Erin Marie

Why?

I think one of the things that I most love about the fat acceptance movement is that it combines my innate curiosity and complete inability to quit asking why with a part of my life that I have never questioned.

You shouldn’t wear sleeveless tops or dresses  -  Why?

Fat people should never have naked photos taken – Why?

You really ‘don’t need to eat that’ – Why?

Why is there no fashionable clothing out there that suits me?

Why should I feel ashamed about eating fast food, or chocolate, or cake in front of other people?

Why?  Why?  Why?

And it doesn’t just stop at a why for those questions.

You shouldn’t wear sleeveless tops or dresses.  Why? Because they show your arms.  And why is that a bad thing? They’re fat.  And why is that a problem? Because fat is ugly.  But why is fat ugly? Because society has conditioned us to think that fat is bad.  Why? So that numerous different industries can profit from fear and self-loathing.  You’re thin?  Enjoy these clothes but never put on weight because once you do – KAPOW! You’re headed for mumus and ugly t-shirts.  You’re fat?  Here, buy this shake/weight loss program/gym subscription/gastric bypass surgery so that you can slim down and fit into normal clothes like the rest of us.  (Obviously that is somewhat of an over-simplification and is not the be all and end all answer, but it sure is a start).

And then there’s the penultimate question.  Is this okay?

It’s all well and good to keep questioning why and get down to the underlying reason of why things are the way they are, but the real question is whether or not that’s okay.

And I think that’s what we’re doing every day, out there in the world, as fat acceptance advocates.  We’re asking why, and getting other people to ask themselves why they think the way they do, and making it clear that it is not okay for society to dictate the way we see our bodies, dress our bodies and treat our bodies.  Nor is it okay for anyone else to pass judgement on our bodies.

For me, it has been (and continues to be) a real revelation.  I am a real questioner, sometimes I describe myself as being on a quest for ultimate truth, and that takes me to some pretty dark places and makes me question some pretty hairy things.  But until I came into contact with fat acceptance, it never even crossed my mind to question my own perception of my body, letalone that of people in my life.

It’s not easy though, being the harbinger of truth.  Many people out there don’t want to accept it.  They’ll dig their heels in at one of the earlier questions.  Why shouldn’t I show off my fat arms?  Because you just shouldn’t.  No-one wants to see them.  Why don’t people want to see them?  Because they just don’t okay.  Just cover them up.

The number of conversations I’ve had with people about these things.  Why shouldn’t Beth Ditto be on the cover of a magazine naked?  Why is it okay for my mother to comment on my body and what I put into it, but not on my thinner sister’s?  Why is it okay for people to say ‘wow, you look great – have you lost weight?’ to me, but not ‘wow, you look great – have you put on weight?’ to my underweight friend?

Most people stonewall me, and refuse to look to the deeper issue at stake here.  It comes down to the fact that society values people that fit into a certain body ideal, and those who do not fit into it – especially those of us who are larger, are shamed, ostracised and downright disenfranchised.

So you know what I do?  I wear sleeveless tops and dresses proudly to the shops.  I don’t allow my fat (or my mother) to determine my food choices based on what I need to get thin, or maintain my weight.   I go out of my way to find fashionable clothes that fit my body so that I look good and feel great about myself, and I petition fashion retailers to extend their ranges to plus sizes.  In public I order whatever I feel like eating at the time and don’t feel ashamed about doing so.

And you know what I’m going to do next?  I’m going to get a naked photo taken.  And I’m going to be surrounded in cakes and lollies and ice-cream sundaes and chocolate and whipped cream.  And I’m going to cheekily grin in that photo as a two-fingered salute to the world that says that it’s not okay for me to revel in those food choices.

Why?  Because I can.  And that, my friends, is okay.

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  • http://heavyaura.blogspot.com heavyaura

    Really like this – agree, agree, and huzzahs all around!

    One thing I would like to add (which is not a negation of anything you’re saying, just something that popped into my head) is that I think FA has the potentiality to better the situation of all women, including all those who identify/present as such because it really unwraps just how real, how prevalent, and how harmful body policing is — on individual as well as more structural levels. No woman, regardless of her body size, is really free of criticism. That there is a societal norm about the immorality/ugliness of fat is absolutely true, but there is an equally entrenched, socially encouraged tendency to objectify women, which really is a sort of a fallacy of composition in which women are reduced to the bodies they inhabit, and because they are therefore not really as “human” as men, it is possible for us to talk about the female body as if there exist some kind of overarching, immutable rules regarding the proper composition and presentation of the female form — not only in the media, but in common interactions. I would venture to guess that the objectification of the body definitely also effects men — I’m not sure about the degrees of difference there, but I think this might be the trend.

  • Rhondarsimon

    This is an excellent post. Good for you and everyone. We all deserve to enjoy our lives. This includes enjoying the foods we choose to eat and the clothes we choose to wear.

  • http://andtheycalledmefreak.blogspot.com/2010/06/how-to-look-good-naked-so-long-as-you.html Kristin Craig Lai

    This reminds me of two things. First, the episode of Roseanne where she gets a boudoir shot done for Dan: She’s very self-conscious at the beginning but she does it, he loves it and they show the pictures. I love the way these two fat folk did not have their sexuality erased to make others comfortable. I’m also reminded of my own fat acceptance anthem, “Big, Blonde and Beautiful” from the Hairspray (broadway) soundtrack. To quote:

    “I am not afraid
    to throw my weight around,
    pound by pound by pound.
    Because I’m
    big, blonde and beautiful
    there is nothin’ ’bout me
    that’s unsuitable.”

