Saturday, October 11, 2008

"But Rebecca, you can't be part of the FA movement. You are TEH EBIL THIN GIRL."

I love Fat Acceptance. I really do. Yes, I have railed against it in the past, but it turns out I was mistaken about the actual purpose of the movement. Recently, in my quest for more general self-acceptance, I have come to understand what it's REALLY about. (Also, I'm fat now.) If you're currently saying to yourself "that's why she's suddenly so pro-fattie. Easy to support something that works for your own agenda" or anything of the like, kindly FUCK OFF. I'm not that fickle. It just happens that in my search for information on general mental health issues, I came across legit FA information and chose to dig more deeply into it, since it now potentially applies to me. I was never "anti-fat," I just misunderstood certain agendas, as will become clear later. Alternatively, if you're thinking "serves her right, skinny bitch finally sees it from OUR SIDE," you can fuck off too. This has never been about "sides," as will also become clear later.

First, some background. Some of you may remember one or more of these points, but I'll review all of them.

Until recently, I was always naturally on the thin side. As a child I was even thinner than I should have been because my mother deprived me of food. When she was investigated by child services because the school nurse suspected that was happening, she lied to all the doctors and psychologists we were sent to and had them "extensively monitor" me because I "seemed to be developing an eating disorder." The woman is crazy, but not stupid-she knew that if she went in there all weepy, claiming that I wouldn't eat no matter what she tried, saying that I was being rebellious and blaming her and I wouldn't tell the truth to anyone, the blame would shift to me. Nice how her ass was so well covered. So my false anorexia diagnosis messed me up for a long damn time. I had trouble accepting my natural tendency toward thinness for a very, very long time.

Something that didn't help that difficulty in any way was when I had a serious "falling out" with more than one friend over the subject of weight. Now, it was never explicitly stated that weight and body image was the reason for these breakups, but it was. One case in particular was when I happened to be the thinnest girl in a certain social group. This was not planned. I don't buy into the "fat friend" system-the idea that if you're friends with girls who are bigger than you, you'll look better by comparison. I'm friends with who I like. The other girls in this group didn't believe that for a second. It seemed to be automatically assumed that I was only friends with them because it made me feel good about myself. As a result, most of our outings deteriorated quickly into skinny bashing. Shopping trips were hell because these girls would grab something off a rack, start talking about how "only anorexic bitches would look good in this," and then suggest that I try it on. Then they'd all laugh. Mealtime was worse. If I ate something low in sugar, low in fat, or otherwise "healthy" (which I do to take care of my diabetes, NOT to look a certain way) I was bombarded with cracks like "no wonder you look like that, you're just like all those other scrawny skanks that don't eat."

I'm sorry, are you suggesting that I jeopardize my health to pander to your insecurities?

I tried to point out to these girls that if I were to speak to them the way they spoke to me, but using "fat" in place of "skinny," it would be Not Okay. And by extension, it should be Not Okay for them to speak to me that way. So far, I've lost numerous friendships because other women can't see the logic in that.

And then there was "The Fat Blog." Remember, the one I had to make private on MySpaz because I was getting hate mail? (If you didn't see it, you're not missing much. I was venting on the subject of skinny bashing. I had recently been through some hell at the hands of "friends" like the ones discussed above, and the whole "skinny model" issue was all over the news, so it seemed like an opportunity to rant.) Okay, so I went a little far. The "heifer" comment in particular was probably uncalled for, though I did attempt to clarify it. My vitriol was aimed at the self-hating fat people whose thought process operates as follows:

"I'm fat and I hate myself. I don't actually want to try to lose weight, but I don't like being fat either. Accepting myself or changing my circumstances would both involve effort that I don't want to expend, and I've already alienated most of my social circle with my whining. Oh, look, a skinny person. YOU ARE TEH ENEMY AND MUST DIIIIIIIEEEEE WHARBLEGARBL."

The problem was that I thought these crazy women represented the Fat Acceptance movement. "Their kind" talks big, but the truth is that a huge part of FA is self-acceptance. If you haven't taken steps to accept your own fat and you're still angry at the world because you don't like yourself, you're not doing any good for FA. The message of FA is, at its core, about not judging people based on size. Got that? DON'T JUDGE PEOPLE BASED ON THEIR SIZE. Not "don't judge people who look like you," not "the only good shape is your shape," but ALL SHAPES AND SIZES ARE GOOD. Size, food, and other such "weighty issues" (lawlz) are not moral issues.

Turns out, the people at the heart of the FA movement are really about self-acceptance. They have accepted their fat selves, and they want others to do the same no matter what their size. I was so scared of the whole concept because my only exposure to people claiming to want fat acceptance was through fringe crazies who wanted fat people to be allowed to torment "average" people. All I had seen was women who wanted the rest of the world to accept that they were just naturally fat, but couldn't accept other women being naturally thin. Women who didn't really like themselves that much, but were looking for outside validation in the form of persecution of anyone who weighed less than they did.

What really helped drive it home for me was when I saw the things this fantastic woman had to say. She's used sentences like "thin people are not our enemy." She emphasizes that FA is not about superiority, it's about accepting oneself and refusing to be discriminated against. She also says "no one is too thin for FA."

So, I was wrong. Go ahead, link to this page in case you never get another chance to hear that from me. :P I do want to make it really clear that I was never "anti-fat" or "a fat-hater" (which are some of the more polite things I was called). I just want women to stop torturing each other over their weight- in either direction. Let's all do our own thing and be the sizes we want to be. Apparantly, my use of hyperbole, sarcasm and general bitchiness failed to get that point across, so I'm trying something completely out of character and using sincerity and feel-good lingo. Let's see if that helps.

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