Someone shared a Facebook meme with me that said “I may be fat, but I’m fabulous!” I’ve seen this in any number of iterations: I may be fat but I”m fit, or I may be fat, but I’m not lazy, even though I fat I’m still beautiful etc.
I’ve certainly done this myself in the past and while I’m not trying to tell anyone what to say or think, I do think that this may be worth looking at.
What I realized for me was that when I said “I’m fat but…” or “even though I’m fat…” I (however inadvertently) gave credence to stereotypes about fat people. For example if I say that I’m fat but I’m a good dancer, there is a suggestion that the fact that I’m both fat and a good dancer is a surprise, or that I’m somehow overcoming my fat to be able to dance – which is not my actual experience.
I also felt that it made it sound like I was trying to make up for some kind of failing – like “I let myself get fat but I can still dance.” Worse, it can sound like I’m saying that “Unlike those other fat people…” which engages the “Good Fatty, Bad Fatty Dichotomy” which is complete bullshit and needs to die.
Working with stereotypes is tricky because whatever the stereotype is, and whoever the stereotype is about, there are going to be people who embody it and people who don’t within the stereotyped group. The problem is with the fact that we are stereotyped in the first place, not with whether or not we happen to embody a stereotype that has been created as a way to bully and stigmatize us.
There are many different ways to deal with stereotypes but one of the ways that I deal with them is to make the conscious effort to never speak about my fat body as if it’s a flaw, or speak about my accomplishments as if they are in spite of my fat body. Instead I tell the truth about my body in a way that acknowledges and honors the amazing body that I have. I’m fat and a good dancer, I’m fat and athletic, I’m fat and fabulous. I’m fat and, not fat but.
Like the blog? More Cool Stuff!
Book and Dance Class Sale! I’m on a journey to complete an IRONMAN triathlon, and I’m having a sale on all my books, DVDs, and digital downloads to help pay for it. You get books and dance classes, I get spandex clothes and bike parts. Everybody wins! If you want, you can check it out here!
Like my work? Want to help me keep doing it? Become a Member! For ten bucks a month you can support size diversity activism, help keep the blog ad free, and get deals from size positive businesses as a thank you. Click here for details
Book Me! I’d love to speak to your organization. You can get more information on topics, previous engagements and reviews here or just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org!
I’m training for an IRONMAN! You can follow my journey at www.IronFat.com
A movie about my time as a dancer is in active development, you can follow the progress on Facebook!