I freely admit that this is an “overthinking it” blog. I’m going to talk about a cartoon Panda as if he is a real person and a fat activist. I know it’s a stretch, I’ll understand if you don’t want to come along for the ride! (Also, if you’ve not seen the original Kung Fu Panda, this post contains spoilers).
I love Kung Fu Panda. Love. It. Today I made someone drive 30 minutes to get this movie so that I could show it to a friend so that friend and I can go see the sequel tomorrow.
The first very cool thing about this movie is that the main character realizes that he can be an athlete without being thin. He then not only isn’t ashamed of being fat, but he actually uses his size:
He belly bumps, he sits on someone, he uses his size to gain advantage. He could never do that if he was busy being ashamed of his size and trying to look smaller than he is.
His enemy asks “What are you going to do, sit on me?”. Po responds “Don’t tempt me”. What better way to shut down this fat shaming than to turn an insult into empowerment?
The quintessential exchange is:
“You cannot defeat me, you’re just a big fat panda”.
“I’m not a big fat panda. I’m THE big fat Panda.”
Indeed, he is a fat panda. It’s just a descriptor, he could just as easily have said “you’re just a black and white panda” but the enemy assumes that since fat has so much negative connotation it will make him feel ashamed. When fat is just a descriptor it takes the power away from those who want to hurl an insult. When I’m having a business meeting with someone I’ve not met I tell them “I’m a short, fat, brunette”. Plenty of people have told me “Oh, don’t call yourself fat!” but nobody has ever said “Oh, don’t call yourself brunette!” I purposefully use fat as a descriptor because I think it’s important for me to reclaim the word with no negative charge. It’s my way of telling the bullies that they can’t have my lunch money any more.
Then of course there is the pure joy of watching him defeat someone who assumes that he is less of an adversary simply because of his size. Skidoosh.
So maybe we fatties can take some advice from Po: Take an attempt at shaming and turn it into a statement of pride. Use fat as a descriptor, not as a judgment. Own our size and find ways to use it to our advantage. Be the big fat whatever that we are. For me it sure beats the alternative.
I’m not a big fat dancer. I’m THE big fat dancer.
How about you?
For a little inspiration here is the final, end of the first movie battle. MAJOR SPOILERS: