Content Notice for Ableist Insult, Body Image and Discussion of Weight
After getting my body fat hydrostatically measured, I made the decision to stop obsessing over every little weight fluctuation and no longer use a scale. It’s been quite a boon to my sense of well-being to not start almost every day in tears over a few ounces gained or in fearful, tentative victory over a few ounces lost.
Of course, what would talking about a self-care victory be without a well-meaning person telling me that I’m not fat and shouldn’t care about it?
The tweet read “You aren’t fat at all dummy! Stop worrying!”
The person who said that claimed that the “dummy” part was an attempt to be playful. The worst part of that wasn’t “dummy”, anyway. It was the idea that
- Their personal opinion overrode all of my life’s experiences, and
- the onus is on me rather than on society to eradicate fatphobia.
They’re hardly the first person to engage in this well-meaning but ultimately condescending and dismissive form of “encouragement.”
I’ve written numerous times about the awfulness I’ve experienced as a lifelong fat person. From the personal, where doctors unfavorably compare child-me to themselves and I’m mocked for not facing the same kinds of harassment as other female-perceived types, to the societal, where fat people experience all kinds of discrimination, it’s not fun to be fat and boy howdy, do I know it.
Even less fun than the bad treatment I get is the adamant denialism I face when I try to talk about my life and my experiences as a fat person. I can’t talk about how BMI has been used as a tool to harm me without being told that it’s just a tool. I can’t talk about the fatphobia I and others face without being told that I need to fix my self-esteem. I can’t talk about how my experiences are different from other female-perceived people without being told that I’m doing it wrong. And, now, it appears that I can’t talk about what was a triumph, a veritable victory in self-care, without the assumption that I need encouragement that ignores my life, my experiences, my history, and my reality.
Unless you think that there is something inherently wrong or evil or immoral about being fat, there is no need to deny it. I am fat and always will be fat by societal standards and really, that is okay with me (most of the time). This is my body, as it is, and this is my life, also as it is. My fat body is not a problem. That it is seen as a problem is something I have always faced and, lately, something I will fight against.
If you want to help, to encourage, to bolster, or even to fight with me, denying that I am fat doesn’t actually do anything positive for me. In fact, it pulls the rug out from under me. Let me own my body and all that has come with it. Acknowledgement is the premise on which I hope to build more compassionate and scientific arguments leading to a less fat-hate-filled future.