Nice . . . erm . . . Boots

A couple of days ago, The Rotund had a little contest, in which she challenged readers to guess her height and weight. The inimitable Kate Harding cross-posted this to Shakesville, and let the games begin.

The entire exercise was, IMO, brilliant, and brought to awareness, for me, some very uncomfortable places I still have within myself vis-a-vis fat-phobia (like how I would be totally fine having someone else guess my weight, but I wasn't comfortable guessing someone else's). Back to fat-acceptance school for me.

I was struck, though, by something as I read through the various guesses -- the number of comments that included: "I love your boots", or "You have beautiful hair."

Maybe it's just me -- I'm not really a fashion maven (OK, I'm probably actually a fashion moron) -- but I found myself reacting just a little tiny bit every time I read one of these comments, because it seemed similar to me to some compliments that I've heard over and over again from people (directed toward me, or toward other fat people) -- compliments like "You have beautiful skin", and "She has such a pretty face". I don't think these compliments are necessarily completely false -- usually when they're doled out, I think they are genuinely well-meant, and are probably truthful (I do have beautiful skin).

But sometimes, I think these might be a version of "Thumper" compliments (as in: "If you can't say something nice... don't say nothing at all.") So, rather than make a compliment that would in any way bring notice to the fact that I'm fat (because they assume I'll be offended by that), they choose something safer.

I notice that I most often receive these types of compliments from some of my friends who haven't really "adjusted" to the fact that I am not the skinny little shit that I used to be (IOW: haven't dealt with their fat-phobia). I think they really want to give me a compliment -- maybe I'm looking particularly radiant at the moment -- but I often find that they will say something that seems to point directly at some aspect of my clothing, a specific feature of mine that doesn't relate to my size, etc. -- my favorite (not) is "You look good. Have you lost weight?" (which was, like, the third thing my mom said to me during our recent visit, even though I doubt if my weight has changed at all since I saw her last).

I notice that if I'm glowing in some undefineable way, my friends who are not fat-phobic usually say something like: "You look great!"

I notice that my mate frequently tells me, as we snuggle into the comforter and she wraps her arms around me and squeezes me tight: "I adore your body."

The irony here is, when I, a fat woman who is actively working on fat-acceptance, was challenged by a woman who is all about fat-acceptance to make a guess about her height/weight, I found myself in a cold sweat. I think part of it is that I don't really pay attention to "lbs. on the scale" and therefore, have no frame of reference from which to make an educated guess (and I do have this thing about being "wrong" -- I can admit it) -- but at least part of it was: That I didn't want to "offend" her by guessing too high, but I didn't want to be shit and guess low in order to "not offend" her.

So this post is a thank you to The (brave and fabulous) Rotund, and Kate Harding, for raising my consciousness (again).


Shakesville is run as a safe space. First-time commenters: Please read Shakesville's Commenting Policy and Feminism 101 Section before commenting. We also do lots of in-thread moderation, so we ask that everyone read the entirety of any thread before commenting, to ensure compliance with any in-thread moderation. Thank you.

blog comments powered by Disqus