Monday, 28 January 2013

Whose fat is it anyway?

*Disclaimer: this blog applies to me and is applicable to my experience. I certainly don't speak for all women, let alone all overweight women.*

I have something I need to say, and it's not pretty. It's not sexy either. It's about fat. And not just any fat. my fat. I'm not sure how much and how emphatically I can stress this to you, dear reader; I don't consider my fat to make me an inferior person. And I never will. Rather than recount the long and complex journey I've taken with my body image over the years, or discuss the feminist issues surrounding fat, I'm just going to lay down some rules. If you struggle to shrug off the prescribed norms surrounding bodies and fat that fine. But here are some simple rules you can follow for interacting with this fat person:

1. If you get the urge to inform me I'm fat: suppress it. (This one goes out to the men in clubs, the girls from high school and all the other people who feel it's hilarious to tell me I'm fat). It might come as a surprise to you but I actually know I'm fat. Weirdly enough, I can see myself. I don't need you to inform me. Unless you have some deep seated issues relating to your self esteem & you think will benefit from putting me down: I don't understand why you'd want to take time out of your life to tell me.

2. Please don't presume you know why I'm fat. As it happens I have an illness relating to my metabolism which causes me to gain weight. But, even if this wasn't the case, I don't want your diet advice. I don't want your exercise advice. I don't want to join in with your weight loss challenge and no, dear lord, no, I don't want to hear about how your Nan/ Mum/Aunty's Dog lost weight. Strangely enough I'm not overweight because I'm not intelligent enough to google diets.

3. Please don't body shame me. Body shaming for me is really complex, but basically: I'd prefer it if all your comments about my body were kept to a minimum. A good minimum is silence. if I want your opinion, I'll ask for it. I don't need you to tell me I've put on or lost weight. I certainly don't need you to say 'Minute of the lips lifetime on the hips' whilst I'm eating. I don't need your humiliation. Thanks. If you choose to believe the hype society makes about all fat people being lazy and generally awful human beings and feel compelled so strongly to save me from yourself: why not do it privately? And then I can privately tell you to go fuck yourself. :)

4. Don't presume that *any* weight loss is good. See, society has constructed a reality where fat=bad. So when you see that I've lost a little bit of weight, you want to tell me 'Hey, well done, you're not as physically repulsive as you used to be'. The problem here though, is that my weight is a symptom of a disability. Sometimes I lose weight because I'm ill, or cant afford to feed myself properly or can't afford a lot of heating or because the illness that my weight relates to is easing up slightly. But all those variables are temporary and so inevitably I'll re-gain that weight. If you notice this, it is most certainly not your place to be disappointed. I'm not asking you to keep quiet because I'm arsey, but because it's not good for my mental health for you to congratulate me on poverty weight loss and the pressure to maintain a completely unsustainable weight loss isn't helpful either. 

5. Please don't presume that I require or will welcome your approval. I once received a phone call off a family member who thought they would ring me up to remind me that fat girls can be attractive too! Listen, purrr-lease; if you have a problem with confusing weight and attractiveness, that's your business, baby. Don't make it mine. I don't hold the same values as you or see the world through the same lens, I don't need you to find me attractive *despite* my clearly disgusting and horrific disability. Really. Also in relation to this: don't presume that people you deem unattractive don't ever have sex or that people don't ever find them attractive. You're sorely mistaken.  

What I think happened is that somewhere down the line fat got communal. And now people who have no qualification other than being slimmer than me, and not suffering from the same condition I do, now feel like it is there place to save me from my gluttonous ways. For a long time I allowed myself to be taken in by this culture that thrives on insecurity on punishment and not help, on laughing and not caring. But my fat doesn't belong to this culture, it doesn't belong to well meaning friends, it doesn't belong to drunk men in pubs or anyone else:

it belongs to me. And you should probably respect that.