Trans activists can learn from fat activists. The words we use change the way we see: “obese” is medicalised, “overeater” is a judgment, “fat” is a description, being reclaimed. I got the word “Overeater” from a meeting of Overeaters Anonymous at the Quaker Meeting House; all were women, and I noticed the beauty of their complexions.
I am not as other people are, and I might rail against that, or deny it, but acceptance makes life easier. Some might say the fat person lacks self-control, but my maintaining a fairly steady weight does not feel particularly difficult, and I recognise the efforts many people put in to losing weight. Science might classify people as obese, a rational, not necessarily moralistic judgment, pointing to health problems such people are more likely to have; or that might be the judgment of power, where paying attention to particular matters is a choice, and there are different ways of conceptualising the same underlying reality. My own conception could seem to me like simple reality, clearly seen, until I become aware of another’s, which is totally different. Surely they are wrong, missing something, in denial, or else I am- but no, they merely see differently.
Thinking myself an ally I unthinkingly used the word “obese”, a judgment, so turned to Google to find other ways to see. I can learn from others. Searching for “Fat activists” showed me articles aimed at the left-liberal mainstream, such as this interview with an activist written to explain “Here’s how you can be an ally”. There are enemies, who imagine their way of seeing is the only one.
Jessica Hinkle, interviewed in Vice, says They say I glorify obesity when I actually glorify self-love. Men imagine she is starved of affection and send sexually explicit messages. People hide their fat-phobia as “concern” for our health. Indeed, and people hide transphobia as concern, or as feminism. It is phobia: anger, fear and a desire to control.
In order to be body-positive, you have to acknowledge that people truly deserve respect and autonomy over their bodies without judgement. Fat people aren’t “before” photos. There is so much that I have not questioned, just picked up or assumed, that oppresses others. Cat Polivoda: In our culture, it’s a standard assumption that if you’re curvy, plus-size, or fat, you must be actively trying to lose weight. The otherness of others is challenging, so one makes assumptions. Having sketched out my map of the world, it is time to colour in more detail.
The person of colour mentions intersectionality. Ariel Woodson: body positivity at its best means an intersectional take on bodies. You want to prioritize the bodies that are most oppressed in our society and make sure things are equal for people. It means doing away with the real-world implications of living inside a body that people don’t like. If I can, it behoves me to see others’ oppression as well as my own.
Just as people will sometimes reassure me how well I pass as female, they tell Cat “You’re not fat, you’re beautiful”. She says she is both, and they find that challenging. “We’re supposed to hate ourselves. We’re supposed to hide,” says Alysse Dalessandro. She makes clothes that do not try to make her look thinner, under the label “Ready to stare”.
It’s all about the [cis or trans] women, but Kelvin Davis has been shamed by jackets not in his size, and told to suck it up, be a man, not talk about his feelings.
Searching for body positivity I found a collective of facilitators, creating a world in which people value their unique identities and are liberated from self-hatred so they can optimize their energy and intellect to make positive changes in their own lives, communities, and beyond. It sounds wonderful, but I would prefer a bottom-up, self-organised web of activists sharing their wisdom to experts monetising it. Our model is comprised of five core Competencies, the fundamental skills we can practice on a daily basis to live peacefully and healthfully in our bodies. Buy the book, they say, but share this pdf on the competencies. They seem to me to match the wisdom I have learned as I mature, moving from self-rejection to self-acceptance.
I have read an article, and looked at a site; and I am aware of new ideas I can get to know, and some of the ways I thoughtlessly hurt others which I might correct.