The seedling for this post came from this post, whose seedling was my previous post. Weee, fun for everyone!
I say seedling because the author of that post, which I really liked by the way, has a different definition of “good fatty” than I do, and despite the semantic difference it really got me thinking.
To me a “Good Fatty” is a fat person who is viewed (by the faction of our society who have decided that they are Judgey McJudgersons of health) as taking “appropriate steps” to lose weight or, at the very least, “struggling” with their weight, thereby earning a modicum of very contingent respect from someone who would otherwise be a fat hater.
If you read this blog regularly you know that I support and respect other people’s decisions about their bodies and health just as I require respect for my decisions. This is not about bashing people who have chosen weight loss. The “Good Fatty” title as I understand it is not a self-identity, but rather a conferred title indicating that the the fat person is behaving as the fat hater thinks they should.
There was a comment on my post about all of the fat hatred that was spewed at me from some fitness forums:
…we are not really “fat hating”, in fact, if we see someone who asks for help how to lose weight etc we will cheer them on etc and help…
This is classic “Good Fatty” language. What this person is really saying is: You deserve the abuse and bullying that you are receiving because you won’t do what I think you should. You are a bad fatty. If you just behave in ways that make me happy, then I will declare you a good fatty and I will stop abusing you. However, if you tell me that you eat healthy and exercise but you don’t achieve the body size I expect, I’ll call you a liar to your face and turn the abuse faucet right back on.
This is where my Good Fatty conundrum comes in:
If my blog gets a message about health out there I hope is it that health is not the same as weight. It is multi-dimensional and there are some aspects within our control and some aspects outside of our control, and that if you want to be healthy then focusing on healthy habits rather than the size of your body is a completely legitimate option.
My conundrum is that I also write about the life that I choose as an athlete/dancer. I try to be clear that my lifestyle is driven by my dancing – I workout far more than is necessary for just maintaining health – but I think sometimes people get confused and think that I’m trying to prove I’m a “good fatty” or that I’m trying to say that I think people should choose the same thing that I do, or that I think I’m better than people who make different choices. That’s definitely not what I’m about.
The truth is that I don’t write for people who want to tell me that they think I’m a liar, or that I can’t possibly be healthy, or that I’m a Bad Fatty. I don’t write to try to convince anyone of anything. I write what I think is true and I hope that I reach people who have been let down by the weight loss industry that lies to people so that they can make 60 Billion Dollars a year with a product that only succeeds in weight loss only 5% of the time and often actually DECREASES people’s health as they yo-yo diet and destroy their metabolisms. I write for people who get stigmatized by a society that confuses weight and health and has turned fat people into everything from metaphors to scapegoats. I write for people who want to be hear a different voice, new ideas, or be supported int their choices about their own bodies.
People may try to label us as good fatties, bad fatties, or whatever they want. They may try to convince us that we must gain their approval in order to avoid their abuse. I think that we always have the option to decide that we aren’t Tinkerbell and we don’t need anyone’s applause to live, opt out of the labeling system for ourselves and each other, and demand (and give) human respect that is not contingent on anyone’s weight, or the choices they make for their bodies and their health, even if they aren’t what we would choose.