Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010
One of the aims of the Fat Acceptance movement is to reclaim the word “Fat”. That doesn’t mean we should throw it around willy nilly though.
For years, the word “Fat” has been used as a pejorative. Cries of “Get off your FAT ass”, “FAT prick”, “Look at the FAT f#@ker”, “Oh look, another FATTY!” have been used to beat down and belittle fat people. So it’s right that we go out and try and reclaim this word.(It’s strange though that fat has also moved into other areas, such as “Fat beats” and “Fat wheels”.)
Fat should be in the same class of adjective as tall, short, slim, etc. It is merely a word describing a physical characteristic. It makes me uncomfortable to think that people have to mince words to try and describe my physical shape. “Big boy”, “Bulky”, “Well Build” are all just covers for the word “Fat” because people are scared of being offensive. Hey, I’m FAT.
However we need to remember that not everyone is up to the same stage of self-acceptance as the next person. A lot of people would still be offended by being labelled as fat.
So what do we do? Talk.
I think it is important to talk to our friends and family, fat or not, about how we are happy to be labelled as fat and WHY we think it is important to reclaim the word that has been held to be so offensive for so long. The more that we educate others around us, the less impact the word is going to have and less times are we going to hear it being used in an offensive manner.
I actually think I’ll be long past my prime before the word fat loses all offensive undertones, but the small steps that we make today mean that fat people in the future don’t have to be offended by using an adjective that aptly describes them. Fat.
Friday, February 19th, 2010
If you have a blog, or you tweet, or even if you just like telling stories to your friends.. you’ll probably have had this experience..
Something bad, or embarrassing, or both happens.. and AS IT IS OCCURING, you think.. “Whoah boy, this is going to make a GREAT blog entry/story later…”
I have had a couple of dates like that lately.
As has been previously mentioned on this blog, I am poly people. This means I engage in more than one romantic entanglement at at time. No one gets lied to, everyone’s informed, and all is well… (if you’re wanting more information, wikipedia is a good place to start.)
It means that while I am currently living with someone utterly wonderful, who I am head-over-heels smitten for.. I am also dating.
And I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that sometimes, dating SUCKS. And when you’re fat? It can have a whole fresh layer of complications attached.
I meet lots of new people through the internet – new friends, new hobby-mates, and new people to date. When I am dating someone I met online, I like to make sure they have seen pictures of me. Including pictures of my whole body (clothed! gesselouise, people!) . I feel after seeing those pictures, there should really be no surprise when they show up and realise they’re on a date with a fat girl. I make sure the pictures I show them are realistic. I think this saves me some angst.. if they look at the pictures and they don’t like what they see, well, I’ve just saved us both a lot of time.
Perhaps it’s foolish of me, but I have assumed that, having gone through this process, if the guy (girl, alien from the planet awesomo) then asks me out on a date, the “fat” issue is put to one side. Settled. A non issue. They’re okay with it, otherwise they wouldn’t be there. It’s the same as my crazy hair – you can see it in the picture, right? I don’t then expect to show up to the date and have the other person yell “OHMAGAWD WHATS WITH YOUR HAIR IT IS BRIGHT RED!”.
Turns out this isn’t always the case, though. One guy seemed.. more nervous than he ought to, and then spent almost the entire date talking about his amazing personal trainer, PJ, and the amazing thing he did, where he gained a whole heap of weight on purpose and then lost it all again, just to prove it could be done… and proceeded to repeat this personal trainer’s odious and misinformed views along the lines of “all fat people are just lazy and could lose weight if they wanted to..”
Afterwards, he contacted me, keen for another date. Me? not so keen! I explained that what he said was pretty offensive, not to mention TOTALLY UNTRUE. He couldn’t understand why I had taken it so personally!
I couldn’t understand why he thought I’d go out on another date with him after he showed himself to be such an insensitive idiot.
The other one – we went on two lovely dates. Lots of flirting, laughs and great conversation. I thought this had real potential! Then I didn’t hear anything from him for ages. Oh well, I thought. Guess he changed his mind.
Eventually he contacted me and said he was feeling really conflicted about how attracted he was to me, and he thinks it’s probably because I am “a bit chubby”. He explained that sometimes he felt really attracted to me, and then other times, he felt repulsed/indifferent and it was all very confusing, and he needed to think about it.
I let him know as kindly as possible that he could think about it all he liked. Far, far away from me.
