Jezebel.com picked up my blog “Things I’ve heard about thin women” http://jezebel.com/5531846/things-ive-heard-about-thin-women. There are almost 500 comments.
I felt the need to blog more about this because I was so surprised by some of the comments. Several comments assert that, while bashing thin people probably isn’t ok, it’s not something worth talking about because thin people are protected by the tremendous privilege that the receive in our society and it’s distracting from the battle that fat people face. Some of the commenters (Is that a word? It is now…) complain that talking about this takes attention away from the fat community and the horrible treatment to which we are subjected. Some even seem to think that it’s ok to bash thin people because of the privilege they have in our society, saying “they’ll get over it, I promise you”.
Here is the thing though. The fat community is extremely disenfranchised. Many of the people of size who I talk to have internalized the oppressive messages that they get from society (you’re lazy, unhealthy, a drain on society, unattractive , etc.) to the point that it has become an identity for them. That’s not a foundation upon which you can build a civil rights movement. It’s hard to demand respect when there are a chorus of your community members who are still convinced that they don’t deserve to be treated well.
So where can we start?
How about with our own actions? This isn’t the Oppression Olympics – there’s no medal for being the group who has it worst. I think that the most important thing I can do when I am looking for respect and equality is be an example of what that means in my day to day life.
Even if thin women’s privilege protected them from the pain of comments like “eat a sandwich”, “you’re anorexic”, “real women have curves” and other such bs (and I don’t think that it does protect them) I think it would still be an astoundingly bad idea.
Because even if it doesn’t hurt them, it hurts me. When I do to others what I don’t want done to me, justifying it because it doesn’t happen to them very often, I think I become a bunch of things that aren’t good:
- out of integrity
- part of a system I claim I want to end
- just as bad as everyone who has ever said anything to me about my size
This is not about someone else’s privilege.
This is about my integrity.
Am I or am I not someone who believes that everyone, and their body, deserves to be treated with respect? Are my actions consistent with who I say I am? If not then what the hell am I doing?
I know that fat people are hurting in our culture, and we absolutely deserve to be treated better. But I’m here to suggest that the only way out is up – you can’t get out of a hole by digging, and I don’t believe that we will ever get respect for our bodies by disparaging someone else’s. Perhaps it’s a cliche but as I’ve said before I truly believe that you have to start by being the change that you want to see in the world.
While that may mean different things to different people I hope we can all get on the same page that it definitely includes not doing to others the exact thing I am asking people to stop doing to me.
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