I’m… not entirely sure what you’re getting at here. It seems like you’re wondering why the focus is on women. And… I think men are becoming a part of the fat acceptance movement, to be sure. I’ve been seeing a lot of inclusion in the blogs I follow and the circles I run in, but it’s true that men have not been at the center of discussion for fat acceptance. There are a lot of reasons for it, and frankly, I’m not going to apologize.
You know, I don’t think any of us believe there are “fan clubs” promoting the existence of fat men. And I know, as well as most other feminists know, that men have to deal with a lot — a LOT — of gender policing as well, and that fat men experience body shaming too. But to suggest that fat men experience the same kind of body shaming, or that it is as pervasive or has the same effects, is a little insulting — it’s male privilege at work to ask me why men aren’t a huge focus of the fat acceptance community when women are the primary victims of fat shaming and fat hatred.
I’m actually not talking out of my ass about this. The objectification of the female body is a HUGE problem in Western media, and often the female body is overtly sexualized. The American Psychological Association did a report about this that is readily available online. It finds that the sexualization and objectification of girls leads to lower self-esteem, higher suicide and self-harm rates, higher rates of eating disorders in younger and younger girls, and higher rates of self-objectification. All of this means that girls are not taking charge of their lives, they do not feel empowered or powerful, they’re not running for leadership positions and they don’t believe in their own worth as people, only as objects. That is terrifying. Absolutely terrifying.
Body shaming is a huge, huge part of that. The proliferation of this “female ideal” that is white, straight, and above all thin, is one of the biggest problems in the media today. You do not see men’s bodies treated this way. You simply don’t. Is there a male body ideal? Of course there is! But men are not universally punished and treated like they’re worthless if they don’t fit that mold. I mean, hell, there’s an entire fucking genre of movie based entirely around less conventionally-attractive dudes, often fat ones, getting incredibly conventionally hot girlfriends. Knocked Up? Out of My League? Superbad? I could come up with ten more! Do you ever see the equivalent of that? You absolutely do not — even when a woman is supposed to be less desirable because she’s “quirky” or some crap, she’s (almost) never fat (and I say “almost” because Hairspray exists).
Of course, there are other problems with these movies — they’re all heteronormative, for instance, and I understand that in the gay community there tends to be a lot more pressure on guys to look a certain way. There are of course many levels and many points of intersection going on here, and it is impossible, unfair, and flat-out untrue to say that men are not victims of body shaming or body policing. Of course they are.
But men’s bodies are not considered property. Women’s bodies are. And because women’s bodies are considered property, it is FAR less taboo to comment on, shame, and deride them. And moreover, as I talked about in a recent post, women’s attractiveness to heterosexual men is considered their first and foremost value. Women are assumed to be heterosexual and their value is therefore ascribed to them by the men they should be trying to sleep with. Fat women aren’t allowed to have worth in this system, much less a viable sexuality of their own, because who would want to fuck a fat woman?
As a man, whether you’re fat or not, you’re still in the place of being able to judge and objectify instead of being subject to judgment and objectification in the same manner. You are privileged, as a man, to be in that position.
I believe that all people should love their bodies as best they can; I believe that all people should be given the support to get to a place where they can love their body. I believe that fat men can, should, and do have a place in the fat acceptance movement and that place is an important one. However, I do not for one millisecond believe that cis fat men should be the center of the discussion around fat acceptance.