Fitting In to the Fatosphere

Published October 22, 2009 by Fat Heffalump

I’ve had a few conversations lately with various folks regarding the feeling of “not fitting in” to the fatosphere. It seems that this is a common feeling for several fatties out there, and thus their hesitance to jump on in.

For me, fat acceptance is not a club. It’s not about fitting in to a group or movement. It’s not about being part of some kind of clique, though I do see a LOT of cliques forming, some of them more poisonous than cliques out there in the thinosphere (I just made that up, maybe it could be notfatosphere).
I believe fat acceptance is about two things.
1) Acceptance of myself. For who I am, how I am, what I am. Finding good self esteem and confidence to be who I am, and to live a full positive life. To live my life to the fullest as I am.
2) Acceptance of others, by others. For me to accept others as they are and leave them to be as they are for one, but most importantly, for others to accept me as I am, and leave ME to be as I am. That means accepting that I am fat, without prejudice or discrimination and that I and other fat people are under no obligation to stop being fat, and that we are not lesser beings for being fat.
That’s what it boils down to at the very core of what I believe fat acceptance to be.
That doesn’t mean that you’re never out to improve yourself, challenge yourself or expand your horizons. It means that you accept yourself right here, right now and any changes, improvements, or challenges you make are made for you, not anyone else. There is always something we can improve about ourselves, but we have to be doing it for ourselves, not because other people say we should. Because positive striving to improve yourself is part of living a full life. I will talk about this more in another post I think.
Fat acceptance is not about joining or being anything to fit in with others. I don’t feel the need to be a fat fashion plate, just to enjoy the clothes and accessories that I like. I don’t feel the need to be BBW and become sexualised as a fat woman, just to feel beautiful as I am.
However, that doesn’t mean that these things don’t interest me in elements. I like fat fashion, without having to be a fatshionista. I find images sexy fat women empowering and good for my self esteem, without having to join their ranks in the BBW communities.
I understand that Kate Harding is seen as the goddess of all things Fatosphere, and that to many fatties, criticism of Shapely Prose or the contributors is seen as the ultimate betrayal of fatz. I disagree with this – while I find elements of Shapely Prose and it’s contributors highly useful, articulate and sometimes inspirational, I don’t feel the need to take on board everything that is said there. It’s opinion and opinion will always differ. Don’t let that stop any of you visiting Shapely Prose either – I am sure everyone will find something of use that they can take on board.
That goes for all the other fatosphere communities and contributors out there – get out and read as much as you can, find what resonates with you, share it and don’t worry about the stuff that doesn’t sit right with you. It’s ok, there is no compulsory reading or community for fat acceptance.
But here’s the thing. Your life is your life. You need to live it to it’s full. Find what helps you live your life to the full and expand upon it. If something doesn’t contribute positively to you being able to live your life to it’s fullest and best, then you are under no obligation to continue with that activity, community or school of thought.
If I in any way help you live your life to the fullest with this little blog, then I am deeply honoured.

15 comments on “Fitting In to the Fatosphere

  • There are so many extremes it's hard to find a place to fit in; which is what I think most of us want (to fit in). But there is something to be said for making our own space and choosing what we want to let in.

    Good post.

  • Thanks Moe.

    Let it be said though, I'm not anti-fitting in, I just think we spend too much time trying to change ourselves to fit in, rather than finding somewhere that fits us as we are.

  • IME, trying to fit in in the fatosphere is just as problematic as trying to fit in at any academic venue; i'm not saying "the fatosphere is like high school!" (although sometimes it can certainly feel that way). Rather, i'm saying that most of us are here to learn, some of us are here to pass along knowledge (i hesitate to use the word "teach", in this instance), but ultimately, we cannot pick our classmates or "teachers".

    Sometimes people will develop what will appear to be cliques; sometimes those cliques are intentionally exclusionary, sometimes they just appear to be that way (but really aren't intended as such). How we interpret the interactions we have with others in the fatosphere is often defined by our own personal experiences – sometimes those experiences have nothing at all to do with the person (or people) in question.

    Ultimately, when we find certain people in the fatosphere (or really, any other primarily social setting) that irk, irritate, annoy or shun us, we can choose how to react to them. IME, there's really something to be said for picking your battles. Along those lines, a good way to determine whether or not it's "worth it": "will i remember this in 5 years?" If not, leave it alone and go do your own thing elsewhere. If there is no elsewhere, create it. Find other people of like minds that you CAN positively interact with. If they're not to be found, there's something to be said for setting up your own thing, promoting it where you can, and seeing who shows up.

  • My point is not quite that. It's not that I feel one shouldn't belong to anything or that there are any groups that say, spoil it for everyone else. (Shun, annoy, irk as you put it).

