Typically narcissistic blogging.

Posts tagged “anti-fat bias

One Simple Trick

I’m at work, and my new coworker sees my driver’s license photo, which was taken over a decade ago.

“You’ve lost so much weight!” She exclaims.

“Yeah, well, I experienced traumatic injury and illness this year…”

“Congratulations!” She hasn’t even heard me. It doesn’t matter. All that matters is that I’ve lost weight. “I want to do that, too.”

Between the loss of an actual extremity, stress, emotional distress, and a vicious C. diff infection, I lost about 40lbs in the course of maybe 2 months, and I had no power over that at all.

My relationship to food and eating after both intense trauma and gut infection has completely changed, and I have a genuinely difficult time consuming all the calories I need. This is important because I work my ass off at the gym in my ongoing attempts to build the strength and endurance I need to function as well as I’d like with a prosthetic foot.

Today I managed to get down:

  • 3 bites of cereal
  • a mocha
  • part of a bag of chips
  • several determined bites of chicken and rice
  • part of a slice of bread

I can’t tell you how much I would love to have been able to eat even one full meal. I continue to have very little power over my weight or how much I lose, and that is something I am working on (this is not an invitation for advice, either).

This isn’t every day. Some days I manage 3 squares. Some days I manage seconds (this happens almost never ). Most days I average 1-2 meals.

Every time somebody compliments me on my weight loss, I am reminded of days spent in the hospital unable to find my appetite through the physical agony and emotional shock I endured. I am reminded of days spent unable to function, unable to eat, in despair as I lost even more control of my life and my health. I am reminded that I have not fully recovered, that I am struggling with this daily.

But the fatphobia in this world is so intense, so hardwired, and so fucked up that it would never occur to anybody that my weight loss was anything other than desired.

The entitlement people feel towards the bodies of others is so automatic, and has gone so unexplored, that it is not the fact that they have commented on my body that goes questioned, but the fact that I am struggling to respond graciously.

And the entitlement people feel to graciousness upon the “gift” of a compliment, however unwanted or unasked for, ensures that I must either do the emotional work for them—of fielding their ignorance, their insensitivity, their not-so-subtle programming in patriarchal values—or have my attitude questioned (rarely a safe option for a queer genderfluid person of color) and work harder all around.

This is bullshit.

Fuck your fatphobia. Fuck your concern trolling. Fuck your entitlement to my body and how it looks. Fuck you for not stopping to think for a second that there are so very many reasons a person might lose weight, and actually setting out to is only one of them.

It’s time to stop remarking on other people’s bodies, especially when you don’t know the whole story. I would say it’s time to stop making assumptions, but I don’t have a lot of faith in the ability of folks to make that leap. So let’s start with shutting the fuck up and letting people move though their day and their lives without wondering who is going to comment on their bodies next.

As a post-script to the fedora-wearing motherfuckers who think people should just be happy to get a compliment and will comment here and on FB to that effect:

giphy


[Guest Post] Not Every Woman Gets Empowered: A Response To “In Defense of Slave Leia”

Here’s the blog entry that started this brain a’churnin. Check it out, I’ll go get a beer.

“In Defense of Slave Leia” 

So.

It is cool to think that even a fraction of Slave Leias out there are striving for more than cheesecake photo ops and geek-gawk-points, even if the majority are probably sans that nobly-intended kickassery. I dig that at least some of those women think more than just “Look at me, look at me, LOOK AT MEEEE!”

However, even if some of them are going for “fierce bikini warrior” rather than “desirable chattel”, they have a responsibility for the whole message they send with that costume, not just the part they like. Along with the “Grrr, don’t mess with me or I’ll choke your blubbery ass” is “I am a lap dog.” Along with “I am a sexy object, covet me” is “the smaller my outfit, the better I look, the more I am worth.”

The reason the Slave Leia outfit is not merely a skimpy costume (according to this blog) is because while she is dressed like a compliant pleasure-slave, she’ll actually fuck you up. Don’t judge by what you see. But inherent in that statement is that what you see is a degrading costume.

