I need to get something off my chest.
I know I’ve been a bit quiet here on Fat Heffalump as of late. I’ve got some personal stuff happening that is proving to be highly stressful and it’s going to be so for the next few months, and work is hotting up on a big project that is also due to reach it’s peak at the end of March. So my writing mojo is not really what it normally is. So I’ve been practicing what I preach, and putting some self care practices in place so that I can emotionally and physically get through what is going to be a big upheaval in my life.
However, it doesn’t mean I’m not participating in, or keeping abreast of the happenings of the world of fat activism.
That said, it’s a bit of a phenomenon of being a visible rad fatty that many people send me emails, tweets or posts on other social media spaces showing me links to horrible articles of fat hatred, ask me for advice, or ask me to comment on articles or join in on debates about fat stigma.
Most of the time, I’ll pitch in. Sometimes I’ll respond with some advice so that they are armed with something to go and respond directly themselves.
But of course, there are times I just want to turn on my computer and read stuff, or chat with people, without being everyone’s agony aunt and rent-a-radical.
Today was one of those days. I got up, got ready for work, and was on the bus in to work when I was reading through Twitter and Facebook, and checking my emails. My usual routine. Yet again, there they were. The tweets “Have you seen this?! [insert: link into fat-hating article here]”. The email “Can you come on to my FB page and help me argue with this person [read: fat hating douchecanoe they refuse to unfriend]?” The FB update where they tag me and expect me to jump in with a piece about the myths about fat and health.
Now look, I am passionate about this stuff. I want to help where I can. I want to make a difference. But I am a human being, and I do have limitations. Not to mention that I have my own wall of fat hatred I have to fight through in this world.
And I just can’t deal with it at the moment. I let fly on Twitter with this mini-tirade:
It wasn’t aimed at any one in particular, but at ALL of the examples that have been coming through. Unfortunately though, someone tried to lay a guilt trip on me for pushing back against this expectation of me being constantly available to fight other people’s battles. When I called them on it, she retweeted me and called me “bitter”. This is the very same person who wanted me to respond to the fat hatred they pushed at me a few hours before.
It’s exhausting. It’s invasive. And it shows a whole lot of indifference to my feelings as a human being.
I know what fat hatred and stigma are. I see these articles and discussions. I deal with my own share of fat hatred aimed at me – sometimes more, because I am an outspoken, visible fat woman. I don’t need them directly sent to me all the time, with the insinuation that I should respond to them, the implication that I should be the one to speak up. The lovely @mimbles referred to it earlier today as “the everyone else takes one step backwards kind of volunteering!” When people go “This is horrible! Something should be done!” and then all step back and wait for someone else to fix it.
It’s not cool. It makes me feel used. It leaves me with no space that I can get a rest from the relentless slog that is fat activism. And it makes me feel that my own needs and life are irrelevant, and that I’m only interesting to people when I’m fighting on their behalf.
I know I’m not the only activist who feels worn down by this at times.
I love, love, LOVE how my activism has brought so many amazing people to my life, how it has given me some fantastic opportunities and how people have so many lovely things to say about me and the work I do. I love that people trust me, and that people sometimes even look up to me. I still can’t believe it most of the time, but it is really lovely.
But I need people to remember that I am a person. One who has feelings, who on top of her activism, has a busy career life, friends, hobbies, responsibilities and her own baggage too – all things that fill my life already, without the time and energy I put into activism.
I hope I’m always here to fight right beside you all against fat hatred and stigma. But please, don’t push me in front of you on the battlefield.