end fat talk

All posts in the end fat talk category

It’s Not The End of the Road: Or Why I Still Promote Fat Talk Free Week Among My Friends

Published October 22, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

Yes, I know Fat Talk Free week is problematic.  Yes I know that it’s really aimed at and practiced by thin, affluent, young, white women and that it’s likely that it often leads to the suppression of real talk about fatness, fat acceptance and body positivity.  But I still promote it amongst my general circle.

Why?  Because not everyone is on the same page of the body acceptance book.  It would be fan-bloody-tastic if everyone was well entrenched and able to recognise that while it has useful elements, it also has problematic ones, and we need to keep those in check and question them as we go along.  But people are not like that, generally speaking.  Every day, I hear, read and see people around me who loathe their own bodies or those of others, are afraid of bodies that are different to theirs, who indulge in diet talk and fat talk, that are so deeply entrenched in the cultural norm of body loathing and fear that the concepts of acceptance and positivity that are so important to me, sound so radical, so unheard of, so “out there” to them.

I want them to leave that place of body loathing and fear, but as much as I push, and push, and push, they have to want to move to that way of thinking.  I can’t force other people to change, but I can encourage them to think.

Just as an example, I have a much beloved friend, who, no matter how many times I tell him that it is perfectly acceptable to refer to me as fat, can’t, or won’t, do so without following it through with “blow softening” superlatives.  Fat is just such a dirty word in our culture that so many people are deeply, deeply resistant to ever seeing it as anything other than a vicious insult.  It would be fantastic to wave a magic wand and change that, but it doesn’t work like that.

So while I do endeavour to introduce the people around me to as many clear messages about fat acceptance and body positivity, sometimes it’s just not getting through at full blast, and instead, I have to think of other ways to present the message.

Since I started practicing fat acceptance, I’ve watched the people around me slowly change their thinking around the word fat.  I’ve seen people who were very judgemental about other people’s bodies, their taste or dress sense, and their looks re-think their attitudes towards the judgement of others.  Admittedly, not everyone around me is doing so, some are absolutely resistant to the idea, but most of the people who care about me truly are listening to what I have to say and thinking about how their attitudes, words and deeds affect others.

Fat Talk Free week isn’t what I would recommend to most people who are open to learning about fat acceptance.  But to those people who are outside of the fatosphere, even that is a radical concept.  If I can get them thinking twice about that comment about the size of their butt, or calling some fat person on the telly “gross”, or judging others about what they wear, then I’ve achieved something.  If I can get folks changing the subject away from diet talk at the work lunch table, or think twice about a comment that they might pass on someone’s body in front of their children, then there has been some value to making them aware of Fat Talk Free week.

I consider it a stepping stone on the journey to body positivity.  Never the destination, but a step closer to where we need to go.

Hmph! She’s Just in Denial

Published October 12, 2009 by Fat Heffalump

Let’s continue on the subject of End Fat Talk shall we? End Fat Talk week starts on the 19th of October and I think it’s a great movement, so I’m going to keep up with this one through October.

One of the biggest challenges I face with ending fat talk at the moment are not those that are openly nasty or rude, nor those that loathe their own bodies and are finding it hard to let go of the self-fat talk, but those that are patronising. You’ve probably all experienced them, the ones who go quiet in a conversation about body image and fat talk, only because they’re thinking “Listen to the poor fatty, deluding herself that she can be healthy like that.” One is tempted to write it off as paranoia or self consciousness when one gets that feeling, but unfortunately I’ve caught a few people out on it, either talking to others when they think I’m not there, or others have told me that they’ve done so after I’ve left. I’ve also heard other fat friends talking about experiencing the same thing.
I’m not entirely sure how to work with people who believe that those of us who follow fat acceptance and health at any size are deluding ourselves. That we’re in denial about our weight.
Sometimes just being really open and reminding them that I know that I am fat helps. A lot of people who are trying to be polite are very confronted by the word fat. I’ve referred to myself as a fat woman and seen people blink in shock, as if I’ve just said “Fuck” or called myself the N-word. To so many people, “fat” is the ultimate insult, so to hear someone call themselves that openly and unashamedly they find it confronting.
I’ve even found myself censoring the word fat when referring to myself, not because I’m ashamed of it, but just because I’ve seen some pretty intense reactions to it. I try not to, because I consider it MY word and I want to remove the negative power from it, but it’s very hard when good people react so intensely to it.
Often I find myself letting it go when someone is clearly of the opinion that I am in denial about my fat. This still doesn’t sit comfortably with me because I am trying to actively challenge any shame and stigma about fatness in my life, no matter who it be from. But there are times when it does hurt when someone assumes that I haven’t armed myself with as much information as possible and haven’t made an informed decision about fat acceptance.
I guess each situation is different and I’m still really learning how to challenge the attitude that fat = unhealthy/morally wrong. Sometimes I’m successful, other times, not so much.
What are your thoughts on ending fat talk from those who believe that fat people are in denial about their bodies? Have you had any successful experiences? Are you someone who used to have this belief about fat people, but have changed that?
Please share in the comments and let’s work on this together.