And it’s also the best argument on why we should all be a “body positive” movement not a “fat acceptance movement”.
Anybody who knows of Gabriel Iglesias probably knows of one of his funniest routines:
And I say “fluffy” because that is the politically correct term, for those of you who don’t remember I used to say that there were Five Levels of Fatness. Reason why I say “Used to say” is because now there are six! Uh-huh, I met the new one in Las Cruces. The original five levels are Big, Healthy, Husky, Fluffy, and DAMN! People ask, “What could be bigger than DAMN!” The new level’s called “OH HELL NO!” What’s the difference? You’re still willing to work with level five. Example, if you’re on an elevator and you’re with your friend and this really big guy gets on and you and your friend look at each other and you’re like, “DAAAMN!” But you still let the big guy ride your elevator. That’s the difference. Level six, you see walking towards your elevator, [Deep growling noise] [Pretends to be a shocked passenger and starts pushing the “close door” button.] “OH HELL NO!” [Growl] “NO!!” [Growl] “NO!!” [Pretends to kick the fat man out] That’s the difference. The guy that I met was six-foot eight, six hundred and fourteen pounds. Uh-huh, OH HELL NO!! And he was offended at my show. Not by anything that I said, but because of the fact that now at the shows I started selling T-shirts and apparently, I didn’t have his size. Keep in mind, I go all the way up to 5X on the T-shirts and he was like, [Deep growling voice] “You don’t have my size.” I was like, “Dude, I didn’t know they MADE you! I have up to 5X, I don’t have [Growl] X!” A picture of a dinosaur on the back of the tag, you know? – From “I’m not fat, I’m fluffy.”
This bit cracked me up the first time I heard it and continues to crack me up. I have come across other women who hate the term “fluffy”, I guess because they’ve been referred to by that title. I really couldn’t give a crap myself. To each their own… But I am sure that I have come across and will continue to come across people who find this line of joke incorrigibly offensive.
As the bullies like to say: truth hurts. Well no, in fact, bullies hurt by making the truth seem like a bad thing, but what hurts most is the fist we all ought to be shoving in bullies’ noses, but whatever. Truth hurts, or its funny BECAUSE ITS TRUE are two ways that you can look at Gabe’s statement.
It’s a good joke AND a bad joke. It’s horrible and hilarious. It’s like the state of fat itself, it is more than one thing. Because “fat” is more than one thing. “Fat” is a term is so loaded that it inevitably sinks, even though fat itself is like one of the most buoyant things in the world.
It’s for this reason why any sort of fat activism movement is inherently fucked up. We ourselves judge each other by the standards and labels placed upon us by our thin, media-obsessed culture, and unfortunately, whether you are a 1x or a 7x, to a thin person, any “fat” person falls within the “damn” to “hell no” categories. None of us are “fluffy.”
That’s why the words “fat acceptance” will kill the very thing it is supposedly fighting for. This is the reason why Marilyn Wann (who I have bitched about in past blog posts) can be the QUEEN of the movement, supposedly, or so I read today, and yet still represent a way of thinking that undermines the personal autonomy of other’s bodies. There is nothing that kills what we stand for more than misusing the word “fat”. Taken on the face, everything looks pretty kosher when you say “fat acceptance” because that’s pushing to have fat accepted. However, fat is a catch-all phrase, misused by both the super-thin, the Marilyn Wanns, and the Daaaaaamns, like me, or people bigger than me.
Because of this, those who fall in other categories within this “movement” often strike out against each other with or over semantics. “I’ve always been big” is a common phrase, even though I’ve seen girls who are nothing more than a size 10 or 12 say that.
“I’ve always been big” at a size 12 is wrong. If we’re not actively telling these women that, actually, they’ve always been normal then we are failing. Allowing these women to call themselves fat and lump themselves in with the rest of us not only undermines their bodies, but undermines the freedoms that people like me would like to have, but which are simply not available.
Basically, I support telling these supposed “fat” girls that they are WRONG. EEEENT. Nope. I know that some would say that is mean, because they have suffered too. But what they suffer is categorically different from what I and other “morbidly obese” people suffer. We are not doing normal women any favors by inherently validating their believes that they are “fat” just because they fall into what the fashion industry refers to as “plus” sizes. Trust me ladies, the fashion industry is the most skewed of all perceptions. If you are “plus size” then imagine what me, and other 26+ women are, when we can’t even find clothing in the plus-sized sections of normal stores, or if even plus-sized clothing retailers don’t sell clothing that completely fits or comfortably fits us.
Only when we say 8-14 is “normal” instead of “plus” can we tackle the specific challenges that women 16+ face…
If you are morbidly obese, you know what I’m talking about. If you are “normal” then you probably have no clue. So I’ll give you a short list of 10 things that have permanently scarred me because the world refuses to make things with the recognition that I even exist.
1. Being unable to sit in a chair with arms because you get stuck in it.
2. Being unable to go through a turn-stile at an amusement park because you are too fat to even squeeze through it.
3. Being unable to fly without upgrading to a comfortable seat and asking for a special seat-belt extender. And being unable to put the tray table all the way down because your fat gets in the way.
4. Having to get a similar extender for your car or driving without a seat-belt because it isn’t long enough to allow you to buckle yourself in.
5. Having to live with the embarrassment of going to a school with the old-fashioned attached-desk-chairs, which you can barely fit in and which leave marks on your belly when you are finally able to squeeze yourself out of them. Having to walk around school all day with gum on your shirt which got stuck there because your fat rubbed up against the bottom of your desk.
