Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Building an Angry Fat World

Recently, I posed a question for the proprietress of the Fatshionista blog about whether or not she would accept an offer to wake up at an "appropriate" weight tomorrow should a magic fairy proffer such an offer. Further, I asked if ones level of true fat acceptance would be mirrored in the reply. Her response was thoughtful and considered, and I appreciated that very much. I think it spoke well to her level of body acceptance and the manner in which she regards others. The commenters, on the other hand, ascribed various motivations to me based on their paranoia and anger.

Among the motivations I was ascribed were that of setting a trap for fat acceptance advocates or creating a "litmus test". Some people clearly assumed that a thin person or a person who was a diet fiend of some sort had asked the question. I guess to some people, the fact that I am losing weight would make me an "enemy" of fat-acceptance (I should state that I accept fat on other people, I just can't accept it on myself for many reasons as I've mentioned in past posts). The truth was that I asked it because it was a notion that occurred to me, and felt it was pretty much simply an interesting idea to kick around. Certainly there are many people who would like to wake up tomorrow at their ideal weight, and I think that you can say "yes, I'd like to be my ideal weight tomorrow" and still be an advocate of bodily acceptance. That being said, it would say something about the extent to which you believe society will adopt fat acceptance if you say "yes". If you say, "no", then perhaps it is a reflection of your (lack of authentic) hopefulness that what you are striving for will come to fruition.

At any rate, I understand why the commenters concluded what they did. I have been in the paranoid fat girl seat more than once. Someone says or does something and I get mad and ascribe it to their intolerance of my weight or their anti-fatness agenda. Of course, sometimes (perhaps even often), that is their motivation. However, I have endeavored to be less defensive and angry as the years have gone by. I try to ignore it, or ascribe some other motive, but I have had less than complete success.

I think a big reason why we need fat acceptance and advocates who want the judging to stop is reflected in the low-key hostility that shone through in the commenters' words. They were defensive and went on the offensive in some cases. People don't become like this in a vacuum. It's the result of being fat and being attacked all of the time in a variety of ways. Anti-fat bigotry, doesn't make us thinner, it just makes us madder.


Anonymous said...

I thought I was quite accepting of my fatness. I enjoy reading several FA blogs, and it makes me happy that so many women, especially, are refusing to make themselves over to fit cultural stereotypes of beauty. (Been a feminist forever.)

Then I graduated and began looking for work in the field of health care. I anticipated a certain amount of age discrimination, but I was unprepared for fat discrimination (even though I had been warned.)

At first I just began exercising, hoping that would help me lose weight. That simply was not enough.

Now I am dieting. And exercising. To land a decent job, partly.

However, as I started to develop more strength and endurance, I realized I will probably be a much better employee because of my improving level of fitness. My efforts have become less about my appearance to prospective employers, and more about increasing my confidence and stamina.

I still have mixed feelings about losing weight.


screaming fatgirl said...

I also read several of those blogs, even though I'm trying to lose weight (well, that should be "losing weight"). I'm not concerned about beauty at all. Since I've been overweight all my life, I have no body ideal that I'd like to have, nor do I think at 45 that anything close to an ideal body is even possible. I strive for health and less pain. My mobility has been impacted severely by my weight, though I'm guessing the point will come when a balance occurs and I'm still fat, but sufficiently mobile.

Like you, I'm concerned about my weight and the job market. I think you can embrace fat acceptance wholeheartedly yourself, but that's not going to change the fact that you will not get the same job opportunities as a thin person. I don't think all of the fat acceptance people are going to win over those with an anti-fat bias though. Mainly, I think they're preaching to the choir. That doesn't make it a bad thing, but it does mean those of us who have to live with the real world consequences are going to have to lose weight if we don't want to have fewer chances in life.

And you're right, exercising is not enough. You have to change how you eat. I learned that, too. But changing food consumption patterns is difficult, especially over the long run. And you're also right that one is a better employee at a lower weight. I have much more stamina and strength now than before. Before, I couldn't even stand up in the shower for the duration because of back pain, let alone walk 5 minutes. Now, I can stand like a normal person for a prolonged time.

I have only one conflicting emotion about weight loss and that is associated with the part of me that feels "bullied" all my life and doesn't want to cave in to the pressure. That being said, other than the loss of unfettered food consumption, I can't say my life isn't better in every other way because I've lost weight. I'm not doing this because I was bullied. I'm doing this because I've suffered so much physically.

Thank you for your thoughtful comment, and for following my blog, Rebecca.