The problem with ‘Love Your Body!’

Recently I stumbled across an article entitled ‘Don’t Tell Me To Love My Body‘ by Elyse. There’s a lot I loved about it, a lot of things that need to be understood in body-pos circles and a lot of things that people need to synthesize. 

First of all, Elyse was brave in admitting that she doesn’t love her body. In most body-positive spaces, that’s a huge no-no (‘No Body Hate!’) The pictures she posted were raw and real and it took a lot of guts to post pictures like that and exclaim that she doesn’t like her body.

There were plenty of things she said that I agree with wholeheartedly.

“Or maybe me loving my body is about you. And how you feel about how I feel about my body. If I tell you that “I love my body. I love my freckles. I even love my sagging ass because it’s on my body.” You’ll pat me on the back and tell me that I’m getting it. And I’m not making anyone uncomfortable by complaining about how much I dislike being held up to fucked up beauty standards and how it fucks with my head.”

“The problem is being told that there is a standard of beauty, and I should ignore it. I should ignore it despite the fact that everyone is still holding me to it. I should ignore it and create my own. As long as it makes me feel pseudo-good, and makes other people feel okay with how I pretend to feel about me. But while we’re pretending the real-world standards don’t exist, the real world continues judging us—It’s okay to be more critical of a woman who’s accepted herself.”

“We don’t have to find ourselves beautiful. Beauty is not the one thing that makes us and our bodies worth loving. We don’t have to distort an already fucked-up definition of beauty, and pretend we fit into it, just to feel like we are people worthy of being loved.”

Powerful stuff, right? While I fully believe the intent of concepts like ‘Love Your Body’ and ‘Stop Hating Your Body’ have nothing but the best intentions, they have (at least) three very, very important flaws. They make people who don’t love their bodies feel guilty about it, they focus too much on beauty, and they simply aren’t inclusive.

The guilt one is a huge one. Sure, you can stare at pictures all day of people who love their bodies, read all the inspirational quotes and stories and anecdotes you want, but for some people, loving their bodies, or even liking, even not hating, is far harder than for others. And when you try and try and it still doesn’t happen, every time you see those images, it feels like a slap in the face. It makes you wonder ‘have I not tried hard enough?’ ‘What do I need to do differently?’ Not to mention, of course, there’s body dysmorphia, there’s depression, eating disorders and other psychological issues, there’s years of abuse from family members, strangers, and media. It’s a huge uphill battle to combat all that. It’s a struggle. And then you see all these other people who’ve overcome their body image issues, and on top of hating your body, you feel like a failure for not being able to just get over it. It’s a double dose of negativity.

Not to mention, it comes off like a command. Almost like a threat. Love your body! (or else!) The message should be more gentle. I know what it’s aiming at is to tell people that it’s okay to love your body, that you’re allowed to, that it’s possible. But it comes off as so demanding!

How many times have you heard some variation of ‘Everyone is beautiful!’? It sounds innocuous, but the fact remains that it’s still leaning so heavily on beauty. And beauty is an abstract and severely overinflated concept, that ideas like ‘everyone is beautiful’ only serve to perpetuate, however unintentionally. Beauty, at the end of the day, is something that can’t be qualified. It means too many different things to too many different people, and it doesn’t matter. Let me repeat that. Beauty does not matter. We get too caught up in trying to make everyone feel beautiful that we forget that to be totally honest, beauty is bullshit. It serves no purpose. It helps no one. On a personal level, I do truly believe that everyone is beautiful. Even if not to me, then to someone. I’ll always believe that. But I also firmly believe that the focus needs to be elsewhere, away from beauty. The power of beauty is one that we need to question and deconstruct, not further fuel with statements like ‘everyone is beautiful!’ I’m just as guilty of perpetuating this line of thought as most people are.

