One of the biggest challenges I face with ending fat talk at the moment are not those that are openly nasty or rude, nor those that loathe their own bodies and are finding it hard to let go of the self-fat talk, but those that are patronising. You’ve probably all experienced them, the ones who go quiet in a conversation about body image and fat talk, only because they’re thinking “Listen to the poor fatty, deluding herself that she can be healthy like that.” One is tempted to write it off as paranoia or self consciousness when one gets that feeling, but unfortunately I’ve caught a few people out on it, either talking to others when they think I’m not there, or others have told me that they’ve done so after I’ve left. I’ve also heard other fat friends talking about experiencing the same thing.
I’m not entirely sure how to work with people who believe that those of us who follow fat acceptance and health at any size are deluding ourselves. That we’re in denial about our weight.
Sometimes just being really open and reminding them that I know that I am fat helps. A lot of people who are trying to be polite are very confronted by the word fat. I’ve referred to myself as a fat woman and seen people blink in shock, as if I’ve just said “Fuck” or called myself the N-word. To so many people, “fat” is the ultimate insult, so to hear someone call themselves that openly and unashamedly they find it confronting.
I’ve even found myself censoring the word fat when referring to myself, not because I’m ashamed of it, but just because I’ve seen some pretty intense reactions to it. I try not to, because I consider it MY word and I want to remove the negative power from it, but it’s very hard when good people react so intensely to it.
Often I find myself letting it go when someone is clearly of the opinion that I am in denial about my fat. This still doesn’t sit comfortably with me because I am trying to actively challenge any shame and stigma about fatness in my life, no matter who it be from. But there are times when it does hurt when someone assumes that I haven’t armed myself with as much information as possible and haven’t made an informed decision about fat acceptance.
I guess each situation is different and I’m still really learning how to challenge the attitude that fat = unhealthy/morally wrong. Sometimes I’m successful, other times, not so much.
What are your thoughts on ending fat talk from those who believe that fat people are in denial about their bodies? Have you had any successful experiences? Are you someone who used to have this belief about fat people, but have changed that?
Please share in the comments and let’s work on this together.