It’s “Hate Your Body” season again. We’re about to be barraged with ads, commercials, and general campaigns designed to make us fear fat and feel guilty and ugly. It’s amazing how swiftly fatphobic agendas get disguised as mandates for “healthier” living. Healthy does not universally equal thin. Fat does not universally equal unhealthy. “Love Your Body” movements don’t always align with fat acceptance work (props to Lady A. for pointing this one out).
Anchored in all this fatphobia and body hatred is a lot of racism, sexism, classism, ageism, and overt anti-“disability” attitudes. This shit is part of a larger white supremacist, elite, capitalist, colonizing mission AND it can be so seductive and convincing. How can we arm ourselves against this stuff without feeling victimized? And as feminists, how can we acknowledge and admit the ways in which this fatphobic bullshit tests our sense of security, supporting (instead of reprimanding) each other through it?
I lost a shit-ton of weight last year and I was probably unhealthier then than I’ve ever been in my life. Likewise, you can work out and eat “well” on a regular basis and still be “fat.” *If you haven’t already, you should totally listen to episode #4 of FemmeCast, “Health at Every Size.” The idea of “fat” seems at once deterministic and undefined. It’s a contradiction. But it’s also a lived reality.
Some fat acceptance groups have been accused of so-called gate-keeping, for discerning who can and cannot be part of the group. Sure, a lot of people see themselves as fat but I really think we need to take stock of possible distinctions between fat-thinking and the experience of occupying a fat body in our totally sizeist society. I’m not suggesting that definitions of fat are fixed or easy to come by, I’m just saying that I’ve had to think a lot about what it means for me to be a fat acceptance ally, and to recognize the need for safer, separate spaces and community organizing.
Along similar lines, I’ve been questioning the “Love Your Body” projects that came out of feminist movements, wondering about where they overlap and diverge from fat acceptance. Love your body…YES! By all means, love the fuck out of it! But the simple act of encouraging body love will be received, enacted, and experienced differently depending on each individual. That seems like an obvious point to make but I think I’m talking specifically about the fact that it might be a lot easier to learn to love your body when your body more readily matches the dominant prototypes out there. There is a certain kind of politic to fat acceptance that seems to be overwritten in the “Love Your Body” stuff. What do you think?
Well I’m in total hibernation mode. (It took several rounds of debate last night just to decide whether my sweetbabies and I were going break tradition and stay home, all because we were feeling too cozy and tuckered to go out. We did go out but compromised on the location. It was totally worth it. I digress.) And as I hibernate, I’m bracing myself for all the post-holiday weight-loss crap I’m likely to be fed on the fucking TV. I suspect that the whole tradition of making New Year’s resolutions was created by someone working for Jenny Craig or “Dr.” Atkins or Bally’s or an ab-roller company. I feel like there’s something tragic about seeing food in terms of points, rather than something that is nourishing, sustaining, and pleasurable. But I also need to keep this judgment in check as part of my feminist perspective. This is complicated stuff and I can’t wait to hear what y’all think.