I saw a post today in which someone suggested that they deserved to be accommodated by a clothing line saying: “It’s ridic that they don’t make my size. I’m fat, but I mean, I’m not THAT fat.” This is something that happens everywhere, but I see it a lot in so-called “Body Positive” spaces that are not specifically fat-positive.
One of the issues with this type of “body positivity” is that it not only co-opts the work of radical fat activists, but it then pushes those activists out with limitations like “it’s ok to be fat as long as (you’re “healthy”/”able-bodied”/not “that fat” etc.) which makes the so-called “body positivity” healthist, ableist, and fatphobic.
For today, let’s tackle the “I’m fat but I’m not that fat” fallacy. Sometimes “that fat” is a certain number of pounds, or a certain clothing size, or a comparison to someone else.
This comes from internalized fatphobia – the person is trying to hold on to the thinner = better paradigm by placing themselves above those who are fatter than they are. (For people who experience body changes over time this can often set them up for a really difficult time when they cross their imaginary threshold for “that fat.” )
I have compassion for people dealing with internalized fatphobia – we live in a society that is rife with systemic weight stigma so it’s not surprising that fat people internalized that fat hatred and turn it against themselves.
However, this “not that fat” thing isn’t just about having internalized fatphobia, it’s also about weaponizing internalized fatphobia to harm those with even less privilege, and so in cases like this my first concern has to be for the people being harmed.
Let’s get clear: suggesting that one deserves better treatment because one is not “that fat” (by whatever definition one is using) is bullshit. It’s completely bullshit. It’s indefensible bullshit.
What it’s actually saying is, “I deserve equality with thin people, but those who are fatter than me don’t.” What the person whose post I saw today was saying was “I deserve clothes, but people fatter than me don’t” It bears repeating – that’s bullshit.
Anytime we’re suggesting that our body is better than someone else’s, we’re headed down a bad road. Whether we’re talking about clothes, medical care, seats on a plane, or any other aspect of life, people of all sizes deserve equality. Our belief in size equality cannot stop with our size, or an arbitrary size. If we aren’t here for the fattest bodies, then we’re not here at all – and that goes for all marginalized bodies, BIPOC, trans, disabled, older, sick, et al.
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ONLINE WORKSHOP: Talking Back To Fatphobia
We’ll discuss options for dealing with the fatphobia that we face as we navigate the world – from responses that encourage a dialog, to responses that encourage people to leave us TF alone, with lots of time for Q&A, a recording will be provided, and there is a pay-what-you-can option.
Details and Registration: https://danceswithfat.org/workshop-talking-back-to-fatphobia/
*This workshop is free for DancesWithFat members
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