Not Down with #DropthePlus

Published March 31, 2015 by sleepydumpling

It’s highly likely that you’ve already heard of the campaign #droptheplus, initiated by ex-Biggest Loser host Ajay Rochester and model Stefania Ferrario.  If you’re on Twitter and follow any fat activists at all, most of us have been pretty vocal about it.  If not, Rochester and Ferrario are behind a push to stop the media and businesses using the term “plus-size”.  From what I’ve read, they both believe that referring to women as plus-sized is embarrassing and they don’t like the idea that models who are outside the very thin range that high fashion deems “standard” are called “plus-size”.

I have a lot of serious problems with this campaign.

Firstly, let’s talk about the two women who are spearheading the campaign.  Anything initiated or supported by anyone who was ever involved with The Biggest Loser strikes some serious alarm bells for me.  I know Ajay Rochester has left the franchise and she’s had some criticisms of it, but the fact that she thought it was an acceptable project to ever put her name to is something I find deeply worrying.  It is probably one of the most blatant examples of fat hate and is actually the televised torture and humiliation of fat people.  Nobody who actually really cares about fat people would have anything to do with it.

Then there’s the matter of a woman who is happy to make money out of the plus-size market, even though she isn’t actually plus-sized herself.  Stefania Ferrario is deemed a plus-size model, though, like most other plus-sized models (a tiny few are in-betweenies, with exception of Tess Munster who is actually the first REALLY plus-sized model), she does not have to shop from the plus-size section of any store.    Yet she is employed to sell us plus-sized clothing.  She is a model in a thin body, even if the very dodgy industry refers to her as a plus-size model.  Perhaps if she does not want to be referred to as plus-size, she could campaign for realistically sized models in the entire fashion industry – move away from the extremely thin for “standard” fashion and actually get some fat models who have bodies like the customers they serve for plus-size clothing?  Will she be advocating for more diversity in modelling for clothes, or is she happy to continue being paid to model clothes that actually would never fit the customers she’s supposed to be selling to?

To me, it seems that both Ajay and Stefania are ashamed of being referred to as plus-sized, as do those who support the campaign.  A quick look through the photos on Instagram and Tumblr under that hashtag show that most of the women who support it are either thin, or at most, in-betweenies.  So these are women who either are, or can pass as, not-fat.  Which tells me that most of these women are actually on this campaign because they don’t want to be considered fat, probably because they believe that fat is a bad thing.  There is a lot of rhetoric in the campaign about “all women being normal”, but I don’t see anyone with a body like mine being celebrated as “normal” as part of this campaign.

I do have a problem with people who don’t actually need to shop in the plus-size section, or those who have more options than others in plus-sizes, having any say on whether or not we use that term.  If you’re a thin woman, or even a smaller fat, why is it any business of yours to demand that anyone not use a term to describe their own bodies?

The only reason it would be “embarrassing” to be referred to as plus-size is if you think being plus-sized is a bad thing. This is another example of how the body positive movement excludes fat people, by suggesting it’s embarrassing to be identified as one of us.

Fat activists and fatshion bloggers have spent a lot of years working very, very hard to improve the market for plus-size clothing.  We’ve worked hard to get the industry taking plus-sizes seriously, and to include us in their merchandise and marketing.  We are still a very, very long way from being where we should be by way of options for fat women, but, there are more and better options now than there were 5 years ago.  That said, if you are over a 2X (or it’s local equivalent), the options dwindle down to very few indeed.  We are still in a time where major retailers exclude plus-sizes by removing them from their stores and expecting plus-sized customers to buy online.  They exclude us by charging ridiculously inflated prices compared to straight-sized clothing.  They exclude us by offering unfashionable styles in dark, dreary colours.  And many, MANY of them simply exclude us by size.  By either not offering a range over a size 14 or 16, or offering only a slightly extended size range, cutting off before actual fat people.  As it stands, at a size 4X I can count on one hand the number of places that carry clothes in my size, and only one of those has styles and colours that I REALLY like, rather than just settle for because I need clothes.

