Recently I’ve been getting caught up in the ‘fatosphere’ blogs. Two of my favorites, Shakesville and Shapely Prose, are closely tied to Jezebel, and Jezebel is my online home away from home. In many cases, fat politics share themes with feminism and trans and cis* issues, so I’m lately just as likely to get worked up about a headless fatty picture as I am a gratuitous naked woman or a commercial in which a man protects his wee little wifey from the big bad thunder that somehow relates to diamonds.
I love the fatosphere because I love the bloggers. I love Kate Harding, who is interviewed on fat politics in magazines and on tv, and I love Melissa McEwan who started Shakesville all by her lonesome. I adore the anonymous bloggers who join them. I love them because they are everything that I work on being every day – they are smart and well spoken, they are proud of themselves and willing to stand up for themselves and others, and they do not apologize for who they are.
I’ve written a few posts that address the issue of body image, and I would like to throw in on the comments in some of the postings I read. I never do, though, because I feel like, in that atmosphere, I would apologize for who I am. I am not fat. I have never been fat.
Body image and dieting have been a not inconsiderable issue for me at a few different times in my life. I consider it a serious subject. And yet, in this forum, I feel as though I would be the equivalent of a man commenting on a feminist blog. Men can be and are feminists, and they have vital contributions to make to the movement. But most men can only imagine the kind of subtle objectification that many women go through daily, and likely have an even harder time with the sense of vulnerability that we live with. (I know that’s a sweeping generalization, and I allow right now that there are many exceptions, including men of differing sexualities and gender identities.)
I want to help. I want to help counteract the idea that fat = unhealthy and therefore less deserving of respect, just like I want to counteract the idea that being female = needing protection and therefore deserving less respect. Spend three minutes on one of the blogs above and you’ll read about individuals with good blood pressure, good cholesterol levels, and healthy levels of activity who are denied insane things like the ability to graduate from college. I’m not kidding.
I just don’t know how to do it as a thin person. Which means I’m not like the bloggers I admire – I am apologizing for who I am.
*I didn’t know what cis meant when I started reading Shakesville. Now I do and I am glad of it. If you also don’t know, it’s the opposite of transgender – i.e., a cisgender person is one who associates with the gender of his or her body.