    Thanks for this great summary, and don’t forget the whipped cream in that nudy shot!

  • Kittykarin

    I loved your post. This is the first time that I have been to this site and I am glad it exists. I have been obese most of my life with a few times successfully losing weight and feeling “normal”. I am now 29 years old and about to be married in 2 months. I am happier and more content than I have ever been but I am still devestated that I won’t be the bride I always thought I would be. I wish I could accept myself for the way I am and realize that I can be gorgeous at any side… but it’s hard. I think about all the people who will judge me and say things like “She has such a pretty face” or “Your hair was gorgeous” instead of you “You were a beautiful bride”. I can’t accept myself for who I am because 95% of the those I meet will judge me because of my size. I don’t want to ruin my day and my honeymoon, so I am trying very hard to lose weight and read as much as I can about accepting myself as a plus-size girl. I hope I can gain some insight before my wedding. I don’t want to hate the way I look on the happiest day of my life.

  • http://randomette.blogspot.com Erin Marie

    Okay, what I’m about to say is probably going to be revolutionary, but bear with me.

    Fuck the 95% of people you meet who will judge you because of your size. Seriously. Do they matter?

    I’m sure that you’ve heard it before, but truly and honestly from the bottom of my heart – the number that a scale shows when you stand on it does not determine your worth. It does not determine your beauty. It does not determine your humanity.

    On the bride thing, I can’t really comment because I’ve never been a bride. But I definitely recommend checking out Natalie’s “Fat Bride Survival Guide” found here: http://www.axisoffat.com/2009/08/a-fat-bride-survival-guide.html . Also, I’ve done a lot of surfing on the Offbeatbride.com website over the past year, and they talk so positively about plus sized brides that it’s hard not to feel good about yourself when you read there.

    I’ve heard that bridal forums and websites can be very bitchy places, and I know that dealing with family and friends during anything stressful can be rough, especially when your body comes under the microscope.

    All I can really say is that if you accept and love who you are, and so does your partner, does it really matter what anyone else thinks about how you look?

    I really hope that you’re able to look back on the photos of yourself on your wedding day, looking beautiful and radiant – if not exactly how you always imagined – and think ‘You know what – that was the happiest day of my life, and it shows in these photos. Look how happy I am’.

    I believe you can get there.

  • http://randomette.blogspot.com Erin Marie

    I don’t disagree with you at all, in fact, I think that’s definitely what many fat advocates speak for – the acceptance of the body at every size and shape. It’s just that FA is specifically directed at fat because fat is the body type that is most marginalised by society.

    Where you go into the objectification of women however gets into a feminist argument that not all fat advocates are fully prepared to argue. For example, men are just as marginalised as women when it comes to ‘headless fatties’, fashion and the ‘it’s for your health’ argument. We don’t hear as much about it though because women are encouraged to speak out about their bodies whereas I believe there is a culture of shaming around men for speaking about these issues.

    So in essence I agree with you about FA having the power to better the situation of all women, and that no woman is really free of criticism, no matter her body size. I’m just not sure that FA can directly respond to the feminist argument without alienating those men who also identify with the movement.

    Bear in mind however, that I have only been part of the FA movement for less than a year, and apart from some discourse on feminism in my legal and historical studies, I am by no means educated in the feminist argument or agenda.

    But thanks for pointing out what might be the next step. :)

  • http://randomette.blogspot.com Erin Marie

    There has been a great quote making the rounds on Tumblr lately which says something along the lines of ‘Stop stressing about what you look like. Your partner is obviously attracted to you, otherwise they wouldn’t be with you, after all, it’s not like they haven’t seen you naked. Revel in your form and enjoy what joy it brings to you and your partner.’

    Can’t track down the exact quote or who it’s by, but that’s the gist of it.

    I know I go through phases of being able to be comfortable with this and not, but at the end of the day I have no shortage of suitors, despite the fact I always thought I would never find someone because I was fat.

    You are and/or will be loved for exactly who you are, if you allow it. That’s what I believe, and I’m sticking to it.

    And oh yes, whipped cream it is! ;)

  • http://randomette.blogspot.com Erin Marie

    And we all have the right to question the status quo when people start telling us that we can’t eat the foods we want, or wear the clothes we choose.

    Thanks for your comment. :)

  • http://heavyaura.blogspot.com heavyaura

    Feminism doesn’t necessitate the alienation of men (there are men who identify as feminists, and I wager at least a portion of them are fat men) — I would agree, however, that some feminists individually might be guilty of this.

  • zarischka

    Beautiful! Saying yes to life can never be bad. Thanks for the great post!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_H6CNFBVZ7FDKCDLTUCVKXQZXPU Rabecca M

    I have just found this blog and I am blissfully addicted.
    Thank you for giving curvy girls a louder voice! Favorited.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_H6CNFBVZ7FDKCDLTUCVKXQZXPU Rabecca M

    I have just found this blog and I am blissfully addicted.
    Thank you for giving curvy girls a louder voice! Favorited.

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