Not about the Marie Claire Mess

Instead, it’s about why I’m grateful for the Marie Claire mess…

If you haven’t heard, a blogger at Marie Claire posted a blog in which she talked about finding fat people gross.  (I’m not quoting the article and I’m not linking to it from here. For all of those waking up wondering “What grand and glorious adventures will I have today?” that’s just not how I want to start their Monday. Nor will I give this girl more publicity by publishing her name.)

The reaction is what is interesting to me.  Suffice it to say that there was a huge outpouring of pissed-off-ed-ness.  There were over 3000 comments, almost all of them negative.  I heard somewhere (unverified) that 28,000 negative e-mails were sent.

And here’s why I’m grateful:

One of the things that concerns me about the Body Positive Movement is the number of people I meet who think that they deserve to be treated poorly because of their size.  An article as ridiculous as this can perhaps galvanize us and draw a line in the sand that says “Ok, now you’ve gone too far” and I think that with where we are as a movement, right now we need that line.  Here’s what I’m hoping people got out of this experience:

You deserve to be treated with respect

In every interaction.  By everyone.  That doesn’t mean that people will always treat you with respect, it just means that if they don’t it’s an issue on their end, and you don’t have to make it your issue.  Can you imagine picking up somebody else’s baggage at the airport and thinking – “I don’t know who this person is, or how they came to pack these things, but no matter what’s in here, I’m going to wear it!”  So there you are, wandering around the airport in bondage pants and a paisley shirt rethinking your strategy.   That’s exactly what we do when we choose to take on someone else’s issues as our own.

You Do Not Need to Measure Yourself with Someone Else’s Ruler

I know someone who claims to have a phobia of little people.  Some of her friends entertain this  –  offering  her understanding and solace.  I find it abhorrent – these are not spiders, they are freaking PEOPLE.   I once had a  dance judge tell me that she “couldn’t stand to look at me” because my arms were too fat (hi Cindi).   It is my firm opinion that anyone who has that kind of issue with people  – whether it’s because they are little, big, disabled, a different color etc. is fully responsible for doing WHATEVER IT TAKES to overcome that issue, or just shut up about it.  Of course we’re not the boss of everybody’s underpants, just our own.  So while we can’t control people vomiting their issues all over us, we can deftly step aside and not get any on us.  You get to choose how you react to what people say. So instead of internalizing someone else’s prejudice (“if she says I’m gross, I must be”);  try something more like “Wow, she’s a crazy bigot and her prejudice is not my problem”. How you allow something to make you feel is your choice.

You are Not a Stereotype

Some of my favorite responses were people who fought back against the myths the blogger had clearly bought into about weight and health. This is where I think people really allow  themselves be affected by society.  As a fat person I am constantly sold the idea that someone can look at me and ascertain my eating and exercise habits and general health.  Well, that’s just bullshit.  But fat  people choose to buy into it.  They hear over and over again that all fat people eat too much and are lazy and sick, so they think “I must eat too much and be lazy and sick.  That’s my fault and so I deserve to be treated badly”.  May I just suggest:  NoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNo.  First of all, more and more research is finding that people’s natural body size varies widely.  Of course, that research is being drowned out by the diet, pharmaceutical, and weight loss surgery industries who want us to believe that omgdeathfat! is coming for us; and by people who want to feel superior by putting us down, and by well-meaning people spouting myths because they’ve not done their research.   If you feel that you would like to be healthier, then I would suggest looking for ways to add more healthy behaviors to your life (eat a little better, find movement that you love to do.).  In any event, you are not responsible for making your picture fit anyone else’s frame, and the only thing that people can tell by looking at you is what you look like.

So thanks, crazy prejudice blogger, for giving us an opportunity to come together as a community, I really appreciate it.

Speaking of my fat arms, I was part of a photo shoot today with Richard Sabel, an incredible talented (and more than a little bit patient) photographer.  I’ll be blogging more about it later, but for now here is the first picture.  This is the dress that I was wearing when the judge (hi cindi) said that she couldn’t stand to look at me.  I wish my feet were more pointed (I think in this frame I am coming down and relaxing them to land on the oh-so-comfy-concrete floor) but I love my 284 pound healthy body in this picture, un-photoshopped,  as it should be!

18 thoughts on “Not about the Marie Claire Mess

  1. I love that you are coming down in that picture and still have some serious air beneath you. Now I want a picture mid jete!

    1. Thanks! My jete is much less impressive than it used to be (I think that this was the first time that I had done it in at least 5 years – it took me a minute just to remember an appropriate preparation). Also, this was the 26th one we did in a row – the photographer was trying out a new lens system that only gave him one chance to get the picture.

  2. I don’t have to point out the obvious but I will anyway. There is absolutely nothing wrong with your arms, nor anything about your lovely, shapely feminine form. This picture is bursting with joy, life and motion. Bravo.

  3. You know, I’ve been having some problems (still, ugh!) with not letting others prejudices get me down, but this really put some stuff into light for me. Thank you for taking the high ground. I prefer to look at things in a positive light when I can and you shone it bright for all to see.

    Oh and LOVE the picture!

    1. Thanks! I think that it’s an easy trap to fall into, we all seem to end up there, at least for a little while, glad that you are seeing your way out 🙂

  4. I love that picture how freaking beautiful and graceful looking are you! This post is excellent! I agree the article was a great way for a ton of people to come together as a community and stand up for what we believe in!

  5. Love it. You know, when I moved to America for college, I felt like my art history courses (as well as not having a tv) really helped me keep my perspective on body issues from getting skewed. I was looking at all these paintings of larger women all the time rather than commercials trying to make me feel bad about myself. I started buying prints from all the art museums I went to, partly as a way to affirm that my body type is beautiful. This wonderful photo reminds me of those paintings.

    1. That’s incredibly interesting – I wonder if a lot of art and art history majors have that same experience? Thanks for your kinds words about the photo as well 🙂

  6. That is one of the most beautiful pictures I have ever seen! You look so graceful and elegant and amazing! The ammount of air you got is awesome.

    Also, I love this post. Using the whole MC debacle as an oppertunity to learn teach and be grateful for all the amazing things you have is better than focusing on the negative and taking offense and being hurt by someone’s obviously flawed view. When I first read the MC blog I was angry and hurt, then I realized it was part bad self esteem and part misinformation that wrote the blog. I hope more people take the road you have taken and instead of getting angry, get motivated to let the world know that fat /= unheathy or ugly.

    1. Thank you so much 🙂 I’m glad that you liked the blog and I absolutely agree with you that this girl just has some issues – hopefully she realizes that now and can tackle them for herself!

    1. Thanks so much Peggy! I’m glad that you like it and now you’ve given me a goal of being on an inspirational poster or card!

      1. I would buy that image as a poster or as cards! Have you followed up on that? If so, where would I purchase? You are gorgeous and amazing inside and out!

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