[Content Note: Fat bias; diet talk.]
The other day, Therese Lee (@thereselee) and I had an exchange on Twitter that started out on basic fat activist definitions, and segued into a fascinating conversation about loving one's radical body. I asked Therese if she would mind if I shared those tweets here, and she graciously consented. So here we go (you can also read the whole thing on Twitter here):
Therese: @shakestweetz When you use the term "in-betweener" how do you define it in the context of fat phobia?
Liss: "In-betweenie" is a common term in FA (not something I coined), generally meaning someone who straddles plus-/regular sizes. Is that what you were asking, or did I miss the point of your question...?
Therese: Yes, that's what I was asking; so if u are a size 14/16 like me; many reg stores carry up to a 14, sometimes 16 or 18.
Liss: Right. And b/c sizes vary, you might be a reg size in one brand & a plus size in another.
Therese: Is the assumption that we can enjoy some aspects of thin privilege?
Liss: Personally, I wouldn't say "enjoy thin privilege" as much as have some relative privilege compared to people fat like I am.
Therese: What's weird is that when I describe myself as fat 2 thin ppl, they immediately correct me, trying to make me feel better. As though being fat is the worst thing u could possibly be! I just see it as a description like brown hair or blue eyes.
Liss: Right! I always say fat is a neutral descriptor. I am brunette, I have blue eyes, I am fat. I once referred to myself as fat in front of one of my (also fat) aunts, who replied, "You're not fat! You're pretty!" Yikes.
Therese: Yeah, they're not mutually exclusive! Fear goes away when I take negative assoc out of the word...I feel less crazed and can more easily resist dieting!
Liss: Looking at it as a neutral descriptor also steals its ability to insult. "You're fat!" "Your observational skills are stellar!"
Therese: LOL! I'm also very muscular, & there's a lot of muscle prejudice against women too, even muscular women w/low body fat. What is it about being female, large and/or strong that seems to freak ppl out so much?
Liss: Because women aren't supposed to take up space, metaphorically or physically. Big/fat/strong women are inherently transgressive.
Therese: So we challenge the patriarchy...just by merely existing, I love it! Makes me want to eat steaks & lift weights ;-)
Liss: Exactly! How can I not love my body when it's inherently radical?
* * *
That last bit, the bit about how merely continuing to live in my fat body is radical, as long as I am living in a fat-hating culture, was, when the thought first formed itself in my head, a key moment in learning how to love my body.
My fat body is transgressive. And loving my fat body, just the way it is, refusing to hate it or try to change its aesthetics, is a political act, an act of resistance against a culture that exhorts me in every conceivable way to hate myself.
If you are fat, and you can find no other reason to love your body, love it in protest. Love it to spite the people who tell who to feel otherwise. Love it because you are radical.
[Related Reading: Big Fat Love.]