Come listen to me talk for a really long time. It will be fun I promise.
I’m slowly making my way through my tumblr and pulling questions that I think are important for my blog. To see more questions like this one visit the FAQ on my tumblr.
Anonymous asked: As a person who’s made it my goal to make myself healthy, I feel like I should share this. I’m all for fat activism, but I think there needs to be a PSA about health. Being over weight is perfectly fine, but being HEALTHY is the most important. Trying to get on the right track in health will change your life. As someone who’s been overweight I can vouch for the change it makes in your life & I think it’s important to share this. It’s changed my mood and I’m a happier person. Health is key. Peace
No it’s really not. What you want to do in your life is fine but shaming people for not performing health or living in their body the way you think they should is crap. If you were actually interested in health you would be focusing on creating a society where health behaviors are accessible to all people. That happens by removing social and economic barriers to those behaviors by ending discrimination / stigma marginalized people experience. Not just fat people but all marginalized people are impacted physically and mentally by discrimination / stigma.
People that only want to focus on individuals transcending the constraints on their life to “be healthy” is not only damaging but completely ignorant of the reality that people live in. Assuming that fat people need to focus on being healthy when discussing fat politics also ignores the harm discrimination and stigma does to fat people, with true access to health behaviors becoming a reality when we are no longer marginalized. Not facing discrimination, economic hardship etc will drastically change the ability of people to engage with health behaviors.
A more productive society is a more equal society.
When I talk about health behaviors I not only mean having access to fresh foods and places to move your body but also access to stigma free medicine, including treatment and testing. You can have access to all three of those things and still face significant barriers if you don’t have the time or ability use them. Constraints such as physical ability, stress level, family dynamics, class status etc also changes someone’s ability to engage in those behaviors. Even someone who doesn’t have those constraints on their own life should not have their humanity given to them on the conditional basis that they perform health to make other people comfortable.
On March 25th I will be doing a presentation at Oakland University in Rochester Hills, Mi titled “Dissenting Bodies – Visibility, Fat Politics and Challenging Normal” during their Women’s History Month Series. Part of the presentation will center on people reclaiming their bodies by becoming visible. This will be very similar to what I wrote about in my post on selfies and how they can be used to challenge the gaze on your body by having control over how your body is visible.
Photo example, totally going to be in this presentation..
Since the theme of the series is to discuss feminist expression, I really want to tackle visibility by challenging feminist discourse on body image and reframe the discussion around people who don’t conform to beauty ideals. This will be done to show how focusing on what beauty ideals are and not the social consequences of what it means to live in a deviant or non-normative body has built body positive spaces around people with the most privilege, while also creating a movement that is often considered depoliticized or disconnected from systemic / institutional oppression.
A lot of the discussion will be about how fat bodies are viewed in society and imagery of fat people in the media but I want to start the discussion with how the bodies of marginalized people are viewed in society differently depending on the identities they possess. This is something that has been severely lacking from feminist politics and I want to give context to understand how constraints of visibility while they can differ between people all have a common thread, which is to restrict or limit difference.
If you want to be part of this presentation, send your photo to me via email (as an attachment) to email@example.com
I’m going to collect photos until March 10th and I should have more information about the talk soon.
**Just an fyi, the sendtodropbox email sends all of the email attachments and puts them into a dropbox folder. It’s super awesome and free.
I want to emphasize that I am not just looking for fat identifying individuals but anyone who feels that they don’t conform to white thin cis heteronormative able bodied ideals. I’m also being purposely vague on how people decide what it means to be visible for them since that can be defined differently depending on who you are. Some people are incredibly uncomfortable with taking photos of themselves, which is totally valid so people have used other means of being visible.
Here is an example,
Or even part of your body like this photo via fatheffalump
Please submit and share. <3
On my tumblr I get a lot of questions from followers asking for advice or an explanation to something related to fat politics. I want to start documenting them better and share the ones that I think are important for people who don’t use tumblr. This question is also incredibly appropriate for this time of year when weight loss talk, fat shaming and New Years resolutions makes the world a really unsafe place for a lot of people.
Question - do you feel like it’s possible for individual people to be proud of their weight loss or fitness goals without engaging in fat shaming? at what point do you feel like that proud-ness becomes fat shaming? i’m just curious to hear what you think, i love your blog and you were awesome on the news! hopefully my question doesn’t bother you, i googled it first, i promise
There isn’t a line. It’s a slippery slope from the get go. I could care less how people feel about their body but the consistent need to be proud of weight loss and center discussion around it supports fat stigma because you are distancing yourself from fatness. You are conforming to a dominant social structure that supports thinness and most social situations are supportive of it. I have never heard a conversation about weight loss that didn’t result in fat shaming comments or disparaging fat bodies, even if it was only the person who was engaging in weight loss who was shaming their current / former fat body. People don’t live in a vacuum where the negative things they say about their own body doesn’t hurt other people or come from thin air with no connection to the culture of thinness or standards of embodiment.
As I said, people can feel however they want about their body and their weight loss goals. You will note that I am not considering weight loss and fitness goals as the same thing because it may be shocking for some people to know but fat people have fitness goals too. However, if people are going to engage in either of those topics and center conversations around them then they need to understand the harm they can cause.
If you are partaking in weight loss, you don’t have the right to expect every person to support discussions centered around it or want to hear about it. The sense of entitlement people have when expecting people to engage in those discussions is incredibly high and they expect it without even considering if the people they are talking around have a history of disordered eating while clearly disregarding how fat people in those situations feel.
I have never been part of one of these discussions where people didn’t assume I was also looking for the best way to lose weight myself, since social narratives about fat people tell us that all fat people are on their way to becoming thin people we are never just fat. I have also never been part of one of these discussions where I explained I wasn’t interested in talking about weight loss or fat shaming without me becoming the target of people’s anger. Those two things combined show how much social pressure there is to support thinness at all costs and the angry reaction people have when you reject it.
That is also why when I suggest that talking about weight loss or how “pride” associated with a current weight is fat shaming, my ask box is filled with comments similar to this one x10. People want to keep the narrative going at all costs, which includes continually pestering people who dare to question it.
At some point I will actually write an essay. Promise. Until then here is the interview I did this morning on WJR 760 in Detroit.
Here is a link to the video from the interview today. “Defending Against Fat Prejudice.” They cut out the intro and the ending but otherwise I was really happy with everything. CNN was awesome and was promoting the segment throughout the hour I was on. They also tweeted the segment from all of their different twitter accounts.
Haley, my friend and founder of Redefining Body Image was awesome and put up a post on RBI’s tumblr with screen shots right after I finished since she was live streaming the interview online.
The past 24 hours has been an overwhelming outpouring of love from so many people within the fat positive community as well as new people who have found my blog.
If you aren’t already aware, I was featured in an article at the Detroit Free Press and it was picked up by USA Today. Since then I have been contacted by CNN and will be appearing on the show at 8:30 am eastern today (December 30th). If you aren’t able to tune in I will be posting the video later, as long as they put it up online.
Wish me luck!