Last night was the Chicago premiere of America the Beautiful 2 and it was fantastic. I met so many amazing people. I got to see other cast members again (and their friends who are awesome, Hi Mama Laura), I got interviewed by rollingout.com (I’m in the video at the bottom of the article – I even got say “This is Rolling Out” which I was far too excited about). A bunch of people came up afterwards to say that they liked what I had to say, that it made them think – some people even apologized to me for the way that they treated fat people in the past and promised me that they would do better. My absolute favorite were four little girls (all traditionally thin). The two youngest (who were braver) ran up and said that I was their favorite thing in the movie and asked me if they could hug me. As we started to talk and the other two came up they told me that they have formed several bands and even made their own music video. One of them said that I was her hero and they all agreed hugged me again.
I asked them how old they were and two of them were the same age as the boy we talked about a couple of days ago. He was an honor roll student who participates in school activities and whose only health problem is controlled sleep apnea, who was taken from his family because his obesity meant that he is “failing to thrive”. And that started me thinking about this whole idea of thriving because a whole lot of people are putting a whole lot of effort into making sure that kids don’t grow up to be like me. I’ve worked my ass off and have had an amazing life so far – I’ve played Carnegie Hall, been the CEO of a million dollar company, been in a movie, and received thousands of e-mails from people who tell me that I’ve inspired them, and I just turned 35. How did I become the nightmare scenario?
That’s the message that they try to give fat people – we are “failing to thrive” unless we are thin, unless we have a body that fits the social beauty norm. All of the interventions put in place to “save” us failed (or we squandered them). Nothing we do will ever be enough to make up for our fatness, we couldn’t possibly be truly happy living outside the cultural beauty norm. We can’t possibly be comfortable at our size, some people can’t even process what we do because of their own prejudices and preconceived notions (someone who reads my blog called me lazy today, it’s not the first time. The answer is in front of you, open your damn eyes!)
Some of it is guessing, some is projection, some is bullying, some is just BS but let’s remember that we don’t know why people are bigger now than they were (we have guesses, but nothing proven) and we don’t now how to make them smaller and our obsession with thinness has become a train wreck whose fiery explosion destroys more people every day, so now is probably a dandy time try sometime else – like focusing on healthy behaviors that we can control rather than just body size.
Regardless, nobody gets to decide what “thriving” means for us. Let’s Occupy our Fat, Thriving Underpants. Being fat is not better or worse, it’s just one of many body sizes and every body is amazing. Four little girls get it, why can’t everyone else?
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