Sorry to have been away from the blog for a few days, thanks to everyone who e-mailed or messaged me to see if I was ok. I am. My dance company, More Cabaret, had our first show Sunday night and the preparations kicked my ass. It was amazing (tons of fantastic acts volunteered their talent, the show sold out, was covered by two separate documentary film crews, and was watched around the world on livestreaming thanks to the tech genius of Brian and Jeanette DePatie!) Now we’ll start learning the next show and, in the meantime we’ll be looking for gigs in the LA area, and I’ll get back to my daily blogging.
Today I want to talk about a question that I get asked a lot in many forms. From “Why would you call yourself fat” to “how can fat be a good thing” to “Do you have to call yourself fat?” and on and on. The word “fat” can definitely stir a lot of emotions which is one of the reasons that I use it.
I consider fat a reclaiming word. It’s been used by people whose goal was to bully, intimidate, and stigmatize me by its use. My use of it is one of the ways that I tell the bullies they can’t have my lunch anymore. This reflects my belief that I can shift the energy and power around the words that are used to oppress me by reclaiming them and using them as my own.
I also use fat as a tacit rejection of euphemisms. For me, calling me anything but fat makes it feel like my size is something that requires “dancing around” – a fat body is like Lord Voldemort – that which must not be named. I would rather be called fat than fluffy (I’d rather be called almost anything than fluffy.) Of course, like all of this, that’s just me. There are plenty of people who love being called “fluffy” or prefer to use any term besides fat and there’s nothing wrong with that.
Finally, I use the word “fat” as a rejection of the medicalization of fat bodies – terms like “obese” and “overweight” suggest that body size should be the same as a diagnosis and I strongly disagree with that. Over what weight? I’m over some weights and under others. People come in different sizes, this is the size I come in. As I once heard The Fat Chick say, I’m fat – not overweight in the same way that I’m also short- I’m not medically undertall.
The word fat is just a physical descriptor. Often when I go to meetings with people I haven’t met I’ll say “I’ll be the short, fat, brunette.” Very often they’ll respond “Don’t call yourself fat!” Nobody has ever said “Don’t call yourself brunette!” The problem isn’t the word fat, it’s the way that people have tacked on their negative stereotypes and preconceived notions onto the word fat, and the way that they’ve used it to oppress those of us who fit the description. What we do once we realize that is up to each of us.
Fat Activist History Project Update:
The first interviews are up!!!!!
Like my blog? Here’s more of my stuff!
Become a member: For just ten bucks a month you can keep this blog ad-free, support the activism work I do, and get deals from cool businesses Click here for details
Interviews with Amazing Activists!! Help Activists tell our movement’s history in their own words. Support In Our Own Words: A Fat Activist History Project!
The Book: Fat: The Owner’s Manual The E-Book is Name Your Own Price! Click here for details
Dance Classes: Buy the Dance Class DVDs or download individual classes – Every Body Dance Now! Click here for details
If my selling things on the blog makes you uncomfortable, you might want to check out this post. Thanks for reading! ~Ragen