No Doing – Just Being

Published June 18, 2011 by Fat Heffalump

Sorry it’s been quiet on the blog front my lovelies, I’ve been sideswiped with a cold that went down into a chest infection this past week and a bit.  Damn bug raged through the office a couple of weeks ago and I assumed I was spared the infection… but it got me after all.  Thankfully I’m starting to see some improvement at last, hopefully this means I can get all the ideas that have been burbling around my head this past week or so (I’ve read so much, no energy to do anything else while coughing until I saw stars) together and start some discussions here.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the haters and trolls and general disbelievers we fat activists get.  Mostly spurred on by a concerted attack on one young woman on Tumblr that I could see was deeply upsetting her, simply because a group of people think they have the right to bully and belittle someone simply because she is fat and doesn’t meet some arbitrary standard of attractiveness.

I get my fair share of trolls, haters and general disbelievers and troublemakers, both here and on my other social media accounts (Twitter, Tumblr, Formspring etc).  Once upon a time they used to bother me, but nowadays, I mostly pity them.  Or find them funny.   Mostly because they have this inflated sense of their power over me by thinking that by posting something hateful on my Tumblr, or trolling this blog, they can shut me up and chase me off the internet.  It’s pretty hilarious that someone would see such importance in themselves.

Of course, it has the opposite effect to the one they intended – it makes me more argumentative, more obnoxious and a whole lot more outspoken.

It’s very timely then that Ragen over at Dances with Fat would write her recent post “The Trouble with Proving It“.  Ragen highlights that every time some narrow-mind bellows “Prove it!” at her, and she does, over and over and over, they are still disbelieving of her reality.  No matter how much evidence she shares, it’s never going to be enough for these people.

I’m often called to do the same thing (for different reasons) and I have seen many other fat activists attempting to prove their own existence and realities over and over and over again.

Reading Ragen’s post reminded me of something very important.  I am not doing this fat activism to “convert” other people, to answer the haters criticism or to shout down the trolls.  Those things are not important.  I, and all other fat activists, and fat people and fat allies have no need to DO anything.  We are in debt to no-one.

What we need is to simply BE.

Simply being ourselves is a radical act in this fat-phobic culture we have found ourselves in.  Being alive, being happy, being active, being confident, being self-loving, being outspoken, being fashionable, being talented, being funny, being awesome… no matter what you as a fat person are being, simply being you is AMAZING.

For those of us who choose to spend time online sharing our lives, our thoughts, our opinions, our fashion, our images, the important part of that is being visible, being audible, being tangible.  In a world where fat people are silenced, discredited and openly loathed, being visible as a happy, confident fat person is a powerful message to send out into the world.

As I said to Ragen on her post, if it hadn’t been for my stumbling into the fatosphere, I probably wouldn’t be here today.  The people who took up fat activism before me and went public with it, being all the amazing things they are, really rescued me in a dark time of self-loathing and shame.  Just by being visible, they showed me that there was an alternative for me, that I didn’t have to spend my life buying into the fat-phobic lies that our culture perpetuates.  They showed me that I can be happy, have fun, live my life to the full and most importantly, that I, and all other human beings, have value and deserve respect.

That’s why I’m here, and why I do what I do.  I want to give that back to the world.  I want to show other people who are in the dark, frightening place that I once was, that it doesn’t have to be that way.  And that they too are awesome, radical beings, without DOING anything.  To simply live ones life happy and full is the most radical act you can possibly engage in.

And best of all… it really pisses the haters off.

“That’s the best revenge of all: happiness.  Nothing drives people crazier than seeing someone have a good fucking life.” 

Chuck Palahniuk

13 comments on “No Doing – Just Being

  • That’s it in a nutshell – I don’t have to prove anything to anyone. All I have to do is live my life to the best of my ability and enjoy every minute of it that I can. Worrying what the haters think takes away from the enjoyable minutes (hours, days, weeks, months, years) that I have left to live and I’m not going to miss one of those minutes worrying about what some random stranger thinks of me or my life.
    If I won’t let my family dictate my life choices, why on earth would I let some random stranger (or a group of random strangers) dictate my life choices? Too many things to do, places to go, people to see/meet to worry about whether I’m “thin enough” or “healthy enough” to be doing, going, seeing, meeting. Sorry, not going to put my life on hold until I meet some arbitrary “ideal” that most of the world can’t meet either.
    And when push comes to shove, do those trolls really meet the same expectations that they have for us? Do they eat healthfully all the time? Do they exercise the recommended number of hours a week? Do they do all the things necessary to ensure they live long, happy, healthy, productive lives? If they say they do, then I say turn it back on them – prove it and when they list numbers, what they eat, what exercise they do, etc, etc, give them the same reply they give us: Liar, liar pants on fire. What’s that they say? They don’t have to prove anything? Gee, neither do we, now go get a life, live it, and leave everyone else to live theirs in peace.

    • I’d lay money that 99.9% of them don’t meet the expectations they’re pushing on to other people. And of course they won’t prove it if you challenge them, only WE have to prove it!

  • “That’s the best revenge of all: happiness. Nothing drives people crazier than seeing someone have a good fucking life.”
    Chuck Palahniuk
    PMSL at this Kath. I could use that as my subline. I can relate to what you wrote and it also gives me a springboard to think further about my own situation. In the past few years my brain has been tangles and I often find it difficult to express myself and to make others understand what I am thinking. I get so frustrated, however when I read a post like yours things become clearer for me. I often wonder why I didn’t write this or that.