What I would like to know is if Rochester and Ferrario and those supporting the campaign, are campaigning for retailers to include ALL sizes in their clothing ranges.  And I don’t mean just a few extra sizes on top of what is currently considered straight sizes, I mean to AT LEAST a size 5X or 6X.  Because unless they are, this campaign to drop the term plus-size is actually not helping those of us that rely on plus-size ranges.  It is in fact, going to impact negatively on us.  Retailers will feel that it’s acceptable to no longer stock any sizes over their standard range, because they’re going to “drop the plus”.  Which will leave people of actual size with even fewer options than we already have.  The last thing we need is for plus-sizes to be eliminated in any way.

I also want to know how Rochester and Ferrario and their supporters would like to address those of us who are actually fat.   I don’t mean twee euphemisms like curvy, chubby, fluffy, BBW (such a gross concept) or voluptuous.  I mean actually fat.  If they have a problem with the term plus-size, you can bet that also have a problem with the word fat?  Or do they think that there is a limitation on which people get to be considered “normal”?  Are they just moving the bar of “normal” slightly to a place that still excludes many of us?   If they’re not going to use the word “plus-size” to refer to bodies like mine, what word will they use?   I’ll bet my 300lb+ body won’t be considered “normal” by them, so what do they propose I use?  I have the funny feeling that the vilest of all words “obese” will be tabled “because it’s a clinical term”.  HELL NO.  I am not going to be labelled as a disease.

All in all, the #droptheplus campaign is another deeply misguided attempt to create some kind of feel good movement that yet again, excludes those of us at the far end of the bell curve.  And as I said in my last post, if your activism doesn’t include ALL fat people, it is not making any real change.

Each and Every One Of Us

Published March 29, 2015 by sleepydumpling

The fatosphere has a problem.  Put simply, it’s too nice.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m proud to be part of the fatosphere, and I think amazing work is being done.  But too many fat people are being left behind.

We spend far too much time trying to accommodate people who hold us back from our rights.  We make space for people who refuse to acknowledge that fat stigma exists.  We allow diet and weight loss rhetoric in our spaces, despite the fact that both are the product of fat hate.  We fold the minute a thin person says “But what about skinny shaming?!” as though they’ve ever been there for us while were dealing with people who would eliminate us altogether, the same people whose silence in the face of the hate and bullying fat people receive is deafening.  We rush to prove that fat people can be healthy, pretty, fit, fashionable, successful, which on the surface is stereotype-busting, but is only a thin veneer over the stigmatisation of less privileged fat people.  We don’t have to be health, fit, pretty, fashionable, successful etc to earn our rights as human beings.

We have rights by default.  They are not something that has to be earned.

There needs to be room for more than just young, white, affluent, able-bodied, straight, smaller-fat, femme presenting, cis-women showing how beautiful they can be and how they’re “valuable” to others.  Because by focusing on the “acceptable fats”, we are inadvertently drawing a line that creates “unacceptable fats”.  And there is something important you all must know…

There are no fat people who are unacceptable.  Not a one.

Not the sick.

Not the disabled.

Not the queer.

Not the trans.

Not the poor.

Not the people of colour.

Not the old.

Not the weird.

Not the ugly.

Not the mentally ill.

Not the extremely fat.

Not the masculine presenting.

No fat person is unacceptable in fat activism.  It is important that when we take up the challenge of demanding dignity and respect for fat people, we need to include ALL fat people, especially those people who aren’t considered “valuable” to society.  Because human value isn’t about being pretty or fashionable or worthy.  All humans, by right of their existence, are valid, valuable people.  Fat people shouldn’t have to prove that they “contribute to society” to be included in fat activism.

I’m not saying that we have to open up the floor to every fat person who wants to have an opinion – plenty of fat people are chock full of internalised fat hate.  Fat liberation to me has no place for diet talk, proselytising weight loss, or any other form of anti-fat rhetoric.  But we need to be making sure that the people who don’t meet the standard of the cute fashion fatty have a seat at the table.

