Oooh, to talk about body acceptance and positivity. This conversation is for everyone, regardless of what your body looks like and where you are in accepting your own body or others’ bodies. There are a variety of movements focused on fat acceptance, which I think are great, but I don’t know that I want to stop there. Like I said last week: I’m fat. I’m still on a journey of being able to accept this body I have as beautiful. What our culture generally accepts as beautiful is very different from what I see in the mirror, and it’s taken me awhile to come to both come to terms with and reject that ideal. I would wager that most people in this country do not fit into that narrow ideal, regardless of body size.
Sweetums: Can we just ditch the ideal already?
There’ve been some fan-fucking-tastic blogs out there discussing these sorts of issues, and two excellent posts just earlier this week that I think warrant attention. Firstly, a post from The Rotund (2/7/11):
I want to interject a quick discussion about the cultural perception and definition of fat: it’s malleable. There is the definition of fat that includes BMI, that includes people getting lectured by their doctor. But there is also the definition that gets applied to people who just aren’t conforming as much as viewers wish they would – that’s why Jessica Simpson and Jennifer Love Hewitt and Tyra Banks get called fat (and we can talk about the elements of race in there, too, when people call Tyra fat). That’s why our friends and loved ones who sit well below the BMI category for even overweight call themselves fat or describe themselves as feeling fat – because “fat” is a physical descriptor but it is also a cultural codeword for bodies that don’t follow the rules.
When we talk about fat experience, we are obligated to contrast it with thin experience – we talk about thin privilege a lot when we’re trying to illustrate a point. But part of thin experience encompasses that more euphemistic definition of fat because that’s the scare word our culture uses to try to keep people dedicated to the pursuit of an unattainable ideal.
I feel like this point needs emphasis: Fat is a “physical descriptor but it is also a cultural codeword for bodies that don’t follow the rules.” YES. A codeword. There are many such codewords (slut, fag, white trash to name just a few) that let people know that the body we’re describing doesn’t follow the rules.
Speaking of rules, this excerpt from Manolo for the Big Girl (2/7/11):
I’ve had just about enough of people telling other people what’s “okay” to do with their bodies. My body is different than yours. It’s not broken and what I choose to do with it is not a broken decision, if it’s not what you’d choose to do with it were you in my position. And even if it isn’t the healthiest decision I could make, do you know whose problem that is? Not Yours. Yes for our own well-being we ought to try to make lifestyle choices that will keep our motors running the way we want. But it’s not your right or responsibility to tell me or any one else what is OKAY to do with a body that doesn’t belong to you.
[…] Be fat or thin or in between […] I couldn’t give a hot buttered damn about your body.
I just want you to love it.
And if you don’t love it, then please, for the love of all things holy, don’t spread that hate around.
If a person’s body doesn’t follow the cultural rules we start to find ways it can be remedied. The fat person in line in front of you at any given fast food restaurant doesn’t need your judgment. But they’re fat! you silently exclaim. Shouldn’t they be eating healthier? Shouldn’t they be off their fat ass trying to lose weight? Whose choice is that? Theirs. Not yours. Who gives a shit if they’re eating 10 McNuggets or 20?
Better yet– What did you order? That’s what I thought.
Can we get over our obsession with weight and food? I dunno, maybe we don’t have it in us as a culture. I genuinely want everyone to live happy, healthy productive lives with access to nutritious options. I want people to have a wider variety of examples of beauty. I also want people to stop associating guilt with certain foods. It was a piece of cake. Get over it! And if you can’t get over it: Quit bringing your shitty attitude about food with you to the workplace or restaurant or wherever it is you bad mouth yourself and the food you eat.
(Side note: I have zero experience with eating disorders, and I know that these issues are different for those living with such. No harm intended here. Carry on.)
When it comes to weight and food, have others ever tried to tell you what to do with your body (either directly or indirectly)? Do you ever fall into the trap of doing that to others?