Seriously, It’s Not Fair

Angry FrustratedI talk a lot on this blog about ways that fat people can advocate for themselves, and that thin fat activists can help advocate for us.  Whether it’s dealing with the bigotry of random strangers or workplace wellness programs, or the government’s ill-conceived war on fat people, or trying to actually get competent evidence-based medical care (and not being a non-consenting participant in experimental medicine), or keeping kids from being non-consenting participants in experimental medicine, I talk a lot about the options that we have to fight this bullshit.  There is something that I want to be absolutely clear about:

This is not fair. We should not have to do any of this.  Fat activism should not be necessary.  The rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness should NOT be size dependent.  Fat rights activism isn’t about asking people to give our rights to us, it’s about asking people to stop keep our rights from us through an inappropriate use of power and privilege, which they never should have done in the first place.

Stereotyping, bigotry, oppression and bullying are things that should absolutely not happen. Sometimes people can get confused and think that because these things become our problem they must be our fault.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Fat people have the right to exist – no matter why we are fat, if we could be not fat, or what being fat means.  There are no other valid opinions on the matter.  Unfortunately, again through an inappropriate use of power and privilege, invalid opinions based on bigotry and oppression have managed to find their way into the culture masquerading as truth.  It’s not the first time this has happened and, sadly, it’s likely not the last.  We are not the only group this is happening to, but it is happening to us and  it sucks.  It seriously sucks. It fucking sucks.  It’s not fair, and it’s not our fault. And did I mention that it sucks?

Nobody is obligated to activism of any kind.  While I choose to be an activist – to fight the stigma, bullying, and oppression that shouldn’t exist –  I also think it’s important to remind myself frequently that it shouldn’t be necessary. It’s also completely reasonable to get really angry and really frustrated by the crap that we have to go through – whether it’s dealing with a doctor who thinks that they are a psychic who can tell everything about you from your size, or dealing with some jerk who spends their time hating people for their body size, I completely support you if you feel like taking a tennis racket and hitting a pillow a few hundred times – I may grab a racket and pillow of my own.  So no matter how you choose to deal with the BS that comes at you, remember that it’s not fair and, even if it becomes your problem, it’s not your fault.

Like my blog?  Here’s more of my stuff!

The Book:  Fat:  The Owner’s Manual  The E-Book is Name Your Own Price! Click here for details

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Interviews with Amazing Activists!!  Help Activists tell our movement’s history in their own words.  Support In Our Own Words:  A Fat Activist History Project!

Dance Classes:  Buy the Dance Class DVDs or download individual classes – Every Body Dance Now! Click here for details 

If my selling things on the blog makes you uncomfortable, you might want to check out this post.  Thanks for reading! ~Ragen

 

 

They Don’t Know Fatties

Motivate FinalI was thinking today about how often we are told that, as fat people, everyone who is not fat is a better witness to our experience than we are.  How often someone is considered an expert in weight loss, or becoming thin, simply because they happen to be thin.

We are told that we’re not competent witnesses to what and how much we do or should eat, or how much we do or should move.  Our bodies are held up as proof that we must be lying or deluded and that we can’t possibly know, or be doing, what’s best for us. We are told that, because of how we look, we should be subject to more scrutiny than those who don’t look like us, we should lose our right to speak for ourselves, we should be stereotyped and stigmatized and bullied and war should be waged against us  – that the way we look means that we shouldn’t get to choose how highly we prioritize our health or the path we choose to get there like everyone else does.

We are forced to listen to people like Jillian and Bob on The Biggest Loser prattle on insufferably about how fat people think and what fat people do and what it’s like to be a fat person as if we are all walking around under the guide of the same brain just because we share a single physical characteristic. We, and the rest of society, are told that everyone from Dr. Phil to Dr. Oz to random people on the internet know more about how and why we think and act, and what it’s like to be us, than we do.

When we tell people that constant social stigma is damaging to our health, we are told that it’s for our own good and we should be grateful to hear that our bodies are socially unacceptable more often and more aggressively than we already are. When we tell people that we are not suffering from obesity, but are suffering from stigma and oppression, we are told that we are responsible for solving bullying and social stigma by changing ourselves.

We are told that if we don’t accept someone else’s account of how we think, eat, and exercise, then we’re “in denial”.  It’s a system designed to make us powerless.  Our oppressors (well-meaning or otherwise) get to tell the world who we are and what we do and how we think and what it’s like to be us, and if we disagree they call us liars, and claim that we are not capable of speaking for ourselves. Not only are we denied a place in discussions about us, we are actively silenced and shouted down when we attempt to speak up.  People have managed to successfully stigmatize and stereotype our bodies, and then argue that those stereotypes make us unqualified to advocate for ourselves.  Successful stigmatization and oppression should not become self-perpetuating by virtue of self-justification.  In other words, this is seriously fucked up.

