Fatsronauts 101: Permission to Live

[Content Note: Fat hatred; eliminationism; weight loss talk.]

The "war on obesity" is eliminationist. That is not hyperbole: It only sounds like it is because its warriors aren't honest enough to call their crusade what it really is—a war on fat people.

Aside from the equally contemptible embedded fallacies arising from the false equivalence between "fat" and "unhealthy," the "war on obesity" is contingent on profoundly dishonest rhetoric which wrenches apart fat people from their actual bodies—"We're not waging a war on you, heavens no! We're just waging a war against your disgusting fat body!"

This is precisely the same sort of reprehensible semantic game that underwrites "love the sin; hate the sinner" needle-threading identity-policing. When you seek to wrench apart the components of people's whole selves and throw away pieces of their identities, or their very bodies, it's just eliminationist rhetoric dressed up as Concern.

And nothing exposes that more nakedly than the fact that there are plenty of fat people for whom not being fat would necessitate sacrificing one's health, or one's very life.

This war on fat people kills people. And when it isn't actively trying to literally eliminate us, it's discouraging us from participating in the world, from being visible, from living.

It's telling us we have to lose weight before we start dating, before we go sleeveless, before we take that dream vacation, before we ask for a promotion, before we buy a bike, before we get tattooed, before we sign up for dancing lessons, before we splurge on a beautiful dress, before we get the haircut we really want, before we go the doctor, before we go to the gym, before we set a wedding date, before we have kids, before we even think about doing anything wonderful that fat people don't deserve.

It's telling us to lose weight before pursuing our dreams. It's telling us to lose weight before wearing a bathing suit. It's telling us to lose weight before "knowing real love and real fear, walking naked in the winter snow and in the summer tide, playing like a child, thinking as a martyr, making love to a stranger, tasting sin and purity at the same moment in time, being as a lamb in a den of wolves." (Whut? I know.) It's telling us to lose weight before living the life we want to live.

Which is entirely in addition to the too-small seats, the too-low weight maximums, the higher costs for clothes and healthcare and travel and anything else the price of which can be hiked and justified by fat bias, the totally legal rules against hiring, serving, treating fat people, and all the other deterrents and disincentives against our participation in the world.

graphic of nondescript human form standing in front of a door labeled: 'Life: Enter Here' that has a 'No Fatties' sign hanging on it

The incessant drumbeat of messages that we aren't entitled to live a full life, that our fat denies us the all-access pass, creates in many fat people a shame so deep and intractable that we become unable to give ourselves permission to do any of the things that fat people aren't "supposed" to do.

I can't. I can't put myself out there. I can't wear a sleeveless shirt. I can't wear tight jeans. I can't cut my hair short. I can't try to be beautiful. I can't go on a beach holiday. I can't wear a bathing suit in public. I can't show my legs. I can't go to the gym. I can't have my picture taken. I can't go to a club to dance. I can't join the Peace Corps. I can't fall in love. I can't let myself be loved. I can't be happy. I can't live.

Not until I'm not fat anymore. And then I'll deserve it. All of it. Then I'll have permission from the galactic granter of access to life to do all the things I want to do.

That is bullshit.

It is dehumanizing bullshit. It is internalized eliminationist bullshit. It is harmful, hateful, despicable bullshit that exhorts us to remove ourselves from life as much as we can, so as not to sully it up with our imperfect aesthetics.

We are not obliged to delay life, to hide from life, to participate in life on some kind of reduced plan in accordance with arbitrary rules about what fat people are and are not "allowed" to do.

We don't need body policers' permission to live just as we are.

That said, I know what it's like to be in a space where it's nigh impossible to give yourself permission to life, just as you are. So, if you're still in that place where it helps to have someone else tell you what a lifetime of hatred makes it difficult for you to tell yourself: You have my permission to live your life just as you are. I give you the permission that our garbage fat-hating culture won't.

You have permission to live.

You do not have to wait until you lose weight to do anything that you want to do and can do right now. You have permission to live right now.

You have permission to be in the world, to participate, to take up the space that you need without apology. And you have permission to say FUCK YOU to anyone who disagrees.

We have a right to live as we are. Get out of the way, haters.

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