Perhaps most importantly, take a second to google image ‘stop hating your body’ or ‘love your body’. You’ll get thousands upon thousands of images like this. Or this. Or this. (the caption on the last one there actually makes me want to laugh because it does not match the picture whatsoever.) The face of all these ‘love your body’ campaigns feature mostly white women, who are thin (or perhaps a bit chubby at best), white, cis, able-bodied, long-haired, and pretty much exactly what the definition of conventional ‘beauty’ is. It alienates so many demographics of people who, in our culture, have every reason to hate their bodies. People who are fat enough that they can’t shop in regular stores. People who aren’t white, who’ve been told their whole lives that they’re too dark, their hair too kinky, their look too unconventional to ever be beautiful (or else they’re fetishized as ‘exotic!’ or ‘other’) People who are trans*, who are trapped in a body that doesn’t represent the gender they are. People who are disabled, whose bodies literally don’t work the way they’re supposed to. People who want a family so badly, but they’re not fertile. The list is endless! It’s not that easy to just buck up and ‘love your body!’ when you have to worry about whether you’ll be attacked because you used a certain bathroom, or when you’re swallowing pills like candy just to keep your pain at a decent enough level to get through the day. Seeing photos of thin girls writing hearts on their tummies with captions about how you DESERVE to love your body is frankly almost insulting.

All that being said, I don’t think that this article should really make anyone feel secure that it’s okay to hate their body. I’m not saying that this article is encouraging that, but while you can feel any way you want about your body, hating it is so exhausting and sucks so much energy that could be better spent elsewhere. At the end of the day, your body is a part of you, it’s not going anywhere. Hating your body is literally hating a part of yourself. I just can’t condone that. Of course, it’s not up to me, I can either believe that people are allowed to feel how they want about their bodies or I don’t, but it hurts me to see energy wasted on body hate.

Bodies changes. What is considered ‘beautiful’ changes. Moods change. But I think the most important part is to question what any of it really accomplishes, whether it be beauty, body hate, or the opinions of others.

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Privilege for Absolute Beginners.

Authors note: I am writing this blog and trying to be considerate of as many people’s experiences as I can, but all the same, I do have privilege and there is some mention of problems I never have to deal with, such as being trans* or a person of color. If anything I said is offensive or out of line in ANY way, please call me out on it so I can fix it!

Sorry about the blog title–a warning, there will be NO David Bowie in this post. Sorry!

I want to talk about privilege. If you’ve delved into the social justice scene, especially on tumblr, the word privilege probably makes you cringe. I know, I know. I can’t blame you. All the fighting, all the arguing, all the bashing–does privilege exist, does it not, what counts as oppression, etc. etc. etc.. I feel like we’ve gotten away from what’s important, and so I thought I should make a post that’s way, way back to basics. For beginners. Pretending that no one’s ever heard of privilege so we can cut away all the nonsense.

Privilege is absolutely a real thing, and it absolutely does exist. The first problem with privilege is the word itself. It can be very off-putting. For me personally, before I started learning about social justice, privilege meant something very specific to me. Privilege was something that someone got that made them better than everyone else. Privilege was something that people are aware that they have. Privilege was something tangible, something that was handed to me. Privilege was something that can be given easily or taken away easily.

Well, none of those things are true in social justice context.  So I’m going to explain things that privilege IS so we can focus on that, instead of what it’s not.

So what is privilege? Simply put, privilege is “a special advantage, immunity, permission, right, or benefit granted to or enjoyed by an individual, class, or caste” and, “such an advantage, immunity, or right held as a prerogative of status or rank, and exercised to the exclusion or detriment of others.” More simply put, it’s something that people have that makes their lives easier than other people’s, whether they’re aware of it or not.

The number one thing I think is important to mention is that privilege is NOT a bad word, nor a bad thing to have. You are not wrong for having privilege, you’re not a bad person. It simply gets frustrating for people without the same privilege watch you take yours for granted. That’s a great place to start, actually!

Privilege is something most people take for granted.
One of the major points of privilege is that most people aren’t aware that they have it–that’s what makes most people so upset when they get called out on it. If you’ve lived your whole life a certain way, it’s only natural that it can fail to occur to you that not everyone has lived the same experiences you have, or that they can’t do things as easily. Here’s just a few examples of that.

