Tasha Fierce wrote an incredibly personal essay As Fat As I Wanna Be, which was picked up by Jezebel and has touched off a bit of a dust up in the comment section. If you value your Sanity Watcher points I strongly suggest you avoid reading the comments.
Tasha Fierce says:
When someone is fat shamed, the person doing the shaming often justifies it as them being concerned for the fat person’s health. Of course we know that’s bullshit. Fatphobia has nothing to do with health, if someone was really concerned they wouldn’t harp on it to the detriment of fat people’s self esteem. And a ton of fat people can attest that they eat healthily and exercise. I however, cannot. So is the health argument justified in my case? Well, no, because fat also has nothing to do with health. It’s the food I eat that’s the issue. It’s the fact that I eat when I’m definitely not physically hungry. It’s my lack of exercise.
Tasha’s passage here echoes much of the conversation regarding false good fatty/bad fatty dichotomy. While the most vitriolic of commenters on the Jezebel repost scanned as nothing more than garden variety concern trolls, it would be reductive to suggest there wasn’t a bit of the sentiment coming from within the Fat Acceptance movement as well.
Leslie of Fatshionista shuts it down like this:
This divide is unworthy of any size acceptance movement because in the real world, we all straddle these lines, and trying to create a homogenized group of “acceptable” fat people only further marginalizes the fat people who, for reasons both within and outside their control, can’t fit into that category. Not everyone can afford a gym membership or fresh produce; not everyone has time to cook healthful balanced meals from whole foods, or to spend an hour running to nowhere on a treadmill; and not everyone can stave off health problems, no matter how virtuous their habits may be.
Marginalized groups must work to resist the tendency to devalue or bristle over any member whose actions might be viewed as “making the rest of us look bad”. The work to end all forms of oppression does not involve policing group members to ensure they are “on message”. Ending oppression – be it fat or racial or gender or whathaveyou – requires an active commitment to resist any cultural messaging seeking to frame one member of a marginalized group as representative of all members – regardless of whether the framing presents the members in a negative or positive light.
This can sometimes be difficult to deal with as a person who often feels uncomfortable when I see other women of color behaving in ways I feel are counterproductive to the struggle to end racist, sexist oppression. That said, if I really value being seen as an individual first, rather than my gender, size, race, then I must accept that other women are also free to make choices about the way they lead their lives as well. More importantly, I must actively work to ensure their ability to make choices I might not personally make is free of sexist, transphobic, classist, ableist, homophobic, racist and sizeist oppression. After all, they are my sisters – regardless of whether or not my own lived experiences mirror theirs or I agree with their life choices.
In my opinion, if we can’t all get to the mountain top it just ain’t worth going.