by, for and about Women of Size and their allies

Archive for the ‘pride’ Category

On Instagram, Fat Assery and Role Models

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.

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Fat Lips and Reverse Shaming

A great blog came out today by a great fat activist. Yes, I know her IRL (which is to say we’ve met) and I’ve even had the opportunity to be offended by her. It happens. Real people say shit.

What’s interesting is what happens next when it’s brought to their attention. What happened in the case below is it got Stacy thinking. What she thought became the article/blog “Not Fat Enough For Fat Activism.” Which got me thinking.

 

fatshaming

 

 

There are a couple of things interesting to me about this. One is that the comment above drove enough traffic to Ms. Bias’ site that she followed it back. I admit to being Reddit-illiterate. But the internet is a very public place where often private things are said. Unfortunately as you can tell from the screenshot, the original author deleted her identity and so the blanket apology Bias’ blog offers cannot be tailored to fit her specifically. Bias says:

I often see this misconception in conversations about fat activism happening outside of fat activist circles. Smaller fatties or thin folks who are tentatively reaching out to fat activism hit up against something that pokes them in a tender spot and finds them feeling left out or unwelcome. The space I can imagine that happening in most frequently is the space of checking privilege.

So first, I’d like to clear up the initial misconception. As the fabulous Glenn Marla says, “There is no wrong way to have a body.”

As I can only speak for myself here, I want to state that I believe this fervently. There is no kind of embodiment that is superior to another. Any belief to the contrary would collapse the very foundations of my ethic. The point of social justice movements like fat activism, disability rights activism, anti-racism, feminism, queer rights, etc is to create all bodies as equal, independent of difference. I, personally, want a world in which all bodies exist in spaces of equal accessibility that are free of stigma and oppression. To that end, holding or projecting negative beliefs about bodies that aren’t like mine is exactly counter to that goal. So let me state clearly: I do not believe that fat bodies are superior. What I do believe is that fat bodies are not inferior. And there’s a world of difference.

 

So there’s Stacy’s opinion/apology. I agree. Mostly.

I will admit that I often find and preach the superiority of fat bodies. There’s nothing particularly useful in shaming bodies for being bodies of any size but I still love it when the guy in the movie tells the neurotic supermodel “Eat something.” In a world obsessed with thinness and a culture obsession with thin superiority to simple say “Hey that’s not nice. Every body is equal.” is insufficient. Give me an anthem with some heft, okay?

The fact is that all things are not equal. Not in balance. Sometimes when the scale tips in our favor, we shout “Hurray for curves and belly rolls and big, beautiful babes.” Gay Pride is not about hating straight people. Fat Pride is not about hating skinny people. Feminism is not about hating men. You are welcome to march in my parade, Baby. However I’m not going to stop the parade to make you the exception to any rule.

You will hear some mockery of heterosexuality in Queer spaces; distrust of (and rage at) straight, white cis men in Feminist conversations; etc. If you stay at the party long enough, you’ll hear straight, white, cis, feminist men raging at the same. The point is that in a culture that privileges and elevates one classification of people over another, it is ridiculous to ask the more oppressed party to always be worried about the feelings of the less oppressed party.

This doesn’t make your feelings invalid. It’s a question of whose responsibility is it to deal with them. Accusations of reverse “fat-shaming” are like accusations of “reverse racism” or “reverse sexism”.  There is nothing in melanin or estrogen or fat cells makes someone nice or even right. Fat, feminist, POC can and will piss you off. This isn’t an -ism.

Basic privilege 101: oppression is not a feeling.

 

There is a cultural machine that chews up fat or brown or ___ bodies. It creates commerce on self-hatred. It polarizes us against each other. Fight the machine.

Often what you may be experiencing when you feel unwelcome in a group is “Other”-ing. This can be particularly unpleasant for whom the experience of being Other is unfamiliar. Your feelings of alienation and/or entitlement keep you from being an effective ally or an active participant. Deal with it. Work through it. Like a fat girl wearing a bikini to the beach. The first time may be a little daunting. Each time you do it, it’s easier. Until the day when the guy who makes some snotty remark doesn’t even warrant wrinkling your brow. You look great and you know it. The feeling of it and the truth of it will sync up.

Just keep showing up.

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Say it like you meme it!

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What’re you waiting for? Love yourself.

To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance. --Oscar Wilde

To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance. –Oscar Wilde

Accept no barriers to living with pride

Big Girls Busting Barriers! Push back against body hate. Take back your life.

Big Girls Busting Barriers! Push back against body hate. Take back your life.

Beautiful attitude

Just fucking beautiful

Just fucking beautiful

J.K. Rowling on “Fat” as an insult

“Fat’ is usually the first insult a girl throws at another girl when she wants to hurt her.

I mean, is ‘fat’ really the worst thing a human being can be? Is ‘fat’ worse than ‘vindictive’, ‘jealous’, ‘shallow’, ‘vain’, ‘boring’ or ‘cruel’? Not to me; but then, you might retort, what do I know about the pressure to be skinny? I’m not in the business of being judged on my looks, what with being a writer and earning my living by using my brain…

I went to the British Book Awards that evening. After the award ceremony I bumped into a woman I hadn’t seen for nearly three years. The first thing she said to me? ‘You’ve lost a lot of weight since the last time I saw you!’

‘Well,’ I said, slightly nonplussed, ‘the last time you saw me I’d just had a baby.’

What I felt like saying was, ‘I’ve produced my third child and my sixth novel since I last saw you. Aren’t either of those things more important, more interesting, than my size?’ But no – my waist looked smaller! Forget the kid and the book: finally, something to celebrate!

I’ve got two daughters who will have to make their way in this skinny-obsessed world, and it worries me, because I don’t want them to be empty-headed, self-obsessed, emaciated clones; I’d rather they were independent, interesting, idealistic, kind, opinionated, original, funny – a thousand things, before ‘thin’. And frankly, I’d rather they didn’t give a gust of stinking chihuahua flatulence whether the woman standing next to them has fleshier knees than they do. Let my girls be Hermiones, rather than Pansy Parkinsons.”
― J.K. Rowling