I am not speaking about people who were formerly fat – this posts addresses, quite specifically, a commenter called Former Fat Person.
So, Former Fat Person saw fit to leave this comment in what is overtly a fat positive blog:
Make the choices that you think are right for you. Enjoy your body autonomy and encourage other people to do the same. But, please, do not be surprised when I, as a Former Fat Person who now enjoys a vastly improved quality of life, do not support your fat.
This is an AWESOME illustration of why so many fat people distrust the motivations of people who say, “Oh, accept your body! Fat is great! I just need to lose some weight personally!” People are afraid that this is what is really going on and, you know, it often is.
Often, in conversations about racism, there is the urge to defend yourself as a white person (this is hypothetical, not me assuming you are a white person, because, dude, I have no idea and I hope not all of you are) because you don’t want people to assume that you are part of the group of white people doing all the oppressing. But, generally speaking, when the conversation gets interrupted by a lot of white people who want to justify their own behaviors and, in essence, as for reassurance that it is okay that they are white, everything goes to shit.
Because the point of the conversation is never that you, individual white person, are a racist (unless, you know, someone is calling you out on something specifically). It’s not about you. It’s about racism and the experiences of the people who have been oppressed by it. It’s not about, oh, white people are hated as well. It’s about the damage that is done through institutionalized racism.
That is what a lot of the comments by people who want to claim both dieting and fat activism sound like. “Oh, I am not a BAD dieter! I do not bring that discussion to fat positive spaces except right now when y’all are talking about how bad dieting is in a fat positive context!”
You, as an individual dieter, are not the issue here. You, as an individual dieter, are probably an awesome person.
However, as Former Fat Person illustrates, the issue isn’t with YOU. It’s with the fundamental precept of dieting – that your life will be better if you lose weight.
Fat acceptance and dieting, by their very definitions, have opposing goals. Does this mean that you as an individual cannot participate in both? No. Which has been said goddamn repeatedly, people.
Let’s remember how this all started – Hanne Blank has started a weight loss blog. Hanne Blank is not some Jane Schmoe off the street. She has been regarded as a proper noun Fat Activist.
That is the level on which this thing started. Because, as a Fat Activist, a person, much like politicians and other public figures, is in the public eye as an example and leader.
Dieting and fat acceptance are fundamentally opposed. But if you as an individual think you can reconcile those two things, great. Maybe you’re the exception that proves the rule.
But fat acceptance, as a political concept and philosophy cannot give approval for dieting.
I’m not here to allow you to do anything – I don’t have any power over you or your choices, which is why I keep saying that YOU are the person best equipped to make those choices. You don’t have to defend yourself and your choices because no one is saying you can’t diet and promote fat activism and call yourself whatever you like.
But if you’re telling me to accept my body at the same time as you are, for whatever motivations – the motivations don’t change any damn thing, actively working to lose weight, your message loses its power. It becomes, instead, “Fat is okay for YOU but not okay for ME.” Or it becomes, “Some fat is okay, but too much fat is not okay.” Neither of those messages advance fat acceptance from an activist standpoint.
And if you, as a dieter, feel like you really need to defend yourself and your own right to diet, I really do sympathize. But I also don’t think this is the place to do it. Have that conversation with individuals, with your friends. We may or may not want to have that conversation with you. Given the privileged status of dieting in our society, we may not care that you are the one person we know who is dieting and still fat positive. It might not make one whit of difference to the way dieters, as a whole, make us feel and it isn’t going to change the political stance that fat acceptance and dieting do not match.
There are too many Former Fat People who crop up any time diet talk comes up in fat positive spaces. YOU are, more than likely, not that person but someone is. And we don’t want to hear it.
I swear, come Monday I want to talk about something frivolous. Kittens and puppies and clothes goddammit.
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