On more than one occasion recently, I’ve seen commenters on fat acceptance blogs and articles refer to fat acceptance writers as having a “victim mentality”. Or it said that they are “playing the victim”. It has bothered me, and stuck with me, so I want to talk a bit about that in tonight’s blog post.
The thing is, the fatosphere, or whatever you want to call the communities and blogs around fat acceptance, I know there are several different communities popping up around the place, is our space to have our say, to give a voice to our lives, the issues surrounding our fatness and the experiences we have.
I can’t speak for all fat acceptance bloggers, but the reason I talk about my experiences, especially the really difficult ones, is because a) I realised that I don’t have to suffer in silence anymore, b) I want the world to know the shitty treatment that a vast number of human beings are being subjected to, and most importantly c) I want to reach out to others who are suffering with the shame, the embarrassment, the humiliation, the self loathing and so on and let them know that they are not alone. I’m quite sure I’m not the only fat acceptance blogger that does so for these reasons. In fact, that’s why I read fat acceptance blogs and articles, to hear the very same things.
When someone comes along and starts claiming that many in the fat acceptance movement are “playing the victim” or have a “victim mentality”, it’s a very subtle way of telling us to be quiet. Telling us that we’re making too much noise, getting too much attention, gaining too much momentum. It’s designed to have us doubting what we are doing, questioning our motives and our right to have our say.
It also lays blame on victims. It says “If these things happen to you, it’s because you have that mentality, because you play up to it.” It’s lays the shame at the feet of someone who has had to endure something awful, as though they are the ones who brought this upon themselves.
For me, there is nothing to be ashamed of in standing up and saying “This is not acceptable.” In giving a voice to the shit I’ve had to put up with, especially in helping other fat women (and fat men) realise they are not alone, and to bring attention to those who’ve never suffered this kind of treatment just what the reality of being fat is. There’s no shame at all in being hurt by other people’s atrocious behaviour and saying so. Nor is there in any shame in saying what behaviour is acceptable, to articulate the way we want to be treated.
Which put simply is to be treated as the valuable human beings that we are.
I know I don’t share the experiences I’ve had with the purpose of having everyone say “Oh you poor thing!” and I’m quite sure most other fat acceptance bloggers don’t either.
I refuse to accept being told that we have a “victim mentality/are playing the victim”. I don’t believe that anyone has the right to suggest we are at fault for the shitty treatment we have received just for the “crime” of being fat. I don’t believe anyone has the right to try to shame us into silence or make us feel like we are somehow inconveniencing the world by speaking up about what bothers us. Even from those that are well intentioned, it’s unacceptable.
I, as a fat woman, have been the victim of some disgusting behaviour from other people, but that is not because of my mentality or I’ve played up to it. It is because those people are bigoted, narrow minded and hateful.
I will continue to speak up about my experiences, and demand respect, dignity and fairness, no matter how often others try to lay blame or shame at my feet.