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.


Dianae said...

I have a beach just down the street from me that for almost 6 years I haven't swam at despite my love of swimming and that it's a deep part of the creek that's a great swim spot. I was horrified to let anyone see this body I wouldn't claim as my own. This month I decided I so needed the sun and swim that I went ahead and showed myself in a suit that is a modest 2 piece and didn't die from embarassment! No comments were made and I felt free of shame. Life affirming is what we so need in this community. It will literay save our lives and make them richer. Thanks for affirming this to all your readers.

Anonymous said...

I'm totally stealing "Full Metal Fat." LOVE IT!

Anonymous said...

I am pleased that you liked my comment enough to make a post of it despite the weird wording at the start ;)

BTW, if you are curious where I got the 5% number, I explained it here:

Anonymous said...

Wow, thanks for the quote and the link! You are also hilarious.

Re: living400lbs' awesome comment: I have to admit to feeling pretty damn special when I found out how few people are actually as fat as me (in Canada, it's something like 3 or 4% of the population.)

And I've always wanted to have a t-shirt or button or something that says, "MY BODY IS NOT YOUR EPIDEMIC."

But I'm too fat and lazy to go out and actually make them :)

Anonymous said...

I love your posts so, so much.