  • If you’re white, you can be sure that if you get pulled over by a cop, it’s not because of your skin color. When you go to see a film or watch a TV show, you will feel comfortable because most of the people you see will be the same race as you.
  • If you’re male, you will not be accused of being a ‘whore’ or a slut’ if you sleep around. You are also able to interview for a job without being asked questions about whether you’re planning to start a family soon and if that will affect your ability to work.
  • If you’re cis, you will never be afraid to go into a bathroom marked with your gender. People will not use incorrect pronouns when talking to you or harass you for the way you dress.
  • If you’re thin, you will not be judged if you’re at a restaurant and choose to eat a steak instead of a salad. You can go to your doctor with a concern about your health and not have the doctor immediately blame it on your weight without running any tests or asking any questions.

If you have privilege, these are things you never even have to think of, so you tend to assume that no one else does either.  The first step in understanding privilege is recognizing your own. Evaluate the things you do day to day and try to understand why it would be harder for someone who’s a different skin color, a different religion, a different weight, disabled, etc. If you can walk into a restaurant without researching it first to see if there the booths are big enough to fit you, that’s a privilege. If you can go shopping without someone from the store following you around because your skin color makes you ‘suspicious’, that’s a privilege. It’s innocuous, but it’s important.

Privilege isn’t absolute.
Privilege is a bit abstract in this way. This is one of the things that naysayers cling to. You’ll see from time to time, “Well, I’M fat, and I’VE never had _______ experience!” or “I’ve never known any black people who’ve experienced racism!” This in itself is a privilege because people who say this are basing it on their own experiences, and their own experiences alone. It’s very important to realize that just because you haven’t had a specific experience, there are many, many people who have, and by not believing what they’re saying, you’re invalidating their personal experiences. This is definitely something to avoid! Privilege is relative and deeply personal, and one thing you don’t have the right to do is tell someone that their experience doesn’t matter. It’s also important not to judge the way an experience that you haven’t had affects someone else.

Privilege works on a sliding scale.
This one is especially relevant for thin privilege. The experience of a person who’s a size 16 is going to be extraordinarily different than a person who’s a size 32. Although both of these sizes are considered fat/plus size/what have you, you can ‘get away with’ a lot more if you’re a size 16. Lots of stores will still have clothes that’ll be able to fit you. Chances are you won’t have to think about buying two seats on an airplane. Movie theatre seats aren’t going to be too uncomfortable. However, if you’re a size 32, not only will you not be able to find anything to wear in a regular store, even most plus size stores don’t go up to your size. You will get stared at every time you leave your house. People will constantly talk about your health and your weight. The same idea applies in a situation with a person of color who’s light enough to ‘pass’ for white vs. someone with very dark skin.

Privilege is intersectional.
Intersectionality is super important when talking about privilege (I’m actually going to do a separate post on intersectionality because I think it’s one of the most important parts of any movement like feminism or fat acceptance.) Intersectionality is how different groups of oppressed/minorities meet, or intersect, (hence the name!) Example–a woman has less privilege than a man. A woman of color has less privilege than a white woman. Likewise, a disabled person has less privilege than an able-bodied person. And a fat disabled person has less privilege than a thin disabled person. In the case of a fat disabled person, many people will assume that they’re disabled because they’re fat, and judge them harshly for it.

I hope this has shed some light and made it at least a bit easier to understand what privilege entails. For handy reading, I’m linking to some various privilege checklists! I know every single blog post about privilege links to privilege checklists, but I’m going to add a disclaimer. It’s important to note that not every single point will apply to every single person. And even if you have privilege, chances are you’ll still be able to check off a few things on each list. As I said, privilege is not absolute, and these lists are NOT gospel, nor are they perfect.

If you have any thoughts, please feel free to share them in the comments!

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How to Date a Fat Girl.

I’ve thankfully been in a relationship for over two years now–I say thankfully, because it’s tough out there (well, that and I’m very much in love with my boyfriend!) The more I talk to my friends, the more I realize that men have no idea how to talk to fat girls. So I figured I’d create a handy how-to list, which will hopefully be helpful to those ready to pop on out of the fat closet, or who already have but aren’t having much success. This is written in a pretty heteronormative manner, which I apologize for, but the experiences I’m most familiar with are men trying to chase women.

This is loosely based on my own experiences as well as the experiences and suggestions of many girls I’ve talked to. Do you have more suggestions? Feel free to comment!

1) DON’T mention her weight. 
Mentioning this first because it’s SUPER important, and it’s the first thing guys tend to mess up on. Look, I’m a body positivity advocate. I identify as fat.  I realize that attraction is important and some people are attracted to fat bodies (which is totally cool!) All that being said: weight is just something you shouldn’t mention to anyone in a first conversation, fat or thin. I’ve seen so many opening lines, especially on dating sites, along the lines of

‘you’re cute, I love bbws.’

‘I’m a chubby chaser.’

‘I’ve always been attracted to bigger girls.’

Here’s the thing. JUST STOP ALREADY. It makes us feel like you’re talking to us JUST for our body. Especially on a dating site. You don’t need to have the username ‘bbwlover2012’, you don’t need to talk in your profile about how you’re looking for a fat girl, or how you define yourself as a chubby chaser*. You probably think that it’ll make fat girls more likely to contact you first, but honestly it’s hurting your cause more than anything. It makes you sound like all you care about is our bodies, that’s the most important part to you. It’s REALLY bad to make a girl feel like you’re objectifying her straight off the bat. So during a first conversation, don’t qualify why you’re talking to her. You don’t have to state that you’re attracted to larger bodies. Guess what? You talking to a fat girl, showing interest, and that says all we need to know! You wouldn’t message a thin girl and say ‘I think you’re hot, I’m really attracted to skinny girls’, would you? (I hope not.) I don’t want to speak for all fat chicks, but we’re looking for something pretty specific. Not someone who likes us because of our body, not someone who likes us in spite of our body. Just someone who likes us. All of us. So if you see a fat chick you’re interested in, try to find some common ground and base conversation starters on that. You both love Lord of the Rings? Excellent! You’re both into the same band? Great! Look at that, you’ve found a conversation opening!

*(Note, saying things like ‘real women have curves’, ‘only dogs like bones’, ‘skinny girls are gross’ are horrible things to say. You are more than welcome to have your preferences, but putting down other body types or other people’s preferences is NOT okay. And it doesn’t win you any points.)

2. Fat girls are girls too.
It may seem silly to mention, but it actually is important. Fat girls aren’t magical, mystical creatures. There’s no special way you need to talk to them, no different procedure, here. I get that question from time to time. ‘How do I approach a fat girl?’ Just like ANY other girl! We’re real people with real personalities and feelings. Just talk to us. We’ll appreciate it. Trust me. As fat girls, we spend a lot of our lives being treated differently–and it’s usually not in a good way. We’re not looking for you to make up for it. We’re just looking for you to get it and not do more of the same! As much as it may seem counterintuitive since I’m writing a whole post on how to date a fat girl, but a lot of this can be boiled down to this simple statement: date a fat girl the same way you’d date any other girl.

3. Don’t be offended if she’s suspicious.
Again, can’t speak for all fat girls, but lots of us have had a lot of bad experiences when it comes to dating. Men who’ll talk the good talk but won’t be seen with us in public, men who’ll have sex with us but make fun of fat girls to their friends, men who think we’re ‘desperate’ and ‘easy’ and just a quick lay. That can be a real self-esteem killer for us, and it can make us gun shy. So we can tend to be a little leery when a guy professes interest. Don’t take it personally. If you’ve managed to stick by rule number one, you might get a question like ‘So you don’t care that I’m fat?’ from a girl. This can be a tricky one to navigate. Just try to assure her that you’re attracted to what’s on the inside and the outside!

4. Be humble.
This might sound harsh, but you have no idea how many men expect some kind of reward for being attracted to fat girls. Well, you don’t. Maybe it’s not socially ‘in’ right now, but the fact of the matter is, PLENTY of guys like fat girls. Lots of them don’t want to admit it. Lots of them don’t tell anyone. But believe you me. If you don’t think there are guys out there who like fat girls, you are so wrong. I understand that it can be hard, you’re afraid of your friends or your family ragging on you for dating fat girls. But if you think that’s bad, try being the fat girlfriend. We get worried if your friends are going to judge us or snigger. We worry if your parents are going to tell you ‘you can do better.’ Any time you think it’s hard for you, remember it’s a lot harder for us.

