I am a fat woman and the thing about the government waging a war on obesity is that you can’t separate me from my fat – a war against obesity is a war against me. And so the body I live in 100% of the time has become political. No longer do I simply venture out of my house. Oh no, I commit PDFs – Public Displays of Fatness.
EWF: Eating While Fat
This one is always tricky. Any time you eat in public when you’re fat you risk having people comment to you. Things that have happened to me:
Eating a burger and fries: A perfect stranger says “This is why you’re fat”. I respond “You are way out of line and you don’t know what you’re talking about. How dare you. Move on.”.
Eating a salad: A perfect stranger says “Good for you for you, just keep it up and you’ll lose the weight.” I respond “You are way out of line and you don’t know what you’re talking about. How dare you? Move on.”
Either way, because I’m fat and dare to not only exist outside of my house in a fat body, but to eat in public, people feel that they are justified in commenting if my food choice doesn’t pass their test for what a fatty should eat or, alternately, they feel that they are doing me a favor by encouraging what must be an attempt to manipulate the size and shape of my body through salad.
WWF: Working out While Fat
Picture this. I am at the gym doing HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training). I’m maxing out the speed and resistance on the elliptical, tracking my heart rate and my interval time. The person who has been walking on the machine next to me steps down and, before she leaves, says “good for you for starting an exercise program, stick to it and you’ll lose the weight. ” Now, I have no problem with someone walking on a treadmill – especially if they enjoy it, but I do have a problem with someone who has watched my intense cardio routine feeling comfortable making an assumption OUT LOUD, TO ME that I’m a beginning exerciser, not just without evidence but in direct contrast to the evidence. Also, why does it always seem like the same people who are telling me that I should lose weight and are subsequently offended by my body in the gym? I’d prefer they just shut up but shouldn’t they at the very least have to choose one? I don’t care what they think so they can feel free to keep aaaaaall of that to themselves.
DFA: Displays of Fat Affection
Remember when that goofy Marie Claire blogger said “I think I’d be grossed out if I had to watch two characters with rolls and rolls of fat kissing each other, because I’d be grossed out if I had to watch them doing anything.” That’s real, y’all. That’s something that a blogger for a major womens magazine’s site felt comfortable publishing online, under her real name. And her editors let it through. So I am left to contemplate that there are people who are so broken that they feel the need to tell the world that they are grossed out at the thought of me receiving physical affection or, you know, doing anything, and that instead of dealing with their bigotry and prejudice, they feel that instead of working on their issues I should be home bound for their aesthetic pleasure. Um, no.
HFP: Headless Fatty Pictures
With thanks to Dr. Charlotte Cooper for the term Headless Fatty – Anytime I’m out in public I run the risk of being photographed from my feet to my shoulders and tacked onto an article about obesity or health insurance or whatever. Since they don’t use my face they don’t have to get my permission, or compensate me, or anything.
FIP: Fat in Public
This covers all the rest of the time. I’m always fat, but being fat in public can mean anything from a car full of high school boys making mooing sounds, or grown men throwing eggs at me, or a well dressed gentlemen lecturing me about how I’m costing him insurance money.
So what is to be done? We each get to choose how we deal with this. For me the first is realizing that the world is screwed up and I am fine. The next step is choosing not to participate in that culture. Here are some suggestions, your mileage may vary:
- Stop negative body talk – negative talk about other people’s bodies, celebrities’ bodies, your body. Focus on becoming aware of your own negative body thoughts, interrupting them, and replacing them with something positive.
- Stop participating in conversations about negative model talk – interrupt or walk away.
- Actively seek out pictures that aren’t the single standard of beauty that gets shoved down our throats by the media and realize that all things in nature come in different shapes and sizes, including human bodies.
- In our society, waking up and not hating yourself is a revolutionary act. Commit the absolutely revolutionary act of loving yourself and your body right this second. Even if you perceive it as flawed, consider recognizing all of the amazing stuff that your body does for you and developing some gratitude for that.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go EWF, then head to the gym for a little WWF, hopefully avoid a HFP, and then see if I can get involved in a DFA. After that I think I’ll just be FIP for a while.
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