    What I'm saying is that fat acceptance isn't about being part of something so much as it is in finding the tools to be part of yourself. When women (and men) feel pressure to fit some kind of ideal so that they feel like they fit in, they're often letting go of accepting themselves.

    There's nothing high school or immature about that pressure, it's valid and it's real to everyone throughout their lives at some point, to most for their whole lives. People want to be accepted, it's human nature. So often, this feeling of there being something to fit in to that one doesn't quite meet is not even real – it's your own baggage you carry.

    But when it affects your self esteem and confidence to the point of holding up any progress in living a full life… then it's not good for a person, you know?

    And I believe very much that you CAN pick your teachers. Unlike formal education where they are assigned to you, as an adult you can take on board what you choose, and let the rest fall away. There is no need to do battle either – just walk away from that which does not bring you where you need to be. For example, if I read something on another blog that I disagree with, I actually don't feel the need to challenge it. I either move on to the next post, or stop reading that blog altogether if it happens enough. There is so much stuff out there I can't keep up with the stuff I like, let alone keep reading the stuff that I don't like or agree with.

    And in my experience, finding your own level of acceptance of yourself considerably lessens that need to "fit in". It dissolves around you as you find your own place within yourself.

  • What I'm saying is that fat acceptance isn't about being part of something so much as it is in finding the tools to be part of yourself.

    I'm inclined to agree, but i recognize that there are going to be people who do not hold the same opinion. Probably more than a few.

    My mention of high school (and college, or any other place of learning) was only that it is a place where you find yourself amongst a group of people who are there for a similar purpose, but do not necessarily hold the same opinions and worldviews. Any mention of high school as a connection to immaturity was only me being a bit sardonic; my apologies if it came across as more primary to my point. I recognize i could have used a better example, and probably should have.

    And I believe very much that you CAN pick your teachers. Unlike formal education where they are assigned to you, as an adult you can take on board what you choose, and let the rest fall away.

    I agree, to an extent. In my personal experience, i have learned some very valuable life lessons from people who i did not choose (or actively want, even) to fill a teacher role in my life. There are often things that we need to learn but do not necessarily want to learn.

    And in my experience, finding your own level of acceptance of yourself considerably lessens that need to "fit in". It dissolves around you as you find your own place within yourself.

    I completely, 100% agree… even if i wasn't really able to adequately communicate that in my last comment. 😉

  • Thanks for this post.

    As for me, I've never "fit in" anywhere. I wouldn't be about to start with the Fatosphere. I think I wear my alienation like armor–I wallow in it, I delight in it. I like to rethink things. In high school, that meant reading the Brontes and listening to only classical music–you know, once it became socially acceptable to listen to "alternative" music I couldn't do it anymore. Now, as a professor I'm more likely to have my own platform for things, but as a Medieval/Renaissance specialist there's pretty much a guarantee that anything I love will be something my colleagues students just don't understand (and, along with that, something they will resist understanding). Does it make me feel special? At times. At others–just lonely. Thankfully those are feelings I need in order to be able to write fiction–if I'm not in touch with the darker side of human emotion, how could I write a novel worth reading?

    At this point, I think I just think too much to really imbibe any ideology that isn't mine.

    However, I will say I'm disappointed at how some Fatosphere bloggers treat others. I think there are great lessons to be learned from, say, the folks at SP, or Marianne Kirby. They are not exempt from the general rule that the internet brings out the worst in humanity. There's a reason that I'm a former blogger, not a current one. Blogging about feminism and video games made me despair about humanity to a much higher degree than usual. The Fatosphere is friendlier, but only slightly so. I get sick of seeing people called douches and douchebags. Don't people realize that's the equivalent of calling someone bitch? Those terms are SEXIST. They are insults because of the douche and douchebag's association with cleaning women's genitalia, which are held to be "dirty." Now what woman wants to perpetuate that notion? It's not good for us. I wish I did have a blog so I could write down what I tell my Women's Studies classes about "douche," "douchebag" and "douchehound," with some of these posts as examples.

  • Thanks Lindsay.

    Welcome Sydera.

    Again, my post isn't about criticism of other areas of the fatosphere, it's about the perception that one needs to change oneself to "fit in" to some kind of peer group. It's more about the self esteem behind that feeling, than any groups/communites, be they real or perceived.

    The term douchebag might be sexist, but I don't care. I'm not here to focus on feminism, I'm here to express myself. The word has no connection to feminine hygiene for me, and every connection to people who are arseholes, only worse than arseholes. I'll continue to use it, because it's a curse that I feel expresses my contempt perfectly. It's the same as the word fuck when used as a curse has no connection to sexual intercourse, it's just a good swear word.

    And there's nothin' I love more than a good swear word!

  • I've been following some of this debate, and I must say the "betrayal of the fatz" pehnomenon looks like a straw man.

