How messed up do you have to be to take to social media in order to try to tell people of a certain weight what they can and can’t wear? That’s a question that I don’t have a definitive answer to (“pretty messed up” is as close as I can get.) When it comes to options for responding to this nonsense, Sara Petty has that part under control.
Sara is a blogger who is majoring in Public Relations at Bowling green University, and she decided to create a response to the size-shaming troll drivel she found in social media about what people should and shouldn’t wear. In a statement to Huffington Post she said:
I also hope that girls are able to separate who they are from the number that shows up on the scale, and realize there is no number, high or low, that dictates if you’re worthy of feeling beautiful.
I think that this is a great project and I appreciate Sara putting herself out there. I especially appreciate that the pictures are amateur, with just her room in the background etc. While there’s nothing wrong with having beautiful, professional pictures taken of yourself, I also want people to know that activism doesn’t require a professional photographer, and that you can make a difference using whatever resources you happen to have.
But it’s the responses to her activism that I found particularly interesting, and that’s what I want to talk about:
There is NO WAY that she could be 200 pounds
This one illustrates that people are terrible at judging weight, but excellent at missing the point of Size Acceptance. She is 5’11 and 219 pounds for the record, but that’s not really the point here.
She’s not fat!
This one is a bit tricky. As a smaller fat person Sara has privilege since the mistreatment of fat people, as well as access to everything from clothing to transportation to compassionate evidence-based healthcare gets worse the more visibly fat one is (as well as intersectionally with things like disability, health, race, and other marginalized identities.) So some people are pointing out that, while she is taking a risk by putting herself out there, her risk is not as great as it would be if she were a size 26 with belly rolls and cellulite. And that’s true.
Still, as we’ve discussed before, this is something to be careful with because if someone is being shamed, stigmatized, bullied etc. for being fat, and we say “they aren’t fat” or “they aren’t even that fat” in their defense, what we are also suggesting is that there is a size at which they would deserve that treatment, and that’s just not true. Which brings us to…
But she looks good at 200 pounds, I was talking about the other 200 pound people.
Because of her height and the distribution of her fat, Sara approximates the current stereotype of beauty more than people who are shorter, fatter, have different fat distribution etc. That’s an important thing to note, and I was happy that Sara represented for women her size, and used her privilege to advocate for women of all sizes – specifically not doing the “at some point you’re too fat blah blah handwringing about our health blah blah” thing that can often happens in these situations.
At the end of the day, the most important thing to remember is that the suggestion that only people of a certain size/ weight/appearance are allowed to wear certain types of clothing is ALWAYS bullshit regardless of the parameters. If people don’t like how fat people dress, they can avail themselves of one of these options. In the meantime, here are Sara’s fabulous pictures, and you can check out her blog here!
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