How do we do that?  Well, mostly we do it by watching our own behaviour and making sure we’re not building standards and barriers that exclude and de-value certain people.

We need to stop entertaining those who throw health questions at us.  Firstly it’s none of their business, nobody’s health is their business but their own and secondly rushing to declare that we are healthy throws those fat people with health or disability issues under the bus.  Not to mention that no human being is 100% healthy, all of the time.  We all age, go through illness and injury, and most of us will be subject to disability at some point  – it’s called age.  I’m sure many people mean well when they respond to the health policing with “But my blood sugar levels are fine!” or “I exercise every day!”  But that implies that there is something wrong with people who do have illness, or who are not active.  Again, health and physical activity are nobody’s business but your own.  The answer to the fat hating “But it’s bad for your health!” is not “My health is great!”, the answer is “Other people’s health is none of your business, and my human rights are not affected by my health or lack of it.”

We need to talk about more than access to fashion when it comes to clothes.  That doesn’t mean that we should never talk about plus-size fashion, it means that we need to open up the other issues around clothing for fat people.  When we squee over a new range, do we take notice whether or not that range is accessible to larger fats?  Or is affordably priced for fats on a lower income?

We need to talk about access to comfortable clothes and how fat people wearing comfortable clothing are stigmatised as “sloppy”.  We need to talk about access to work uniforms for fat people, and how without that access fat people are held back from employment opportunities.  We need to talk about access to surgical gowns, wound dressings and medical supports that fit our bodies, and how we are already humiliated in medical settings, without the embarrassment of ill-fitting hospital garments and discomfort of too small dressings/supports.

We need to talk about how larger fats (myself included) are routinely excluded from all of the “exciting” new fatshion collections and ranges, and why this is about more than just business.  We need to talk about how the plus-size clothing industry is terrified of the word fat, or acknowledging that their customers are fat people at all, and how this further stigmatises fat people.  We need to talk about how plus-size customers are treated with shame in retail, both by shaming us and by being ashamed of us.

When it comes to fat activism, we need to make sure we’re not walking over other fat people to raise ourselves and our own needs higher.  We need to examine our own preferences and tastes – why do we share the things we share, and follow the people we follow?  Do we uphold the very prejudices that we’re supposedly fighting against, because we have internalised the same societal bullshit as everyone else?  Are we making sure we represent a diverse range of fat people in all of our work?

What are we doing for the older fatties?  The fatties of colour?  The super fatties?  The ones that don’t care about fatshion?  The ones that can’t afford fatshion, or basic things like medical care and food?  The disabled or chronically ill (physically or mentally) fatties?   The queer fatties?  The trans* fatties?

We need to move beyond focusing on just the cuties, the fatshionable, the young, the social butterflies in the fatosphere.  We need to make it clear that fat rights are for all fat people.  There will be no real valuable social change until we do.

Reality Television – Modern Day Freak Shows

Published March 15, 2015 by sleepydumpling

After 6 years of being a fat activist, there isn’t much that makes my jaw drop in astonishment any more.  I’ve seen every pathetic excuse for fat hate that is out there, trolls stopped being original about 5 and a half years ago, and you name the creepy, cheesy, fatphobic trope in media, I’ve seen it.

But this week, I got a request that absolutely astonished me.  Take a look at this:

Screen Shot 2015-03-15 at 7.18.02 pmMy first reaction was to just blink in astonishment.

My second reaction was to see red and for steam come out of my ears.

I think reality tv is crap to begin with.  It’s unimaginative, cut rate content that only exists because the industry is too cheap to pay for good content.  But this really takes the cake.

I am utterly astonished that in the year 2015 anyone would consider a fat person in a relationship as “unique”.  Do they honestly think that approaching a known fat activist looking for “couples that are either in extraordinary situations or in uncommon relationships” is an acceptable thing to do?  Do they honestly believe that a fat person in a relationship is somehow an “extraordinary situation” or an “uncommon relationship”?  If they do, that speaks volumes about their attitude to fat people.

