Well, it’s been an interesting week. The big news of course for me is that my submission for the Australian Fat Studies: A Critical Dialogue conference has been accepted and I’ve been invited to give a presentation at the conference in Sydney in September. Not only am I honoured to be invited, but I’m also thrilled that as far as I know, this is the first time that fat people have been asked to participate in the discussion with academia. Normally folks talk about us, not with us, you know?
One of the things I’m having to come to terms with is coming out of the closet so to speak as a fat acceptance blogger/activist in my day to day life. Mostly at work I don’t talk about fat acceptance or the stuff that I do as an activist in the cause. This isn’t because I’m ashamed of it or embarrassed by it – but simply because I’m mostly too busy at, and there is an element of “this is my workplace, I can’t piss people off here”. And I know that my passion for fat acceptance over-rides my tact sometimes, so I kind of just take that hat off at work a wee bit.
However, with my absolute beside myself excitement over the Fat Studies conference, and a few other things lately, I’ve found myself quite proudly wearing that fat acceptance hat all the time. It’s such a fabulous hat, you know? I don’t want to leave it at home.
In response to my talking about fat acceptance amongst friends and colleagues, a few times someone has said to me “You are so brave to put yourself out there.” I’ve felt a little uncomfortable with that, because I don’t feel brave or anything. But then I was listening to the Two Whole Cakes Fatcasts that Marianne Kirby and Leslie Kinzel are doing at the moment, and I found myself thinking “They’re so brave.”
And they are. So am I for that matter. It’s not easy putting yourself out there on the subject of fat, simply because there is so much loathing, fear and hostility around it. But I don’t do it to be brave, and while I can’t speak for Marianne and Leslie, it seems neither do they. I think we do it because it’s the right thing to do, and because we want to make a difference. Ladies, please correct me if I’m wrong.
Something Leslie said in the first fatcast really stuck with me. Forgive me as I’ve paraphrased it, but basically “every time a fat woman gets out of bed, gets dressed and leaves the house she’s being an activist”. It’s bloody true!!
Fat women are supposed to be apologetic for existing. We’re supposed to be invisible, demure, quiet, ashamed and embarrassed. We’re supposed to dress in shapeless, dark colours, apologise for taking up space in the world, shrink down (both figuratively and literally), pay more for everything (clothes, seats on airplanes, underwear, health care, you name it), to make excuses for ourselves, to be invisible.
So when we’re not invisible, when we talk about being fat, when we accept ourselves for who we are, as we are, when we live life to the full, bold and brilliant, when we are outspoken or confident, when we choose to clothe ourselves in things that make ourselves noticeable, we’re even more of an activist than just existing.
It isn’t easy. Not only are you dealing with your own demons, a lifetime of fat hate heaped on you that you have to battle to re-claim your self esteem and confidence, but you’re scrutinised and inspected to the nth degree, just in case you make a mistake, or have an error in something you say, or are misinformed.
You’re also dealing with a whole lot of hatred in the form of the trolls you get on your blogs and anywhere else you’re active. Some fatosphere bloggers don’t have much problem with it, but some of us get hammered every day by some douchebag who posts comments spewing their narrow minded hate. Even when you have a good platform to deal with them, and get rid of them individually pretty quickly, there is another to take their place. Why on earth anyone would want to waste their time on trolling blogs I’ve never understood, but one has to have a strong self esteem to deal with these morons.
But we keep going. We keep blogging, talking about fat acceptance, feminism and body politics. We keep doing it because it’s important to us. A quote I love (and that I can’t work out who said it originally, sometimes the internets make it harder to find information than easier) and that sums up the whole shebang for me:
Courage is not the absence of fear but the awareness that something else is more important than fear.
I’ll talk more about the results of my coming out of the fat acceptance closet as time goes by and I find out how more and more people in my life react to it.
Are you active about fat acceptance in your day to day life? How do your family, colleagues, friends etc respond to your fat acceptance activisim/beliefs?