A Lesson or Two
Note: Today’s post is by Kitsune Yokai, who writes the blog The Fat Pagan. She is under consideration to be a new blogger for Fierce Fatties. This is the third of three posts she will be sharing per our submission requirements. You can read her first here and her second here.
I grew up in a feminist household. My mother was a hardcore feminist and was determined to bring me into the fold. Needless to say, I am a feminist.
The reason I tell you this is because recently I have seen some parallels between feminism problems and Health at Every Size® (HAES) problems, namely Male Privilege and PHMT, or Patriarchy Hurts Men Too.
Male Privilege’s equivalent in the HAES community would be Thin Privilege, and anyone who has been around this community for any length of time has heard of it. There is even a checklist, as there is for male privilege, although I think some more should be added. For example, as a thin person, I wouldn’t have to fight for a promotion in the job that I have because of my body weight. Or that I also won’t have to worry about attracting a partner or worry if my (male) partner will dump me for gaining weight (number 5 and 37). You can read more examples in our 2010 post on Thin Privilege. And just like with feminism, you have people who outright deny Thin Privilege, with or without personal attacks (mostly with, though).
Another Thin Privlege-denying technique is Body Shaming Hurts Thin People Too™. Like PHMT, BSHTPT is meant to divert conversation from discussing fat problems. Many times it minimizes the problems of fat people while raising a statistically small group up as a counterattack. To reiterate: the CDC says that the percent of Americans who are overweight is 33.3%, obese at 35.9%, and underweight as 1.7%. For a disturbing example of BSHTPT, check here.
We cannot write off the issue that BSHTPT brings up because it does bring up a good point. Think of weightism as you read what Ampersand explained in this article:
Sexist male norms and sexist female norms aren’t separate things in our culture, which can be fought separately and one-at-a-time; they are one and the same thing, codependent norms from hell, flip sides of the same poisonous coin.
Take the woman’s-place-is-in-the-home myth. It’s the flip side of the men-can’t-raise-children myth; you can’t have homemakers without breadwinners, and vice versa. To speak about eliminating one as if it’s a separate issue is not only mistaken, it’s counterproductive. It so totally fails to grasp the realities of sexism it’s guaranteed to fail. What we’ll end up with if we try to change only half a culture – what we have, in fact, ended up with – is a situation where women are now expected to be both breadwinners and homemakers, but men’s role hasn’t changed at all, so women are working twice as much overall and still not getting equal pay. Did that solve the problem? Is there any potential that looking only at women’s role in this codependent mess will solve the problem in the future?
Fat shaming and thin shaming are not separate issues; they are one and the same. They are body shaming and it really does affect everyone. If we want to stop fat shaming, we need to rewrite the book on the discrimination and stereotyping of all bodies, or else the only thing that will change is that thin and average people will be turned against. We should want the acceptance of all bodies, not just our fat ones.
Now, I am not saying that Fat Acceptance should also focus on thin bodies. I think that we should fight for equality and the human rights of all bodies. Think of it this way, replacing Ampersand’s gender references to weight references: “Although [weightism] affects (and hurts) both [fat and thin people], in the end it’s almost always [the fat person] who end up with the short end of the stick, politically, socially and materially (compared to [thin people] of the same race, class, etc.). So most of the time, when we fight for equality and justice, that means improving the status of [fat people].”
That being said, I still think that fat people should have a safe place where they can discuss their issues and their discrimination and their lives. I still think that I should have a place to document my horrible treatment at the doctors office. I still think that I should have a place to read about or discuss how I should love myself as the fat-bulous woman (or man) I am (including here, on Fierce, Freethinking Fatties). I believe we should have stylish clothing made just for us, and I believe we should not have TV shows that degrade us. I believe we deserve the same respect as our thinner counterparts because we are all human.
I also believe that everyone deserves to not be subtly hinted toward a weight loss or weight gain diet. I believe everyone deserves evidence-based healthcare, instead of weight-based. I believe everyone deserves to feel good in the body they have, regardless of what their natural body size is. And, I believe everyone deserves access to quality food regardless of income.
So join me in unbending the two-sided coin of body shaming. Together we can make this a beautiful, accepting place — haters be damned.