling onto the nearest fainting couch in an anger-induced swoon. They’re the ones who get all sputtery and concern-trolly and eye-teary when the subject of the Fat comes up because it’s SCIENCE that all fat people are ticking time bombs of diabetic heart faily oozing death and they’re Takin’ It Personally because they want you to be the BEST you can BE and you’re only BEST when you are – ding dong, candygram! – thin. Rejecting the Fantasy of Being Thin and spreading that concept around really gets the TIPP’s drawers in a fiery uproar. I was informed by a TIPPer that Fat Acceptance was as “evil” as McDonald’s* and that people really shouldn’t have as much self-esteem as those in Fat Acceptance believes everyone should. Somehow, having a positive view of oneself means one no longer is interested in striving in improving oneself...? Oh wait, no, okay, I get it now, I get it now – the only really worthwhile improvement one should be making is shaving off those horrific, nasty pounds. Right. How on earth could I forget? Another TIPPster was quite aggrieved that I “refused” to “get healthy” and wouldn’t praise hir endlessly for hir “hard work” when zie embarked on a liquid diet. If I was a TIPPer, I might have raised a ruckus and railed against the futility of it and how I was personally offended and tearfully told hir how in the long run, zie would only be doing more damage to hirself and hir psyche by engaging in such a practice. But that’s not my style. My style is simply to reiterate again and again my personal message of self-appreciation, self-love, and self-worth being the ultimate goal, and a goal that is achievable and available for every single frickin’ person walking the earth, fat or thin; that it isn’t something that is only deserved by those engaging in societally-approved “healthy” behaviors or lifestyles or income brackets; and most importantly, isn’t impossible no matter what society or you tell yourself.

I had a TIPP approach me in the bathroom at my workplace one day – she was getting a gander at the nine stars tattooed on my left forearm as I dried my hands and the disdain was clear as she asked me The Question: “WHY would you do that?” It was quite hard for me not to respond, “WHY would you give a shit WHY I did it”, but I like to be polite to the TIPPs and speak slowly to them as if they were five-year-old children. “Because I’ve always liked tattoos, always wanted tattoos, and I like how they look,” I responded. She shook her head and tisk-tisked and smiled at me like I was a silly billy, saying as she exited the bathroom, “To each his own!” I only wish that the average TIPP actually believed that.

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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

A hot link.

Melissa McEwan at Shakesville does damn fine deconstructing and basic "are you frigging kidding me" far better than I could ever do and she brings the rock with Evil Fatties today. Follow the link and read the rock. Read more on this article...