fatshionista is full of genuises.
on-reserve wrote this the other day…
Coming Out as Fat: Making it more convenient
I’ve been going to physical therapy for about four weeks now. Every session, I try to “come out” as fat. You know, when I let someone know that I’m about 99% ok with being fat. I usually do this by making neutral/funny statements such as, “You sure I’m not going to crack this BAPS Board? Can it handle 300 pounds of Awesome?”
Invariably I get:
“Don’t say that about yourself!”
I know what that they think I’m being self-depricating. But I’m not. I want to say, “hey it’s ok that you’ve noticed that I’m fat” — that is, I want to be fat-positive but more importantly I want people, especially medicalish people to feel “at home” with fat people, you know, like fat is a part of who we are and they don’t have to pretend it doesn’t exist. I am seriously considering crafting a handout to give to people I’ve recently come out to:
Congratulations! You know a fat person! Ok, you probably know *many* fat people since approximately 40% of all adults are considered fat by all sorts of measures, institutes and agencies depending on who you ask. So what makes me different than all the other fat people you’ve met or treated today? For starters, I like being fat. Yup. Read it again if you need to. Most days, I like being fat. It’s a part of who I am. Just like you might like your blonde hair or big feet or the gap between your front teeth, being fat is a part of my physical appearance that is both a part of me and something I don’t merely tolerate, I embrace. The only real difference is that while having blonde hair, big feet or having a gap between your teeth might make you a target of teasing, it is unlikely that you will be denied housing, a job, an airplane seat, the opportunity to foster or adopt a child, medical insurance or adequate medical care due to one of these aspects of your physical appearance.
Being fat is also not the only thing I like about myself; I’m just as complex as any non-fat people you know. It’s not the only thing I want to talk about but in a world that tries both to not see my fat while simultaneously shaming and discriminating against me for being fat, I like to stick up for myself, to make space where it’s “ok” to be fat. I’m not any better or more exemplary than other fat people and I’m not trying to set myself apart as “better than” other fat people. All fat people who pass through your doors are individuals and deserve an appreciation of their individual selves and medical needs regardless of how much they like or dislike being fat.
Why am I telling you all of this? Because when I make comments about my awesome fat body, you often shush me or try to tell me that I am “not that fat.” Well, I *am* that fat and it’s ok. I realize you are trying to be polite, sensitive and professional but until being fat is as value-neutral as any other physical state, in that it can be acknowledged without being despised, until medical professionals can *say* the word fat and have it just be an adjective, then no real progress can be made. We will always be dwelling on fat and never having a discussion beyond it. We will never research or develop technologies, medicines and surgical techniques that work on all sorts of bodies if we are dead-set on the idea that there is only one correct kind of body to have.
While I’m at it, I don’t really consider “not that fat,” a compliment but do feel free to say nice things about how smart I am, how funny I am, how much you enjoy the way I’ve complied with your course of treatment, how much you enjoy having me as a patient, how much improvement I’ve made or tell me how great I look today. Because, I do look pretty great.