I was reading Dodai's article on the mainpage today about Fit Mom being terrible, again, and I started hate-reading the comments, because I love me some righteous indignation. The problem is, so many of the people on Jez (and really everywhere else) that are ostensibly body-positive and anti-fat-shaming are engaging in some very next-level, unconscious fat-shaming themselves.
For the purposes of this piece, I will refer to it as "Level 2 Fat Shaming", even though there are a thousand levels from "FUCK YOU FATTY" to "do you really think you need that?" to "I'm concerned about your health" to everything in between and beyond.
As a longtime fat person, it's really the only privilege wall that I find myself on the wrong side of. I know the feeling of being afraid. Afraid to order a dessert at a restaurant. Being terrified of having to make my way through a crowded room. Even things that sound funnier in hindsight. As a fat person (especially a fat man - damn patriarchy), I've been in a confined space with thin people when someone farted. Let's be real for a second: if you're on an elevator with three thin people and a fat man, who are you going to think made the stink? Exactly.
None of this is to garner sympathy. Being a fat man is certainly no picnic, but a fat man's accomplishments aren't scrutinized and used to undermine his aptitude and achievements the way that a fat woman's are. A fat man can be powerful; a fat woman is considered powerless even over her own will. Sex or love with a fat woman is considered a mark of shame in films and TV; a fat man sometimes gets his pizza taken away by his thin shrew of a wife.
And most importantly, people don't take a happy fat man as an affront in the way that they take fat women. A fat woman that refuses to make apologies for her fatness is a political statement, and is frequently dismissed as jealous, or secretly self-hating, or angry because she can't snag a man. A fat woman that speaks out about rape is both threatened with rape and sneered at as unworthy of rape. This is the reason why I plan to use "she" almost exclusively here: being a fat man does not compare.
And even among people who purport to be supportive of body acceptance, there's a whole hell of a lot of problematic language. Too many of the comments on the page seem to intimate that you shouldn't fat shame someone because she might not be deserving of it.
I don't mean this to shame the Jez commentariat (and I'm not one to hold back on Jez comment criticism), but this is a brief sampling, just from one comment thread, of Level 2 Fat Shaming:
emphasis on body type doesn't do much good because there isn't a great standard
it is possible to be fat and fit.
I don't think Dodai was calling for a celebration of fat, I think she's calling for acceptance because we don't know everyone's situation. When you're a size 22, you may have been a size 32 a year ago; you should be able to celebrate your accomplishments in a safe, accepting place.
For a lot of people...losing weight isn't necessarily the first step, liking (and loving) themselves enough to try is.
obesity is largely an economic issue before it's an issue of an individual's dietary choices.
You can work out, eat right, not smoke, not drink and still have body fat.
I want to be allowed to accept my body. Because it is healthy. think a lot of people, including some people I know who are medically obese, are perfectly healthy and think a lot about their health.
Health is important. but encouraging people to love themselves is a better way to get them to take their heath seriously than body shaming
Another great example is weight gained by psychiatric medications.
There are two approaches I'm seeing here that are somewhat troubling:
1) "People are more likely to lose weight and get healthy if they love themselves"
2) "You shouldn't judge someone for being fat because you don't know why they're fat"
And the proper responses:
1) This may be true, if a fat person is inclined to lose weight or make "healthier" choices. The problem with this approach is that IT DOESN'T FUCKING MATTER if a fat person wants to lose weight or make different choices and should have zero effect on their self-respect, self-love or self-acceptance.
2) This response, well-intentioned as it is, is quite frankly bullshit. You shouldn't judge someone for being fat because being a shitty human being is wrong. There's NO good reason for fat-shaming. Not if a fat person sits on a computer all day, eats nothing but Taco Bell and skips the gym to eat ice cream and watch the Kardashians or whatever the hell it is that we fat people are supposed to love doing. NEVER. Self-worth should not be tied to weight, or size, or food choices, or exercise choices. EVER.
As I said before, I'm a lifelong fat person, from 440 to 240 to now somewhere around 290 (I'm afraid to check the scale and find out - how fucked is that?). A lot of that time was spent hating myself and thinking myself worth less than I would be if I was thin and attractive. Fat-shaming is always wrong. It's dangerous. It kills. And no one deserves it. Not your friends. Not your enemies. Not Chris Christie. Not Newt Gingrich. Not your friend that runs marathons. Not that lady at the DMV that you saw grabbing that donut instead of calling the next number in line.
They don't deserve it, no one deserves it, because it's wrong. There isn't another reason.
ETA: I just wanted to add that Hello_My_Lover is saying most of the same things on that very comment thread. I'm not the only person making this point; I just felt that it needed another light shone on it.
McUncool yells at people on Twitter, often in all caps, @joshuaadavidd.