Kitty Fisher

Size-positivity, feminism, self-esteem crises, ginormous tits.

miscellanea

Posted by Kitty on July 26, 2008

Tying up assorted loose ends:
1) I will be going out of town for two weeks, away from the Internet and everything, so won’t be updating. I’m going to Pennsic, which is an experiment for me on many levels. First it’s what finally got me to learn to sew, which is looking like it might open up a huge new world of possibility in terms of feeling better about my freakish body and actually looking reasonably well-turned-out when I leave the house, etc. Second, I’ve just always wanted to go. Third, it’s apparently a really really body-positive experience– all the friends I borrowed garb from, who were by necessity about my size, had midriff-baring belly-dancer costumes, and all made the crack (separately) that if all else failed I could just go naked. I said something about how I’d never bared my midriff, and one friend laughed and said, “Well, you look good to me, and Pennsic is the time to bare body parts you haven’t before.”
So I’m sort of worried about it, and sort of excited about it.
I made myself a choli, and I was going to make an additional apron part for it, but didn’t get around to it. Maybe I *will* be baring my midriff. Woo!

2) But the fact that I’m going out of town means I won’t be here to see when I’m in the newspaper. A local reporter stumbled upon one of my other blogs, and wanted to interview me about size-positivity. So I agreed, and I hope I told him some good things. My boyfriend was around during the interview, and spoke up about his experiences as an extremely skinny person, and the reporter was struck by what a vivid illustration the two of us made. So we went in and posed for a news photographer, me wielding beets in a threatening fashion and the boyfriend looking smug with a bag of pork rinds (which he ate during the shoot, and they smelled awful).

There are a few things about this story that might displease some of the more active FA activists. One is the “But skinny people have a hard time too!” angle, brought in by the boyfriend. The thing is, he does it well. He is a smart guy, and articulate, and has given me a lot of great perspective about this whole size positivity thing. I brought him in as an illustration of the sheer impact of genetics and metabolism: he and I eat identical diets, but I exercise a whole lot more. Why does he have a BMI of 16 while I am up over 30?
It sure as hell isn’t Calories In / Calories Out. (That phrase, in my head, is always said in a high-pitched, chipper, frighteningly upbeat manner.)

The other thing, and I am genuinely worried about this one, is that I am not that fat. I’ve covered that here before. In the interview I repeatedly stressed how reasonable and healthy my diet is, how much I exercise. I am very hourglassy, and am often told that I don’t look as heavy as I am. A lot of my weight is muscle– that’s when I gained the weight that finally tipped me over into the Obese category, was when I started working out intensively.
So there’s a big risk that I am being set up as The Acceptable Fatty, and that instead of finding this story empowering, people who are fatter, especially people who are less active and fatter (and, not to be conceited, it would be hard to be more active than me, especially if you have a job and kids and hobbies that aren’t a sport– none of which I have at the moment), will still think that they’re not acceptable fatties. I have seen this before, in the FA movement– the HAES practitioners who are defensive about their amazingly healthy lifestyles (understandably, trying to head off all the standard “but you gorge on junk food and never get off the sofa– you must, because that’s the only way to be fat” arguments), and then the people, fatter, less active, who wonder if they don’t have enough HAES “points” to be “acceptable”.
And I’m quite worried that will happen. I do look quite chunky in the photos, because I’m standing next to a man with a thirty-six inch inseam and a twenty-nine inch waist. (Reverse those and you’ve got my approximate measurements.) But to a person who is my height and a hundred pounds heavier and has fibro so exercise is tough and diet is tricky… will this story only hammer home their already-existing belief (or, worse, society’s already-existing belief) that they’re still not OK?

I feel like anything is a good start, but I’m just worried, and I won’t be around to react to it all at the time.

So let me just state here for the record:
I do believe that since this is the only body you get, to live this only life which is also all that we know for sure that you get, it is a really great idea to take the best care of it that you can manage– which means eat food that makes you feel good, and move your body in ways that feel good, and practice other basic self-care to ensure that your body works the best it can for as long as it can. I think that is all vitally important. In fact, it’s pretty much the whole reason I reject dieting, because I don’t think that’s a very good form of self-care. And I think that it’s also vitally important to feel like you can say “Screw it, I’m not going for my morning jog today, I’m tired and want to sit on the couch”, and not feel like you’re letting yourself down.

But if you don’t, that still doesn’t make you a bad person, and it’s still not in any way acceptable to judge someone. You don’t have to be a “good fatty” to be involved in FA, or to benefit from it. I want to separate society’s sense of the worth of a person from that person’s conformity to standards of conventional attractiveness. The best thing I personally can do, toward this goal, is to go against the stereotypes of fat people as well as I can. But that is not something that everyone needs to do.

What this all comes down to is that I do not want to use my current state of health as a bludgeon. I am young, I am active, I am healthy, I am reasonably close to the standards of conventional attractiveness. These are all nice things I’m glad I have, and I do enjoy them all, but they’re not the things that make me an OK person. The things I just listed are all things that can, and will, change– either I will grow older and probably less fit, or I will die and dead people aren’t terribly attractive for very long. The things that make me an OK person are the things that will not change, and they are all things that you cannot see.

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