5. Take her out in public.
I mentioned that most of us have had bad experiences, being the ‘secret’ lover, not ever getting to meet a guy’s friends, and it’s really quite painfully true. The fact that I have to add this piece of advice kind of makes me sad, but I feel it’s important. A lot of times when a fat girl is out with a guy in public, people assume that they’re ‘just friends.’ There’s such a stigma out there that fat girls never get the guy. Take her out to dinner, to the movies, walk around town. Hold her hand, put your arm around her. Looking couple-y doesn’t hurt! If you’re scared of what people think? You don’t deserve to have a fat girlfriend.

6. Be aware that sizeism is completely real, and don’t invalidate her experiences.
There are lots of folks out there who hate fat people. The vitriol some people have for others based purely on body size can be quite frightening. Understand that us ladies live in a culture where every magazine, every commercial, every ad is telling us that our bodies are wrong. We are not represented in media except as comic relief or the ‘before’ picture in a diet ad. Different fat girls have different experiences, but we’ve all experienced a lifetime of discrimination. Be sensitive to that. Chances are, she’ll have bad body image days. Chances are, there will be days when someone says something vicious and it’s hard for her to shake it off. Be aware that there’s a whole system of oppression working against her, and it’s hard sometimes.

7. Talk about it.
‘Whoa there, hold on!,’ you’re saying. ‘Didn’t number one say NOT to talk about it?’ Well yeah. Not at first. But the truth is, fat is one of those defining features that can’t really be ignored. It’s not who a person is, but you can’t ignore it either. Living in a fat bodies shapes many experiences for a person, and it’s important to understand and be sensitive to it. Different girls are at different stages of comfort and acceptance of their bodies (and frankly, that goes for all girls of all shapes and sizes!) Understand that some things are a little tougher for us. We can’t go into any old store in the mall and find an outfit. Sometimes booths aren’t the best ideas at a restaurant. There are probably things you haven’t thought about that she might be embarrassed about. It’s important to communicate these things and make her feel that she has a safe space to express these feelings.

8. NO QUALIFIERS.
“You’re not fat, you’re beautiful!”

“You’re so confident for a bigger girl!”

No. No no no no. If she calls herself fat, let her. If she wants to call herself chunky, or curvy, or voluptuous, let her. It’s her body to call what she wants. And if you’re going to compliment her, don’t do it in a backhanded way. Acknowledge that she’s both fat AND beautiful. Fat AND confident. Fat AND stylish. Fat isn’t a bad thing to be, and both of you need to realize that.

Your mileage may vary on any of these points, of course. All girls are different, all girls want slightly different things. There’s never going to be a one-size-fits-all list, especially when talking about such a large group of people! (pun not intended, yikes!) But overall it just comes down to being sensitive, perceptive, and attentive. Frankly, these are good values to have anyway!

Hope you’ve found this list helpful!

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Avoiding Holiday Shame.

As much as everyone may love the holidays, there’s certain parts of the holiday season that every fat person (and even most non-fat people!) dreads. The (generally) once a year family get together where you’re bombarded with oh-so-many personal questions such as:

“Do you have a boy/girlfriend?”

“What are you studying in school?”

And of course, the dreaded:

“Oh dear, you look like you’ve put on some weight!”

“Do you really need a second helping of that?”

“You should be wearing something that flatters your tummy!”

Your mileage may vary, some families are much more considerate and some are much less, but the common theme seems to be that where family is concerned, your body is everyone’s business. And no one should have to worry about spending what should be an enjoyable time worrying who’s going to judge how much you have heaped on your plate.

So, with that in mind, here’s some helpful advice to navigate this treacherous topic.

