As fat people in a fatphobic society, we deal with a bunch of ridiculous bullshit all the time, from family and friends food police to street harassment to businesses that don’t accommodate us, sometimes on purpose. There are lots of ways to deal with all of these things, today I want to talk about the power of writing a letter. I don’t mean letter writing campaigns – though they can be powerful – I don’t even mean reviews on site like Yelp – though they can be effective as well.
What I’m talking about is dealing with discrimination/poor treatment where you decide not to fight back in the situation (which is a legitimate choice) and/or you still have more to say after it’s all over. Maybe it’s because you decide not to go off on your fat shaming grandma at the family reunion, maybe it’s because you just don’t want to get into it with the nail salon owner who wants to charge you extra for being fat, or maybe the guys who threw eggs at you drove away like cowards before you could have that chat you were hoping for (about fat bigotry and also that dude’s terrible throwing mechanics…)
In cases like that I have found that it can be sometimes help to write a letter so that instead of dealing with internalized rage I get it out there. To me there are three main parts to the letter:
1. Name the party who wronged me specifically
2. Place the problem where it belongs – on the person who perpetuated the mistreatment (this can keep me from buying into the idea that social stigma is my fault because bigots insist that people who look me deserve mistreatment, or that the cure for social stigma is for me to change myself – essentially giving the bullies my lunch money and hoping they stop beating me up.)
3. Take back my empowerment over the situation – explain how I will not allow them to affect me.
Here’s a little fill-in-the-blank example to get you started, but feel free to ignore it in lieu of whatever you like best (and feel free to write your own and publish them in the comments if you would like!)
Dear [grandma/manicurist/egg chuckers/jerk],
It was really [messed/screwed/fucked] up when you [did that bigoted/bullying/stigmatizing/discriminatory thing to me]. I didn’t appreciate it and [here is what I would like to say to you.] I wish you weren’t such a [bigot/bully/jackass] and I may not be able to change you, but I’m sure as [heck/anything/shit] not going to let your bad behavior mess with my great life. I’m going to sign this letter and [send/file/toss/burn] it and your bullshit fatphobia along with it.
Empowered Fat Person
So there you go, just another little tool for being fat in a fatphobic world!
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