If You Really Loved Your Body…

Bullshit FairyOne of the most often used, and poorly constructed, arguments leveled against those of us who do Size Acceptance Activism, is that if we really loved our bodies we wouldn’t need to do activism, and we wouldn’t be “so angry,” because we would “be at peace with ourselves.”

As a fat person I receive mistreatment at the hands of everyone from the government to strangers that I meet, I hear stories from readers all the time who tell me about abhorrent treatment from their jobs, their families and friends, their doctors and it makes me very, very angry. That doesn’t mean that I’m not happy – I’m happy about a great many things, and I’m perfectly capable of holding happiness for some things and anger for others at the same time.

To suggest that my anger with the way I’m treated indicates that I am “not at peace with myself” makes it seem to me that we should stop the logic train because we’ve had a passenger fall off.  I’m at peace with myself – I’m at war with a large part of the world, and not of my choosing.  Perhaps you’ve heard of the “war on obesity?”  That war is against me, and my body. That war tries to convince people (including me) that I, and everyone who looks like me, should be eradicated based on the shaky assumption that it will save society money (as if it’s ok to suggest that a group should be eradicated in order to save society some money.) Each of us gets to choose how we deal with our oppression – nobody is obligated to react to this with anger, but anger is certainly a valid response.

Not only am I at peace with myself, I’m at peace with myself despite the fact that I’m being constantly given the message that the way I look is proof that I’m a bad person who deserves shame, stigma and oppression.  It is that peace that makes me want to fight for my body and my rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness which includes the right to exist in a fat body without having the government wage war on me for how I look. It’s my love for my own body that drives the anger.

Let’s try this – Imagine that you have a best friend, and every single day that best friend is bullied, shamed, stigmatized.  If you become angry about the way your friend is treated, it doesn’t mean that you don’t have a good relationship with your friend, it means that you are justifiably angry at their mistreatment.

I spend a lot of time smiling politely and asking people if they wouldn’t mind not oppressing me.  I don’t begrudge that and I don’t apologize for it – it’s effective, it gives people the benefit of the doubt (that perhaps they weren’t aware of the consequences of their actions,) and it’s reasonably pleasant.  That doesn’t mean that I’m always obligated to do that, nor does it indicate that I’m not angry at a society that condones the behavior and the social constructs that support the behavior.  That anger is because I love my body, because I’m at peace with myself, and I’d like some peace with the outside world.

To try to characterized the anger of people who are oppressed as a sign of deficiency in our relationships with ourselves is dangerously (and I think often purposefully) dis-empowering – it suggests that to prove that we are happy with ourselves we must not speak out against our mistreatment (not to mention the serious issues with having some obligation to prove anything to anyone about how we feel about ourselves in the first place.) That’s flat out wrong – it’s way out of line, and, perhaps not surprisingly, it makes me very, very angry.

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7 thoughts on “If You Really Loved Your Body…

  1. Reminds me of the “angry black woman” trope or the way I have been told several times “why I get emotional and angry in a discussion about (sexual) violence against women.” I think this has a lot to do with privilege, and a person telling another to “calm down” and “why are you so angry” should definitely check theirs…

    1. FLYLady spoke of her divorce this way. After years of suffering abuse at the hands of her husband, she left. And when she did, he said, “But, why would you leave? I’m happy!”

      Apparently, he enjoyed hurting her, and the fact that his hurting of her caused her pain and misery wasn’t enough cause for her to leave and spoil HIS happiness.

      These people who say these things are abusers, and they follow the same pattern, be it schoolyard bullying, spousal abuse, child abuse, internet trolling, etc. They get off on causing other people pain, and don’t even see that we have a right to want that pain to stop, because that pain is making THEM happy, and that’s all that matters, right?

  2. If I didn’t love myself then I’d assume I deserved all the crap the world puts on me and just get on with letting my life spiral down the drain.

    Because I love myself I know I deserve more than that and will demand that I get at least some decent treatment (can’t force anyone to treat me decently, but at least I can make a fuss when they don’t and sing their praises when they do automatically).

  3. I’m at peace with myself. What I’m not at peace with is very cruel people who get their rocks off by hurting other people without their consent.

    In a BDSM relationship, the top ALWAYS has to have the bottom’s consent.

    I do NOT give my consent to this treatment, and anyone who is creaming their pants because they just hurt me is WRONG!

    Every human being has the right not to be abused, regardless of the relationship they have with their own bodies and souls.

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