    I've seen some pretty confrontational posts lately about Shapely Prose, often mentioning SP and Kate Harding by name. There seems to be a trend of doing this, as if setting up an FA blog requires that you take a stand on SP and Kate Harding. I think it only serves to make the status of SP stronger, since it's THE blog everyone's commenting on.

    The thing is, I haven't seen Kate Harding or the other posters at Shapely Prose comment on these posts once. Not to say that they disagree, nor to say that they don't condone this kind of behavior, and definitely not to say that you guys don't belong in their fatosphere.

    Shapely Prose happens to be the most well-established, widely read FA blog at the moment. This naturally feels a bit one-sided, especially when SP/Kate Harding are potrayed as the end all, be all of fat acceptance in non-FA media.

    However, this is not a status that SP or Kate Harding have knowingly sought, and they're not in any kind of real leadership position. They don't control the Fatosphere Feed or any oher feeds, and they don't make rules that others have to follow. There are lots of other FA blogs that have been around as long or longer. Some of these offer a similar yet slightly different focus on weight/food/health/fashion/feminism/whatever other aspects of FA Shapely Prose has brought up.

    So there are alternatives. And if you want to be an alternative, then just be one – without specifically touting that you're NOT like Shapely Prose. Do your own thing. If others agree, they will join in and be refreshed by the different voice you bring in.

    Since I don't read the SP comment threads or their forum, I may have missed out on something. If you know of any kind of conspiracy against blogs who don't follow their party line, please elaborate.

  • This is the last time I will say this – THIS BLOG POST IS NOT ABOUT OTHER BLOGS!!

    If you take the time to read what I have said properly, there is no criticism, no judgement, no stand, no remark on any "situations" out there in the blogosphere.

    I will not say this again.

    Now, back on topic please, which is about being who you are and being proud of it for yourself, not for any other organisation, group, community etc.

    Either stay on this topic or I'll remove the comment.

  • Your attitude is very refreshing & I do enjoy reading your blog very much. Thanks for the reminder that we need to practice fat acceptance more for ourselves than for others & that we do not NEED to be part of a group or movement. I would very much like there to be an end to fat hatred, discrimination, to all the various ways fat people are mistreated & disrespected in the world at large, but I do first have to love myself & feel at home & comfortable in my own body & assert that I have every right to be who I am & to live in my own way. I respect very much that you stand for self-respect, self-acceptance, & individuality & do not need feel the need to ‘join’ any group or clique in order to practice fat acceptance.

  • Thank you Patsy.

    Wanting to fit in to a community is fine, after all it’s human nature. But needing it is what I feel holds us back. Acceptance is such a personal thing, it’s got to come from within first to really “stick”.

  • I’ve been reading quite a few fat acceptance blogs lately, I’ve only just been exposed to it so it’s still really brand new. I relate to much of what is being said. The feelings many of the bloggers/commenters express is very similar to the feelings I have. Particularly about how I see myself and the insecurities that come along with being overweight. Particularly with regards to how we think other people see us and in relationships.

    However I’ve never commented because I don’t feel like I fully belong in the fatosphere. I’ve seen people blog who are physically larger than me, only to be torn down by women larger than them who don’t think they have a right to comment on the topic as they’re not ‘that fat’, so they can’t really know what it’s like. So I worry about the reaction I would get. I still struggle with being overweight. I’ve been overweight my whole life. I’ve had to deal with people giving me dirty looks and comments from others about my weight so I wonder why my experience is less valid than anyone elses.

    I’m smaller now than when I was in highschool, the last year in particular i lost weight, and one huge realisation to me was that I STILL struggle with it. It made me see that accepting yourself isn’t something that just magically happens if your body gets smaller. It’s not any easier.

    We kind of just have to make peace with how we are now, i suppose.

  • This really does put things in a better context. It is true we have to figure out what works best for us, our lives, and our bodies, regardless of what others tell us to do even if they are said to be the experts. It is just like with regards to how we eat, each person has to figure out what fits and doesn’t fit in their lives. They also have to figure out what applies and what priority things have for themselves and we need to respect everyone’s decisions because it is their life.. not ours.

    I love what you had to say here and it gave me alot to ponder!

  • You know lilabris, the same thing happens to us “superfats”. We also feel like we don’t fit into the fatosphere sometimes, because we see all the fashions that stop at Size 20, or the “plus-sized” models that actually have a waist and still have a flat belly and things like that.

    Whichever way we go, you’ve got someone who feels like they don’t fit in for whatever reasons.

    However fat acceptance really is about body acceptance at it’s core. And for me, that means ALL body sizes and shapes.

    I guess for me, it comes down to NO BODY HATE TALK for everyone. Nobody is allowed to put their body or anyone else’s down. Nobody is allowed to hate on someone because of their body shape or size.

    Does that make it easier?

    And thank you to scattered marbles – you’ve hit the nail on the head there!

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