I’m back! And I’m excited to share my thoughts with you! In the past, I’ve made this a hodgepodge of everything that I’m obsessed with. Going forward I’m going to make these lists more focused because I think will be more impactful. This time I want to discuss Body Politics, the political side of body positivity. This will pull back the curtain on many things discussed within the fat positive community. While exposing what body positivity means currently.
Just like anything empowering and meaningful, Body Positivity has been commercialized and co-opted. The body positivity movement was created so that marginalized people (fat, trans, disabled) could see the positives in their bodies. There are so many social stigmas that reinforce the lie that different is bad. The body positivity movement was intended to show that different is just that, different. And to teach us that we shouldn’t put moral valuations on our bodies.
But now, this thing that was created for me has been poisoned and used against me by the weight loss industry and people who don’t know or understand the original intent behind the movement. Further marginalizing people who need this movement the most. Which is why we must discuss body politics openly and often.
In the piece What It’s Really Like To Be Fat In A World That Hates Fat People, writer Laura Bogart breaks down the emotional violence and microaggressions many fat people face daily. The indignities she swallows with her pride as she navigates a world that believes her body is a problem that can be fixed with exercise, the latest fad diet, and a verbal lashing every now and again.
“Thin people get the privilege of dignity by default; fat people must earn that dignity.”
These words were made crystal clear from a recent New York Mag headline, NYPD Union Lawyers Argue That Eric Garner Would Have Died Anyway Because He Was Obese.
Eric Garner’s murder was one of the first times some saw just how unjust our justice system is. Because there’s video showing us all what happened minutes before the murder. A group of Staten Island police officers attempted to arrest Garner under the suspicion of selling untaxed cigarettes. He was quickly put in an illegal chokehold which caused his death. Video from the incident shows him saying “I can’t breathe.” Which became a battle cry for the Black Lives Matter Movement.
“He died from being morbidly obese,” Stuart London, the police union attorney leading the team, said during a recent administrative hearing.
He lived in so many intersections, and even in death, this fat, black man is being held responsible for his own murder. Because if he were more fit he wouldn’t have been choked so easily.
I’ve learned so much about diet culture, fatphobia, and intersectionality thanks to the fat activists before me. I am most grateful for the language, tools, and resources that activists have worked tirelessly to normalize. One of the new terms I learned from How Mainstream Body Positivity Has Failed Us by Sherronda J. Brown is body terrorism.
“Having non-normative bodies puts us at greater risk for socially-sanctioned abuse, state violence, hate crimes, and wrongful death. It’s about so much more than just low self-esteem or shame, but these are the dominant themes we see present in mainstream Body Positive media.”
“Body Positivity is simply not doing enough if it does not acknowledge and actively contend with the dehumanizing body terrorism we experience, which is rooted in white supremacy and a police state that demands obedience, adherence, and alignment without dissent.”
Being able to verbalize and communicate anger is a great step in creating change. That article jolts you with emotion while educating on body politics. An exceptional piece of writing in my opinion. But if you’re tired of my opinion, here’s a quick walk down Fat History lane and the problem with ‘body positivity'” according to Sofie Hagen.
Something that I think is important for everyone to remember is that no one’s perfect. We’re all doing our best. I think this is explained well in Jill Grunenwald’s piece “Marie Kondo-Ing My Closet Made Me Confront My Own Internalized Fatphobia” There will be moments when our entire belief system is rocked. Those are moments of growth and opportunities for introspection.
“I’d been advocating for the rights of bodies of all shapes and sizes for so long, I thought I knew what I was talking about. I thought I knew what I believed, and that my beliefs translated to my own body acceptance. I thought I had broken free from the body negativity of my youth. Then, I decided to Marie Kondo my closet.”
What I’m noticing within the fat positive community and must address is when someone who isn’t as far along on their body liberation journey. Or doesn’t live up to our expectation of them. We shame them, call them out and cancel them. I don’t agree with cancel culture and I think it’s important to remember that Fat People Deal With Fat Oppression In Different Ways. Virgie Tovar uncovers the uncomfortable truths within our community. And shares her boundaries and the fact that every fat person will have a different reaction or defense mechanism to help cope with the cruel realities.
In the end, we’re all navigating life the best we can. So it’s important we remember to be kind and to check our expectations of each other. People can only disappoint you if you place an expectation on them. We are all human and will at some point fail or disappoint. We must allow ourselves the space to fuck up, to learn from our mistakes and grow.
“When we recognize that weight stigma is a form of injustice that fat people can’t control, we are left with the uncomfortable truth that each of us is compelled to do what feels right and legitimate in order to deal with an uncontrollable and painful reality.”
Did you learn anything about Body Politics? Do you have any questions?