We are not freaks.  We are not a fetish.  We’re not even “uncommon” – we make up 60% of the population.  Being treated like fat people in relationships as being something unique or extraordinary is really dehumanising.  The suggestion is that nobody “normal” could really love a fat person.  Only “unique” and “extraordinary” and “uncommon” people love fat people.  Which is a coded way to suggest weirdos and freaks.

Fat people live the same lives as everyone else.  We have careers, we have relationships, we have families, we pay taxes, we are educated… we have lives.  There is nothing “unique” about it.  The only thing different is the way people treat us because of our bodies.  As if we are not human beings.

A Little More Housekeeping

Published February 28, 2015 by sleepydumpling

Morning all!  I’m a little thrilled to say that another of my posts, The Educated Eater, is due to go up on WordPress’ Freshly Pressed page this week some time.  I am so chuffed that the Freshly Pressed team look outside the box for posts to share in that feature, I get so much good reading from it and I can highly recommend their Twitter account if you’re looking to find new and interesting blogs to read.

Of course, with any new promotion of this blog, it brings out the jerks as well as the lovely new people.  Already I’m getting a smattering of people DEMANDING to know why they can’t comment on my posts, as if I’m their fucking public property.  Wrong!  For those of you who are genuinely curious, I wrote about it here.

Unfortunately, I’m not able to close every loop on this blog, and there’s always someone commenting on those places.  Sometimes it’s nice people.  Most of the time it’s douchebags.  Quite often very transparent douchebags pretending to be feminists or something else they’re not, as if I’m so stupid that I would fall for their fake outs.  It takes me 5 minutes to track these people back to other posts where I can see exactly who they are.

I am no longer letting ANY comments through anywhere on this blog, unless I open up a specific post for sharing of resources etc.  Any comments left anywhere else will be deleted.  For those of you leaving nice comments, please understand it’s nothing personal, I just don’t have the spoons to let people through into my little corner of the internet.

Links for the rules and about me are at the top of the page.

 

Not Like Other Girls?

Published February 17, 2015 by sleepydumpling
Comic strip by Kate Beaton aka @Beatonna

Comic strip by Kate Beaton aka @Beatonna

Once upon a time, I was the young woman in this cartoon.  I was the one that professed to be “not like other girls”.  I told anyone who would listen that I preferred men as friends, that I found “other chicks” shallow and boring.  My guy friends always told me I was “Cool, not like other chicks.”  They said they could hang around me because I didn’t “cause drama” like other women, and that I didn’t take things “so seriously”.

That was partly because I’d been taught that fat women weren’t the same as “normal” women.  I believed that I wasn’t included in womanhood, so I figured the best bet was to just join the boys and to turn my nose up at “other chicks”.

Another part was self preservation.  As long as the guys liked me, they weren’t calling me a “crazy bitch”, or making fun of me, or treating me like a piece of meat.  It was easier to fit in with the guys, than to risk their wrath.

The rest was internalised misogyny.  All my life I’ve been told women were lesser beings than men, they weren’t as important or worthy.  I was taught that women were overly emotional, too sensitive, irrational, shallow, uninteresting… the list goes on.  So I internalised that and spent my time trying to be not like what I had been taught “other girls” were.  I didn’t want to be seen as any of those things, so I went along with the guys attitudes and spent my time trying to prove I wasn’t like that.

But then something happened.  I disagreed with one of those guys who told me I was “cool, not like other chicks”.  He said something hurtful and I told him it was hurtful, and asked him not to do it again.  And boy, he and the other guys didn’t like that.  Suddenly, I was “just like all those other crazy bitches”.  I needed to “calm down” and “stop making drama”.  He told me “Everything is about you, making you happy, isn’t it?”  Thing is, he wasn’t the only one.  Every guy who has ever called me “not like those other chicks” has eventually turned on me when I stood up for myself, or did something they didn’t like.  They didn’t just tell me they disagreed with me because of X, instead they implied I was over-sensitive, or irrational, or selfish, or “crazy” (which is ableist as fuck as well as gaslighting).

