One of the common tactics that people use to bully fat people – whether it’s for fun or profit – is to make sure that we never feel good about anything – not our bodies, not our achievements, nothing, ever.
One way this is done is by insisting that there is “no excuse” for not prioritizing the manipulation of our body size. Sometimes this technique is about “aesthetics” (like the way that we choose so many of our singers, actors, dancers, administrative assistants etc. based on their ability to approximate our current stereotype of beauty first and their talent second.) Sometimes it’s used with a side of concern trolling (as in “I’m just concerned about your health so I want to make sure that you hate yourself and never have a moment’s peace, you know, for your own good.)
Another way that this is done is by trying to downplay or negate any and all of our achievements. You see this a lot with internet trolls on any post where a fat person dares to be successful at something other than weight loss. What made me think about this today was a series of posts from my trolls on my Facebook trying to make me feel bad about my marathon time, and a series of e-mails that were sent to me depicting pictures of people more flexible than I am, I assume trying to make me feel bad about the fact that I can do the splits and a standing heel stretch? My haters are usually pretty pathetic in their attempts, but I’ve seen it happen time and again to fat people who talk about something that they’ve achieved, that they are excited about, that they are proud of, and the onslaught of trolls insisting that fat people don’t deserve to be happy or proud of anything ends up souring the whole experience. I’m not interested in giving those kinds of people that kind of power.
I think it’s important to remember that these are people who their bullying and stigmatizing of fat people for profit (people who hate themselves are more likely to buy things that promise they will confer self-love) or because putting other people down makes them feel better about themselves, or for some other reason – it doesn’t really matter why.
There is a solution that I’ve found to be quite effective – I just refuse to feel bad. I’m proud that I finished a marathon, I was dead last, it took me almost 13 hours, and I’m still very proud. I’m proud of my splits and standing heel stretch and the fact that there are people who are more flexible than I am doesn’t take away from that. I almost always round up my age, weight, and marathon time just to subvert the message that I should want all three of those numbers to be as low as possible.
Knowing that we live in a world that bullies, stigmatizes, and oppresses fat people I make the conscious choice that I don’t care how many messages I get that I shouldn’t love or take pride in my body until it looks a certain way, I love my body, I’m proud of my body and I’m never, ever going to let anyone harm that relationship, and I’m proud of my achievements.
We may not be able to stop people from trying to shame, stigmatize and bully us, but we don’t have to buy what they’re selling, and by refusing to care what they say or think we take away their power. So the next time you find yourself in a situation where someone is trying to make you feel like crap, maybe try this little mantra “I see what you’re doing, and I refuse to feel bad.”
Want more support dealing with a fat phobic world? Check out the Fat Activism Conference Three days, 40 speakers, 30 workshops, teleconference style so that you can listen on the phone or computer from wherever you are, recorded so you can listen live or on your own time, only $39 with a pay-what-you-can-afford option to make it accessible to as many people as possible. Check it out!
Like this blog? Consider supporting my work with a donation or by becoming a member! For ten bucks a month you can support size diversity activism, help keep the blog ad free, and get deals from size positive businesses as a thank you. I get paid for some of my speaking and writing (and do both on a sliding scale to keep it affordable), but a lot of the work I do (like answering hundreds of request for help and support every day) isn’t paid so member support makes it possible (THANK YOU to my members, I couldn’t do this without you and I really can’t tell you how much I appreciate your support!) Click here for details
Book Me! I give talks all across the country and I’d love to give one to your organization. (I’ll be in Northern New York and Central Pennsylvania in the next couple of months if you are in those areas and would like to add an event to those trips.) You can get more information on topics, previous engagements and even testimonials here or just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org!
Here’s more cool stuff:
My 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