Fatsronauts 101 is a series in which I address assumptions and stereotypes about fat people that treat us as a monolith and are used to dehumanize and marginalize us. If there is a stereotype you'd like me to address, email me.
[Content Note: Fat bias; body policing.]
#19: All fat people hate/want to change their bodies.
This weekend, I saw an advert for some diet pill or piece of exercise equipment or gut surgery—I don't even remember what—that started with a voiceover matter-of-factly stating: "All of us want a flat tummy."
Nope. That is not true.
Not all of us want a flat tummy. I don't want a flat tummy, and not just because I would have to compromise my health to have one. I don't want a flat tummy because I'm perfectly happy with my tummy as it is.
There are lots of things, lots and lots and lots of things, that try to make me hate my roundy belly, as well as the rest of my fat body. But the fact that I can't, for example, always easily find clothes that fit me doesn't make me wish my body were different: It makes me wish that the clothing industry would make clothes that fit my body as it is.
Always, fat people who say they are perfectly content with their fat bodies are accused of dishonest bravado. We are presumed of saying we like our bodies in spite of really hating them. We are thought to be in denial, to be harboring secret hatred for our transgressive bodies, to be masking insecurity with faux esteem. Anything to avoid accepting the possibility that there exist in a fat-hating world people who refuse to hate our fat.
But life would be easier if you were thin, argue the fat haters, who cannot abide my contentment. How can you not admit you'd prefer to be thin, knowing life would be easier? As if I don't know how privilege works. But that is truly an irrelevant question, when it comes to whether I like my body, which is not defined by external privileges or preferences or arbitrary standards of beauty. I love my body as it is in contravention of external narratives.
Sometimes that's hard to understand, from a perspective of never having your body be marginalized, be hated simply for being the shape that it is.
There are certainly fat people who don't love their bodies, for a multitude of reasons, but I am not one of them. I can speak for no one else—although I am not alone—but I am not harboring a secret hatred of self. I am pleased when I look in the mirror. I like what I see. I don't give a fuck if no one else does. I don't want to change the shape of my body. I love it so much I want to decorate it with ink and top it with nifty hats.
My tummy is just fine, thank you very much. I've no urge to change it.
#18: You can diagnose fat people's health issues by looking at them.
#17: Fat people's choices are always dictated by their fat.
#16: You are helping fat people by shaming them.
#15: Fat people hate having their pictures taken.
#14: All fat people are unhealthy.
#13: Fat people looooooooooove Twinkies!
#12: Fat people don't like/want to see media representations of themselves.
#11: No one wants to be fat.
#10: Fat people need you to intervene in their lives.
#9: Fat people don't know how they look.
#8: Fat people don't deserve anything nice.
#7: Fat people are permission slips for thin people to eat what they want.
#6: Any fat person eating a salad or exercising is trying to lose weight.
#5: Fat is axiomatically ugly.
#4: Fat people eat enormous amounts of food.
#3: Fat people are jolly/mean, and fat people are shy/loud.
#2: I can tell how someone eats all the time, because of how they eat around me.
#1: Everyone who is fat is fat for the same reason.