autonomy

All posts in the autonomy category

Guest Post: Sarah – Getting to the Point

Published April 18, 2012 by Fat Heffalump

I’d like to introduce you to the lovely Sarah, a fab fatty I was fortunate enough to meet in Sydney in 2010 at the Australian Fat Studies Conference.  She was wearing the CUTEST dress (she wore cute outfits the whole conference) and Bri from Fat Lot of Good and I contemplated raiding her suitcases while she was busy at the conference.

Sarah posted a version of this post on her Facebook page as a status update a few days ago and I punched the air and yelled “YES!!” several times in response to it, because I think she really hits the nail on the head.  So I asked her to put it together as a post and if I could host it here on Fat Heffalump as a guest post.

So without further ado, here is Sarah’s post:

Getting to the Point

The point is not whether or not fat people can “help” being fat. There are some fat people who are lettuce-eating gym junkies and some fat people who sit in bed eating nothing but donuts all day. The point is that fat people are human beings who should not be vilified regardless of “why” they are fat, or how much control they have over their fatness, or whatever other excuse people are giving for insulting and dehumanising fat people these days. The point is that even if you think what other people eat is your business, and even if the fat person you’re looking at *might* sit in bed eating nothing but donuts all day, you can’t possibly know that by looking at them.

I approve of public health campaigns and preventative measures when it comes to disease. I just think they should be focusing on things – like eating as healthily as possible and being active in enjoyable ways when and how you can – that everyone can work towards to improve their health, regardless of whether they are poor or have a disability or are genetically predisposed to be fat or *whatever*. I believe they should support people in doing these things by helping poorer people get access to fresh food and helping stigmatised people be active without shame. But most of all I believe you can’t hate someone for their own good, and you most certainly can’t shame someone healthy. If “a healthy lifestyle” (whatever that may mean) is not an individual’s personal priority, or prioritising it in the way you would like isn’t possible for them for whatever reason, be it disability or finances or mental health triggers or anything, then it’s actually none of your business.

Yes, even if they get medicare rebates for treating ailments that you think are “caused” by their choices. All women *could* lessen their
chances of breast cancer by having radical mastectomies as soon as they hit puberty. But whether they do or not is not your decision to
make, just as whether or not a person tries to lose weight or adopts “healthy lifestyle changes” is not your decision to make. For some it
might be easy. For you it might have been easy. For me, losing a significant amount of weight means being constantly obsessed with my
weight, with everything I eat, with everything I do with my body or food. I know, I’ve done it. And if I don’t think being thinner is worth dedicating my *entire existence* to weight loss and weight maintenance – regardless of what health benefits it may or may not entail – then that is up to me, and I don’t deserve to be hated for it.

Bio: Sarah is a 20-something feminist fatshionista with a degree in sociology and a background in fashion design.  She has been a sad fat
kid and an eating disordered fat teenager and young adult, and now she is a happy fat grown up and her blossoming self respect is all Fat
Acceptance’s fault.  Nowadays she likes cupcakes, clothes and talking your ear off about social justice, and every now and then she enjoys sitting in bed all day eating nothing but donuts.  She doesn’t have a blog yet, but she’s working on it.

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My Gift To You

Published October 19, 2011 by Fat Heffalump

I’m going to give you all a gift tonight.  A gift that was given to me not that long ago, but one of the most valuable I’ve ever received.  One that has changed my life and made how I approach the world and everything in it very differently.  Best of all, this gift is absolutely, 100% free.  It costs me nothing to give to you, but I hope you get as much value from it as I have.

It is a bit of a multi faceted gift, which has several parts you can put together and use as you need them.  Are you ready?

Your life is yours.

Yep.  That’s the gift I’m giving you.  The knowledge that your life is your own.  It doesn’t belong to anyone but you.  Not your parents, not your boss, not your partner, not your kids, not your doctors.  It’s yours.  It doesn’t belong to “experts”.  Because the only expert on your life is YOU.  You get to choose what you eat, what you wear, what you do to your hair and your skin, what medical treatment you have, what you do with your body, who you have sex with (and don’t have sex with), who you talk to, what you read and what you feel.  Those are yours to choose.

You do have responsibilities of course, we all do, but that doesn’t make your life any less yours.  When you say or do something, you have to accept the consequences of your words and actions.  But those consequences are as much yours as your words and actions.  Yes, you might have to be responsible for your children, a job, a home, a business, all those things that we have in our lives, but that doesn’t make your life any less yours.  You get to work within the boundaries of your responsibilities and make the choices you need to make, with the information that you can source at any given time.  That’s the crucial bit – arming yourself with lots of information, so that you can make informed choices.  The more informed your choices, the less likely you will regret it later.

But what I really want to acknowledge is that when people try to take our lives away from us, to control us and oppress us, as they do to those of us who are marginalised in society, we don’t have to just tolerate it.  We don’t have to play nice, we don’t have to listen to their “opinions” and we certainly don’t have to modify our lives to suit them.  When people say fat people can’t/shouldn’t/don’t do or be something, they are defining our lives for us, not allowing us to define them ourselves.  We have every right to say “Enough!”  We have every right to tell them to piss off.  We have every right to completely ignore their “advice” or opinions.  You don’t have to respect someone who cannot respect your ownership of your own life.

The best thing is, when we stand up for our ourselves in the face of this kind of control, it has a cumulative effect.  It benefits other people like us, who are also pushed into doing or being something other than they want to.  And it benefits other marginalised people.  That’s the good bit about intersectionality.  Speaking up about equality and personal freedom benefits everyone.  The stronger we get about ourselves, the more energy we can devote to speaking up about the other wrongs in our world.

The next time someone randomly pushes their advice, opinions or assumptions about your life on you, remind yourself that your life is yours.  You can walk away from that person, not engage with them, or you can simply tell them to piss off, the choice is yours.