A friendly blog where feminists and their male allies can come together and discuss methods, tactics, and strategies for use in toppling White Supremacist Capitalist Patriarchy.

11.12.2006

Enraged. As Usual. (or Fat Blog #1)

So I'm fumbling throuth cyberlandia, as I am wont to do on a random Saturday night, and I fumble right over a picture of this here shirt:

And so I think to myself, "Glorious! I will toodle right on over to the Feminist Majority Website and maybe order one of these."

But my toodle was toddled when, upon arrival and investigation, I learned that the largest size the store carried was a sub-standard XL, said to fit a size 14. And then I nearly threw my new laptop out the window.

My plea to all y'all, petty as it might sound, is to please prattle off some angry emails. My plea to the FMF store is that they remove the word "radical" from the shirt until they offer them in a size that will actually fit fat people. You can email them at store@feminist.org or you can send some thoughts to the customer service folk at fmfsupport@mindspring.com. I am saving my spew for tomorrow, because seeing this sent me into a kinda whirlwind that's just the tip of the iceburg after a couple months of dealing with fat-phobia up close and in person.

You know, back home, I'd cultivated deep and long-suffering friendships with damn near everyone I knew. The people who surrounded me knew me, and if I got any bullshit about my fatness it was from strangers or, occasionally, from my mother. I can deal with that.

Now I'm at a relatively new job. Forcing people to acclimate to me has been difficult. I have to work very hard to prove myself, because people have a lot of fucked-up assumptions about me, based on my appearance.

And of course, it's nothing that anybody's gonna be brash enough to say out loud. I feel fat phobia from the assumptions that people make about what I can and cannot do, about my presumed lack of self-esteem, about my percieved lack of attractiveness to the opposite sex, and about a lot of other shit that has absolutely DICK to do with whether or not I have a big, fat ass.

I'm relearning that fat people are expected to be losers. People think that we are fumbly or we are lazy, or that we are afraid to do outrageous and energetic things. We get unsolicited advice on what we should or should not eat, as if we are totally ignorant to the basics of nutrition. When we go shopping with friends, friends look at us all funny like when we want to pick flashy or fitted clothing. Oh, and this is also another arena for unsolicited advice.

"You should buy this, it will hide your belly." "If you buy that shirt, you'll have to get something long-sleeved to wear with it to cover up your arms." "You need a bra like this to lift your boobs up." "Are you gonna get That??"

People think, though they never have the guts to say it to your face, that you can't be a good, confident leader if you are fat.

People constantly wave their own fears of becoming what you are in front of your face, without a thought as to how you will feel about it. Anti-fat thought is presumed to be correct thought.

"Oh, I need to lose this tummy of mine." Wait, you barely have a paunch. "Well, being fat is just not good for ME."

People inadvertently insult you even as they attempt to compliment you. "You've got such a pretty face." "You'd be so pretty if you just lost some weight."

The reason that this is so hard for me, this new period of adjustment, is that I'm now having to do in a matter of months what I've had a lifetime or a matter of years to do with all the people I've cared about previously. I think that when folks hear about me, or when they read my resume, they are surprised when they see me for the first time.

Ok. Here's the deal. I have a college education. I am fluent in 2 languages. I read, I write, I can add and subtract. I'm not lazy, and I won't get freaked out by having to climb stairs or walk a few blocks. I don't think I'm ugly. I don't think I'm stupid. And I ain't scared of nobody. I don't need coddling and my fatness isn't what makes me unhappy and crazy. Living in a white supremacist capitalist patriarchy makes me unhappy and crazy. OK???

Here are some tips for the non-fat, to evade crossing over into the territory of fat-phobic assholedom:

1. It's none of your goddam business what we eat. Keep your fucked-up and ignorant opinions and advice to yourself unless we ask for it, explicitly.

2. If you've really never known a fat person then you live under a goddam rock or something. Chances are you've known a few fat people but your oppressive notions of what fatness are force you to refuse to accept that good people you know can be fat. Get over that, and do it swiftly. Fat people are more of the norm than the exception. That's the reality.

3. If you have a question, ask it tactfully but in a straight-forward way. Passive aggression is always an unattractive quality. Questions about personal hygiene and our sex lives are fucked-up, degrading, and none of your goddam business to begin with. We aren't circus freaks. I'll repeat, we are the norm, at least here in Gringolandia.