1. Just say no.
Family members tend to feel that since you’re related, they have a say in what you do with your body. That’s simply not true. If a family member starts, de-escalate the situation with a simple “You’re welcome to your opinion, but what I choose to do with my body is not up for debate.” Most family members are not used to hearing something like this, so it’s usually enough to diffuse the situation. But if they continue to press the topic, something a bit more firm might be needed. “My body is my business and I don’t feel comfortable discussing it with you.” If that doesn’t work, do not feel obligated to stay in the situation. Get up and walk away. It is okay to remove yourself from a situation in which you don’t feel comfortable. And in some very drastic situations, if you find that you get ganged up on by multiple family members, it’s okay not to even put yourself in that situation to begin with. Spend the day with good friends, instead. See if you can tag along to someone else’s party. Even staying home is better than putting yourself in a situation that you know will cause you to feel badly about yourself.

2. Don’t engage in diet talk.
A common exclamation you’ll hear during a holiday dinner is “Ugh, this has SO many calories/so much fat/so many carbs/etc.,” “I really shouldn’t eat this, I’m on a diet,” “My New Years Resolution is going to be to stop eating like this!” You’ll notice that we live in a culture where people tend to bond over judgment of what they’re eating. You don’t have to partake in that, either. If you hear comments like that, don’t engage or respond to them. A simple “I’ve been looking forward to grandma’s apple pie all year!” should do the trick.

3. Change the subject.
If you hear something about diet/food/weight loss/body talk that you’re not comfortable with, it’s okay to redirect the conversation. “So I hear you went to Germany this year/got a new job/volunteered/etc. Tell me all about that!” Chances are these are people you don’t get to see often, and a lot goes on in most people’s lives, getting them to talk about their lives rather than what they’re currently putting in their mouths (or not) is a great thing to do. It also has the added bonus of making you into the family member who is actually interested about what goes on in your relative’s lives. That’s super awesome!

4. Remember that it’s not about you.
As silly as it may sound, a lot of times when people direct diet talk at you, it’s less to do with you and more to do with them. Chances are they’re not feeling so hot about their own body, or they’re on a diet, or they’re guilty that they ate something, and they want someone to commiserate with. It’s okay not to want to participate in that. Don’t weigh yourself down thinking that you’re wrong or bad or that you’re being picked on. Don’t internalize it. Chances are, it’s not you.

5. Don’t feel guilty.
This is a big one, which is why I saved it for last. And of course, it’s SO much easier said than done. But if anything else, let this be your mantra. It is OKAY to eat a lot on the holidays. It’s okay to eat things that aren’t healthy. It is okay to have seconds. The holidays are only once a year. Don’t concentrate on how many calories you’re consuming. Don’t concentrate on how much weight you think you’ll gain. Food is not inherently bad, and worrying about it can easily ruin what can be a joyous time with family and friends. If you really feel like you overdid it, wrangle up a few family members and go for a walk around the neighborhood to look at the Christmas lights. But do it with family bonding, holiday cheer, and catching up being the main goal, not to burn calories.

Also, don’t feel guilty for employing any of the above mentioned techniques. Don’t feel guilty for changing the subject if diet talk upsets you. Don’t feel guilty for walking away. Don’t feel guilty for having boundaries.

The best part about this is if you use the above named techniques, and if you do it not just during the holidays, but at all family functions/get togethers, eventually your family members will know that it’s not something you’re a willing participant in, and they won’t try to engage you.

As I said, it’s so much easier said than done, but all you can do is try! I hope this helps some of you out there!

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Fatshion, Networking, and Finding a Place for Myself.

(note: this post is copied directly from my Tumblr–but I think it’s a big reason why I’ve failed to update this blog in so long as well!)

I’ve been meaning to make a post regarding this excellent blog post that Natalie wrote about fatshion. If you haven’t read it yet, stop and take a moment to; I’ll wait.

I tried talking about this once before and got attacked fairly viciously, so I’m hoping this time around goes better. (although this time I have anon off, so we’ll see.)

I’ve all but stopped making my own posts about fat acceptance because I feel like I’m a square peg trying to fit into a circular hole. I simply cannot find a place for myself in this movement, and I feel like the things that I have to say that I feel are important will never be seen by the ‘right’ people, and therefore never get enough attention or notes to matter.