All those male friends started turning on me.  I was getting “too opinionated”.  One by one, the minute I disagreed with them on anything, or asked them not to do something that hurt or upset me, they’d decide I was just like other girls, and it was too much effort to have around.  Even those I had devoted YEARS to making happy, got pissed the minute I expected to be treated with respect, or asked not to do something that upset me or someone around me.  As much as you think you’re playing it safe by being the “cool chick” around guys, they will turn on you the minute you do anything they don’t like.

At the same time this was happening, my self esteem was growing.  I started to feel like a worthy human being, who had the right to be treated with respect, and who had needs and wants too.  My confidence grew too.  Instead of being quiet and “not making a fuss” when I believed something, I spoke up.  Instead of backing down at the first sign of resistance, when I believed that something was unfair, or that I deserved better, I stuck to my guns.

As my self esteem and confidence grew, I noticed more and more that guys didn’t like me as much as they used to.  I started to question why that was, and I found feminism.  I started to understand misogyny and how deeply entrenched it is in our culture.  I learnt how many women, as a self preservation method in a misognynist culture, decided to join ‘em because they can’t beat ‘em.  That they took those messages that said women were lesser and internalised them, and regurgitated them as “I’m not like that.”

As a result of my growing self esteem and bourgeoning feminism, I realised something incredible… women are awesome!  Women are smart, funny, thoughtful, kind, and strong.  Women are great to be around.  Particularly feminist women, who tend not to talk down to other women, and instead support and build women up.  We listen to each other.  We don’t dismiss each other’s feelings as being irrational or silly.  We don’t let our egos get in the way of admitting we made a mistake, or that we don’t know something.  We share.

Consequently, I now find myself with the most amazing women friends.  Friends who treat me as their equal.  Women who are unbelievably strong and who stand up in the face of a whole lot of bullshit from a society that sees us as lesser beings.  Women who value each other.  Who support each other while supporting themselves in a lot of ways.  I can’t tell you how awesome the women in my life are these days.

I know it feels easier to play along with the guys.  To dismiss your feelings as unimportant in the scheme of things, so long as the guys think you’re cool.  It’s easy to convince yourself that other women’s feelings are irrational, overly-emotional and silly, and that you’re not like them.  I know it’s easy to not make waves, not cause a fuss, don’t “get emotional”.  It’s easier to suppress your feelings, to push things down and swallow your words and your emotions than “upset the boys”.  You want to see someone “get emotional”?  Say “No” to a man.  They go from zero to “You fucking bitch.” in seconds.

If a man can’t handle you at what he perceives is your worst, then he doesn’t deserve you at your best.

Let me assure you, articulating your feelings, and expecting to be treated with respect is not causing drama or making a fuss.  You have a right to be heard, to express your needs as a human, and to expect the same respect you put out in the world returned to you.  Being hurt by someone in your life not speaking up for you, or by expecting you to not speak up for yourself is completely valid.  It is not “over sensitive”.  You do not have to tolerate cowardly men who would rather be liked by acquaintances than stand up for the women in their lives.  You do not have to tolerate cowardly men who see their own comfort levels as more important than your wellbeing.  You do not have to tolerate cowardly men who stand over you and bellow their opinions, while they think a woman’s convictions are “selfish”.  You do not have to tolerate cowardly men who act like owning up to a mistake is a fate worse than death.  You don’t have to put up with these things to prove you are “not like those other chicks”.

I am proud to be a strong, independent woman who stands by her convictions and takes responsibility for her words and actions.  A lot of people like to call women like us “bitches”.  Well, I’ll leave the response to Tina Fey and Amy Poehler:

bgsd
I am so thankful for the strong, outspoken women in my life.  To every one of you, be you near or far, close friends or fellow feminists, you make me a better person.  I’m proud to be “one of those chicks”.