So if you start to question yourself, to wonder if Dr. Oz really is a better witness to your experience than you are, then I implore you to stop and consider this possibility:  You are not wrong, it is not you. It’s a system set up to make us feel that we are not the most credible witnesses to our own experiences.  It’s wrong, it’s oppressive, and it shouldn’t happen.  The next time somebody feels the need to tell you “something you don’t know” about being you – your body, lifestyle, behaviors, thoughts or health – feel free to tell them (out loud or in your mind) that it’s not you, it’s them; that you know everything you need to know about being you, and when you want their opinion they will be among the very first to know.

Like my blog?  Here’s more of my stuff!

The Book:  Fat:  The Owner’s Manual  The E-Book is Name Your Own Price! Click here for details

Become a member: For just ten bucks a month you can keep this blog ad-free, support the activism work I do, and get deals from cool businesses Click here for details

Interviews with Amazing Activists!!  Help Activists tell our movement’s history in their own words.  Support In Our Own Words:  A Fat Activist History Project!

Dance Classes:  Buy the Dance Class DVDs or download individual classes – Every Body Dance Now! Click here for details 

If my selling things on the blog makes you uncomfortable, you might want to check out this post.  Thanks for reading! ~Ragen

Giving My Body What It Deserves

Truth GI spent the last three days keynoting at the absolutely fabulous Abundia retreat.  Being in the presence of those amazing women (hi y’all!) more than made up for not having internet access, and I’m glad to be back to the blog today.

One of the things that I talked about at Abundia was my journey to giving my body what I believe it deserves.  For a long time the idea of “deserving” for me was all wrapped up in the idea of being thin.  I was pretty sure that a fat body didn’t really deserve much – I believed that my body would deserve to be comfortable, deserve good healthcare, deserve my love, appreciation and support just as soon as it became thin.  Over time I’ve decided that I’m the only person who decides what my body “deserves” and why, and that I believe my body deserves to be loved, appreciated, and supported by me just because it exists and regardless of the things that it can or can’t do, how it looks, or how all of that might change over time.

That journey started for me when I realized that I had spent so much time hating my body for how it looked that I hadn’t had even a moment of gratitude for everything that my body did for me.  Even though, at that time, I wasn’t ready or able to see my body as beautiful (and wasn’t sure that I ever would), I was able to start appreciating everything that it did for me – and I did that using a pretty simple (though not alwyas easy) three step process.

The next step in giving my body what it deserved was how I viewed it.  It started when I realized that I could see the beauty in other women my size but not in me.  I decided that my body deserved for me to get over my conditioning to be able to see it’s beauty.  I realized that the ability to perceive beauty is a skill – and that I hadn’t developed that skill well enough to see past the (very profitable) BS that society has been pushing on me, and I that my body deserved better than that, so I decided to work on my skill of perceiving beauty.  I started with other people (since that was easier for me) and I challenged myself to find the beauty in every single person I saw, and to remember that if I wasn’t able to find beauty in someone – that was my failing and not there’s.  I found that the more I could see beauty in others the more I gave myself permission to feel beautiful myself, and the less I cared what others thought about that.

My body and I now have a great relationship (though, as with every relationship we have our off moments), but I haven’t stopped working to give it what it deserves.  I try to treat it really well, I work hard to listen to my body and give it what it’s asking for, and to get good care for my body from people who also appreciate it.  My activism is a major part of that.  My body is amazing, it does so many things for me and I believe that my body deserves nothing less than my full-throated support – whether it’s asking for an armless chair so that my butt can be comfortable, demanding good evidence-based healthcare, or standing up to societal stigma and bullying.  To me a big part of loving my body is making sure that I give it what I am now certain it deserves.

Like my blog?  Here’s more of my stuff!

The Book:  Fat:  The Owner’s Manual  The E-Book is Name Your Own Price! Click here for details

Become a member: For just ten bucks a month you can keep this blog ad-free, support the activism work I do, and get deals from cool businesses Click here for details

Interviews with Amazing Activists!!  Help Activists tell our movement’s history in their own words.  Support In Our Own Words:  A Fat Activist History Project!

Dance Classes:  Buy the Dance Class DVDs or download individual classes – Every Body Dance Now! Click here for details 

If my selling things on the blog makes you uncomfortable, you might want to check out this post.  Thanks for reading! ~Ragen