This is my first every foray into BADD, or Blogging Against Disablism Day. I heard about it on Twitter a couple of weeks ago and thought it would be an excellent way for me to bring the topic of disablism to my blog, to begin a discussion over here. I firmly believe that as a social justice movement, Fat Acceptance has a responsibility to address disablism within our sphere, which then I would hope, leads to further discussion about culture-wide disablism.
Please let me state very clearly that I very much consider myself a person of privilege in this area, and feel that I am constantly in a state of learning about the issues that surround disability discrimination, disablism or ableism. I hope that in talking about this here, an opening up the discussion, I too can learn from those who live the experience. I particularly look forward to reading as much as I can from the many other posts for BADD, and I urge you to read as many as you can too.
What I particularly wanted to talk about tonight is disablism in context of fatness, and how people with disabilities are often ignored or excluded by Fat Acceptance. I think all too often we spend so much time trying to bust open the stereotypes of fat people being mobility impaired, suffering chronic illness and other health issues, that we completely ignore the experience of fat people who DO live with disabilities and illness.
As Brian over at Red No. 3 says, Fat Acceptance is for ALL Fat People, or at least it should be. That includes those who happen to be within the range of the stereotypes placed upon fat people. As far as I’m concerned, the fact that those who loathe and fear fat use people with disabilities or illness to heap their scorn upon all fat people is doubly insulting to those who live those experiences. Not only are they reviled for their fatness, but they are then used yet again as cautionary tales, threats and ridicule for all other fat people as well. If anything, we need to be standing up against that bullshit even more now than ever.
One of the things that I believe Fat Acceptance absolutely has to be about is the basic, fundamental human right of all people to live their lives with dignity and respect and without fear of being vilified for simply being who they are. That’s why I believe that Fat Acceptance needs to benefit ALL fat people and that we have a responsibility to acknowledge those who regularly have their experiences erased because society has deemed that they embody what happens to fat people who don’t “take care of themselves”.
I think we need to call that shit out for what it actually is, which is double prejudice. Instead of just defending our own health and ability, I think we need to call out the disablism as well. When we get those threats of “Yeah well you’re gonna get diabetes/heart disease/end up with damaged knees/hips!” and so on from fat haters, we need to point out the sheer douchiness of using disability and illness as some kind of punishment for fatness, when people of all body shapes and sizes actually live with disability and illness, and should never be treated like they must have done something to “earn” it.
Besides, even if someone’s fatness somehow does contribute to illness or disability, this should never strip them of their right to live their lives with dignity and respect.