Now I’d like to be able to tell you that both of these unpleasant experiences were very easy for me to shake off, just like water off a duck’s back. I’d like to be able to tell you that I shook my head, secure in the knowledge that it was them, not me, with the problem, and I haven’t thought about it since.
I’d like to be able to tell you that, but it wouldn’t be true.
I know the next time I am talking to someone online, and they ask me out on a date, it is going to take every ounce of self-restraint I possess not to ask them “So, you know I am fat, right? And you’re okay with that?” ….
Stupid thing to ask! Stupid thing to say! It smacks of insecurity and assuming the other person is stupid. So.. I’m not going to ask it.
But after these.. interesting.. experiences, you can be sure I’ll be wondering about it, anyway.
..where’d all the nice smart cute funny poly-friendly curve-loving men go? huh?
Saturday, July 11th, 2009
My name is Sonya. I am 24. I am a Virgo, with dyed black hair, a love of giant jewellery and funky tights. I am a writer. I am fat.
I feel no shame in saying this. I am not fishing for compliments; I am not putting myself down. It is simply a statement of fact – I am fat.
It’s taken a long while for me to get to this point, this acceptance of my body. I was always taught that ‘fat’ was an insult; it was the way you put a person down. I would engage in the diet rhetoric, say that I wasn’t having any dessert and next week I would start to eat better – as if food had a say in the person I was.
It didn’t help that I came from a mix of hearty Russian, Polish and Greek stock, with wide hips and large thighs. My parents would make comments about my child bearing hips and the size of my clothing. I despaired at my figure. They both came from families where everything on the plate must be eaten, but at the same time, commented on how much I was eating. My father was dealing with depression and anxiety, and turned to food in order to cope with his issues. He started ‘eating his feelings’ as you would say, and as a result, he wasn’t a very positive influence for me. My sister was (and still is) diet obsessed, trying to get her thighs slimmed down, her cheekbones more defined. Her ultimate goal is to search at the front of a clothing rack, instead of at the back.
When I was younger, I was surrounded by body conscious peers. My sporty, skinny friends were incredibly different from my chubby, sedentary self. I was always picked last in teams and I never wanted to change in front of anyone after sports, embarrassed of my breasts and my pot belly.
I started restricting my eating. I would eat, literally, an apple a day. If I had a ‘full’ feeling in my stomach, I would bring it back up again. This continued, on and off, for most of my life, into my teenage years, right up until I started at university. I would binge eat, mostly sweets and chips, and then vow the next day that I would start the diet again. I exercised like a fiend, even though I utterly hated it.
But nothing much was happening. I was still the same weight, still the same height, still the same shape.
My self esteem, quite frankly, sucked. It didn’t help that I was incredibly shy, which was seen as being far too aloof by the outside world. I never accepted dates, because I assumed that I was just being asked as a cruel joke. I felt suspicious of new friends – were they only being friendly with me because they needed to add a ‘fat’ friend to their group? Did they really like me?
It’s funny, but the change in my thinking came about as the change in my body did. In my last year of university I went through a depressive state. I guess I had what you’d call a mini breakdown. I started proving how much I was like my father, and eating my feelings. My weight ballooned. I didn’t realise how much it did, until I went to put on a pair of favourite jeans, only to find I couldn’t get them past my knees. The casual comment from my mother – “Oh yes, I thought you’d put on weight” made me cry.
I was determined to lose that horrible fat I had stacked on. I was going to start the cycle again. Until I didn’t. I remember, looking around on the internet one day, and I came across the livejournal community, Fatshionista. I was stunned. There were these beautiful women, who felt absolutely no shame in being themselves, in being their fat and fabulous selves. It sounds ridiculous now, but it was revolutionary to me, that someone could be happy with the way they were. I started thinking that maybe I could be the same.
I started with myself and my headspace. I tried to figure out why I was using food to make myself feel better, why I was both rewarding and punishing myself with the amount on my plate. It was hard to learn that food and eating can be a positive, nutritional and healthy activity, if I let it.
Obviously, it hasn’t been easy. I still have my bad days. I try and combat this by surrounding myself with positive, happy fat people. Reading fat acceptance blogs and books and disengaging from the horrid cycle of diet and weight loss talk has also helped. I find that listening to my body, and giving it what it needs, intuitively eating, has kept me healthy and happy and benefited my well-being enormously. I feel like I only have the one chance, the one life with my body, so it’s time to start treating it with the respect it deserves – I am going to clothe it in fabulous fashions, I am going to nourish it with fantastic food.
I am utterly privileged to be a member of the Brisbane Axis of Fat with other proud fat people.