Agents of Obesity

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Embracing the Ridiculous and Rejecting Ridicule

Published June 9, 2012 by Fat Heffalump

This morning I woke up, opened Twitter on my phone before I even got out of bed, saw the photo I’m about to post for you below, and did a happy dance of glee in my bed while giggling like a school girl.

Original photo by Alana Landsberry, poster created by Brian Stuart.

You see it all started with an awful, awful post on Feministe that spewed fat hate in relation to the soft drink (soda) restrictions being implemented by the mayor of New York City.  Y’all know I’m not going to link to that article, cos I don’t give signal boosts to fat hate.  Anyway the comment thread was a complete fat hate free-for-all, and someone actually referred to soft drink as an “Agent of Obesity”.  Well a Twitter hashtag was born, thanks to Brian of Red No.3 – check it out at #AgentofObesity, it’s hilarious.  Being the Marvel fan that I am, it’s right up my alley.

Brian kicked off the whole Fatty Avengers thing by posting a great movie poster of himself, as Nick Fatty, Agent of O.B.E.S.I.T.Y.  I was busy laughing at how brilliantly funny it was, and PING!  Into my head popped “The Incredible Bulk”.  I just HAD to have my own movie poster as The Incredible Bulk, and Brian so kindly obliged with his killer photoshopping skills.

Of course, since then, it has evolved into a whole meme, I’m sure Brian is inundated with requests to turn photos of fab fatties into Avengers style movie posters for Agent of O.B.E.S.I.T.Y.  He has even come up with an acronym for O.B.E.S.I.T.Y and made a rather awesome logo, check it out:

Of course, anyone outside of the Fatosphere is probably scratching their head, completely mystified as to why a bunch of fat people would want to make plays on the word obesity, associate themselves with whales and come up with code-names that evoke a bunch of fat hate to the average punter.  But there is something deliciously subversive about taking ridiculous statements of fat hate and having fun with them, playing with puns and images to make up a whole silly meme of something that originated as a pretty vicious slur.

Plus taking the word “obesity” – which is a pathologisation of our lives, of our bodies and state of being – and turning it into something ridiculous is incredibly empowering.  Obesity is an offensive word, it implies we are diseased, sick, broken.  It implies that we need to be prevented, cured, eradicated.

We’re lucky in that Brian has some pretty mean photoshop skills and a wicked sense of humour, and does some fun stuff with the photos.

I’ve already had someone suggest that I was “hating myself” by choosing to be The Incredible Bulk.  Au contraire!  I chose that name/character for a very positive reason.  One because it has a great tongue-in-cheek fatty pun, but also because I totally identify with The Incredible Hulk.  I totally get that transformation with rage thing.  I totally understand his barely controlled anger at injustice.  Nothing makes the red mist form before my eyes more than fat hate.  And I’m proud of being able to channel that anger into fighting for justice, just like The Incredible Hulk does.  Plus smashing shit feels good, y’know?

Fat hate, even that which is supposedly out of “concern” for us, is all about making us feel bad about who we are, about the bodies we inhabit.  It is meant to make us shrink down and disappear, out of shame and embarrassment.  So it’s really important that we make fun of it.  Ridicule those statements/accusations and show them as the ludicrous concepts that they always are.  Lampooning oppressors is an important part of radical activism, and if we can empower ourselves as part of the process, even better.

Think of it like a Boggart from Harry Potter.  A Boggart is a creature that takes the shape of the thing that you fear most, to paralyse you with fear before it attacks you.  For so long, we have allowed ourselves be paralysed by fat hate, by obesity rhetoric.  Like a Boggart, the best way to fight it is to ridicule it.  So flourish your wand and shout “Riddikulus!”

But remember this – WE are allowed to laugh at obesity rhetoric, to pull it apart and make fun of it, using ourselves as the characters in that humour.  But nobody is allowed to humiliate, ridicule or make us feel bad because of our bodies, our weight, our appearance or our health.  I personally have a zero tolerance of fat hate/shaming from anyone in my life, no matter who they are.  Nobody gets to shame/hate on people for their bodies in my presence.  It’s not easy, and people will walk away from you, but you really are better off without them.

So, what would your Agent of O.B.E.S.I.T.Y codename be?  What would your super-power be?