We need to divorce the discussion of fat positivity in terms of body positivity and self-love in our bodies no matter their size, shape or color (and recognizing the problematic aspects of loving our bodies when we have disabilities and/or illnesses or dysphoric issues) and the political issues of food, food policy, food access and the like. They’re only tangentially related.
And in fact, when we conflate the politics of food and food access with fatness, we’re walking right into the trap of problematizing fat bodies. When we join up a discussion of fat with “food deserts, poverty, shitty public school lunches, unhealthy fast food,” all unquestionable negatives, we’re falling right into the mainstream narrative of “oh, if only those poor fats (and poor fats especially) had access to healthy food, they wouldn’t be so fat.”
There’s nothing fat accepting or body positive about perpetuating notions that give food choices and/or access primacy in the issue of fatness or suggest that fat folk are fat because of the symptoms and manifestations of systemic oppression, that variance in body size is something solvable or even addressable if only there was more fruit and less fries.
When we take it the step further and bring in a discussion of “rampant rates of diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart disease” we are stock centered in the muck of the “fat is unhealthy!” tropes that fat acceptance, especially the HAES-focused model, rejects entirely.
I’m not willing to grant that ground. I’m not willing to have to fight the causation ≠ correlation battle yet again. I’m not willing to fight the fat = unhealthy vs. unhealthy = unhealthy battle again.
Not for my working class community of color, not for any community.
The only way that food access, policy and politics issues interplay with fat issues is if you accept an incrementalist perspective on fat that says “well, fat is okay on a personal level but…”
There are no acceptable “buts” here, though. It is or it isn’t. Which is it?
Fat acceptance says that there is, on this one fundamental issue, one answer to that question. Hint: it’s right there in the name of the ideal.
Mind, I’m not saying that we don’t need to talk about food politics and policy. I’m not saying that by any means. I’m especially not saying that we don’t need to talk about how our national food policy that gives preference to the issues of rural communities, is overly influenced by mega agribiz multinationals like Monsanto and is designed from the top down in order to enrich the rich while spending as little as possible on its actual goals is killing people (and not just in America) in a number of ways.
I’m just saying that fatness isn’t one of those ways.
And I’m saying fat acceptance cannot have this discussion on the terms of the fat hating mainstream which is exactly what this kind of conflation is. I’m saying that fat acceptance and body positivity recognizes that as soon as you start merging a discussion about fatness, especially fatness in communities (which is already a very fraught area to get into) with negative issues of politics and policy, the discussion is already lost.
You want to discuss what it means when a whole community has no easy access to fresh food? So do I. As soon as you say “and that’s why people there are fat” and make it an issue of blame, there’s nothing left to talk about from a fat acceptance perspective.
If you want to talk about how food policy and politics, from federal farm bills down to local zoning laws impact how entire groups of people are able to safely feed themselves and their families, I’m in.
You want to talk about how that is one of many systemic issues that has a negative impact upon health metrics like blood pressure and heart disease, yes, let’s do that.
When you bring body size into it? You’re not only completely disregarding fat acceptance, you’re betraying it.
And none of that has anything to do with whether or not a fat person takes a picture with a piece of pie on their tits. We have to break these issues down, put them in their proper places and recognize when seemingly like topics? Actually aren’t.
And above all else, we must stop problematizing fat bodies (especially poor and/or brown fat bodies) and sacrificing them on the altar of food justice.
Fat acceptance is for every fat body.
Food justice is for every person who eats.
The two are not at odds. The two should be allied causes. But they are not one in the same, and neither can be subsumed or co-opted in the battle for the other.”