I’ve been thinking a little about what this space means to me. By this space, I mean this blog and the space for you, dear readers to comment. I was wondering if I came down hard on a commenter on this post a couple of days ago, and so I’ve taken some time out to think about it, and decide what is important to me.
The conclusion I came to, is that the most important thing to me for this blog is that it is a safe space. A safe space for me, and a safe space for you. I want this to be a space that you and I can come to and never, ever hear that fat is bad. It’s not denial or delusion – the rest of the world tells us that fat is bad, so there needs to be a space where we can just take a rest from hearing that over and over and over.
Besides, I believe wholeheartedly that fat is not bad. Ever. It is just fat, a substance, free from any moral value. Fat is present in every animal (after all, our brains are high in fat) and some have more and others have less. Fat is not the worst thing that can happen to you, it’s not killing you, it’s not the cause of all your problems. It is simply a type of cell.
When someone comes along and says, amongst fat people that fat is a Bad Thing (commenters own capitalisation), even if they’re only saying that fat is bad for themselves (which is never how it is, it’s the implication that fat is bad for some people, but not others, that comes through) then it encourages more to come along and say that fat is bad in this safe space.
When someone is vulnerable, and they hear “fat is a Bad Thing” (even if not aimed at them) in a safe space, they start to question themselves. It’s human nature. “If her fat is a Bad Thing, then my fat might be a Bad Thing.” Then it leads to more self loathing, shame, fear and the whole fat acceptance message is cancelled out. Particularly when the person saying that her fat is a Bad Thing has announced her weight and weighs far, far less than many of the others reading those comments, and has made comments about how other people hit on her. This negates the message in anyone who weighs more than she does, as well as those who don’t have people hit on them. It creates a hierarchy of fatness that is ok and not ok. That’s not acceptable in this space, even if it is unintentional.
Now I know that not all of us are on the same rung of the fat acceptance ladder. Some, such as myself, are climbing fairly steadily upwards (with the occasional stop for a breather, sometimes even dropping a few rungs!) Some have stopped on one of the rungs and are contemplating climbing back down again. Others are still standing at the bottom, looking at the ladder and are not sure that they want to start climbing. I understand that and I don’t expect everyone to be level with me on this ladder.
However, there are some steps that I have taken that I have made a very conscious, informed decision that I need to have for my sanity, and to me, are the right thing to do when it comes to fat acceptance. One of those is firmly stating that this is a safe space for fat, and not accepting any criticism of fat in this space. Even it is criticism of someone’s own fat.
Another is to be a very firm, clear voice in this space about what is acceptable and what is not. Sometimes that means I have to repeat myself and take an abrupt tone, but it’s an area where I feel I need to show others reading that may not have commented, but might be thinking the same things, that this is a not negotiable area and that they are safe from negativity about fat in this space.
If someone wishes to debate this topic, there are many, many, MANY other spaces they can do so. In fact, the whole world is available for people to talk about whether or not fat is bad or can be a Bad Thing for anyone.
But this tiny little pocket of the interwebz is not that space. Remember tag/tiggy/chasey where you couldn’t tag someone who was at home or base? This is the internet version of home/base for fat. Nobody can tag it here.
In this space, fat is not a Bad Thing. It is just a Thing.