The Educated Eater

Published January 23, 2015 by sleepydumpling

Recently I was part of a conversation on Facebook about the concept of fat tax/junk food tax/whatever you want to call it.  The current food being demonised is sugar, and this particular conversation was about a proposed sugar tax in New Zealand, but I’m pretty sure that wherever you are has had something similar in the not too distant past.

A lot of the conversation centred on how taxing any particular food is over-intervention by the government, however it ended up in the territory of possible ways to get people to eat “healthier”.  As always, there’s a faint air of moralisation around even the most well meaning conversation about improving people’s general eating habits – the old binaries of fresh/processed, healthy/unhealthy, junk-fast/”real” are ever present, as though food is somehow either all good or all bad, which no food ever is.  Foods have varying levels of usefulness/nutrition/substance to every person.  Not to mention that food has absolutely no moral value at all.  It is not good or bad, it is just food.

Repeatedly the suggestion was that we need to “educate” people about food, where it comes from and what it’s value is.  The implication was that it was poor people in particular that need this education.

I believe that people already understand food.  Let me give you an example.

As I walk to catch the train each morning to go to work, I pass a Dominos pizza franchise.  The other day I noticed a poster in their window for a meat-lover pizza. The calorie count was in a font twice the size of the price of the actual pizza. A third of the page was taken up with the calorie count.  It is deemed more important to tell people how many calories are in a pizza than the price of that pizza.  Who actually thinks that anyone who is likely to buy a meat-lover pizza is either ignorant or cares about the calorie count?  Either you’re buying it because it’s dirt cheap and will fill the bellies of your hungry family, or you just want a greasy pizza and don’t give a flying fuck about how many calories are in it. You could put the calories in big scary jaggedy font with flames coming out of it saying that you’ll go to hell for eating it, and people would still buy it, because they want it, or because they have no other option that suits their needs.

I really do have a problem with the whole “We need to educate people about food” thing. Particularly when it’s aimed at poor people, who are statistically the biggest consumers of fast/processed food.  This is because fast/processed food is CHEAP.   The attitude that poor people need to be educated about food reeks of classism and almost always comes from those with the privilege of being able to afford tertiary education.

Honestly, poor people know about food and it’s value, better than any affluent person ever will. As someone who has lived through extreme poverty, I can tell you, you know EVERY single iota about the thing you’re spending the tiny bit of money you have on. You spend your whole life bargaining against yourself for how to get the most filling, calorie loaded food that will last the longest for the least amount of money possible. Poor people aren’t ignorant, they’re poor. They’re not choosing fast food because they don’t know any better, they’re choosing it because it’s cheap, easy, filling and available.

Then there is the belief that fat people are ignorant about food, that we don’t know which foods are “good” for us and which are “bad” (again, using scare quotes because food has no moral value – it is neither good nor bad).  I am a very fat woman.  I can tell you the approximate calorie count of pretty much any food out there.  I can also tell you how many Weight Watchers points it is, whether or not it is allowed on the Atkins diet, what carbs are in it, how many grams of fat, and in most cases, what it’s key ingredients are.  I have been forcefully “educated” about food since I was about 5 years old,  and I am now 42.  I have spent decades calculating every little fact about food because I have spent decades dieting and with fucked up disordered eating habits.   I bet I am not in the minority of fat people who have been forcefully “educated” about food their whole lives too.

Fat people are the least ignorant people about the nutritional information of food.

Poor people are the least ignorant people about the nutritional information about food. 

Both groups of people (and often they intersect), have HAD to know this information out of necessity.

Want to help people eat more nutritious, fresh food? Make it cheap. Pay people a living wage.  Make sure that they learn the skills needed to procure and prepare fresh foods, right from school level.  Ensure that they have the time that it takes to actually procure and prepare fresh food.  If you’ve worked a 16 hour day just to cover your rent and bills, you don’t have time to shop for prepare vegetables. You have kids you have hardly seen, who are hungry, and very little money to feed them, you need something quick, hot and filling available now.