4. Stop making fat jokes. Period. It's fucked up and mean, and there's no excuse for it. Making fat jokes and generally poking fun at fat people is dehumanizing, it's a form of oppression, and even if you're the king or queen of social justice in your own mind, when you make fun of fat people you are acting like The Man. Stop it.

5. Don't try to set us up on dates with people you know unless we specifically ask you to do that. Fat does not mean abhorrent or socially awkward. Fat means fat- nothing more, nothing less. Learn that, now.

6. You have no right to presume that our fatness means anything more than we weigh a certain amount over what's been deemed by capitalist white supremacist patriarchy as the "norm."

7. Do not assume that we are lazy or unintelligent.

8. Do not assume that we are weak.

9. Do not assume that we are obsessive-compulsive about food.

10. Do not assume that we are desperate for your friendship and/or your sympathy.

11. Do not assume that we think that we are less attractive than you are, or that we hate our bodies, or that we strive to be like you.

12. Do not, I repeat Do NOT EVER look us in the face and tell us that we are not fat. We know that this is a lie, and so do you. It's insulting and it is an attempt to deny us full humanity as we are, as we exist right now. We do not need your lies to know that we are human, and we are unapologetic about the amount of space we take up in this world.

13. Oh yeah. Quit bitchin' and moanin' and whinin' about your fat roll, or your wiggly thighs, or your love handles, or your OWN fucked-up, delusional, self-image problems to us. You don't know shit about what it's like to walk around in this world and actually be fat. We have to fight every day to accept ourselves in a world where you and everyone else screams at us that we don't fit in, that we are freaks, that we will never be accepted. We don't have the time to work out those problems for you, and it's just fucked up and rude, on top of all that. You might as well just say, "shit! If I ain't careful I'll end up like you." That's how it translates. So shut up and go do some crunches if you feel so damn bad.

Now. The reason that I was so enraged by what I found on the FMF website has a lot to do with what enrages me about the culture of activism, as it has evolved under the auspices of white supremacist capitalist patriarchy in Gringolandia. The standards that "good activists" are held up to lean towards reflecting an oppressive aesthetic, one that mirrors that of the system that we fight. Activism in our country carries a sheen of "chic" that makes me want to vomit, partly because we live in the belly of an overfed, overprivileged beast. This movement is not a place for folks to stomp on their soapboxes, wallow in self-righteousness, and shake their fingers at people while they convince themselves that they are "fighting the good fight." It is not a place where stars are born, it is not a place that welcomes your self-righteous condescension. Cockiness and arrogance are not reflective of confidence. They reflect a need to dominate. We are fighting for an end to domination.

Fat phobia keeps potential leaders and activists and revolutionaries from thinking they are good enough to fight with everybody else. It acts to maintain the status quo, it's a tool in dehumanization.

Fuck fat phobia. And if you don't think it is a problem, then you need to reevaluate your place in the movement.

16 comments:

spotted elephant said...

*screams and applauds*

The refusal of people to see how fat phobia ties in to the white supremacist capitalistic patriarchy is maddening. Very well said.

Yolanda Carrington said...

One question: Can I repost this at TPC? Let me know.

Yolanda

TNTrash said...

Of course you can!

xanadu1015 said...

I literally clapped when I read that to the point my hands hurt. I am fat but I do not in anyway have low self-esteem. I love myself but the crap I put up with, what you rightly called fat phobia, makes me soooo bleeping mad! I would love to print this out and frame it, if thats alright. Of course I will attribute it to you. :D

I am definitely adding this blog to my favorites. Thank you!!!!!

Laura

TNTrash said...

printing and framing are quite welcome. Thanks for the positive comments!

Yolanda Carrington said...

Here is the cross-post.

Jackie said...

yes! yes yes yes yes yes! that is unbelievable about the t-shirt, but if it inspired this awesome post, i'll forgive the idiots who decided to screen their shirts at a company that only went up to size 14. i know way too many beautiful amazing women who hide out and refuse to be the loud awesome gorgeous fat creatures they are because they don't want people to judge them. eff that. i am forwarding this post to a few ladies as we speak. and, for more musings of a nonprofit intern testing her feet in the waters of the women's movement, check out my blog at www.youngerwomenstaskforce.blogspot.com.

elle said...

elaina, i want t o write a post about why this video (apart from the horrid tip drill song and the booty dancing) is so threatening to viewers at youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bdiw5c5m1xU. i'd like to quote (heavily) from your post. is that okay?