    Love reading your thoughts Kath and hope you make a full recovery sooner than later. hugs 🙂

  • Absolutely true. I speak as someone who spent years of my own life trying to prove to various people, some of them very close to me, that I had a right to be who I was and do what I wanted. Those people would never have been satisfied – but what was wrong all along was the arbitrary standards they set for me. Not me at all. I’m just a little sad these days that I didn’t realize it sooner – I’d have spent so much less time mired in guilt.

    I’ve been mulling over taking up blogging for some time. The things stopping me have been, first, the fact that I have about 3017 tangents I tend to go off on, which may not make for readability (but hey, possibly so have lots of other people); and the haters. The kind of stuff mentioned in that article you tweeted about earlier has made me a little apprehensive. But you’re right; being visible is the only way to counteract that. Yes, there’s a bunch of negativity on the net, but I was thinking the other day that socially inept and geographically isolated little old me wouldn’t have had a hope in heck of finding groups of people interested in half the things I’m interested in (FA included) without going online. So I figure I ought to be out there celebrating the fact that the douchehounds can’t shut us up.

    And, I hope you feel better soon. That sort of cough really sucks.

    • Emerald, one of the good things about the fatosphere is the sense of community and support for each other. Even when lots of us are radically different as people, we still find ways to support, encourage and protect each other in times of trouble. It’s absolutely heart warming. If you start blogging, please let me know.

      And thanks – I’m still barking but on the improve!

  • Wonderful insightful post as always. And as always it fires me the hell up.
    I am eternally furious at the supposition that anyone should ever have to prove themselves worthy of acceptance, whether it concerns their weight, appearance or behaviour (as long as they are not intentionally, knowingly harming someone – I am referring to abusers, etc here ). Nobody should have to apologize for or defend their body size to any other human being. And who are these folk? What are they aiming to achieve, wondering around the internet with the sole intention to preach and inform on a subject that they know so very little about?
    It leaves me speechless to a large extent, and I am glad that blogs like this are aiming to tackle these issues, because in the world at large it has become an openly accepted behaviour, one that conditions from childhood onwards, and remains so incredibly destructive and insidious.

    We should never have to be segregated due to our size, and because we are, it simply highlights just how much stock our culture invests in appearance above humanity, feeling, intellect and heart. Although I am not
    ‘fat’ by our societies so-called standards, this subject still affects me, and those so-called standards hover over us all, whatever our size, warning us, threatening us, keeping us on our toes.

    That said, as Vesta mentions above: I am curious about how these ‘other’ beings live, what health regimes they follow, what conditioned them to think that it is acceptable to make rude remarks and suggestions about another persons health. I am surprised that anyone would even think to connect body size with health at this stage, especially considering the current information available to them on the subject. Perhaps the world at large has difficulty in keeping up – it will possible take a considerable amount of time for the old myths to dissolve, and to think that this shit is still preached about in schools makes me despair. I am literally terrified of having children for these very reasons.

    O boy I could go on at length here, but you are much better at it than I could ever hope to be.
    Keep fighting the fight, for all of us, for diversity, and for acceptance.

    Ps, I located your flickr this week, so good to see your lovely smile and outfit pics all there together:)

  • I don’t understand that inflated sense of self that trolls have. That I must be concerned about what they think of me. I’ve certainly got no judgements about other peoples lives and would not question them about their personal habits, choices and actions.

    I’m never going to become invisible. Not for them or any other outside reason I am told to hide myself away. Whether it’s my food, fashion or ideas I want them to be radically visible.

  • I have a genuine question about Fat Acceptance/Pride as a social movement. Would you consider it to be choice based, like veganism, where your lifestyle is a reflection of your personal values, or do you see it more as an anti-discrimination stance, comparable to pride movements centered around race, sexuality, or gender?

    • I think if you read my blog, I’ve made it clear it is a social justice movement, not a lifestyle choice – no fat person chooses to be fat, even if they choose to live a sedentary life with a high calorie intake (despite the commonly held but highly incorrect belief that fat people are only fat because they eat a lot and don’t exercise). Every human being, regardless of their race, gender, sexuality, physical ability, faith, affluence level etc and including size/shape/health has the basic, fundamental human right to live their lives with respect and dignity, without vilification or discrimination for simply being who they are. To me, there is an element of pride in that it’s a reclamation of the basic self esteem that is stripped from fat people simply because of the size of their bodies, but I don’t necessarily believe any social justice is by default a pride movement for all marginalised people.

      • Thank you for responding. I feel I have a better understanding of your position/blog now. I’m sorry, it was probably poor form to ask such a general question without reading more than the few entries I had read. I deplore prejudice in any form, and I find it disgusting how socially acceptable weight discrimination is. The casualness of it I find particularly disturbing. I did find one thing you mentioned in your response particularly interesting, and I would really like to learn more about it, but I don’t really know how to find it off hand in your blog. Do you have a particular entry that addresses the particulars of the “commonly held but highly incorrect belief that fat people are only fat because they eat a lot and don’t exercise”.? I would like to know more about this, but if it’s too much of a bother I understand. Thanks!

        • You are welcome. My advice for further reading is to look at blogs like Dances with Fat, The Rotund, Two Whole Cakes, Big Liberty et al. The “Notes from the Fatosphere” feed will also help you. I can’t link you just now because I’m at work, but a Google search will bring any of those up. Also, have a search for the “myth of calories in/calories out” – I know that most of the aforementioned blogs have talked about this topic.

          For “real” reading, ie books, I can highly recommend Professor Paul Campos’ book “The Obesity Myth”, Linda Bacon PhD’s “Health at Every Size” and books by Marilyn Wann, Marianne Kirby/Kate Harding, Gina Kolata and Wendy Shanker are how I started off.

          Also I post a lot of links to my facebook page – the link is on the right there on my blog.

          Happy reading, Googling and researching!

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