Remembering Why This Work is Important

Every so often people tell me they couldn’t do the work I do with so much backlash and outright hatred that is directed towards me personally but so many people in fat community.

I do it for people like this. Over the years I’ve had an outpouring of messages from people who have told me how my work has changed their lives and it means the world to me. I can’t fully express it but it gives me energy and reminds me why I’m here.

Thank you. ❤

Your blog means so much to me.

As a woman who has been through several well-renowned and extremely expensive inpatient programs designed to uproot my eating disorder, I can honestly say that nothing really stuck until I discovered the body positive community via your blog.

Treatment taught me how to eat again, but once I left, I would fall right back into my old habits. I hated myself and my body so much that I was willing to do anything to be thin, even at the expense of my health, even at the expense of the emotional well-being of my friends and loved ones who knew exactly what I was doing when I ran to the bathroom.

It wasn’t until I discovered exactly why thinness is elevated the way it is in our society that things started to change. I stopped feeling helpless and started to feel angry. The realization that my misery, my suffering, and my failing health resulted from my role as a pawn in an expertly calculated but indisputably evil hypercapitalist scheme to breed self-hate in order to sell beauty and diet products hit me hard. I felt manipulated and I felt used, and I was determined to never be taken advantage of like that again.

I’m doing a lot better. At this point, I’m “chubby” and not “fat” due to mountains of stress and being too broke to buy all of the groceries I like to buy, but I loved myself when I was. I learned to love myself at my highest weight and I would love myself if I reached an even higher weight than that. I no longer tie my personhood and self-worth to a number on a scale. I haven’t even weighed myself for months.

And that is largely because of this blog and the resources I found through reading it. I am in debt to you, Amanda, and I’m sure I’m not the only one that feels this way.

Please keep writing and doing you, it means more than you could ever know.

As always, connect with me on tumblr and twitter.

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The Right to Talk about Fat Experience

When fat people try to talk about their own experiences with body shame, fat stigma or weight based discrimination they are always challenged in a way to undermine the significance of them with people exclaiming that some of those experiences also happen to people in thin bodies. While the truth is that many of the shaming tactics used toward fat people do happen to thin people as well, the outcry from thin people to also feel as though we must validate their experience ignores the reality that they always have their experiences validated by every mainstream body positive organization or campaign that has ever existed.

The dominant discourse that surrounds the body acceptance movement as a whole is one that is directly geared toward thin bodies and the lack of voices from fat people are not noticed unless you are fat yourself. People who think that the voices of thin people are not being talked about enough in fat positive spaces are inadvertently reinforcing fat oppression. They do this by undermining the experiences of fat people because they feel as though it happens to everyone. Not only is this incorrect because the motive behind body shaming and stigma of a fat person and a thin person can be drastically different but the ways fat stigma takes part in being a fat person in society turns into actual discrimination. When dismissing fat experience by saying that thin people also have those same experience a person is completely ignoring that they still have the privilege that comes from living in a thin body.

Fat people do not have to make space for thin people when discussing their own experiences because of this privilege and due to the reality that thin people do not make space for our voices in their own discussions. When a dominant group tries to invalidate the experience of an oppressed group it is actively working to silence them. Coming from a place of privilege and expecting an oppressed group to make space for your experience is not only insulting but shows that you are not really interested in understanding the difference among experience or forms of oppression. This also happens within the feminist movement when white feminists expect black feminists to open their spaces to be ‘inclusive’ when those same white feminists do not make their spaces open for all women or experiences.

As a white fat female with some thin privilege I do not have the right to expect fat spaces for people who are larger than I am or any other group that I do not fit into to open and validate my experience. If they allow me to be part of their space I am not only grateful for it but I spend my time listening and learning not expecting them to include me. I also actively try to understand the privileges that I do have so that I can understand the difference between my own experiences and theirs. We should be celebrating difference not pushing it aside and ignoring it.

As fat people we have the right to talk about our experiences without being bullied into validating the experiences of thin people who feel like we don’t talk about the similarities among us. We need to start expecting people with thin privilege who are also advocates of body acceptance to make our voices heard and not brush them aside. We need to call people and organizations out for creating a form of acceptance that doesn’t challenge fat stigma or discrimination. We need to tell them that our experiences matter, that they are different and that difference is something that can help all people regardless of size.