I mean, c’mon. They didn’t throw her in jail like they did her male counterparts, she was dressed in a bikini and a leashed collar while Chewie and Han were in the clink. She was forced to sit there, humiliated, in that giant, pudding-y lap as decoration while a giant turd-shaped alien yanked her around by the neck and stuck his slimy, slimy tongue out at her. Dang, son. That shit is embarrassing.

OMG he’s touching me AGAIN.

Now, ultimately Leia did kick major ass. She was there on a daring attempt to rescue her boyfriend in the first place. She killed that bastard Jabba with the very leash he put around her neck. Go, girl. But her triumph wouldn’t have been as epic if she hadn’t done it from such a place of obvious subjugation, which is what the outfit symbolizes. You don’t get to cherry-pick the “I’m a badass” out of it and leave the rest.

Also, despite Leia’s many heroic actions during the trilogy, we just don’t see the brave and imperious white-gowned (fully-clothed) leader of the Rebel Alliance at cons very often.  Or the fearless soldier in the camouflage poncho screaming through the woods at breakneck speed, intent on fucking some storm-trooper shit up.  No, nearly all of the Leia incarnations we see have chosen to dress like an objectified slave.

Fuck with me, I dare you.

The second part of this has to do with that choice. The choice to don skimpy bikini wear instead of countless other amazingly hot nerdy women’s costumes in the first place. It’s a choice that size privilege affords to some, and one that slaps an automatic penalty on those not wearing Nerdtoria’s Secret or those who try less successfully. (I’m not on a slut-shaming rant here, btw, bear with me.)

Truthfully, I wouldn’t wear SL in any case (not a fan of the outfit, donchaknow), but even if I wanted to, I am a fat girl and don’t have that choice. I would never be seen the same way as a “normal” woman in SL. I would be the Fantasia hippo version of a ballerina, pictures of me would end up on lol-loser websites, I would become another cautionary tale for all the ladies out there who aren’t the correct size to play dress-up.

I’m not complaining about my size, mind you. Or anyone else’s. I’m pissed about the structure in which SL has become the standard, and I am naturally sub-par because I refuse to bare my midriff to the unavoidable mockery and shaming that would result.

Waite says:

“When geek culture says, Don’t be Slave Leia, what I hear is: Don’t unsettle us. Don’t make us think about the consequences of our misogyny, or our entitlement, or our privilege. Don’t remind us that female sexuality can be a power as well as a commodity.”

And:

“I find it troubling when there’s a whole category of women that we are Officially Allowed to Mock and/or Hate. Because that line is a really arbitrary thing, and it’s really easy to imagine that, some day, I’ll end up on the wrong side of it.”

Would at least one of you think about choking that corpulent bastard?

Fighting  back against misogyny: hell yes. Doing it by wearing identical slave girl outfits? C’mon. There’s plenty of ways to claim the “power” without the “commodity”. As a fat, nerdy- type woman, I am plenty aware of privilege and entitlement, and who has it. I am already in a “category of women that we are Officially Allowed to Mock and/or Hate.” Perhaps a little more effort to smudge and remove those arbitrary lines, and a little less jostling competition to be on the right side of them would help.

Beyond SL outfit in specific, there’s this whole Booth Babe/Cylon Funtime Barbie/Nearly-Naked (insert any recognizable geek- icon here) thing going on too. It’s about the teeny-tiny-con-bikini, so standard now that women not wearing one might as well be invisible. It’s about how those of us who aren’t the appropriate shape might as well just stay home because we don’t count. At this point, most cons should just be called “wizard-boob-a-palooza, no fat chicks.”

Nerds, banded together through common interests and a mutual understanding of how cruel the non-nerd world can be, are surprisingly closed down to us who score fewer points on the Slave Leia Value Scale™.  That scale seems to rank based on how closely we resemble Boris Vallejo paintings, which is funny considering how few of them bear any passing resemblance. But I digress.