  • I can’t afford lots of new clothes all the time. Or even some of the time. Nor should I have to! I’m sorry, have you seen this economy? I can’t afford $50 Lane Bryant bras, $100 Domino Dollhouse dresses, $30 for a pair of leggings.
  • and even if I could, most of the clothes that all the fatshion bloggers go gaga over aren’t available to me at a size 32+. (hint: if your company claims to offer stylish options for fat women, but ends at a size 24/26, you’re not trying hard enough.) I don’t have a nice camera to make OOTD blog posts. I never look put together.
  • I don’t do the networking thing. I don’t have the model friends, the blogger friends, the academic friends, the author friends, the friends who run shops. I don’t have people to constantly signal boost me and talk about how great I am, to quote me and reblog me all the time. (That’s not to say that I haven’t been quoted in the past, because I have!)
  • I spend a lot of time on my computer, yes, but I simply don’t have it in me to be around on Tumblr/in the fatosphere ALL the time. I work full time. I go to school full time. I’m babysitting more and more. I don’t have the time to start networking even if I wanted to. If I could make money by blogging/being a fat girl on the internet, I would. But I’m not going to sell my body. I’m not going to review clothes. I don’t have any talents to make trinkets or drawing or clothes to sell through etsy. (Not that there’s anything wrong with people who do, it’s just not for me!)
  • I’m not going to reblog fat-shaming posts and yell at people who don’t believe in thin privilege. I’m not going to end everything I say with a witty line and a gif. I did that for a while, and I found it accomplished nothing except heighten my basal anxiety level.

Oh!, you may think. But why does it matter how many people see what you have to say?

Because it’s frustrating. It’s hard to see the same photos, or the same quotes, by the same ‘big-name’ people over and over. Not that the pictures aren’t great, or the quotes aren’t great. But there needs to be more room for all of us. Just because we’re not names that everyone knows or faces that everyone’s seen doesn’t make us any less important. I find that this movement can be so cliquey. If you don’t know the right people, you’re basically ignored. If you don’t have sick fashion, if you don’t do giveaways, if you don’t make sassy gifs, you’re invisible. Your efforts are basically useless.

The last time I made a post like this, I got not one, but multiple anon asks that said something along the lines of ‘shut up, we don’t want you in our movement anyway.’ And I think that really speaks to the exclusivity that some people feel about a movement that is supposed to be embracing everyone.

I don’t miss the drama, but I miss feeling like I had the potential to make a difference. And that sucks.

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Food is not the enemy.

Last night at work I was casually reading the label of the Dannon Light and Fit yogurt I was eating. Ordinarily not my particular choice of yogurt, but it’s the brand that my hospital just happens to get for our patients.

I’m guilty of reading nutrition labels of products not because it really affects whether I’ll eat it, but just with the casual interest of someone who reads the back of a cereal box while eating breakfast, or the back of a shampoo bottle while in the shower. Just for the sheer reason of having something to do.

As I’m reading, I stumble over the warning I’ve seen so many times:

Phenylketonurics: contains phenylalanine.

It made me think.

Our culture has demonized the things that naturally come in food. Calories, fat, protein, carbs, sugars, sodium. There are products that are specifically made to be zero calorie. Does it make anyone else wonder? If you’re eating something that’s zero calorie/zero fat/zero whatever else–if it’s not calories you’re ingesting. . .what exactly is it?

We have demonized the things that we need for our bodies.

Calories are not evil. Calories, in their most simple definition, are energy. You NEED energy to get through your day.

Fat is not evil. You need fat in your diet for brain development, to absorb nutrients, to cover your organs.

Carbs are not evil. You NEED carbs in your diet for fuel.

Sodium is not evil. Having too little sodium in your body can kill you.

Far be it from me to police what anyone puts in their bodies, but the fact that things that are literally necessary for basic human functions are looked down upon in so many ads, so many products, it really rubs me the wrong way. Especially how so many of the products are labeled as ‘guilt free.’  (Likewise, when something is ‘bad’ for you, it’s often described as ‘sinful’ or ‘decadent’.) You shouldn’t feel guilty for putting food in your mouth. Ever, ever, ever.

And hell, things that are made with real, legitimate ingredients instead of chemicals and aspartame just taste better. And having food that tastes good is also something that should never make you feel like you’re being ‘sinful’ or ‘decadent’.

