It’s been more than a year since I last posted here — I’ve mostly been over at xoJane.com, writing about fat bodies and nail polish and lots of other things.

But I’m back, in part because I recently ran a panel at Wiscon on intersectionality in fat acceptance. At this panel, there was a (self-identified as) trans man in the audience who asked if there was a place in fat acceptance for him or if it was a woman-only space.

Obviously fat acceptance has failed here. So I wanted to explicitly and clearly say: yes, fat acceptance is for trans men, too.

My goal here was originally to create a resource for fat people who were engaged with the really hard work of accepting their fat bodies, who were searching for an alternative to self-hate and the cultural imperative of the compulsory diet mandate. Over the years, I’ve gotten involved in the fight to convince other people that fatties are worthy of basic human dignity — but these days I am more and more convinced that if we are not making a deliberate effort to build and support our diverse community of fat people then fat acceptance is failing the very people it is meant to help.

Fat acceptance fails the very people it is meant to help if it is not explicitly intersectional — because people are not only “fat people”. Identity is far more complex than a single designator for most of us. If you don’t want to call it intersectionality because you think it’s too hard a word, call it what it is — acknowledging that people come from a lot of different places and have different experiences.

There is no universal fat experience.

Beyond that, why would we even want there to be one?

Trans men, you are explicitly welcome in the fat acceptance movement I have helped shape. People of any gender, you are explicitly welcome. People of color, you are explicitly welcome. Poor and working class people, you are explicitly welcome. Disabled folks, whether you are visibly or invisibly disabled, you are explicitly welcome. Old people and young people and whatever fucking age people, you are explicitly welcome. And so on thusly.

To paraphrase Flavia Dzodan, my fat acceptance will be intersectional or it will be bullshit. Deal with fat is a complex issue, even for fat people! And if we are not here for each other, if we are not backing each other up when we need it, then our community fails.

That’s not to say there won’t be disagreements and arguments within the community — in fact, I would be surprised if there were not. These disagreements and arguments are not fracturing the fat acceptance movement unless you think the fat acceptance movement is just meant to be a network of friends who all agree all the time ever.

In which case I am already probably not part of your fat acceptance movement.

I believe in a fat acceptance movement that actively builds supportive, generous community. That will, inevitably, mean fucking things up from time to time. But it will also mean learning how not to fuck things up the same way again in the future. That’s a good goal right there.

And it’s a goal I’m more comfortable with than aspiring to mainstream acceptance. Because I believe in blowing the paradigm up, not just expanding it to include a certain kind of fat person. I do not believe that it is admirable or advisable to replicate systems of oppression when opposing oppression. We have to find a new way to be.

This isn’t for them, for the people who hate us for being fat. Fuck those people. This is for us. And it is for all of us.


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4 Comments

  1. Denise
    Posted June 30, 2013 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

    Welcome back. More people are fat than are part of Fat Acceptance, and we need them all. I think this is a great thing and I hope you keep it up. I’ll help, but I’m just a nobody, and we need lots of nobodies and somebodies to make a difference.

  2. Lindsey
    Posted July 1, 2013 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

    Welcome back!

    Thank you so much for this. I’m sending my husband here, right now. This is an issue that the two of us talk about all the time and I’m glad that one of the many fat activists that I follow has finally decided to open things up to everyone.

  3. Linda
    Posted July 11, 2013 at 11:45 pm | Permalink

    Exactly. I saw a friend who wasn’t able to “contribute” enough literally abandoned by FA people who asserted themselves as for the “underdogs” of the world. But she didn’t contribute enough as a housebound and disabled person, so she was disposable. Not even worthy of an occasional phone call. Or men specifically ignored and excluded in art that was supposed to represent our diversity by blending each “individual” type into slight variations of the same model (a frowning female). And I complained to loudly and too often about what I felt was wrong, so I was too “disagreeable” and “contentious.” Surprisingly, events were suddenly made very difficult for me to attend (or I was flat out told I wasn’t wanted). Until then, I was deeply invested in fighting hard against society, but it finally took it all out of me.

  4. William
    Posted September 21, 2013 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

    Shouldn’t Fat Acceptance start associating Apple and Column body shapes equally to fat men and women?

2 Trackbacks

  1. [...] Intersectional Fat Acceptance, Building Community, And Not Being Part Of The Mainstream by Marianne Kirby at The Rotund: [...]

  2. By Friday Links, 7/19/13 | Tutus And Tiny Hats on July 19, 2013 at 12:21 pm

    [...] their 2013 Jamboree. Blehhh. -Marianne is back at The Rotund–huzzah!–writing about intersectional fat acceptance, building community, and not being part of the mainstream. -Fat liberation is totally queer. YES! -Big men can bike: meet cyclist Ernest Gagnon. -4 women, 4 [...]

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