Fat politics are near and dear to my heart, not only because I'm quite the fatty myself, but also because all body inequality has a lasting effect on every single person involved.
When we hate one type of body, we start to hate them all. We compare and critique, hating our failures and then hating others who appear to be more successful. Then we start to hate those who are failing more than us so that we don't feel so bad about those guys that we hate because they're succeeding! Hate. Hate. Hate. It's a lot of hate, and it's vicious. VICIOUS I tell you!
And it goes oh so much deeper than that. Body hate is internalized at a very young age; killing our sense of self-esteem and teaching us that we must change in order to be okay.
Guess what? 81% of 10 year olds are afraid of being fat. And they're more afraid of fat than they are of cancer, war, or losing both of their parents.
Because of this, a survey of girls 9-10 years old revealed that 40% of them have already tried to lose weight. Body image is closely linked to self-esteem, and low self-esteem in adolescents can lead to eating disorders, early unsafe sexual activity, substance abuse, and suicidal thoughts.
95% of people with eating disorders are between the ages of 12 and 25. Certain eating disorders have a 6x higher mortality rate. Low self-esteem is closely linked to depression, and over 60 Americans commit suicide everyday due to this diagnosis. Approximately 91% of women are unhappy with their bodies, and only 4% would openly call themselves beautiful.
And it's all for naught.
It's all for nothing, y'all. There is no truth in the lie that certain bodies are good and certain bodies are bad. All bodies just are and whatever that looks like is okay. Not only okay, but perfect, I would say!
The reality is that everything we believe about body worth is wrong. We've learned to hate certain shapes and sizes because of American history and the economic story hidden within. In "Why We've Learned to Hate Ourselves," I talk about the organization of class systems, the creation of Patriarchy, Tuberculosis, WWII, and newly independent housewives. ALL of these things have been building blocks for the best business scheme in history. We have been given an idyllic body that is presented as gospel; one that 95% of women in this country are not born with, and then we are told that we must somehow achieve this impossible physique. Preferably by attempting to purchase perfection through creams, diet pills, surgeries, laser treatments, special cereals, and expensive meal replacements.
We buy all of these things so that we can somehow, mayyyyyybe someway become something that, yeah... we will never be. I will never become the world's definition of perfection. Most of my friends around me won't either. In fact, the large majority of women in America will never achieve the ideal female figure that we're taught to worship. Ever. And so, with failure hanging heavily around our necks, we stunt our opportunities, relationships and quality of life.
The world doesn't have to be like this - yet it currently is, and that affects us all.
While body hate leaves no person unscathed, there is a group that it sure does like to hang out with an awful lot... The Fatties.
Those Fatties, I'll tell you what. They exist solely to flaunt themselves as a repulsive and diabolic mockery of what bodies are supposed to be. HOW DARE THEY TAKE UP SPACE ON THIS PLANET.
Are ya still with me?
I say this facetiously of course, but know that those few sentences above resonate for more people than you care to count. And this is why we're here today.
I loved the Feminist autocompletion series, and I am well versed in what the internet has to offer when you type in things like feminism, sluts, gender equality and other supposedly controversial words. I personally spend a lot of time researching body image related subjects and so I'm also aware of what gems pop up when you type in something like, say, "fat people".
I may be used to reading this kinda junk by now, but that doesn't make it any less alarming when the top searches for fat people include things like: fat people are disgusting, don't have feelings, deserve to be bullied, and should die. This immense hatred baffles me; a person's body shape is so benign that it only affects those who inhabit it. Yet, it is socially acceptable to hate, loathe, harass, antagonize, persecute and bully a person based on a clothing size.
If you're needing a reminder of what bullying is, here's a quick gist:
So, real talk.
The reality is that fat shame, hate, and oppression is THE most encouraged form of bullying that we face today. Not only is it highly prevalent, but it is cheered on by a vocal majority that believes larger bodies are inherently wrong. This is aided and abetted by all media; both entertainment material and advertising. In fact, it's quite UN-popular to stand in favor of fat acceptance, and god forbid you preach of fat love.
We have a long way to go.
There are shelves of books dedicated to why this is (and we don't have the space to explore that entire concept in one post) but let's be sure to remember this: we have been conditioned to loathe and fear a fat body. We are not born a body bigot, we learn it. We absorb lucrative lies and judge others (and ourselves) based on this made-up law of superficial worth.
Let's say that I'm wrong (I'm not) and that bigger bodies are bad (definitely not) because by having them you've somehow failed (you haven't). Okay, say all those things have a grain of truth, and fat is indeed some sort of social failure. This is still not reason enough to hate, hurt, and bully another human being. Especially when the subject of contention is something that has nothing to do with you or anyone else. No excuse.
One of my favorite quotes is from Ragen Chastain who write at Dances with Fat and she says:
"Fat people have the right to exist in fat bodies regardless of how we got fat, what being fat means, or if we could be thin through some means – however easy or difficult.
There are no other valid opinions on this.
We have the right to exist without shaming, bullying or stigmatization, period."
Can I get an AMEN?
All this fat hate has gotta stop.
As long as we continue to demonize and degrade one body type, we will never reach true body acceptance as a society. And until we reach true body acceptance as a society, we will continue to see low self-esteem, depression, eating disorders, sabotaged relationships, employment inequality, sky high suicide rates, and all sorts of other social infirmities. No more please. No more.
Every body is a perfect body. There ain't no wrong or "more right" way to be, and that's a fact.
SO, YOU'RE INVITED TO MAKE YOUR OWN POSTER AND SHARE IT WITH THE WORLD!
No need to include the Google autocomplete (unless you want to of course), but feel free to make a poster with your OWN slogan that challenges weight hate and size discrimination! Whatever speaks true to you, make it a poster and share it by emailing it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hop to it!
Social revolution awaits!
Update after the amazing day of FB TAKEOVER: