My relationship with fat (another obligatory F-bomb warning, B-word, etc…)

I use the word “fat.” I use that word because that’s what people are: they’re fat. They’re not bulky; they’re not large, chunky, hefty or plump. And they’re not big-boned. Dinosaurs were big-boned. These people are not overweight: this term somehow implies there is some correct weight. There is no correct weight. Heavy is also a misleading term. An aircraft carrier is heavy; it’s not fat. Only people are fat, and that’s what fat people are! They’re fat! – George Carlin

Reclaiming the word fat was the most empowering step in my progress. I stopped using it for insult or degradation and instead replaced it with truth, because the truth is that I am fat, and that’s ok. So now when someone calls me fat, I agree, whereas before I would get embarrassed and emotional. – Beth Ditto of Gossip

Hi, I am FAT. Fat is an accurate descriptor that describes me. I am fat and I also like and enjoy my body. I am fat and am happy and a complete person. I am fat and I have an extremely enjoyable personal life (wink, wink, nudge, nudge, say no more, say no more). I am fat and I am smart and happy with my accomplishments. I am fat and I do NOT hate myself, spend my weekends alone, or cry every night alone in my room. I am fat and I enjoy activities that are physical in nature. I am fat AND attractive; my WHOLE body, not just my face.

Assholes: You should hate yourself because you’re fat and that’s ugly.

Fat People: I think I look marvelous.

Assholes: Well, you should hate yourself because being fat isn’t healthy.

Fat People: Why is my health your problem?

Assholes: Your being fat gives a bad example to my kids who then will think it’s OK to be fat and unhealthy.

Fat People: Why are your kids my problem?

Assholes: Why won’t you hate yourself?

Fat People: Because then I’d be just like you. (source)

I do not find my fatness to be problematic. I find others relationship to my fatness to be problematic. I find it problematic when others use my fatness as an excuse not to treat me with dignity and respect. Similarly, I do not find my queerness, my gender expression, my female-ness, my income level, my dis/ability, my adoptee status, my childfree status, etc. to be problematic. I find it problematic when others use my queerness as an excuse not to treat me with dignity and respect. I find it problematic when others use my gender expression as an excuse not to treat me with dignity and respect. I find it problematic when others use my female-ness as an excuse not to treat me with dignity and respect. I find it problematic when others use my income level as an excuse not to treat me with dignity or respect. Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera…

I say these things to remind myself of my value as a human being, to engage in radical self-care in order to survive and thrive in a culture that devalues so many parts of my identity. Not only that, I consciously and purposefully choose to put myself in places, in relationships, and in contexts that treats my differences as strengths and as adding to a better and more diverse world.

Those of us who stand outside the circle of this society’s definition of acceptable women; those of us who have been forged in the crucibles of difference – those of us who are poor, who are lesbians, who are Black, who are older – know that survival is not an academic skill. It is learning how to stand alone, unpopular and sometimes reviled, and how to make common cause with those others identified as outside the structures in order to define and seek a world in which we can all flourish. It is learning how to take our differences and make them strengths.  — Audre Lorde

However, this path hasn’t been without some sacrifices. For example, it has also meant saying goodbye to the Southern Baptist Church, which I still consider part of my culture, but to expose myself to the SBC on a regular basis would mean leaving my humanity at the door and placing myself in an emotionally unsafe space. Oddly enough, I still miss it, probably in a way that a child might miss an abusive parent. Like I said, it’s very much a part of my culture and where I come from, but for my own safety, I have had to create home in other places. In order to be in more affirming spaces, I’ve avoided spaces that are more heteronormative. I’ve avoided healthcare. I’ve avoided relationships with others including my family of origin because the stances that are harmful for me are reflected back to me through them. “You have such a pretty face… it’s what’s on the inside that counts… you should grow your hair out long… I worry about you not finding a husband if you are fat…” while simultaneously giving me looks of pity or disgust and judgment…

I’m sorry folks from my past or my present who have been put in a distant place, but I’ve had to unlearn some of the things you have taught me (that our culture has taught you) in order to become a happier person. I know you probably meant well or you were doing the best you could, but you taught me to HATE myself. I refuse to do that any longer.

