Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Some people are just thin/fat.

Really. Some people are just thin/fat. They could eat a pound of ice cream to every meal, never move beyond the couch and the kitchen, and they would be thin/fat. Or, they could eat nothing but vegetables, excercise two hours a day every day, and they would be thin/fat. We all know someone who are like this. Because, some people are just thin/fat. Really.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

On taking up 'too much' space

Picture this: Yours truly is sitting on a tram on my way home. I am seated by the window in a grouping of four seats; 2 x 2 seats facing each other. A thin girl is sitting oposite me, no one is siting next to neither me nor her, my legs are not long enough to be encroaching on 'her' space. And I'm doing that thing that I do. That thing where I press myself up against the wall next to me, and make sure my arms are in front of me in stead of at my sides making me wider; in other words, I am making myself as small as possible. I don't think before I do this, it's an automatic thing. Because I'm already taking up too much space, more than my 50% of the seats, and I don't want to make it worse. Someone will, experience tells me, enter the tram soon, and they'll be needing a seat. If it hadn't been for my incredible fatness, if I were a normal person, no one would have hesitated in sitting down next to me. But now, because of my huge space-encroaching body, they won't even get 50% of the (fairly narrow) seats, and I'm trying to make the situation better by minimizing my presence as much as possible.

As I am sitting there the tram stops and two men enter. They are both big men; one of above average height and muscled, the other of about average height with both muscles and fat adding to his size. They are moving towards my grouping of seats, and I wonder if one of them will sit next to me, or if they will see me taking up too much room with my fat ass (shoulders, arms), and move on. The tall man sits down next to me without a seconds hesitation. This surprises me a little bit, because this guy is so large he takes up more than 50% of the seats (not that I would ever hold that against him, mind you), and I would have expected him to at least consider that he and I won't fit very comfortably. (Is it possible I'm not as large as I imagine?) But not only does he not hesitate, he also does that thing that guys do where they spread their legs, making him take up more space than he needs to. Hm...
Now I look over to the seats oposite me, where the other big man has taken a seat next to the thin girl. Together they use up all the space there is, and even though he clearly takes up more than his half of the space, he is also doing that spreading-the-legs thing. And he looks completely unapologetic doing it. This boggles my mind for a moment. Sure the guy sitting next to me can do this, he is slender and therefore doesn't have to worry about taking up too much space. But the other guy is fat, and he's doing the exact same thing! Then this realization suddenly takes hold of me; if these guys don't feel the need to apologize for the space they're taking up, why on earth should I? If these guys can go through their lives taking up more room than they need to, even though they are large to begin with, and clearly feel absolutely no qualms in doing so, then why can't I go through my life taking up as much room as I need to feel comfortable? There's no reason why! I am a person, and people take up space. Some people take up more space than others, that is how the world works. I shouldn't apologize for taking up space, any more than I should apologize for being a person. People don't expect everyone around them to be their exact size, and being one of the people who need a large amount of space in stead of a small amount of space is a ridiculous thing to feel bad about. It's that simple!

Except it's not that simple, of course. The external and internal messages that had me pressing up against that wall in the first place are still out there. So every now and then, when the need to make myself as small as possible comes over me, I pull out this memory. And I try to remember how clear it was, how obvious, how bright a realization, and hold on to that.

I am a person. People take up space. It is nothing to be ashamed of. Say it with me now: I am a person. People take up space. It is nothing to be ashamed of. I am a person. People take up space. It is nothing to be ashamed of.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Being fat and happy is not impossible!

This is a response to the comments on this Boston Globe article on Lesley Kinzel of Fatshionista.com. Among many other things, Lesley states in this article that she is perfectly happy living in her own fat body.
In case you don't have the sanity points/can't be bothered to read the comments yourself, here are a few examples:

Newtster wrote: "Denial is not a river in Egypt. She is happy fat because she does not want to face whatever is causing her to eat too much. Instead of being fat, happy and unhealthy, she could be thinner, happy and healthier. Rebelling against society's penchant for some model of beauty does not require you to become fat and make excuses for it. [...]"

KBellaDesign wrote: "I've struggled with my weight my whole life. I got a lap band because I didn't want to be FAT anymore. No matter what she says, she wants bras from Victoria Secret. I know it was the happiest day of my life the first time I walked out of there with a bag full.
Poor thing. She's out there bragging about her acceptance, but I know inside she's dying. Literally."
pelican-pants wrote: "She is no different from the alcoholic or drug addict who claims to be happy. She is lying to herself. If she does end up with health issues (diabetes, heart attack, etc) i wonder if she will take responsibility for being the root cause of her problems."
I. Just. Don't. Get. It. Are people really this close-minded and (I want to say fat-hating, but I’m gonna go with) presumptuous? Because, in stead of the typical ‘Fat people are gross’ comments I have come to expect to see on any article that portrays being fat as anything other than a death sentence, there was a blatant refusal to accept the fact that she, Lesley, could possibly be happy. I'm fairly new to the Fat Acceptance scene (which might be apparent by this post), and I had never encountered something like this before. Why are people so much more willing to believe that she is an unhappy fat person pretending to be happy for some neferious reason of her own, than to accept what she says at face value? Does this woman honestly look unhappy to you?

It makes me angry. Which is new to me in this setting, because the fat=gross comments just make me feel slightly sad and disgusted when I realize how many people are willing to hate someone simply bacause of how they look. But this makes me angry. Who the f**k do these people think they are? Is this the media’s fault for bombarding us with so many images of unhappy fat people, that it makes it impossible to even consider that something else might exist? Or is this a survival technique? ‘I’m not happy, so this woman - who society tells me should be further down the proverbial totempole than I - can’t possibly be happy. Because what does that say about me and my life?’

I’ve read over and over how people in the FA community consider it a political statement to be fat in public; or fat and eating in public; or fat and visible in public; or fat and fashionable in public, but I didn’t realize that being fat and happy in public is also a political statement. Maybe because this was too depressing to feel natural. So that is what I will do then; I will do my best to be Fat and Happy in public, my first real act of Fat Activism. And I DARE you, people of the world, to claim my smile is a false one.