Accepting The Reality of Fat

Published September 26, 2010 by sleepydumpling

I just have to share this.  I was just reading a bunch of posts and links that I’d saved for later, and found this piece on thin privilege.  It’s a list of things that people who are not fat experience every day, and many take for granted:

Everyday as an average sized person …

I can be sure that people aren’t embarrassed to be seen with me because of the size of my body.

If I pick up a magazine or watch T.V. I will see bodies that look like mine that aren’t being lampooned, desexualized, or used to signify laziness, ignorance, or lack of self-control.

When I talk about the size of my body I can be certain that few other people will hope they are never the same size.

I do not have to be afraid that when I talk to my friends or family they will mention the size of my body in a critical manner, or suggest unsolicited diet products and exercise programs.

I will not be accused of being emotionally troubled or in psychological denial because of the size of my body.

I can go home from meetings, classes, and conversations and not feel excluded, fearful, attacked, isolated, outnumbered, unheard, held at a distance, stereotyped, or feared because of the size of my body.

I never have to speak for size acceptance as a movement. My thoughts about my body can be my own with no need for political alliance relative to size.

I can be sure that when I go to a class, or movie, or restaurant that I will find a place to sit in which I am relatively comfortable.

I don’t have to worry that if I am talking about feeling of sexual attraction people are repelled or disgusted by the size of my body. People can imagine me in sexual circumstances.

People won’t ask me why I don’t change the size of my body.

My masculinity or femininity will not be challenged because of the size of my body.

I can be sure that if I need medical or legal help my size will not work against me.

I am not identified by the size of my body.

I can walk in public with my significant other and not have people double take or stare.

I can go for months without thinking about or being spoken to about the size of my body.

I am not grouped because of the size of my body.

I will never have to sit quietly and listen while other people talk about the ways in which they avoid being my size.

I don’t have to worry that won’t be hired for a job that I can do because of the size of my body.

It really resonated with me because every single one of those list items are things that I’ve never experienced.  As a woman who is deathfat (yeah, morbidly obese by the redundant BMI scale), every single one of those items on the list above would be an absolute luxury for me, and a totally new experience.

When those who are not fat say they don’t understand what we Fat Acceptance activists are “going on about” and suggest that we should just “move on”, they’re ignoring the fact that we cannot ignore our fatness and move on, because every day we’re reminded by the behaviour of others towards us.  We don’t imagine this, this is our reality.  Those with thin privilege need to accept that this is the reality that fat people have, and acknowledge it.

Until all bodies can experience the above items, whether they are fat, thin or somewhere inbetween, I can’t just move on.  I have to keep doing what I do.

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20 comments on “Accepting The Reality of Fat

  • “I will never have to sit quietly and listen while other people talk about the ways in which they avoid being my size.”

    Wow, this one was a bullseye. I am working with a really lovely older woman, and she is on weight-watchers etc, and is always referencing how she’s “lost 40 pounds and has ____ to go.” While it’s just conversation, and definitely NOT directed at me, I find myself thinking a few things:

    “I don’t agree with weight watchers, and you’re using rice cakes as bread which is weird.”

    “You make me slightly uncomfortable when you talk about how much you disliked your old body. I am probably about the size (or larger) of your “old body” and if you think your body was icky, what about mine?”

    I don’t fault people for wanting to lose weight, be active, etc. but it would be nice if they would think about who they are speaking to/ in front of and how they say it.

    • Courtney that is the one that resonated most with me. I have to sit and listen to that at work, in my family, on my Twitter, on Facebook, on television, in movies… it’s just EVERYWHERE. There is no place one can turn without that talk going on… except for the Fatosphere. And people even try to push it in to these spaces by saying we’re “discriminating” against them by banning it. UGH!

  • There was a time when reading this post would make me feel very sad and demoralised. Instead, it energizes me. Because the refrain I know I can add to each item is:

    “And this is something I deserve”.

  • When those who are not fat say they don’t understand what we Fat Acceptance activists are “going on about” and suggest that we should just “move on”, they’re ignoring the fact that we cannot ignore our fatness and move on

    Ok, I’ll move on. Right after YOU do. When the size of my body becomes a non-issue and all the things listed in this post no longer occure. I will GLADLY put it all behind me. I’d really rather not have all this crap floating around in my brain. But as long as your answer to that is ‘then just lose the weight’ without any consideration for how I might have to warp / distort my ENTIRE life to achive this goal (if it is AT ALL possible or that I’d even WANT to), then we are going to have a problem.

