I’ve seen at least five folks who don’t know each other talking about it, so let’s talk about it.
We’re gonna talk about fatness, gatekeeping of fatness, why fatness is not a single thing or experience and why it is important to learn how to deal with varying fatness because y’all ain’t nobody got time for bullshit.
First let’s define some terms.
Who is fat?
Lots of people are. Some folks are really really fat. As (Lesley?) some folks say, Death Fat. As in, folks will look at them and say things like OMG UR GONNA DIE and supposedly they will/are likely to drop dead that moment because FAAAAAAAAAAAT.
Some folks like me are not really fat except according to the BMI chart which, is horseshit.
Why can I say I am fat AND someone who is Deathfat say fat?
Fatness as a state of physical being isn’t like saying, I breathe oxygen. Fatness isn’t a given nor are the boundaries of fat and not fat fixed.
How does that work?
Fatness is more than just BMI, weight, size etc. Fatness is also cultural. As in, maybe inside the microcosm of one culture, fat might not be the same as it is in another. This doesn’t negate said fatness, it is just a different fatness.
There will always be certain aspects to life as a fat person that can be fairly ubiquitous and various levels of terrible.
- Health care
- Unsolicited diet advice
- Fat shaming
Now. The degree to which these things are damaging or how they impact each of us will vary and that is okay.
Let me tell you a secret.
Experiences of marginalization will never ever be monolithic. Playing who has it worse or saying that because someone is X size they can’t speak on an experience they have is bullshit. Don’t.
Differing experiences in the context of experiences, of day to day life etc are fine. They are natural. Maybe the MOST natural thing to happen AND if my experience as a fat person isn’t yours, that doesn’t diminish either of us.
That said, here is another thing. If you are fatter than another person, you also don’t get to necessarily gatekeep fatness. Your experience especially if you are death fat or super fat is different and that is valid and true. What is not valid and true is the idea that because someone doesn’t experience fatness the way you do means they aren’t really fat.
Let’s not do that.
One of the reasons a lot of people are doing body politics in a shit way is the need to grab at the top fat ass spot. Be the MOST oppressed. Folks mistakenly believe that their personal narrative about living in a fat body, is the narrative. That doesn’t work. We can’t talk about bodies, we can’t talk about what happens when we’re fat and do X thing or need resources etc if we’re wasting time doing this.
So what do we do?
I believe that we don’t have to go through these things and it needs work. One of the things to work on, is when you feel like someone is stealing or infringing on your experience, take a step back. You regardless of how you feel don’t get to be the One True Fat Ass.
That’s just what it is.
Listen, fatter folks. I know a lot of y’all feel very protective of your activism, your space and your bodies. I was dragged to fuck during the inbetweenie saga of Fatshionista. Spaces for folks who are smaller fats and larger fats are in fact important. BUT not all fat spaces must be only for certain fat folks. Doing things that way sucks and eventually doesn’t help any of us.
Your experience, you glorious fat babe is HIGHLY valuable. Your voices are HIGHLY important.
We need you/us. We don’t need you/us to reinforce policing of bodies and the idea that fatness is only one thing.
We would all do well to remember some other stuff about fatness.
Some of us are in fact fatter in real life. Photos don’t tell a whole story. Nor do pant or bra sizes.
When we reinforce the Good/Bad fatty dichotomy, it hurts ALL of us. Why do I say that? Fatness is amoral.As in, it is neither good nor bad it just is. Fatness exists in our bodies, as a cultural experience, as identity and as a unifying thing.
Fatness is very involved and multi faceted. It involves everything from just the size of the ass to how we are treated in the world. If we want to do fat activism, body politics or ANYTHING to do with fatness we must, not get mired in fatty respectability politics and deciding for other folks that if they say they are fat, that we have got to say hey, your fatness is different from my fatness and that’s great.
My different fatness is great.
Your fatness, great.
Sometimes our fatnesses will have stuff in common, sometimes not.
THAT IS ALSO GREAT FRIENDOS.
Let’s embrace fatness and how we live, talk and deal with it as the multi faceted thing it is. That means sometimes we gotta let folks work through their problematic fat stuff. Maybe someone doesn’t seem fat to you. Don’t poopoo them.
Before trying or actually policing other folks fatness and their perceptions of it please think and use some deeper than defensiveness discretion.
If you are a smaller fat person, new to saying fat, new to being fat, if you think you’re fat listen.
I’m talking to you too.
If you believe yourself to be fat I won’t question. However, I will ask that you, like me acknowledge and don’t use your size privilege like a bat. Be aware of and respectful of how your privilege can shield you from a lot of fat experiences.
Smaller fat folks, me included-
I know when other fat folks want to exclude us it hurts. Some spaces are going to need to be for them so they can talk safely about the intimacies of being X size. That is fine it is okay. Not all spaces are for all people. That’s okay too.
If you are just getting into fatness, some of this will have hurt your feelings.