I don’t want a 60 calorie yogurt. When I’m at work and I grab a snack, I grab it because I’m running around all night and I need energy to be alert and effective. The difference between a 60 calorie ‘light and fit’ yogurt and the 100 calories it would be normally, it doesn’t really make a difference in the grand scheme of things.

But really, I’m more concerned about what we’re replacing these things our body needs with. Phenylalanine? Okay, so it’s an essential amino acid, but to replace other things with it is so unnecessary. In fact, according to wikipedia, large quantaties of phenylalanine interferes with the production of serotonin, a chemical that allows you to feel happy. So in a twist of fate, consuming too much phenylalanine actually harms your well being!

The things that we replace our calories, carbs, sodium with ends up being more harmful than what they’re cutting out.

The things that are naturally in food are not the enemy.

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The Health Conundrum.

The biggest arguments I hear from people against Fat Acceptance is typically something about the following:

  • “Being fat is unhealthy! It’s been proven!”
  • “You’re going to get diabetes!”
  • “You might be healthy now but what happens when it catches up with you?” (aka a Vague Future Health Threat)

And so on and so forth.

Now I’ve gone over in my sticky post how most of the so-called ‘facts’ about obesity are biased, incorrect, or blown completely out of proportion. And I stand by all of that. Weight simply doesn’t determine your health. Full stop. Fat people can be healthy, just as thin people can be unhealthy. This is one of the main points I would like people who read my blog to take away from it.

However.

Within the fat community itself, whilst combatting fat-shaming and bashing in stereotypes, I’ve come to realize that Fat Activism has its very own ‘good fatty/bad fatty dichotomy’ (read an excellent post about this by Tasha Fierce.)

When combatting fat hate, I tend to see the same arguments over and over from fat people.

  • “I eat healthy and go to the gym!”
  • “I’m vegetarian!”
  • “I follow Health At Every Size!”
  • “My blood pressure/cholesterol/glucose is totally normal!”
  • “I have Hypothyroidism/Cushing’s/a low metabolism/etc.”

I understand that these people are trying to prove that fat doesn’t equate to unhealthy, but in doing that, a perhaps unintended consequence is that it causes a huge rift within the Fat Acceptance movement itself.

There are fat people who don’t work out, who don’t want to work out. Who live off junk food and being sedentary. There are fat people with diabetes and heart disease. There are fat people in the feeder community who enjoy eating unhealthy foods and enjoy gaining weight. There are fat people who simply don’t have access to healthier foods or the ability to be as physically active as they’d like to. There are unhealthy fat people.

What about them? Since they are so-called ‘bad’ fatties are they somehow less worthy of respect?

I’ve had friends of mine who’ve felt like their voices didn’t matter, who’ve flat out refused to speak up, because they assume that since they’re not healthy or virtuous, they do nothing but exacerbate stereotypes about fat. And this kind of mindset is so detrimental to the community at large.

When I represent Fat Acceptance, I represent it for ALL people. Skinny people, fat people, disabled people,  healthy people, unhealthy people, an entire spectrum.

Your personal health does not invalidate the movement. The very CRUX of Fat Acceptance is the mindset that ALL BODIES ARE GOOD BODIES, is the mindset that everyone deserves respect, not to be judged, not to be lambasted for their choices.

Health is absolutely important but it’s not a high priority for many people and that is okay. At the end of the day your body the only thing that’s 100% yours. You can do what you want with it. We all end up the same way, some of us sooner than others, but dead is dead. You have, above all, the right to use your body as you see fit. To some people, keeping in excellent shape and only eating certain things makes them feel good. To other people, not working up a sweat, and eating anything with sugar or carbs makes them feel good. To still other people, it’s a combination, or something different. You may not be able to understand why someone else makes the choices with their body that they do, but that’s okay, because you don’t have to understand. It’s not your body. You don’t have to understand, but you do have to accept.

You do not owe health to anyone. You don’t even need to bring it up. Health is private. 

Being a so-called ‘healthy’ fatty does not give you any leverage over a fat person who’s not healthy. And it’s important that people realize this.

To everyone who’s scared to speak out in support of Fat Acceptance because of their own personal health: please don’t be scared. We need you. Your voices are so important, let them be heard.

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