I’ve started this blog, see, because I think this whole body acceptance thing is a big deal and worthy of conversation. And people that know me have started asking questions. Questions like, “Why is it not okay for me to hate fat people but it’s okay for fat people to hate me?”

Now, that’s just me paraphrasing. Summing up Distilling things down to their essential question nature. It’s what people really want to know.

What I tell them is that this is an occurrence known as backlash. When a group has been mistreated and oppressed for a long time, it often happens that the group has a lot of anger when it starts to find a cultural voice. It often happens that the (totally understandable) anger manifests in a generalized hatred for the oppressor.

And so you get people who describe models in truly awful terms. You get people who throw around the slogan “Real women have curves!” as if thin women aren’t real women.

You know, that slogan really ought to be “Real women have vaginas!”

Except, really, even that isn’t general enough to include everyone who is woman-identified. How about this? “Real women have bodies.” Or even “Real people have bodies.”

We all have bodies. Personal aesthetics are fine and great and you don’t have to think a thin person is attractive. Thin people don’t have to find fat people attractive. Personal aesthetics are PERSONAL.

But the anger directed at thin people in general isn’t accomplishing anything. I’m sure, for some people, it’s going to be a really important step on the road to self-acceptance. I just don’t want it to be yet another broken paradigm we are trying to put in place of the current (equally as broken) one.

Let’s recruit thin people as our body acceptance allies. They are being fed the same bucket of horse shit that we are. They have their own body issues. And while we might wish we had their problems, they still have problems. It would reflect well on us not to dismiss them so lightly.

I’m not saying you can’t be angry. Hell, yes, get angry. I get angry about body politics all the time! But let’s direct our anger in a more useful way. That way we won’t have to spend our time explaining backlash to thin people — instead we can spend our time with them showing them how great it feels to be free of oppressive body standards.

A few days ago, I said that fat people are not the enemy. And we aren’t. We are just fat.

Thin people are not the enemy either. They are just thin.

I hope you don’t take this letter the wrong way, fat people. Because, hey, I’m one of you and I know how easy it is to build ourselves up by taking away from others. But we’ll feel better if we build ourselves up on our own merits. Honest, I promise.


The Rotund

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  1. Posted April 11, 2007 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    Speaking as someone who lands squarely in the middle, thanks for this. People have bodies. Real women have bodies. Real men have bodies. Bodies are all different. I think I want a world with out judgement about bodies. Period.

    For me it is a weird half world of never quite feeling comfortable in my clothes or in the stores because no matter where I go, nothing is going to fit right. I am either too fat or too thin. Thin clothes are too tight, fat clothes are too loose. My breasts aren’t big enough, my curves aren’t curvy enough, then my ass is too big, my belly is too round, and I can’t win in either camp. It is a world of feeling dismissed as “too fat” by those who find thin bodies ideal and dismissed as “not fat enough” by those who are fat positive.

    I’m sick and tired of feeling looked at askance in any capacity having to do with my weight.

  2. Posted April 11, 2007 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

    I am a fat woman. My husband is a very thin man. We have surprisingly [to some] similar stories about being marginalized or worse because of our body types. We both have suffered through dislike of ourselves because of the bodies we live in.
    He really opened my eyes to the other side of the coin, which looks a lot like the side I’m on. People have bodies. Those bodies are all different… and the same. It’s a pretty simple concept that humans have managed to bork up pretty well.

    In other words, thanks for saying this.

  3. Posted April 11, 2007 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

    I have been thinking thus far that much of what you have been saying has implicitly applied to thin people also. I’ve been following along, and loving it, for that reason.

    To give your readers (you know me) an impression, I’m 5’4″ and have at most in my life weighed 120 lbs. I have to eat constantly because I burn through food so fast, and I can’t go to eating larger meals because frankly I don’t have room for them. I’m annoying because I always have to eat and get iritable and shaky when hungry.

