Saturday, May 15, 2010

A little riffage on thin allies/potential allies.

I had a conversation once, a long long time ago, with someone who was miles, downright light years from being fat. This woman basically fit the societal mold of being appropriately thin. Somehow, the chat turned to shopping for clothes and I mentioned that I generally hated shopping because I had such limited options and finding clothing that suited my personal style AND fit decently enough. She nodded sagely and informed me that she really, really understood how hard it was to be a fat person because she had gone shopping with a fat friend once.

This? In my head? Not the way to be an ally. Not the way to show support. The only reaction I could have was for my eyes to grow very, very wide and go on a hunt for the nearest liquor cabinet.

Everybody's body is a target in this day and age, no doubt about it - the finger-wagging's aimed at every single person for a variety of reasons and no one escapes it no matter how slender, how toned, how muscular, how groomed. I think for Fat Acceptance to thrive, it needs to involve everyone of every size. However, I also think it's terribly important for those who are of a smaller, more societally acceptable size to kick back and listen to those of us who would be cast as a headless fatty in a news report when we say "no, you really don't understand what it's like to be a fat person simply because you shopped with a fat person once and I'm struggling to conjure up sympathy for you when you go on a roll about the trauma of not being able to find anything you like at Express or the Gap or Anthropologie or Banana Republic or Abercrombie and Fitch or about 19 trillion other clothing stores". It's important for you to understand that the experience of a fat woman like me, the dreaded deathfat, is going to be wildly different than the experiences you might have had. My body is the kind of body that gets cast as the headless fatty in panicked news reports about the obesity epidemic. My body's the body that runs the risk of getting its ass booted off a plane for being too fat to fly. And my body's the kind of body that is often tagged as being too friggin' fat for Fat Acceptance. Oh yes, I will explain.

When I say "too fat for Fat Acceptance", I'm not talking about folks who are enmeshed in FA and have been rocking it for a long time. I'm talking about the folks on the outside looking in, the folks who might be taking their baby steps towards reading up on it and pondering the concept, who are still stuck in that "Real Women Have Curves!!" mode. Women's magazines love to give a fuckton of lip service to EMBRACING YER CURVES! and LOVING YERSELF and so often on pages facing the latest HAWT diet advice. There's a decided limit on how much curve we're allowed to embrace and just how much we're allowed to love ourselves, and if you're built like me? Ohhhhh lordy begordy, I am SO not supposed to not diet. I should be on the table right now, having my stomach jacked with and shrunk down to the size of a thumb (or is it an egg now?) because I AM A TICKING TIME BOMB.

I've probably said it before (I do tend to repeat myself), but the thing you're going to need to accept (hurr) is that if you want to be down with Fat Acceptance and be an ally? It covers ALLLLLLLLLL levels of fat, ALLLLLLLLLLLL levels of health, ALLLLLLLL levels of ability. You don't get to decide that you're going to be all for the fatty that goes to the gym five days a week but scold the fatty that doesn't exercise at all. You don't get to fling kudos at the fatty who eats salad and tsk tsk the fatty that would rather shit twice and die than eat anything resembling a vegetable. Deciding that you believe in Fat Acceptance doesn't give you a pass to subsequently declare certain types of fat people unacceptable for Fat Acceptance.

I want Fat Acceptance to spread and grow, and I want to see loads of people join in. But I'll be damned if I'll blow party horns and toss confetti and have a welcoming cake party for someone who'd eyeball me and see me as a liability.

TWO BLOG NOTES!: 1) I am going to be out of town until Wednesday evening, so if you make a comment, I won't be able to moderate it until then. 2) This post was inspired in part by Lesley's comment regarding how experiences differ for differently sized people during this discussion.


Fantine said...

From one headless fatty to another, I feel you here. I only came into fat acceptance a couple of years ago, so I am a superfat still trying to find my place here. I often feel marginalized when activists, however well meaning, start talking about how the majority of fat people are not that fat, and how most don't have the horrible diseases of obeeeeesity. Because hi, hello, yoo-hoo, over here--my BMI is over 50 and I have high blood pressure. But that doesn't make me any less deserving of rights and respect as a human being than a super healthy fatty who is a vegetarian, practices yoga five times a week, and has perfect numbers on the medical tests. Does it?

I went back and forth on whether to post as anonymous, but finally decided to sign with my usual internet name.

vesta44 said...

Hello from another DEATHFATZ fattie here. I've been investigating/blogging about FA for about 3 1/2 years now. I've reached the point where I don't care what people think about my weight or whether I belong in FA or if I'm too fat for FA, or whatever. I'm doing what I can with/for FA, and if it helps others to see me, as one of the too-fat, in FA, and they decide that FA just might be for them too, then I've done part of what I set out to accomplish.

Dianae said...

Acceptance like love should not be conditional. This "riffage" reminds us that we fatties deserve equal treatment and don't have to earn the right to enjoy delicious, rich food. It's our birthright. We were born this way and shouldn't have to defend that fact.
Kudos to you, M'ame.