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On Being Fat and Romantically Interested in Other People: A Rambling Confessional, of Sorts

bigfatfeminist:

[TRIGGER WARNING: Rape]

Look, it’s really fucking hard to be a fat person who happens to be romantically interested in other people, particularly when those other people are cis het dudes.

It’s hard because when you grow up fat, you grow up believing that you’re not ever going to be attractive to anyone. You don’t even do this on purpose - the world does it for you. For me, they did it through fat jokes on Friends, fat jokes on Will & Grace, fat jokes on every single sitcom, ever, headlines on my mother’s Cosmo and Self telling me (I wasn’t supposed to be looking at them, but whatever) both that my sexuality only mattered as long as it was relevant to men and that being fat automatically made my sexuality irrelevant to men, “No Fat Chicks” bumper stickers, bullying in school, and rampant self-hatred and body-shaming in my family. I don’t think I ever had any agency in deciding whether or not I thought I was attractive until college. I just sort of knew, because the world knew, that I wasn’t. I was fat. How could I be?

This was a daily fact of my existence. It was never, ever something I questioned. It means that when I did get a boyfriend, at 15, I was actually surprised that he wanted to touch me. It means there was always a part of me that wondered if it was a pity thing. It means that when he cheated on me with a much thinner girl, and ultimately broke up with me for her, I assumed it was because I was no longer sexually attractive to him and never really had been. It means that when I found the fat acceptance movement and realized all this I’d been told my entire life was total bullshit, I had to start unpacking some really toxic shit that I’d internalized.

It means that now, when I ask people out, the answer I’m terrified of is not “No” but “Wait, what?”

Here’s why: a “no” answer means that you were actually considered to be part of this person’s potential dating pool, even as a negative. You were there. You counted for something. The idea of your sexuality was not erased simply because you don’t fit conventional norms of attractiveness. 

“Wait, what?” means you were never there in the first place. “Wait, what?” means that everything the world told you when you were little was 100% correct.

Look, when you grow up fat you’re basically told that no one will ever want to fuck you. Not date. Not kiss. Not hold hands with you while walking through a park and eating ice cream. These things aren’t even considered, because if no one wants to fuck you, who would ever fall in love with you? Don’t you know the only thing that matters is how attractive you are to heterosexual men? No, I don’t care if you’re queer. The opinions of heterosexual men are the only ones that matter. Duh.

And you’re told — often overtly, particularly if you’re a fat feminist on the internet — that the only way you’d ever have sex is if you got raped, but ha ha ha who would want to rape a fat girl, and fat girls can’t get raped anyway because they’re so desperate for sex because no one would ever want to fuck a fat girl!! Am I right?!

Of course, usually people grow up to the point where they can realize that none of this is true. It’s actually, you know, kind of nuts. But there’s still a part of you that believes, because there’s a part of you that has always believed. And so the scary thing, when you put yourself out there, isn’t “Oh sorry, I don’t see you that way.” It’s “Oh… I don’t even see you.” 

I’ve gotten a lot of “Wait, what?” in my time. I’ve also gotten a lot — a LOT — of people who have told me that I’m amazing, and funny, and so intelligent, and so fun to be around, but that they can’t date me. Sometimes there are legitimate reasons given for this; sometimes there aren’t. Either way, the surface reason is never “I can’t date you because you’re fat.” And I have no way of proving that the underlying reason is “I can’t date you because you’re fat,” probably because nobody in their decent mind would think of it in those terms. But I wasn’t the only one who internalized all that “No Fat Chicks” bullshit when I was younger, and I have a sneaking suspicion that a lot of other people haven’t taken the time to take that out, give it a once over, and decide it’s trash.

And you know what? Ultimately it doesn’t matter, because what another person ACTUALLY believes is completely secondary to the little voice in the back of my mind from my childhood. That voice will always, always be there. That voice is less audible now than it was when I was 15, but it’s a seed of doubt. And I have days where it’s all I can hear. I do not think I’m alone in this.

An amazing friend of mine said to me recently, “If a person says they ‘can’t’ date you for whatever reason, they’re right. You don’t want to be with that asshole anyway.” She’s right, of course. It doesn’t matter why they can’t, and it doesn’t matter whether that little voice is right or not, because the funny thing about that voice is that it is always fucking wrong.