I am the woman who… has to love herself or die. If you are not as strong as I am, what will we make together? I am all muscle and wounded desire, and I need to know how strong we both can be. Two or three things I know for sure, and one of them is how long it takes to learn to love yourself, how long it took me, how much love I need now. – Dorothy Allison

By engaging in radical self acceptance, choosing spaces and relationships that are affirming, and even directing my online readings to an affirming place, I have created a life that is strengthening and enhancing. So, I would like to direct you to some of the readings, bloggers, etc. that are a part of my life and philosophy. Why? Because self acceptance is awesome. I’ve become a better daughter, sister, friend, lover, citizen, therapist, etc. as a result of learning to treat myself with respect first. I feel more whole as a person. I take more risks. I question myself less. I am able to identify my strengths more. My relationships are much more satisfying.

You Don’t Have to Be Pretty. You don’t owe prettiness to anyone. Not to your boyfriend/spouse/partner, not to your co-workers, especially not to random men on the street. You don’t owe it to your mother, you don’t owe it to your children, you don’t owe it to civilization in general. Prettiness is not a rent you pay for occupying a space marked “female.” more…

The magnificence of a body that shakes, spills out, takes up space, needs help, moseys, slinks, limps, drools, rocks, curls over on itself.  The magnificence of a body that doesn’t get to choose when to go to the bathroom, let alone which bathroom to use.  A body that doesn’t get to choose what to wear in the morning, what hairstyle to sport, how they’re going to move or stand, or what time they’re going to bed.  The magnificence of bodies that have been coded, not just undesirable and ugly, but un-human.  The magnificence of bodies that are understanding gender in far more complex ways than I could explain in an hour.  Moving beyond a politic of desirability to loving the ugly.  Respecting Ugly for how it has shaped us and been exiled. Seeing its power and magic, seeing the reasons it has been feared. Seeing it for what it is: some of our greatest strength. – Mia Mingus                                        more…

Posts on Radical Self-Acceptance from LoveLiveGrow

Reddit Users Attempt to Shame Sikh Woman, Get Righteously Schooled – I included this because I also am hairy; eyebrow, lip, the works… I’m loving this woman’s response to rude comments about her facial hair so very much!

Fat oppression is insidious. It’s the kind of thing that affects everyone intensely in ways they are rarely aware of. Mainstream media teaches us that fat is aesthetically and sexually undesirable and the rhetoric around the obesity epidemic will teach you that fat = death. Like many other kinds of oppression, fat oppression is fear-based. But rather than just being afraid of fat people, often thin people get freaked out by fatties because they are afraid, themselves, of becoming fat. Oppression also acts as a way that people get power and control over other people using social constructions. People actively engaging in fat hatred are using the arbitrariness of body size to get a sense of power over fat people and also over the fear they have of getting fat. (more…) – Bevin Branlandingham at QueerFatFemme

So, having said all this. I suppose my post isn’t really about fat. It’s about people, it’s about assumptions, fear, hate, judgement… it’s about oppression… because like I said, my problem isn’t with my fat, it’s with others’ fear and ignorance…

The moment I realized I didn’t have to be beautiful was the moment I was finally free.
Ugly. Ugly bitch. Ugly fat bitch.
So fuck you. Fuck your “flattering clothes.” Fuck your “cover your fat rolls.” Fuck your “ideal weight.” Fuck your “you’ll never get a date.” Fuck your picking apart my face and body. Fuck your “I’d kill myself if I looked like you.” But most of all? Fuck your “pretty.”
I’ll aim for “compassionate” and “kind” and “strong” and “brave.” I’ll aim for “doesn’t harass people online in hopes of making them kill themselves.” I’ll aim for “authentic.” I won’t always succeed. But I’ll try.
So take your “pretty” and I’ll be over here. Working to become something better. Something more. Something beyond “pretty.” (more…) – Heidi at Attack of the Sugar Monster
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