Of Stereotypes and Obligations

I was lucky enough to be on one of the fantastic Golda Poretsky’s Body Love Revolutionary Telesummits with Dr. Linda Bacon tonight.  It was an honor to work with both of them (Golda has more amazing telesummits coming up, check out the schedule here!)

Unfortunately my phone mysteriously lost signal at the end and I didn’t get to answer a final question from one of the people who had called in.  She was a dancer and she asked me something like do I feel that when I dance I have to be better than others to overcome stereotypes.

It’s a really good question, and it took me a long time to gain perspective on this:

When a fat person chooses to do something, and that thing happens to challenge someone else’s stereotypes of people of our size, we are not asking for their approval, we are doing them a favor.  We are giving them the opportunity to question their stereotypes.  Their choice to believe those stereotypes and prejudices, and whether or not they choose to challenge them, is on them.   We can’t control that.

As an artist I can choose that one of my goals is to afford people an opportunity to rethink their stereotypes and prejudices about people my size.  I can also decided “fuck ’em if they can’t take a fatty” and simply do whatever I want to do just, because I want to do it.

One of the dance workshops I teach is “Lyrical Movement for Larger Bodies”.  A question that comes up pretty often is “how can larger dancers express frailty when people can’t see us as frail”.  There are a lot of ways to do that technically and we go through them in the workshop. But I think the biggest part of it is, at least for me, was the realization that people can only see what they choose to see. There are people who cannot see a fat person as frail, that’s not the fault of the fat dancer, it’s the choice of the audience member. It does become our problem if we are auditioning etc. and addressing that is a whole other blog.

We are not obligated to live up to someone else’s expectations or to challenge their stereotypes.

Extremely Exciting Update!

Our Fundraising campaign for kids in George raised over $12,000 in the first day during our Big Fat Money Bomb.   Now we just need to get to 1,000 individual donors and we will unlock our $5,000 More of Me to Love Matching donation.  So today is solidarity dollar day!  If you are reading this I’m asking you to take 1 minute of your time and donate $1 to show that you support standing up for this kids and against bullying. The GoFundMe page doesn’t accept donations of less than $5 so we’ve set up a pay pal account just for this:

DONATE A Solidarity Dollar NOW!

If your donation is more than $5.00  it is also greatly appreciated and you’ll donate through our GoFundMe site.  Click Here!

Every donation, no matter how small, bring us closer to getting 1,000 individual donors and unlocking our $5,000 More of Me to Love Matching Donation.  Every little bit TRULY helps!

This blog is supported by its readers rather than corporate ads.  If you feel that you get value out of the blog, can afford it, and want to support my work and activism, please consider a paid subscription or a one-time contribution.  The regular e-mail subscription (available at the top right hand side of this page) is still completely free.   Thanks for reading! ~Ragen

15 thoughts on “Of Stereotypes and Obligations

  1. Their choice to believe those stereotypes and prejudices, and whether or not they choose to challenge them, is on them. We can’t control that.

    Exactly. I’ve always loathed the idea that we are here to perform for the silent chorus of loathing, we are here to represent fat humanity for the benefit of both ourselves and everyone else.

    I’m really impressed at the extent to which the attacks on children have mobilized so much initiative. Well done to everyone.

    I’ve always felt that the undoing of the crusaders is the way they cannot resist overplaying their hand. It’s one thing to attack adults, but adults attacking children? That’s why many of us were motivated to get involved in FA in the first place, we didn’t want to see another generation go down the way previous ones have.

    We shall see whether this is the beginning of the crusade’s undoing.

  2. At first I didn’t understand what you meant by doing them a favor, but I think you mean that my doing something that challenges their stereotype, you are providing as an example of that challenge, which then gives them a chance to possibly question their beliefs/stereotypes. I never quite thought of it that way before.

    I wish I could donate. Is there a deadline for this? I am currently trying to raise funds for my pageant fee for the Miss International Pageant, but once I know have that covered I may be able to donate.

    1. Hi Ashley, Exactly. Good luck getting funds together for the pageant. You’ll have through the end of February to donate.

      Thanks,

      ~Ragen

      ________________________________

  3. Yes I do feel that because I am fat that I have to be better than a “normal-sized” person in what I do because I draw so much more attention. In high school, fellow students scoffed at me because I wanted to join the synchonized swimming team (one actually said that she was surprised that I wasn’t a whale in the water). How cruel. When I dance now, I’ve adopted the philosophy of making myself feel good and the heck with what others think of how I express myself. Isadora Duncan I’ll never be, but I feel good!

    1. It’s a good thing you’ll never be Isadora Duncan because you’re Sandy Roegner, and you are just as good at being Sandy Roegner as Isadora Duncan was at being Isadora Duncan. I am SO glad that dancing makes you feel good, and I promise that it wouldn’t make you feel any better if you WERE Isadora. You go, Sandy!

  4. I tried to donate but the site did not accept my credit card information. That is too bad. I live in Canada and have a U.S. credit card. I don’t know if that is the problem with the software, but it is a problem for me to donate. Sorry. I did want to swell the ranks of the 1000.

    Good Luck, and thanks to everyone else.

    Irene

  5. I think it’s easy to fall for the idea that you must prove yourself to be better because it’s demanded of you to justify yourself as a dancer/actor/firefighter/human being. It’s something all marginalized groups have to deal with, and ultimately it’s up to each individual how hard to work at showing the world, and how hard to work at simply being yourself in all your own glory.

    Some people are better at ‘proving’ they’re good enough than others, but each of us can be the best we can no matter whether anyone else believes it or not.

    On any given day I may or may not choose to push the boundaries of another person’s thinking on the subject of fat, but I am not obligated to do it 24/7 – or even at all. All I am obligated to do is to do my best to live my life to the best of my ability.

    But there are days when it feels damn good to fuck with peoples’ minds.

  6. I’ve never commented before, but I wanted to say hi and that you inspired me to make a donation too. You made me remember how beautifully my sister danced when we were kids, and how much I believe that the failure of the people (especially adults!) around her to see the “beautiful” part when it came to a fat ballerina was a part of what drove her to quit. Little kids, driven out of the physical activities they love…and then called lazy. Sigh. Enough already. For them, for us, just too much. Thanks for what you’re doing.

  7. I donated! Thanks for making it easy by accepting PayPal. I live in Atlanta, and I pass one of those bus stop signs every day. I hope soon to be passing one of yours instead.

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