Fat Enough

One of the comments that didn’t get through moderation**:

IDK why you claim fat acceptance; you’re not fat enough. Your no skinny bitch but no fatter than an in betweenie. Leave us real fatties something for our own.

 "All is Vanity" by C. Allan Gilbert. Life, death, and meaning of existence are intertwined. (Woman gazing into boudoir mirror forms shape of skull.)

“All is Vanity” by C. Allan Gilbert. Image in public domain; used via Wikimedia Commons.


For starters, I do understand that there are times when I don’t experience fat hate — and the reason I don’t experience fat hate is because the other person involved doesn’t categorize me as “fat.” I understand that because what’s considered “fat” is a patchwork of guesswork and moving goalposts, there are times when I escape fat hate and body policing that other people experience. Essentially, there are probably plenty of fat people who have it worse than I do. I’m not denying that.

Valid points, however, still follow:

One: I don’t think one has to be fat in order to embrace fat acceptance, size acceptance, or Heath at Every Size. In other words, there’s no lower boundary of what counts as “fat enough” to participate in these movements. (There’s also no upper boundary, but I don’t think this “Anonymous” commenter was suggesting one.) That said, if the commenter was questioning why I claimed “fat” as a descriptor rather than “fat acceptance” as they said, there is point two.

Two: As I said, there are probably plenty of places where I do not experience discrimination on account of my body size. However, there remain plenty of places where I do experience size discrimination. Some of them are relatively harmless, like when some dudebro touches me in public because he thinks my body will jiggle or when people assume being my size means I’m not good at working out, or not . Other times, it materializes in bigger ways, like when my employer considers making obese employees pay more for their health care premiums (dear people: it’s not like I’m wiping my ass with all the extra monies I DON’T HAVE), doctors repeatedly blame issues like endometriosis and broken bones (hello, I slipped on a vibrator!) on being too fat, being told there are no clothes for me here, hiding from yoga in public, or restricting my food and caloric intake in ways that cross the line into obsessive.

In short, there are a number of times when I don’t deal with size discrimination where someone else might. I don’t deny that. But neither does that detract from the times when I do experience (often systemic) discrimination on account of my fat. So:

Three: I will claim this term because it applies to me.

Four: It’s not cool to body police and marginalize, even toward people who are “only a little” marginalized.

** I realize that I’m stricter on comment moderation than some (even most?) blogs. I just want to reiterate that I’m cool with respectful disagreement. However, I’m not okay with negating others’ lived experience or for name calling (and yes, referring to someone as a “skinny bitch,” even if that someone is not me, is name calling). While people are certainly entitled to make such comments, I will not provide a forum to do so here.

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12 comments on “Fat Enough
  1. WTH? Seriously?
    First – there will NEVER be size acceptance until “normal” sized people are also pushing for it.
    Second – just because someone has been working at being healthy does not mean they don’t self-identify as ‘fat’.
    I have a good friend who has lost over 200 pounds. She has kept it off for over 8 years now. She does this by having to be vigilant over her diet and exercise every single day. People who don’t know her have been heard to comment “just one piece of cake – it’s not like you’re fat” or “why exercise so hard? You don’t need to lose weight!”

    In-betweenies need love & acceptance just as much as the grossly obese…

    • Tori says:

      Second – just because someone has been working at being healthy does not mean they don’t self-identify as ‘fat’.

      Very much so. In fact, just because someone has been working at being healthy does not mean that they won’t be fat — by any given definition of fat.

  2. steph says:

    I love this response. I don’t think I’ve spoken up here before, but I followed you over from lj a while back, where I’ve enjoyed your commentary for-ev-er. Thanks for being awesome, there and here! :)

  3. G says:

    Ouch, what a nasty comment. I think that FA (and the broader body acceptance) is a movement that should include everyone. However, for me: I have the privilege to “pass” for not-fat in certain situations, can often buy clothes in non-plus sized shops, can fit into airplane seats, and so on. So I need to check that privilege, and remind myself that my experiences are not universal.

    I don’t think the movement needs to be centered around people of smaller body size. Not that smaller fats aren’t oppressed, but larger fats do face more oppression. (Without turning this into the Oppression Olympics here…)

    • Tori says:

      Agreed. In fact, I think including everyone is necessary for folks to have meaningful, in-depth discussions of size-related privilege. It’s certainly worthwhile to talk about, even intelligently criticize, how one smaller fat person’s** experience is often and systemically privileged over a larger fat person’s experience — how it can help people check their privilege, share their experiences, and know when to shut up and listen.

      But I think it’s actually destructive to tell someone, “You can’t participate in this conversation because you’re not fat enough.”

      ** In my head, I am thinking about this to mean someone about my size, though I realize it extends beyond that.

      • Iris says:

        “But I think it’s actually destructive to tell someone, ‘You can’t participate in this conversation because you’re not fat enough.’ ”

        Hi Tori;
        Ambled over from Feministe’s site. Interesting post.
        I actually experienced a very intimidating woman tell me, after asking me if I was bulimic, to GTFO of a certain group (beginning with “T”) because I wasn’t fat enough. I realize it was her limitation & I could have called her out. I just want to agree that it is destructive to police someone else’s body no matter how righteous it may feel at the time. Thanks for giving me that opportunity.

        Best
        Iris

  4. Sunset says:

    I would also point out that, no matter what weight a woman is, society puts pressure on us to worry about being fat. Even for women who aren’t “fat”, the threat of being or becoming fat is used to police our behavior. Don’t eat that cookie you want. Do more exercise. Weigh yourself every day. Watch what size clothing you buy. If you gain a few pounds make sure to lose them again. And if you don’t do any of these things, you’ll end up being omfg FAT FAT FAT.

    I won’t pretend that what I face as a petite woman is the same level as women who are farther from the socially acceptable weight. I just want to mention that it’s still used to police women’s bodies and behavior, and to remind us that our social acceptance is entirely conditional upon maintaining our waistlines.

  5. Autumn says:

    Oh YIKES. I’m so sorry you got this comment–it’s so obviously short-sighted, but you stated exactly *why* it was short-sighted, and I appreciate it. Part of the whole point is that fat-shaming hurts everyone. As long as “fat” is the worst thing you can call a woman (supposedly), no woman is safe. (On new year’s day last year some random dude started calling me “fat” because I wouldn’t spend my whole subway ride talking with him. I’m not overweight even by the ridiculous BMI standards, nor do I look it. It was just a way of punishing me for being female, but sometimes “bitch” wears thin, I suppose.)

    • Tori says:

      Yeah, I think a big underlying assumption for the “fat=insult” line is the part where people think that other women’s** bodies are fit topics for public commentary.

      ** Including anyone who is “read” as a woman, and probably other folk besides.

  6. Chub Rub Fitness says:

    Great answer to that comment. It is amazing to me how many ways discrimination can go and you have no idea how people self identify and quantify themselves on the continuum of weight, beauty and wealth. It reminds me of when I was in college and was hearing all of these people taking the “Intro to Fem” class and suddenly white men were the problem. No problem is solved by focusing the hate a frustration of the problem at one group or another. I hate to over use this, but can we all just get along and realize we are all fighting battles? Thank you for commenting on that comment :)

  7. I sometimes feel I’m “not fat enough” for FA, so I’m glad you wrote this post. Thank you!

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