Discussion Thread: Fat Limitations

Yesterday, we discussed fat stereotypes, and many of the comments included references to not being able to "get away with" something because of the fat stereotypes associated with it.

So today's discussion question is this: What are you supposedly not able to "get away with" because you are fat? (And/or what are you actually not able to "get away with" because of presumptions about fat people who do That Thing?)

Examples: Fat women are routinely told they can't "get away with" short haircuts. Fat women and men are frequently told they can't "get away with" certain cuts of clothing. There are also subtle disincentives: I have frequently experienced being on the receiving end of thinly veiled hints that I can't really "get away with" being confident, or laughing loudly, or in some other way refusing to express nothing but undiluted shame for myself in public.

Not long ago, I showed Kenny Blogginz this amazing sweatshirt in a fat lady's clothing catalog I get; it featured three angel kittens in a basket and it was stupendously saccharine. (It wasn't exactly this, but it was close.) Now, I'm not judging anyone who loves kitten sweatshirts—love them! they are awesome!—but they're not exactly considered stylish, especially for women of my age. KBlogz laughed and told me he would be personally offended if I didn't buy it immediately. To which I responded, "I would love to, but fat women can't get away with wearing kitten sweatshirts that are deliciously unstylish. If I wore that sweatshirt, people would just see a sad fatty with no style and treat me with pity and contempt." He immediately knew exactly what I meant.

The only way I'd "get away with" that sweatshirt is by pairing it with fishnets and blue hair. Anything less obviously ironic, and I'm a Cat Lady.

Fat women can't "get away with" being unstylish at all, especially in a corporate workplace, if they want to be regarded as intelligent and capable. In a well-tailored (and thus expensive) business suit, I'm a Woman to Be Reckoned With. In sweatpants and a t-shirt, I am literally spoken to as though I might be mentally disabled. (That's not an exaggeration and not meant to be funny.) That happens to all women, and all people, to some degree. But the fatter I've gotten, the wider the gap in perceptions of me grows.

[This thread is for both fat people and not-fat people; the latter are invited to participate by listening with the open-mindedness and open-heartedness that is key to dismantling unearned privilege.]

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