So readers of this blog know that I’m on the fence about identifying as fat. See Fat or big: What’s in a name?
When I think of my body, it’s not the first adjective to come to mind. I don’t feel fat, usually, whatever that even means, given that Tracy, who is by my standards tiny, can feel fat. (What are my standards for small? Your clothes size is a single digit. Arbitrary, I know, but there it is.)
The words I like, the words that feel right to me, when it comes to describing my body are big, brawny, husky, large, substantial, and curvy. That I don’t just see myself as fat is the result of years of effort. I’ve come to see my body through the eyes of those who appreciate it as it is, not as a potential fixer-up-er.
And readers of the blog know the reasons for my preferences. I’m muscular. I’m big and strong. But also I don’t wear plus sized clothing. I wear clothes in the standard range of sizes. Yes, the upper end of that range but still it’s true that almost all stores will have clothes that fit me. They might say XL but they’ll fit. Even skinny striving yoga stores–here’s looking at you Lululemon–have clothes that fit my body. That’s privilege.
This article, Living In Between Fat and Thin, with its description of the good kind of bigger woman really hit home with me. It’s my self-description pretty much to a tee.
That said, sometimes I want in on the fat label because I want people to know that the war on obesity includes a war on me. Whatever obesity means, I’m obese. By all definitions of obesity, I’m in. Often people, when they are talking about the need for people to lose weight for heath reasons, they’ll say things like, “we don’t mean you.” But why not?
See above! I’m the good kind of bigger of woman. I want to resist this but I also want not to crowd out the voices of the people who are no one’s idea of the good kind of fat person. Lately I’ve been thinking about my my privilege in this conversation about fat bodies and politics.
“A product of the fat acceptance movement is a bigger and more diverse group of people embracing their bodies and claiming fat identity. There are so many reasons to claim fatness and so many ways to be fat. It’s an embodiment that is contextual depending on other variations like race, gender and ability especially. I don’t think that the destigmatizing and expanding the boundaries of fatness is necessarily a bad thing, but it can become complicated for me when the vast majority of these people are on the smaller end of the spectrum of fatness.”
What’s wrong with having smaller fat bodies, like mine, in on the conversation? One of the worries, discussed in the article above, is that it obscures the thin privilege that smaller fat people have access to.
Bottom line: I think carefully about the political impact of how I identify. It’s partly what feels right to me, but as a feminist that can never be the whole story.
This is a meandering post, with no clear conclusion. As I say to friends and family often when we’re having difficult conversations and I need to retreat for awhile and think, “I’m off to mull some more.”
If you have thoughts to add to my inner conversation, please share them here! Thanks!