This is something I need to remind myself of, every so often: THAT VOICE IS ALWAYS FUCKING WRONG.

It’s wrong because no one falls in love with weight. It’s wrong because attractiveness is subjective; there is absolutely no one who is categorically, objectively “hot” to everyone, ever. And most importantly, it’s wrong because the things and people who started it talking certainly did not have my best interests at heart, so why in God’s name should I take it seriously? 

No, really. Imagine if that voice was actually attached to a person who was telling you these things. You’d tell that person they were a fucking asshole, you’d fume, you’d maybe slap it or punch it directly in the kidneys, or maybe you’d run home and cry on the phone to your best friend or your mom, but the point is that you sure as HELL wouldn’t think it was the voice of reason. Why does that change just because it’s the little voice in the back of your head? 

It doesn’t. So next time that little voice starts yammering away, tell it to shut the hell up. It has no idea what it’s talking about.

This is going around again and it’s particularly pertinent to my life lately, so I’m bringin’ it back myself.

Here’s a good way to ruin your afternoon. Go on the Internet and find any discussion thread that brings up overweight people (like this or this one). Stand back and watch as a crowd absolutely rants about how incredibly easy it is to lose weight, and how incredibly lazy you have to be to get fat. The conclusion will be that being fat is literally a moral failing and the sign of a bad, disgusting human being. It’s to the point of actual anger and violence directed toward the overweight in real life — the fat are one of the last groups people can openly hate.

But now take any of those people and try using the same logic with their weaknesses:

“You’re struggling to get by on your income? I can’t imagine how lazy a person would have to be to not be wealthy. Just go out there and make money! Duh!”

“You don’t have a girlfriend? I can’t imagine how much of an antisocial dick you have to be to not get a beautiful woman to love you. How hard is it to get off your ass and be a dynamic, sexy, personable human being?”

“You drink alcohol? Or smoke cigarettes? Or smoke pot? Why don’t you try not doing those things?”

“You suffer from depression or anxiety? Uh, have you tried not?”

Now watch as they rattle off ten thousand extenuating circumstances for their embarrassing problem (the economy is bad, women are bitches, I have an addiction) while completely rejecting all of the similar causes of obesity.

The Science:

It’s called the fundamental attribution error.

It’s a universal thought process that says when other people screw up, it’s because they’re stupid or evil. But when we screw up, it’s totally circumstantial. Like if you notice a coworker showing up to work high on mescaline, it’s because he’s an out-of-control peyote hound. But if you show up at work high on mescaline, it’s because you had a flat tire and you needed the distraction.

The process feels so obvious when explained — we simply lack information about the context in which the other person screwed up, and so we fill it in with our own. If we’ve never been fat, then we assume the fat guy feels the exact same level of hunger as we do, that his metabolism is the same, that his upbringing is the same, that the spare time and energy he can devote to exercise is the same as ours. We think that both of us faced the exact same fork in the road and only one of us chose to eat churros.

The reality is, of course, that you were on completely different roads. The assumption that everyone’s circumstances are identical is so plainly wrong as to be borderline insane, but everyone does it. Pundits and politicians alike mock the unemployed as lazy, even though their own data shows that for every five unemployed people, there is only one open job. “I don’t understand, can’t you all just become radio talk show hosts like me?”

5 Logical Fallacies That Make You Wrong More Than You Think

(via desadesfatgirl)

(via shorm)

[TRIGGER WARNING: Rape] Fat women are treated as utterly undesirable in our culture [and] are often turned into a ‘bizarre’ fetish object. The result is that fat women are told to be grateful for any sexual attention they receive from anyone, whether they themselves find that person sexually appealing or not. In other words, even more than your average women, fat women are only allowed to be occasional objects of desire and are regularly denied their right to have and pursue sexual desires of their own.

That way of thinking becomes very dangerous when sexual violence is mixed in. When fat women are raped, they’re often told they should be grateful that anyone wanted them, or, alternatively, disbelieved because it doesn’t seem plausible that anyone would want them ‘enough to rape them.’ These arguments not only rely on the dangerous myth that rape is about uncontrollable sexual desire (it’s not), but also propagate the message that fat women’s bodies aren’t valuable enough to the culture for their violation to be taken seriously.

