How to be a not-so-fat fat activist.
This may sound stupid, but I’m not exactly fat. More like chubby. Am I allowed to be part of the Fat Acceptance movement? I support all the ideas and think it is a wonderful movement. I just don’t post about it very much because I’m a little wary of being… shunned? I guess because I know I don’t really go through the struggles that most fast people do. I’m generally accepted by society. :/
This is not a stupid question. This is not a stupid question. This is not a stupid question.
There is no clear line between fat and thin. Fat is gendered (men get to be fatter with fewer consequences). Fat is seen through race/ethnicity (the myth of fat acceptance in POC communities, particularly Black communities [as if that’s a homogenous thing. I know. I’m talking about what white people write about in books.]). Fat is aged. Fat is seen through ability (Sarah Robles vs a fat person using a cane, scooter, wheelchair etc). Fat is contextual. This is important because we need to know how we are positioned in order to understand how fat hate works and how we can fight against it.
So, how do you act? Own your privilege. That’s a thing that gets said a lot. Here’s what I mean. Know that you’re not really that fat (insert whatever language works for you). Know that the ways in which you act will be read differently because of your size. Use your privilege. Challenge people who say fucked up things about fat bodies so that I and other fatties don’t have to. Don’t speak over fatties. If a fatty is making an argument or critique, cite your sources and let them speak. Remember that lived experience is expertise beyond some shit you saw on TV and even academic theory.
As for what you should do that is activism, do what you’re already doing but do it better. If you’re on tumblr, reblog shit fatties say. If you’re out with friends who say fucked up shit, challenge them. If you’re into art, make political art. Or not. Activism looks like a thousand different things, from loud public campaigns for law reform to quiet moments of everyday life.
In any case, with all forms of activism you’re going to fuck up. (Should I put a *spoiler alert* there?) We all fuck up because we’re enveloped in patriarchal, colonial, capitalist, white supremacist bullshit. Be ready to feel uncomfortable. Be ready to apologize. A real apology: “I’m sorry for [action]. I see that it’s hurtful because [explanation optional, but highly encouraged]. I will work to do better.”
Working to do better means continuing to educate yourself and challenging yourself to unlearn behaviors and ideas. And if you’re ever sorry for the way you made someone feel, you’re not actually sorry. There is no such thing as perfect activism. But there is thoughtful and compassionate activism.
I get this question a lot, how to be a good FA ally. This is a brilliant answer.