    For me, THIS is why Fat Activisim is necessary.

  • Overall, a good list, but there are things I have witnessed thin friends having to deal with on this list.

    In particular, thin men without visible muscles will get suggestions to exercise and “kidded” for not being muscular enough.

  • I agree with most of this post.
    However, I strongly object to the writer conflating “average size” with “thin”. They are not the same. And I say this as someone who is neither.
    Also, too many average size and thin people act as their own body police when others don’t. That’s one reason that fat acceptance is for more than just fat people.

  • “Average” sized people have thin privilege. The thing about thin privilege is it’s expressed as degrees of privilege, and many people who are “average sized” may not realize the privilege they hold because of the way thinness is constructed as superior to average, and average as superior to fat. But, it’s easy to see if you consider how average people don’t face fat oppression. Average people, much like thin people, do not find their every day lives constrained by fat oppression in the way fat people do.

    The reason an “average” person might have difficulty recognizing their thin privilege is because of what is called the “invisibility” of thin privilege.

    Nonetheless I agree FA is for everyone (said as a thin person), but the role of thin or average people in FA will likely look different than the role of fat people.

    I also agree that EVERYONE is harmed by thin privilege. Thin people suffer from the social construction of fatness as undesirable too, but it’s no where near the extent. For thin people, we can forget about fat oppression or body hatred very easily if we unlearn our own biases; on the other hand fat people are reminded of their Othered state everyday. That’s part of what’s unfair about it all.

    And yes, EVERYONE deserves the things on that list.

    If you want a more in depth look at thin privilege you should read LInda Bacon’s perspective on it: http://www.lindabacon.org/Bacon_ThinPrivilege080109.pdf

  • Wonderful post, as an ‘average’ sized person it is important to be reminded of stuff I take for granted to be an effective ally. I think it is so true what you said in the comments that many people will experience parts of this list at some time, for example, I don’t know many women in our society who are able to go for months without thinking about the size of their body, but people who aren’t fat won’t experience all of them, all of the time.

  • I am a psychologist and I am overweight. I am amazed as I larger now in late 30s and 40s once i became bigger how much other people feel the need to offer gratuitus advice (staff/colleagues/strangers nt clients here). It is so hard some days not to ask them if the have everconsidered working on their a. anti-social traits b. pathological bullying c. alcoholism d. inherent narcsissism etc
    It is because they can see my weight, my “flaw” is there for them to see.
    I was crossing the street the other day and a chap did an illegal u-turn and nearly ran me over. He said something to me and I replied “you arent supposed to turn here – solid line – so sorry i wasnt looking for traffic” so he abused me and told me he would be “doing me a favour if i ran you over and you went to hospital because you wont at so many donuts”. So clearly being fat justifies him in hitting me with his car.

  • Excellent read, I just passed this onto a colleague who was doing a little research on that. And he actually bought me lunch because I found it for him smile So let me rephrase that: Thanks for lunch!

  • I have to say, I agree with your acceptance movement, on the whole, it speaks to more than just fat acceptance. And I was reading through your blog and this made me stop. I am a tiny person, height and weight wise. I am 5’3”. 110 pounds.

    “People won’t ask me why I don’t change the size of my body.

    I do not have to be afraid that when I talk to my friends or family they will mention the size of my body in a critical manner, or suggest unsolicited diet products and exercise programs.

    I can go for months without thinking about or being spoken to about the size of my body.”

    these simply aren’t true for everyone who’s average, or thin. Every time I speak to my mother or father, how I should lose some weight comes up. Or how she weighed less than me when she was my age. Or my father telling me “You know, fat girls don’t get diamonds.”

    I think about my body size everyday. I asked my boyfriend one day after being berated by my mom, he said I would look better if I lost ten pounds like she said.

    I know things are more of a struggle for you and others for acceptance, but God, society & pop culture is just horrible for women in general. I wish there was more normalcy and less of an emphasis on weighing 100 lbs at 5’7”.

    • q.f. esq. Nobody is saying that sometimes some of these things don’t happen to people who are not fat, or even men for that matter.

      What the piece says is that fat people deal with ALL of those things EVERY DAY. Whether they are conscious of it or not. Read that list again. Imagine all of those things happening to you each and every day, and understand your privilege over those who DO have those things happen every day.

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