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.