Monday, February 15, 2010

To those who know me but might not *know* me.

I'm apologizing in advance for this blog post because I will probably get disjointed (more than usual), ramble (more than usual), and whatnot. But this is a blog post for the people who don't know me as Jane, fat acceptance activist from Casual Blasphemies, but Jane... from View Askew or Janesy from LiveJournal or JaceyIBLTD from Musicland.



When you're done with this, chances are good you will think I'm deluded or ignorant or touched or all three. And you're welcome to think that when you're done because I expect it. I've heard it and the following all my life, really:

"Doesn't she realize what she looks like?" (audience member at 1990 Madrigal dinner at high school where I was playing Portia from a playlet called "When Shakespeare's Ladies Meet")

"My mom asked me if you have any friends" (friend in third or fourth grade)

"TUB OF LARD!" (car of males driving down a side street, probably junior high)

"Yes." (a young man in response to being asked if he'd accepted a bet from his friends to dance with me, senior year of high school)

"Are you pregnant?" (third grade)

"If I looked like you, I would kill myself" (Freshman year, when the entire homeroom of about 25 kids engaged in nine months of harassment, including "Wide Load" notes on my back and tacks on my chair)

My experiences aren't unusual. Ask anyone who is or was fat or in any way different from the so-called norm and I'm sure they have similar stories. I'm not particularly special in that regard. I might be slightly special snowflakey because of how I chose to deal with it. Instead of completely rejecting the world (which would have been understandable), I chose to go at it headlong and goddammit, I would make people forget I was fat by sheer force of personality. I would be the funniest, I would be the nicest, I would be the most fun person you could ever hope to meet so that the first thing you thought of when my name came up wasn't "oh, the fat girl" but "oh, the cool girl/the one who sings/the comedian/the one on the radio/the one who eats fire/the one who gives really good advice/the one who listens well/the one who writes well".

I dieted with purpose and with skill, like so many of us do. I counted my calories and exercised accordingly and I'd lose that weight and oh, how wonderful I looked, how good I looked! It was never enough, of course. My body held onto as much of my fat as it could and the second I would relax a little, not work out all five days or six days or seven days, KAZAAM it came screaming back. I did it for years. I did it from the age of 10 until my early 30s. I almost committed suicide twice in my teen years because I knew no one would love me because of my fat and I'd always be alone. (First time around, I didn't do it because I wanted to see Duran Duran live; second time around, my ego - which is epic, mind you, to this day - wanted to see how many awards I would get at the end of senior year of high school because I was very active in theater, speech, the radio station, the newspaper. Yes, the stupidest things can actually save you.)

Being a fat acceptance activist is the best decision I made, one that I'm 110 percent happy I made, and I will go to glory believing deep in my bones that fighting the diet culture and the sizeism and fatphobia and fucking wrongheaded information and attitudes that rule this country is right and the truth and even if I make ONE person embrace their size AS IT IS and not give a shit what the scale says and lives one's life without tormenting themselves about one's weight or appearance and lives one's life how it suits them without fear or apologies for it, I will feel like I did some good. But actively rejecting the diet culture, the default, the lifestyle that is deemed morally sound and "good", fucking sucks on many days.

It's been sucking the last couple of days, ever since Kevin Smith got booted off his Southwest flight and he went public so gloriously with it. It's sucked because it's served to remind me just how hated I am. When I say "I", I don't necessarily mean the Jane that you know (either in "real life" or "online"), because you may be of the "oh, I don't mean *you*" persuasion. That is, when you go on a tear about the horrid fatties making the world a shittier place or when you have no compunction about peering in someone's grocery cart and criticizing their choices because of their size or busting on a celebrity's weight gain - oh, *they're* fat and horrid, but oh no, Jane...you're not horrid. You're not like THOSE fat people - why, I don't even see you as fat! I understand that mindset. I've lived in the shadow of that mindset my entire life, worked my ass off to distract people into that mindset because I wanted to be liked, I wanted to be loved, I wanted to be cool.

Over the last couple days, it's sucked and it's hurt me to see fat people apologizing to the universe for existing and not trying hard enough to be thin and taking up too much space and failing morally for being fat; the cheery, game self-deprecating tinged with self-loathing, the act I put on for so many years rolled out before me over and over. The act is exhausting. The act is wrong. The demand for the act is morally bankrupt and vile. And yet, it's easier. It's approved, you see. If I were to declare I was going on a diet tomorrow, I would be praised to the high heavens. It wouldn't matter the kind of mental pain it would cause me, the personal pain it would cause me, the pain it would cause those closest to me because of what dieting requires of me. I would be trying for a just cause, not something as foolhardy and useless as fat acceptance (pah!). I would be liked by more people. I might even be loved. I certainly wouldn't be "crazy", that's for sure.

I don't require you to understand my fat acceptance stance. I wish you could, but I know there aren't any miracles coming down the pike anytime soon. If you're dieting, I'm not going to cheer you on or praise you for losing a half a pound. I'm not game to agree that any food you consume is "bad" or "good" because it's just food and food is lovely. I'm sure we can find plenty of other things to talk about other than your diet and other than my fat acceptance (except "Lost" - I bailed on that shit in season one). I hope you find contentment and that you find a way to dig yourself and your body and all the things it's capable of doing regardless of how much fat may be on it, and that you don't put your life on hold until that magic day when you've met your goal weight. I wish you only the best.