TNTrash said...

Elle- sure, as long as you link it to my site.

elle said...

okay, the post is up

Ann said...

Elaina.

Beautiful post.

Dead from the neck up people who have no consideration for other people's feelings are so much flotsam and jetsam in this world.

Who knows how many wonderful, kind, generous, intelligent people out there who are 'da bomb, but are walked around, shoved aside, pushed out of the way because they do not have the emaciated body of a starved-to-death model?

Only fools deny themselves the pleasure of a good "friend" who is always there for you; always got your back; always stands up for you, even when you're wrong.

And if that friend happens to be rubenesque, then so be it.

There are too many, pinched-face, mealy-mouthed people in the world who don't stand up against wrong, no matter what shape it comes in.

And you're right. This racist, woman-hating, non-white destroying society has made itself the scourge of all those who fight against its inhumanity of all its citizens: Black, latino, native american, disabled, and even rubenesque.

I support you in all your endeavors against the America that believes:

"If you ain't white, thin and blue-eyed blonde, you ain't right."

America is more than one type of human being.

And all have the right to live and be.

There is room enough for all of us in our differences.

And no one group is less, nor better than the other.

And this from a 5'-3", size 9 lady who says it's not the size that counts.

It's what's on the inside that amounts!

Rhea said...

Excellent points. Thank you for this. Especially pointing out the T-shirt that comes in only 'small' sizes.

imfunnytoo said...

I would only add to:

"If you ain't white, thin and blue-eyed blonde, you ain't right."

actually,

If you ain't white, straight, able bodied thin and blue-eyed blonde, you ain't right.

I'm both fat and impaired (conditions of course having zip to do with my size) and I empathize about people making ridiculous assumptions about ability, charisma, competence, dilligence, and whether or not fat persons should be someones friend or romantic interest...ARRRRGH!

Just a great post.

Laura said...

Followed a link here from Alas--nicely said! I just sent off an email to store@feminist.org...probably not the sort of thing I'd write if I thought too long about it, but I figured I'd repost it here for amusement value:

Subject : This is what a ticked off feminist looks like
----- Message Text -----
Dear "Feminists":

Your "Radical Feminist" baseball tee is terrific, and I was all set to order one...until I saw your size list. In a society where women are driven to obsession, starvation, and gruesome surgeries because we keep being told that our value as people depends on our ability to satisfy the aesthetic whims of a bunch of male media moguls, you all sell clothes that only *just* go up in size to what the average American woman wears--and then you stick the label "feminist" on it?

But better still, you do the same thing with shirts that read "This is what a feminist looks like." Who knew that thin, of all things, was "what a feminist looks like"? I guess if I want to be a feminist, I'd better forget all this reproductive-rights nonsense, and get my size-16 ass to the gym! Or hey, if feminism and the fashion industry are now a team, maybe that means we've already won the fight--so I can just call myself a postfeminist, and worry about more important things, like becoming the perfect housewife!

Or, you know, you guys could get real. But I won't hold my breath.

Not quite sincerely,

Laura

princess said...

Wow. This is horrible. I know you probably won't publish this because most people only give voice to those who agree with them, but if something doesn't come in your size, DIY and get your own shirt made.

It's your right to be whatever size you want, but it's NOT the world's responsibility to acquiesce to your decision. I think it's absolutely tasteless and wrong to make fun of fat people or offer unsolicited advice (I'm a size 14 so yes I know what it's like) BUT at the same time, if I want to wear something that only comes in a size small I would rather be proactive in either making my own or losing weight and getting in shape than whining about it and demanding that other people not only accept my choices, but go one step beyond and tailor their OWN choices to suit MINE.

No offense, but that's sort of self centered.

TNTrash said...

Princess-

While it seems like you kinda missed the point by a stretch, in focusing on the first paragraph and ONLY the first paragraph of the post(convenient, huh?), I thought I'd take the time to throw your comment up here, if for no other reason than to point out that half the women in this country are your size OR LARGER.

Self-centered, my fat ass.

There are 1565 words in this entry. 187 of them deal with tshirt sizes.

Horrible, indeed.