May 8, 2008
Read this post.
Read this post by Kate Harding at Shakesville. Please. Normally I’d just add it to my links but this deserves special attention. The article is primarily adressing the question Kate gets about how she can advocate “fat acceptance” when she’s “only” 1 or 2 sizes larger than the “average American woman.” Her whole article is quite moving and poignant.
But this “the average American woman wears a size 14!” shit is utterly meaningless in terms of defining what’s “fat” and what’s “normal” in this culture [...] You’re right, of course, to want to get the message across to this woman that there is nothing wrong with her body. She could probably stand to hear that. But telling her she’s not fat is not the same thing. It denies her the anguish she feels about having a body that deviates from the ideal, however slightly–and believe me, deviating even slightly is plenty to cause legitimate anguish–and worse yet, it reinforces the message that her being fat by some other standard would mean there was something wrong with her body. That’s the underlying problem here–not whether the woman is officially “fat,” but that so many of us automatically equate fat with a host of other negative characteristics, with there indeed being something wrong with your body. The hilarious thing is that just before this wankstain yelled at me, my Pilates instructor–a student teacher who’s not used to me yet, let alone to how all sorts of different bodies work–had been falling all over herself telling me how amazingly strong and flexible I am. (Thank you, yoga.) In the space of ten minutes, I went from being praised up and down for what my body can do to being cruelly insulted because it’s not a socially acceptable size. And if that doesn’t drive home the point that the real problem is not anybody’s fucking fat but a culture that insists fat bodies are intrinsically worthless, I don’t know what will.