This year, there has been quite the resounding chorus of fat activists protesting the abuse of thin women, and I have to say I am utterly mystified by the accusations.
Where is this happening and who is responsible?
Oh, it happens, but not in the Fatosphere. Other, unaffiliated blogs might go into a towering rant about women who are too thin. Some body image bloggers might thin bash in the hope of raising the morale of fat women. Some fashion-oriented websites might contain comments praising larger women at the expense of thin women.
It’s still not widespread in the Fatosphere. The only time I have heard thin bashing is from a random, occasional commenter, and they are quickly called out on it. We do not engage in thin or other body bashing here. This is a safe space for people’s bodies. And yes, I have seen all this happen firsthand more than once.
So it does happen, but it’s hardly a feature of fat acceptance dialogue.
So which blogs have been infiltrated by skinny bashing operations and how can I locate their verbal grenades?
To be honest, I don’t think the issue has to do with actual thin bashing but with our focus on fat bashing and on fat issues. It is not thin bashing, or hypocritical, to choose to focus on fatness rather than thinness. Activists have limited time and energy and they are best when advocating for those causes that they have personal experience with. Focusing on fat issues is no more bigoted against thin people than focusing on knitting is bigoted against crocheting. A more relevant example would be an Egyptian blogging about Egyptian culture rather than Libyan culture. Doing such a thing would not make you racist or nationalist. It’s a preference.
Furthermore, while all insults hurt on an individual level, their cultural implications are not at all similar.
Parents and family members do not abuse their children in an effort to fatten them up.
Thin people do not have to worry about doctors refusing to treat them because of their weight or blaming all of their problems on their weight.
There are not TV shows, ads, documentaries, and press releases about the blight of thinness and how to fix it, by force if necessary.
Thin parents are not having their children taken away from them in other countries.
Thin people do not have to pay top dollar and travel farther/pay for shipping for clothing they can hardly ever find.
There are exceptions of course, and thinness and fatness both intersect with class, ethnic group, disability, and other identities that change the impact. However, on average, in our culture, the above list sums up how our culture feels about fat and how thin people are largely spared this.
I do not demand that people with visible disabilities center their discussions about my invisible disabilities. I do not demand that albino or Chinese women center discussions about racism or lookism around my personal issues. I do not demand that MRAs talk to me about feminism.
Do I have to agree with what is said? Absolutely not! Might I have a lot in common with Chinese women, albino women, the visibly disabled, and men? Absolutely! That is what my blog is for. To challenge what I don’t agree with and implement what I do agree with in my own life, both for my own issues and when advocating for others.
But to accuse them of discrimination because they want to talk about what affects them rather than what affects me is unfair and nonsensical.
Fat acceptance has a right to BE fat acceptance. You can talk about thin issues sometimes if you want, but they don’t have to be the focus of our discussions. Actually, if we want to make a real difference in combating fat phobia in our culture, we can’t. We need to be about those who are fat, especially those who are superfat.
Another thing I don’t get is why some fat acceptance advocates put up with it. These are the same people who would go into towering rants over MRAs barging in and demanding accommodations by feminists or rich people barging in and complaining about oppression by the poor. Yet they treat the issue of fat acceptance differently and act as though they are obligated to accommodate the issues of the privileged. They can when they want to, and when it applies, but they are not obligated to.
In the interest of disclosure, I am a normal-weight obese person. In other words, I look like I am of average weight, possibly a little chunky, but I have an obese BMI. I have often been the target of harassment for my weight by family and most recently by doctors. I have trouble finding good-looking clothes that fit me, especially bras, and I often have to pay top dollar for them. This makes fat acceptance personally applicable to me, but I am still quite thin privileged.
I also have NEVER felt out of place for being a small fat. That’s another thing I don’t get. Where are people being shut out for not being fat enough? It’s not like we take measurements for entry into our movement, and a small fat person is still fat and still has to live with fat phobia.
But there are people out there much fatter than me who still have to live with far fewer privileges, less sympathy, and more isolation. I think they have a right to talk with each other in peace.
Fat acceptance is for all people, but it is most of all for the (really) fat people.