Jaclyn Friedman, What You Really Really Want: The Smart Girl’s Shame-Free Guide to Sex and Safety (via khaleesi)

I may have reblogged this before, but it bears repeating.

While the science community is heralding poll results from the recent C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health as groundbreaking, many fat liberation activists are far from surprised with data that demonstrates a potential connection between eating disorders and anti-obesity education in schools.

“The thing about shame culture—or, a culture that makes people who don’t look or act a certain way feel self-loathing—is that it doesn’t work,” said body-positive activist Kaye Toal, a blogger for Big Fat Feminist.

“If it did, no one would be fat. If all it took to make people stop being fat was to make them feel horrible about themselves for being fat, our entire society in America would have thinned down decades ago. It’s more complicated than that.”

Click-through to read the rest of this article, it’s fantastic! And I am not just saying that because I was interviewed for it.

Ten Steps To Health At Every Size

jujerbuttz:

stophatingyourbody:

ed-hope:

Think of these steps as a dance rather than a linear progression. Move from one to another and back again as fits your own personal style and journey. 

  1. Stop weighing yourself.  Shift your focus from weight & body fat to healthy behaviors and fitness. 
  2. Live now, not in the past or future. Live your life as if you were at your desired weight—including wearing beautiful, comfortable clothing in your present size. 
  3. Eat well & mindfully. Enjoy your food. Let nothing be off-limits—there are no forbidden foods.
  4. Listen to your body and give yourself and your body what you need to thrive: balanced nutrition, adequate sleep, regular exercise.
  5. Love & accept yourself as you are, & others as they are. Refuse to engage in fat prejudice toward yourself or others.
  6. Feed your soul with meaningful and enjoyable recreation, relationships, work, & spirituality. Clear out toxic environments/relationships/behavior patterns. Build a nourishing community: surrounding yourself with size-friendly people (friends, therapists, doctors) & images of happy, successful people of all sizes.
  7. Connect mind & body. Increase body awareness through yoga, walking meditation, tai chi, qi gong, massage, & bodywork, movement therapy (such as Feldenkrais). Focus on what your body can do and how good it can feel. 
  8. Decrease self-criticism & body judgment, increase positive, supportive self-talk. Talk to yourself & your body the way you would a cherished friend or loved one.
  9. Address any emotional eating or body image issues independent of weight change. Attitudes & opinions are easier (& healthier) to change than body size.
  10. Invest time & money in yourself rather than the diet industry.
You can learn more about Health at Every Size here or by buying the book here. Do not ever fool yourself into thinking that weight loss is the way to get healthy. You can vastly improve your health without the number on the scale budging at all. Do not punish your body. Do not buy into the 65 billion dollar a year diet industry. Love your body NOW. 
i think everyone can benefit from this.

(via redefiningbodyimage)

Why do Fat Feminists act like there are fan clubs out there promoting the existence of fat men? I know we are not the center of focus for fat bias, but I have not seen many positive statements about fat men from society at large or even in Fat Acceptance when you compare how Fat Acceptance deals with fat men and women

Asked by
william-m

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.

On Being Fat and Romantically Interested in Other People: A Rambling Confessional, of Sorts

[TRIGGER WARNING: Rape]

Look, it’s really fucking hard to be a fat person who happens to be romantically interested in other people, particularly when those other people are cis het dudes.

It’s hard because when you grow up fat, you grow up believing that you’re not ever going to be attractive to anyone. You don’t even do this on purpose - the world does it for you. For me, they did it through fat jokes on Friends, fat jokes on Will & Grace, fat jokes on every single sitcom, ever, headlines on my mother’s Cosmo and Self telling me (I wasn’t supposed to be looking at them, but whatever) both that my sexuality only mattered as long as it was relevant to men and that being fat automatically made my sexuality irrelevant to men, “No Fat Chicks” bumper stickers, bullying in school, and rampant self-hatred and body-shaming in my family. I don’t think I ever had any agency in deciding whether or not I thought I was attractive until college. I just sort of knew, because the world knew, that I wasn’t. I was fat. How could I be?

