Naming, shaming and blaming people for their weight, shape and size doesn’t work with anorexia and won’t work with obesity either. It’s a complex issue – a toxic obesogenic environment laden with piled-high processed food literally as cheap as chips – while at the same time thinness and the self-control it takes to achieve is highly prized.
We know that people with the serious mental illness of eating disorders have come forward in ever greater numbers for the treatment and help they need because the shame and stigma of the condition has been challenged head-on.
Let’s stop fat shaming now – it serves no purpose. The only shame is on the person who still thinks it’s acceptable to show their prejudice about weight.
Fantasy No. 1, 2004. Jen Davis
Jen Davis looks to self-portraiture as a way to deal with her insecurities about her body image. See the stunning work accompanied with an essay by Hannah Frieser here on Flak Photo.
“The fact that these images are self-portraits alters the way they should be understood. Davis is not being watched and judged by these images, and instead is shaping each scenario both as the author and the subject. While she has little control on how society sees her in daily life, she has unlimited control of how she decides to photograph and present herself. It is her active choice to use a frank and self-inquisitive style in photography to examine concepts of beauty, desire, and body image. “Photography is the medium that I use to tell my story through life,” Davis writes in her artist statement. It is “an outlet for revealing my thoughts and opinions about the society in which we live. A society that dictates beauty based on one’s physical appearance.”
But you might not want to go to the beach because of the attitudes you will encounter there. And these attitudes? Are not about whether you personally are ‘beach ready.’ They are about the fact that you live in a shitty society filled with judgmental assholes who apparently think they can decide whether you have a ‘beach body.’ And I wish I could make all those assholes go away so you could enjoy the beach in peace, I really, really do. I wish I could remove all the obstacles that make it hard for you to get to the beach and have a fun time while you’re there, whether you can’t even get ON to the beach because it’s not wheelchair-accessible or you don’t really feel like being snickered at by people when they walk past your towel and cough ‘whale’ into their fists.
Cat Pause talks fat activism with 20/20 New Zealand
whenever i see/hear someone say ‘I honestly believe that if I was thinner life would be perfect/I would feel better/things would be perfect’ and immediately people jump all over them and tell them that it is such a bad way to think and feel, i know that these people usually do it out of a place of love and care and wanting to make things better for the person, but it is just so aggravating.
when i talk about how i would gladly put money toward plastic surgery of a certain kind and everyone jumps all over me about body love and about how i shouldn’t feel like that, i want to tell them, ‘well, i do feel that way so what are you going to do? educate me out of it? freeze my paltry bank account so i can’t get my underarm tuck? slander me on the internet about not truly being body positive? like, what are you hoping to accomplish?’
i have lived with being fat since i was 13. i know that this is a bad way to think, or a harmful way to think. i do not need someone to tell me that this is a bad thing. i know that my entrenched belief that if only i were 100 pounds thinner and about 10 times prettier my life would be so rewarding and more fulfilling is a very bad thing. and yet, sometimes i just can’t help it. we know our internalized reactions to our bodies are sometimes harmful and ‘bad’ and yet we still have those reactions because all our lives we have been taught that any extra weight, especially lots of extra weight, is a very bad thing. we just can’t win! we’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t.
i really do appreciate the body love and the acceptance, but the truth is sometimes a fat person (i speak for myself) just needs to be bitter. bitter about being oinked and mooed at if i eat in public, despite the circumstances. bitter about people discussing my body as if i’m not there inside it. bitter about people making assumptions about how much sex i get and don’t get, about how i should be grateful for unwanted male attention because at least its attention, assumptions about my body and what it can and cant do and the amount that i exercise and what i love doing. sometimes i want to say that yeah, if i were thinner life would be better because sometimes i firmly believe that.
sometimes i just want to be able to vocalize my anger at spending 13 years fat? and not constantly feel like whatever i feel about my body is wrong.