‘Sup, ladies?

I’m not saying no one should ever wear the ole purple and gold; at this point it’s as classic as plastic pointy ears. The Bikini and Leash has stopped looking like a costume, and started looking like a cheerleader uniform. But fuck it, it’s Sci-fi, it’s Fantasy, it’s a party, it makes you feel sexy and fierce, so be it. Let your freak flag fly. All gazillion of you.

Just please, be aware that wearing it sends multiple messages, and they are not all as awesome as If you fuck with me, I will end you.” You are also perpetuating some pretty harsh “isms” along the way. If you feel good, then strut your stuff. Wear it proudly, just know everything you’ve got on.

Tanya Regan is not actually a blogger, but she does paint neat things on occasion.
Gallery:  www.tanyaregan.com  Shop:  http://www.etsy.com/shop/Tanyaregan

[Whiskeypants note: I posted “In Defense of Slave Leia” to my wall on Facebook, and Tanya responded with a comment that I was not above begging her to turn into a blog post. Fortunately she didn’t make me actually beg for it. That never looks good on Facebook.]


“Oh, But We Didn’t Mean *You*.”

I spent St. Patrick’s Day at a punk rock show, which is the only legitimate way to spend SPD unless you are working or playing in a punk rock band. And I spent it with one friend who is pretty much family and two people I like very much. But that didn’t stop me from getting truly pissed off and simply walking away when, during the course of conversation, prejudice against fat became A Thing.

But that wasn’t even the entire issue for me. I understand that people have all sorts of stupid anti-fat prejudices and while I don’t necessarily accept it, I pretty much expect it and understand that I am going to have to field it to some extent or another (See: You Look Like You Lost Weight!). Tonight was extra special, though, because when I said, (and I am totally paraphrasing myself), “Wait a second, here, what’s with all the fat hate,” what I got in return was, “We aren’t talking about you, of course. We are talking about the really fat people.”

Yeah. No.

You don’t actually get to decide when your anti-fat prejudice becomes offensive. I don’t care if you are sitting in a room full of skinny people who have never been fat in their lives. You have no idea:

  1. Whether the skinny people around you have always been skinny;
  2. Whether the skinny people around you even see themselves as skinny;
  3. Whether the people around you see themselves as fat, pudgy, overweight, etc.;
  4. Whether the people around you have some body image issue(s) that you may be exacerbating with your weight prejudices; or
  5. Whether the people around you have been told they are fat by family, friends, society, magazines, movies, whatever.

Additionally, you don’t get to choose what level of fat is okay or not okay. First of all, you don’t know whether the really fat people are really fat because they take breaks from eating giant pizza pies by eating chocolate cake or because there are other things going on with their genetics and health. Second of all, why are you even judging people for eating giant pizza pies and following that shit up with chocolate cake? Honestly, fuck you if you do. Pizza and cake are delicious.

Look, skinny people, I am not actually looking to be part of your skinny club. I don’t need or want you to tell me that you think I am okay even though the rest of the fat people in the world are kinda gross to you. That’s right up there with, “You aren’t like all the other Blacks/Jews/queers/Muslims/etc.—you’re cool.” Or the asshole I worked with last year who was confused that there were non-Blacks who were upset at his use of the word “nigger.” Or the woman who came up to my mother when we lived in Savannah, who was so excited that I was light-skinned enough to “pass.”

No. I’m not trying to be like you. I’m trying to be accepted as me. Not-skinny, not-white, not-mainstream me.

I guess the moral of the story is, when somebody calls you out on your prejudice, don’t try to bring them into your circle to make them feel better, somehow. Stop. Collaborate and listen. And look at what you are saying, what you really intend to say, and whether what you have to say is prejudicial or bigoted. Because what you have to say probably does not become less prejudicial or bigoted just because you don’t think your audience is in any way affected by what you are saying.