Jane

12 comments:

erylin said...

" believing deep in my bones that fighting the diet culture and the sizeism and fatphobia and fucking wrongheaded information and attitudes that rule this country is right and the truth and even if I make ONE person embrace their size AS IT IS and not give a shit what the scale says and lives one's life without tormenting themselves about one's weight or appearance and lives one's life how it suits them without fear or apologies for it, I will feel like I did some good."
/standing freaking ovation. EXACTLY. thank you.......i hope you are happy you made me cry (stupid pms) that is EXACTLY why i feel i have to blog too, do my little part to make women stop hating their bodies. (and wait for it....incomingt blog plug) www.erlyin.wordpress.com

Miriam Heddy said...

I really wish you lived in the NYC area, because I think we have a helluva lot in common, since I could have written large portions of this.

Thank you.

JeninCanada said...

Rock the fuck on! Well said! The piece below was my favorite, it's me vs. my sister, my mom, my brother and sister in law, just about every one I know. Thank you for writing.

"I don't require you to understand my fat acceptance stance. I wish you could, but I know there aren't any miracles coming down the pike anytime soon. If you're dieting, I'm not going to cheer you on or praise you for losing a half a pound. I'm not game to agree that any food you consume is "bad" or "good" because it's just food and food is lovely."

Ali said...

What a great post! And one that I can really totally relate to. Thank you for this, really. Keep being true to yourself!

nycivan said...

i join in the standing ovation and I am blogging for all the young men out there who are tormented in similarly vicious ways as a child although I get less in public as an adult than my fat sisters simply because I am male. But the story is the same for me from 2nd grade on. (Even though my parents started restricting my food when I was in kindergarden) Now at 43 I am not going to fucking apologize to any fucking one ever again for being who I am... which by the way part of which is fat, but charming, smart, hilarious, handsome. sincere, all come first when describing my fabulous self.

Every other fat hating one can go fuck themselves.

Thanks for writing this!!!! And please send any lost fat brothers that cross your path to my blog.

Cheers,

Ivan

http://fatinnyc.blogspot.com/

B said...

"... But actively rejecting the diet culture, the default, the lifestyle that is deemed morally sound and "good", fucking sucks on many days. ... "
It may suck, but you're doing good. I've had an "ah-ha" moment in the last week. No idea what triggered it, but I've decided I'm sick of dieting. I've tried damned near all of them from low carb/high fat, to WW, to low calorie. And the result? No matter how "successful" the diet was, I was never happy with my body.

I love what you had to say:
"...it's just food and food is lovely..."

I think that's the most beautiful thing I've read lately, and SO true.

PS just discovered your blog tonight through a feed, I'm adding you to my bloglines, looking forward to following your posts!

Anonymous said...

Jane, I really admire your courage to come out to your non-fat activists friends/readers about your stance. I find it incredibly frightening and scary to do so in my everyday life. Maybe with some close friends, but to all those others too? Bravo!

Noveltyspoons said...

You're wonderful, strong, and fabulous. I'm so glad you are my friend.

julieduranie said...

Jane - You rock! You inspire me! To the skinny people (like my sister) - Fuck you with frosting on top! <--- someone wrote that in an LJ entry once. I am gonna be happy in my 2 digit (yes plus size) clothes!
Thanks again Jane!

Ruth said...

As always, you inspire me. I came upon you as a self-loather. My ego was ok, I liked myself for what I was good at, but I was constantly on a diet. Constantly hating my thighs, my buddha belly, my big arms. I couldn't get through a day without critisising my weight or my body shape.

You changed that.

Or more accurately, you made me realise what I was doing, and helped ME change that.

You helped me to see that assigning "good" or "bad" to food was bullshit.

You helped me see that being overweight didn't impact my ability to do a job, or be loved, or respected.

You helped me see that I'm just fucking fine as me, regardless of hips, ass, and tits.

None of that mattered, because I'm me no matter what size.

And that's ok.

In fact it's awesome.

As a friend, I love you dearly, each visit, PM, email makes me love you more.

But each blog makes me respect you more (like that was even possible). Each blog reminds me that not only are you amazing (even though you're a fattty :P), but I'm amazing too. And even when that bitch at that store says "we don't stock your size", it's her problem, not mine, and I can go to another store, but she'll still be an ass.

I no longer take that shit on myself and try to diet away the horrible, discriminatory, heartless views of the world around me. I accept me for me and allow that bullshit to wash away from me.

So thank you, you do change lives, simply by being the amazing you that I know, admire, respect, and love.

Keep on keeping on, your voice will change others, and they'll be better, stronger, and happier because of it.

Anonymous said...

Thanks again for making me feel OK about my body and love of food. The corporate culture is sick, not us big and wonderful types!
Keep on tellin it like it is, sista

Lynne said...

I am not where you are yet. I still think that I can lose it and keep it off even though I have done it three times now. I still think I can be skinny.
I cried when I read your comments - because I HEARD those comments. Every single one. And..I am married but he hates my fat because for ten minutes ten years ago I was slim....Ugh.