This was a daily fact of my existence. It was never, ever something I questioned. It means that when I did get a boyfriend, at 15, I was actually surprised that he wanted to touch me. It means there was always a part of me that wondered if it was a pity thing. It means that when he cheated on me with a much thinner girl, and ultimately broke up with me for her, I assumed it was because I was no longer sexually attractive to him and never really had been. It means that when I found the fat acceptance movement and realized all this I’d been told my entire life was total bullshit, I had to start unpacking some really toxic shit that I’d internalized.

It means that now, when I ask people out, the answer I’m terrified of is not “No” but “Wait, what?”

Here’s why: a “no” answer means that you were actually considered to be part of this person’s potential dating pool, even as a negative. You were there. You counted for something. The idea of your sexuality was not erased simply because you don’t fit conventional norms of attractiveness. 

"Wait, what?" means you were never there in the first place. "Wait, what?" means that everything the world told you when you were little was 100% correct.

Look, when you grow up fat you’re basically told that no one will ever want to fuck you. Not date. Not kiss. Not hold hands with you while walking through a park and eating ice cream. These things aren’t even considered, because if no one wants to fuck you, who would ever fall in love with you? Don’t you know the only thing that matters is how attractive you are to heterosexual men? No, I don’t care if you’re queer. The opinions of heterosexual men are the only ones that matter. Duh.

And you’re told — often overtly, particularly if you’re a fat feminist on the internet — that the only way you’d ever have sex is if you got raped, but ha ha ha who would want to rape a fat girl, and fat girls can’t get raped anyway because they’re so desperate for sex because no one would ever want to fuck a fat girl!! Am I right?!

Of course, usually people grow up to the point where they can realize that none of this is true. It’s actually, you know, kind of nuts. But there’s still a part of you that believes, because there’s a part of you that has always believed. And so the scary thing, when you put yourself out there, isn’t “Oh sorry, I don’t see you that way.” It’s “Oh… I don’t even see you.” 

I’ve gotten a lot of “Wait, what?” in my time. I’ve also gotten a lot — a LOT — of people who have told me that I’m amazing, and funny, and so intelligent, and so fun to be around, but that they can’t date me. Sometimes there are legitimate reasons given for this; sometimes there aren’t. Either way, the surface reason is never “I can’t date you because you’re fat.” And I have no way of proving that the underlying reason is "I can’t date you because you’re fat," probably because nobody in their decent mind would think of it in those terms. But I wasn’t the only one who internalized all that "No Fat Chicks" bullshit when I was younger, and I have a sneaking suspicion that a lot of other people haven’t taken the time to take that out, give it a once over, and decide it’s trash.

And you know what? Ultimately it doesn’t matter, because what another person ACTUALLY believes is completely secondary to the little voice in the back of my mind from my childhood. That voice will always, always be there. That voice is less audible now than it was when I was 15, but it’s a seed of doubt. And I have days where it’s all I can hear. I do not think I’m alone in this.

An amazing friend of mine said to me recently, “If a person says they ‘can’t’ date you for whatever reason, they’re right. You don’t want to be with that asshole anyway.” She’s right, of course. It doesn’t matter why they can’t, and it doesn’t matter whether that little voice is right or not, because the funny thing about that voice is that it is always fucking wrong.

This is something I need to remind myself of, every so often: THAT VOICE IS ALWAYS FUCKING WRONG.

It’s wrong because no one falls in love with weight. It’s wrong because attractiveness is subjective; there is absolutely no one who is categorically, objectively “hot” to everyone, ever. And most importantly, it’s wrong because the things and people who started it talking certainly did not have my best interests at heart, so why in God’s name should I take it seriously? 

No, really. Imagine if that voice was actually attached to a person who was telling you these things. You’d tell that person they were a fucking asshole, you’d fume, you’d maybe slap it or punch it directly in the kidneys, or maybe you’d run home and cry on the phone to your best friend or your mom, but the point is that you sure as HELL wouldn’t think it was the voice of reason. Why does that change just because it’s the little voice in the back of your head? 

It doesn’t. So next time that little voice starts yammering away, tell it to shut the hell up. It has no idea what it’s talking about.

New Year’s Resolution #1: Love Yourself

by Kaye, originally posted at SPARK Movement

Turn off the TV for a second, if you have it on. I want to have a little bit of a conversation with you, and the last thing I want is for it to be interrupted by yet another weight loss commercial gimmick.

They crop up more and more often this time of year, don’t they? I don’t watch a lot of TV, mostly because I simply don’t have the time and I don’t have a set in my room at university and so I’m not exposed to a lot of commercials, as a general rule. Maybe that makes it easier for me to notice the sheer numbers of weight loss commercials when I’m home and I have the TV on as background noise. It’s especially pervasive during programming aimed at women, or on networks like Lifetime, and it makes me equal parts sad and angry. I mean, I understand why they’re there. Many women make resolutions to lose some weight in the coming year, and what kind of marketing department worth its salt wouldn’t try to capitalize on that? And making us feel ashamed of our bodies is far more effective now, when we’ve been eating holiday dinners and holiday desserts for a week or so.

But look, can I just tell you something? Lean in close, it’s a secret.

It is totally possible to be happy without changing a damn thing about your body. And moreover, there’s nothing wrong with it as it is right now: fat or thin, tall or short, differently-abled or not.

I know, I know. You’re probably thinking Who are you to say, blog lady?! You don’t know my life! And you’d be right about that, kind of. I don’t know the details of your life. But here, you can have some details of mine. I am 21 years old, 5’8” tall, something like 210lbs the last time I weighed myself (I don’t bother very often), and I wear an American size 16. My measurements are 44” 38” 42”.

Not a single one of those numbers matters one good goddamn to my identity, my personal worth, or whether or not I’m making out with someone on the regular. They’re just numbers. Do they really tell you anything about me that’s worth knowing? What if I told you instead that I love dinosaurs? Or that I can contort my face into expressions that would make Andy Samberg, rubber-face extraordinaire, incredibly jealous of my face-contorting abilities? Or that my extended family has six Boston Terriers, total? Or what if I told you that I lived in England for a semester, or that I’m in an open relationship with my cat on Facebook (because let’s face it, anyone who sees that and doesn’t think it’s funny isn’t anybody I want to be friends with)? Isn’t that a little more important (and a heck of a lot more interesting) than a string of numbers? Doesn’t it matter more?

I used to make the resolution every year to lose weight. I was convinced that nothing else I did that year would matter if I didn’t also drop 10 or 25 or 50 pounds. Who the hell did I want to lose this weight for? I actually did it once – I dropped 70 pounds and as a result I went down one pants size and started fainting. And I was not one jot happier or one whit more comfortable with my body than I had been when I was 70 pounds heavier. If anything, I felt worse: I had dropped all this weight, and I still didn’t like myself. What was wrong with me? Because surely there was something wrong with me, right, if I’d managed to dump all this weight and I wasn’t suddenly happier or more beautiful or more successful?

I really wasn’t losing weight for myself. I don’t think I’ve met anyone who has, which doesn’t mean they don’t exist but it does mean some things about women and weight loss, because nobody can give me an answer to the question “Why are you losing weight?” that doesn’t ultimately wind up being “Because I’ll be more attractive.” It’s an answer that tends to come in code as things like “Because my jeans will fit better” or “Because I’ll be able to wear a bikini,” but it all amounts to the same thing.

How about instead of a bunch of us making resolutions to lose weight – which is a nebulous and difficult resolution, tied into a lot of shame and self-loathing – we make a different resolution. We make a resolution that is better for us and better for our daughters and our sisters and anyone else who is watching our relationship with our bodies, and puts the focus on our health (mental, physical, and spiritual) instead of our weight. We make a resolution to love ourselves, instead. Because we are done with a culture that tells us we are never good enough, we are done with a culture that tells us our bodies are to be regulated and policed and shamed, and we are done trying to fit a standard of beauty that was not made by us or for us.

It’s not an easy resolution, that’s for sure. But we’re in it together.

Here are four awesome resources to start your year off bright:

Body Hate Apocalypse 2012 on Beauty Redefined

FAT!SO? Because You Don’t Have to Apologize For Your Size by Marilynn Wann

Health at Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight by Linda Bacon

What You Really Really Want: The Smart Girl’s Shame-Free Guide to Sex and Safety by Jaclyn Friedman