6. Having the gum thing happen to you at a restaurant because the greeter insisted on putting you in a booth.
7. Having your teacher tell your mother you are no longer allowed to wear skirts to school because you sit with your knees open like a little slut, because it’s too uncomfortable for you to sit with your legs crossed the entire day.
8. Having your mother insist that you wear the same over-sized, frumpy, ugly colored clothes that a woman her age does because you have to “cover” yourself constantly to make sure your fat isn’t obvious to the world.
9. Having the distinction of breaking more than one chair, during the course of your life, just by sitting in them.
10. Losing over 200 pounds and coming as close as you can to looking the way society wants you to look, and still being rejected by males who think you are fat just because you have excess skin, or being told that you are “so close” to being “normal” because you have excess skin… and that all you have to do is lose 50 more pounds. Of excess skin. I’m pretty sure that all my skin together doesn’t weigh 50 pounds.
I’m morbidly obese. It’s not a happy condition to be in on the internet, since the world-wide web has become the single most important resource and propaganda spreader for fat shame and body misinformation that has ever existed. You try to figure out what the folds of excess skin on your body are called after you have lost weight, and you’ll find yourself receiving “helpful” information on foods to eat to get rid of belly fat, how to use calipers to determine body mass through belly fold measurement, and graphic descriptions of how fat folds around your internal organs, causing you to DIE!
Except not really. Those people who “die of fat” usually die of diabetes or heart conditions. The problem with suggesting that fat caused these deaths is that such a suggestion misinterprets real cause and effect. Refined sugars can be said to be the true cause of both diabetes and, if you want to go there, “obesity.” And yet, who is standing up to take a stand against refined sugar. Not as many people who are standing up to judge, stigmatize, and subtly threaten death onto people with “unsightly belly fat.”
If belly fat itself was so horribly life threatening, you’d think the medical profession would directly “treat” it, in a critical and immediate way. In other words, liposuction would no longer be a “plastic” surgery, it would be a mandatory procedure, covered by all insurance, to directly combat the obesity plague by removing belly fat.
It would be like cutting out a tumor. You get rid of the tumor so it doesn’t spread, and then you continue to form ways to help the cancer survivor change their lifestyle so that it doesn’t come back.
If fat was TRULY the issue everyone says it is, then that is what we’d all find ourselves having to go through: lipo followed by mandatory lifestyle changes.
It’s easy to see how this would undermine our fatnancial system, wherein both the food and medical industries combine to predate on the obese because we’re literally worth our weight in gold. Regardless of what society says, a certain portion of it WANTS the morbidly obese to stay this way, because we are the ones that continue pumping the most money into certain industries, the greatest of which is the weight loss industry.
Even now, I have a long list of “related content” to this blog which contains more posts about the desire to lose weight, the feeling that a person MUST lose weight to be beautiful or even a woman, and that fat acceptance isn’t an actual movement because the only people who participate in it are “fat chicks” and the guys who like them.
Avenue Q got it wrong. The internet isn’t for porn. It’s for trolls.
And some of them are in our own ranks, waiting to bag on the woman who doesn’t feel like a woman because she is caving to society. Waiting to bag on whoever the hell is writing “pillscout” on wordpress. Waiting to bag on anyone whose views don’t EXACTLY match their own, in terms of what “fat acceptance” or “fat activism” mean.
I been there, done that. I still have friends who use the tired “real women have curves” slogan and who think I must always be offended when they respond to anything I say that is fat activist… because they aren’t saying the same thing as I am.
At the end of the day, I’m not offended, nor am I going to be offended on behalf of the thinner woman who shouldn’t have to be called “fake” women just because they don’t have curves. I’m not going to be offended on behalf of the size 12s and under who feel that just because our harsh society deems them to be “plus sized” that they are “fat”. I am not going to feel offended over any misappropriation of the word fat. Nor will I be offended by people who get bent out of shape because I have lost a lot of weight before and say I plan to do so again, not because it is my aim so much as I plan to move back to a place where I WILL JUST LOSE WEIGHT. It is bound to happen. I fully expect it to happen. My weight loss plan is thus: Move to England. Lose weight.
The lifestyle just agrees with me, it brings out the shape I am supposed to inhabit naturally. And contrary to what others may think, I don’t believe that I am in my natural shape right now! Mostly because I am not in a shape I feel healthy.
If the Wanns of the world misunderstand this as somehow capitulating to society and associating weight with health, then they can do so. I associate such weight loss as the inevitable byproduct of being a person instead of being a body, which is something that BOTH the super-thin-anti-fatties and supposed “fat acceptance” people seem to think I and other fat people are.
My body is not a “fat body” or a “morbidly obese” body or a “diseased” body or an “ugly” body. My body is just a body. That’s why I can laugh off Gabriel Iglesias’ and cheer on other people who seem be able to think out side of the “fat box” that both healthists and fat acceptance advocates want to put myself and other fat people in with the word fat.
When anyone with a BMI of 25 and over is “fat,” and anyone below 18.5 is “too skinny”, leaving only a narrow margin of weights and heights that constitute “normal” (BMIs 18.5-24.9), we’re NEVER going to change the world to be body positive. We’re just going to continue to be a world where everyone is fat, because the difference between being normal and being fat IS LITERALLY the difference between eating a single meal or skipping it.