Think poor people need to be aware of the conditions of production? HELL NO, they ARE the conditions of production. They’re the ones working split shifts in factories prepping frozen meals. They’re the ones working in fast food restaurants for minimum wage.  They’re the ones working shitty jobs at weird hours to pay the bills.  They’re the ones labouring on farms for less and less pay as the supermarkets cut back the price of produce on them. THEY KNOW.

Want to help change the way food is consumed? Legislate so that food processing companies have to pay a fair rate for produce. Legislate so that supermarkets have to pay a fair rate for produce. Legislate so that food producers have to pay their workers a fair living wage and employ them in reasonable conditions so that they can go home and shop and cook for their families.

The whole fresh/healthy food movement is rampant with patronising attitudes towards people who are the most aware of the problems with fast food, but with the least means to do anything to rectify it.

The Realities of Fat Activism

Published January 11, 2015 by sleepydumpling

It’s time I spoke up about a little something that’s going on in the fatosphere at the moment.  I don’t have a very big platform in the scheme of things, I do have a loyal group that stick around and are very supportive, and I’m forever thankful and honoured by that.  But I don’t have access to being published on mainstream websites, nor do I have friends who are high profile people in activism circles.  I have worked very hard for over 5 years to get the little bit of following and media notice I have had, and I’m thankful that there are people who appreciate my work and signal boost it on a regular basis.

But I am SO done with people who write on mainstream websites (where one article gets more shares than I get hits on a post) whinging that they don’t have representation, and then holding up MY tiny patch of the internet as an example of how fat/size acceptance is “doin’ it wrong”. (No, I am not linking to it, most of you will know the piece I’m referring to.)

Firstly, I have said for years now that I do not identify as part of fat acceptance, size acceptance or body positive movements.  I am a proud fat activist who believes in fighting for the human rights of fat people to live their lives in dignity and respect, without discrimination or vilification.  I believe in the liberation of fat people from a society that has treated us as second class citizens for almost a century now.  I do not believe “acceptance” is enough.  Body positivity has long excluded very fat bodies like mine.  Nobody has the right to hold me up as an example of either fat/size acceptance or body positivity as I reject both of those movements myself.

Secondly, I have no place speaking for anyone but myself.  If you want representation, do not look to me to speak for you.  I can only speak for my experience – that of a very fat (I personally prefer the term “deathfat”) woman with chronic illness.  I am a survivor of domestic abuse and sexual assault.  I have lived through poverty.  These are the things I am qualified to speak on.  I can, and will not presume to speak for anyone other than myself, however, if other people identify with my experiences, I appreciate the connection with them.

Unfortunately, I get a lot of people criticising me (more often than not they’re just trolling) for not writing about how fat hate affects men, or disabled people, or women of colour, or LGBT* folk.  I am not qualified to speak on these perspectives as I do not belong to them myself.  It is not appropriate for me to write about other people’s experiences.

I am not running a media website.  I am not editing any collections or aggregating other people’s posts.  This blog is me.  JUST me.  I stopped allowing guest posts years ago, and I write about my experiences.

If you want to be represented in fat spaces, you need to speak up for yourself.  But you also need to be aware that visibility in the fatosphere is not something that is either automatic, or without serious issues.  I blogged here for two years before I started to get any audience outside of a small group of friends.  In that two years, I spent the equivalent time and effort of a full time job in research, outreach, discussion with other activists and self-promotion on growing my blog, my visibility and my audience.  Once I started to get established, I spent just as much time lobbying the media, academia,  businesses and other organisations asking to speak, to be interviewed and to be included in events to further my activism.  In fact, until last year, I worked a full time unpaid job in activism on top of the full time job I have that pays my rent.  It’s only when it began to take a toll on my health and stress levels that I cut way back on the activism work I was doing, for my own self care.  Consequently, my audience has shrunk again, but I am very grateful for those who are loyal enough to stick around for my more sporadic posts.

