In a nutshell: Meghan Tonjes put her big, fat, lovely ass on the (internet) line. It was flagged and removed as “offensive” or “mature” by the powers that be at Instagram. Ms. Tonjes didn’t take that sitting down. She demanded in an open letter (which she also recorded to her youtube vlog F.A.T. “Frequently Asked Tonjes”) that Instagram identify what made her ass objectionable compared to other thinner, similarly clothed ones apparently not violating community standards.
Instagram took notice. And so did many others. Tonje’s banned butt pic was restored. As of this writing, her open letter vlog (below) has been viewed 435,611 times. The conversation spurred by her butt banning made the news in this article by The Today Show and is even on Upworthy.
I couldn’t be happier for Meghan Tonjes. I like to see big, fat body-positivity in the news. BUT… and here’s the big but (pun intended)… I’ve noticed a trend in not so subtle apologizing and “conditional” body love in the women recently embraced as body-positive heroes. Meghan’s femme-nifesto even includes before and after photos of when she was fatter… and what? Less butt-photo worthy? Positioning her body pride in relationship to what she’s accomplished ie losing weight? Tonjes is entitled to be wherever she is in her own self-acceptance journey but it makes me nervous to embrace her as a role model or a poster child of the Fat Positive movement. This is the same discomfort that makes it impossible for me to enjoy TV shows like Fat Actress, Mike & Molly, and Saturday Night. Just the existence of a fat body on screen must be balanced against body-hatred and food obsessive humor. Make no mistake, these are the icons the mainstream would prefer. Pretty, healthy and saying with a coy head-toss “I plan to lose weight”.
“I wish I was different.”
Because this is the way our society prefers its differences: wrapped in the acknowledgment of superior/inferior. Worthy of tolerance. Without shaking the status quo.
I say SHAKE IT. Your asses. Your concepts. Your social networks. The staid status quo. SHAKE IT UP. I’ll be watching.
International Fat Activist, Stacy Bias, created the following animated “fat history” as part of an ambitious, wide-reaching (pun intended) educational tool of oral, visual and written histories called The Fat Experience Project. You can read more about the project, fat activism or find contact info for Stacy at StacyBias.net