    I especially sympathized with your posts about use of “fatter”. I for one am occasionally unhappy with my body, usually because I would like more muscle mass or because my body changes, but I am often reviled by my (less body-politics conscious) female friends. I often get the “You can’t be worried about that, you aren’t allowed to have those feelings” reaction from them. Your posts have given me amunition against that.

    An anecdote (not mine) might also help to explain the situation for thin people. A friend of mine (who is around 6′ tall and has for a long time weighed only a little more than me) was recently told by his doctors that he needed to go on a weight-gain diet. The words used were “severe malnourishment” and “organ failure.” He has felt ashamed of his body for over a decade. His weight-gain diet involves many of the same things that a weight-loss diet does: discipline and activity. But it also may not work correctly, the same as weight-loss. Either way, his self-image would likely have been helped, and possibly he would have been healthier mentally and physically the entire time, if he had not been made to feel ashamed of being thin.

    Backlash, I’m not sure about. But “normal-sized” people who are affected by body-politics and body-image self-loathing more often than not take it out on thin people more than fat people. The marginalized, I found, often band together.

    Just a few thoughts.

  4. Posted April 12, 2007 at 12:16 am | Permalink

    I’m with Rainy. Too thin to get sympathy from many “fat” people, too fat for many thin people to have any respect for how hard I try to be healthy.

    I don’t personally find people at the extreme ends of the weight spectrum “sexy,” though people of all sizes can be attractive (as distinct from sexy). Some people look good at 300 pounds. Some do not.

    This is not a moral judgement.

    It’s a fact.

    I’m not saying this is an excuse for cruelty, lack of tact, or anything; I’m just saying that, hey, some people aren’t good to look at.

    The mistake many folks make is in treating fatness (or skinniness) as a moral failing. Actually, same goes for ugliness. For being gimpy in some other way. People treat it as though it’s a FAULT. That it is the result of weakness or vice, or that it is the visible outward sign of it.

    It’s not okay to hate anyone for the shape of their body. You can find it unattractive, but hating someone for being unattractive is stupid. You can be envious of someone who is skinny as a rail or someone who has plushy curves, but hating them for having what you want and can’t have is also stupid, and hurtful to you.

    One of the best moments I ever had was with a naturally very thin friend. She was complaining about not being able to put it on, I was complaining about not being able to take it off.

    We said the usual: “I’d trade you if I could.”

    But we couldn’t trade. Nobody can.

    And then I sort of looked at her and said, “You know, how about this: I like you the way you are, and you like me the way I am. There. Now you can go on being ‘too skinny’ and I can go on being ‘too fat,’ and it won’t matter that we CAN’T effing change it, because, hey, we’re friends.”

    We’re all just people.

    What’s with the hate? Character flaws are not the exclusive province of fat folks or thin folks. And cruelty and hate are worse flaws than their most frequent targets.

    Erg. That was long. Sorry. But this gets to me, you know?

  5. Brittany
    Posted October 14, 2007 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

    Ran into this site today, as I am researching bigger bodies. one comment about your original blog – ‘real’ women sometimes don’t have vaginas. some women have penises, or even something altogether different. just something to take into consideration when you are defining a category such as ‘real’ women – thing of the people you are excluding.

  6. TR
    Posted October 15, 2007 at 7:18 am | Permalink

    Except, Brittany, I covered that in the post:

    Except, really, even that isn’t general enough to include everyone who is woman-identified. How about this? “Real women have bodies.” Or even “Real people have bodies.”

  7. Posted February 3, 2008 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

    I read your blog in a regular manner and just love it
    hope there will be more postings from you, keep on going
    greetz, carmella

3 Trackbacks

  1. By Big Fat Deal » Real Women on April 12, 2007 at 4:56 am

    [...] The Rotund and Elastic Waist are out to remind us of one very important fact: thin people are not the enemy. [...]

  2. By The Rotund » Disclaimer on May 30, 2007 at 6:36 am

    [...] an insult for thin people. It is a GREAT article. And, you know, I have said this before, people – skinny people are not our enemy. Backlash isn’t going to get us [...]

  3. [...] The Rotund: Dear Fat People, [...]

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