As well as being hard work to get any visibility as a fat activist, most of us have to deal with some pretty horrific abuse.  Abuse that is unrelenting – despite my reduction in activism, the abuse has not tailed off even mildly.  It is relentless, always waiting in my email, on my social media accounts, and sometimes in my “real life” spaces.  It will appear on this post, and I will have to get rid of some horrific stuff.

You need to be aware that while it may look like all fun events and free shit for a fat activist on the surface, many of us spend hours and hours dealing with hate groups discussing how they’d like to see us die and suffer, sending us death and rape threats, constant harassment by abusive emails, tweets, Tumblr asks etc, theft and vandalism of our photographs, violent images and horrific pornography sent to us, things that before I started blogging, I would never have believed that another human being would do or say to someone.  Not to mention that it spills over into offline life as well.  I have had people stalk me, death threats sent to my home, hate notes left in my mailbox, been signed up to “obesity clinics” and weight loss centres, had vexatious letters sent to my employer, people abuse me in the street, all manner of crap I’ve had to deal with.  And let’s not get started on the creepers that think we should be grateful for their “fat admiration”.  Sending me unsolicited dick pics is not “admiration”, it’s sexual harassment.

You don’t see it because I don’t want to inflict it on others.  I don’t want to promote the bullying and hate.  I don’t want to give them the attention they crave.  And mostly because I just hit the delete button and get on with my life as best as I can.

Are you willing to deal with these things as a visible activist?  Are you willing to put in the work to get representation in fat spaces?  Are you willing to even acknowledge that these things unfortunately come with the territory of being a visible activist?

Does that mean that I don’t have privilege as a white woman?  No.  I am fully aware that as a white, heterosexual, mostly able-bodied, cis-woman who is lucky enough to currently have full time employment that I have advantages that other people don’t have.  Does it mean that nobody has privilege over me?  No it does not.

What I can, will and already do is signal boost those activists who are speaking up.  I am not trying to win any ally badges, or be given any ally cookies.  I want to promote those who are standing up and speaking out as best I can, because I know what it’s like to be under-represented.  I know what it is like to be on the margins.  Not to mention that I personally prefer to hear the perspectives of people outside of the median.  I can see a dime a dozen pretty, white, smaller fats with plenty of disposable income blogging about fat fashion.  But after a while, the shine wears off and I want to hear about the people who have also fought societal pressure like I have, for whatever reason, even if it is different to mine.  I want to see bodies that both look like mine, and bodies that don’t but are rarely seen anywhere else.  I have more in common with other marginalised people, despite our differences, than I do with the pretty white fatshion bloggers.  My social media platforms are all full of people on the outside, of various identities, because that’s where I have always been myself.

I wholeheartedly support the call for more diverse voices in fat activism.  I want them as much as anyone else does.  But I will not now or ever sit by in silence while someone on a far larger platform than I have access to passive-aggressively holds me up as someone who is “doing it wrong”.   If you don’t like how I dress, represent myself or engage in activism, you go out and do your own.

If you already follow my Facebook feed, my Twitter or my Tumblr, you will already have access to the activists I choose to signal boost.  But I will also do so here, because it seems this is where I garner the most criticism for a lack of representation.

I invite you to share your blogs/accounts and those you like in the comments below as well.  I know I could always use some more.

Note, these are in no particular order, and are not sorted into categories, they’re just as I dig them up from my bookmarks. And are only some of those I follow (I left out any that haven’t posted in a while).

*Unfortunately there are very few men blogging about fat issues, and some of those that are have been caught bullying, harassing and trolling fat women, so I will not support them.  A couple of very good fat blogging men have stopped blogging, which is a real shame.

**Note – please keep this comment thread to sharing links to non-mainstream fat activism and fatshion.  I am not entering into a discussion of whether I’m doing fat activism “right” or that it’s my job to speak for anyone other than myself and those that wish to identify with me.

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