I heard someone today say that we’re making it too easy to be obese because fat people can use scooters to get around, or use escalators instead of the stairs.
Okay, dude. Let’s be clear that what this person is saying is: “If you are fat and require mobility assistance, we should actively work to make the world more difficult for you to navigate.” If you’re concerned that we are somehow making it “too easy” for fat people to pursue their rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, let me assure you that one of the ways you can tell that we are NOT making it “too easy” is that someone is willing to suggest, out loud, that if you are fat and disabled we should make it intentionally difficult for you to get around.
The idea here is that thin people with mobility issues deserve empathy and help but fat people don’t deserve to be able to navigate the world with dignity because it’s their own fault. I hate to let facts get in the way of stigma, prejudice, and oppression but notice that nobody is upset at the thin person who got drunk and fell down some stairs and needs to use a scooter, or the thin person who was doing their best Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon impression for their buddies and is now riding out that groin pull on the escalator. If you are thin then, in this person’s estimation, you can do whatever dumb ass thing you want and they are happy to support your need for mobility assistance. But if you’re fat then it doesn’t matter why you need assistance, you don’t deserve it. And when we treat one group differently than another because of how they look, that would be bigotry plain and simple. In truth, people of all sizes face stigma and ableism and if you want mobility assistance you should be able to access and use it without shame, at whatever size and for whatever reason. And that last sentence shouldn’t be controversial as it is a big flaming sack of duh.
And let’s not pretend that this is about our health. While many studies suggest that movement leads to greater health, there are zero studies that say that movement has to be taking the stairs instead of the escalator or walking five hundred miles around Disney World this weekend. No, this isn’t about our health. This is about compliance. Fat people are supposed to atone for the moral failing that is our body by only being seen in public doing things that people want to pretend will promote thinness (or at least punish fatness) – we must eat salads with no dressing and take the stairs and at all times and be a “good fatty” or we deserve even more shame, stigma, and mocking until we can finally hate ourselves healthy thanks to all of those people who bullied us for sport.
Well, screw that. My body is not a moral failing, a sign of my lack of willpower, or a measure of my health or worthiness. The only thing you can tell from my size is what size I am and what prejudices you hold about people my size. My body is amazing and I will stand up for it, take care of it, and be undeterred and unashamed of properly caring for it, especially because of societal bigotry perpetuated by people who make their money and/or their self-esteem by trying to rid the Earth of people who look like me. Every Sunday I have six straight hours of dance rehearsal. Trust me when I tell you that my fat ass will be taking every escalator I see for the rest of the day. Don’t like it? Bite me. If something happened to my mobility then I would become a bad ass fatty on a scooter flipping the bird to anyone who had a problem with the way that I navigate the world. I will not allow others to make me feel ashamed and I will stand up for my friends of any size who use mobility assistance of any kind for any reason.
In fact, I think that we should work to make that assistance safe, affordable, and as easy to access as possible. When I say safe I don’t just mean physically safe (having scooters that are rated to carry very fat people etc.) but also emotionally safe – which is to say that if you use a scooter to get around Disney World there should be exactly zero asshats who would say anything or even look at you sideways – if they have the urge to say something then they can go ride “It’s a Small World” a couple dozen times until the urge passes and they have not just the right to remain silent, but also the capacity.
Let’s all try to focus for a minute on a simple fact: other people’s bodies, and they way that they navigate the world, are absolutely none of our damn business. None. If you think it’s your job, or a good idea, to make the world more difficult for fat people who use mobility aids then the next time you have a thought, just let it go because man, thinking is not for you.
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I do size acceptance activism full time. A lot what I do, like answering over 5,000 e-mails from readers each month, giving talks to groups who can’t afford to pay, and running projects like the Georgia Billboard Campaign etc. is unpaid, so I created a membership program so that people who read the blog and feel they get value out of it and/or want to support the work I do can become members for ten bucks a month To make that even cooler, I’ve now added a component called “DancesWithFat Deals” which are special deals to my members from size positive merchants. Once you are a member I send out an e-mail once a month with the various deals and how to redeem them – your contact info always stays completely private.
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