Friday, August 2, 2013

I Do Not Accept Your Compliment

I used to focus fat-shaming internally, as most people do, I think. Then I shifted it around to be  Dances With Fat to ever put it on the defensive. Why would you want to be the kind of person who subscribes to this kind of biased thought? (Why are you clinging to the idea that the ear is flat when evidence - facts - tell us it's round?) Why would you want to be the kind of person who makes someone feel negatively about their own bodies? Why is it any of your business?
education. It often turns into a lecture about unreliable medical standards, fashion versus fact, and how beauty isn't size-dependent. The moral tends to be this: fat-shaming is bad because it's inaccurate and biased towards fat-people. It did not occurs to me until yesterday, after skimming through some

It happens frequently, too, that fat-shaming happens under the guise of a compliment. This is the one I hear most often, "You look good. Have you lost weight?" or some version of that. Innocent, yes, but the message is still the same: You look better than you did because you appear to be thinner. I find this type of fat-shaming the most difficult to counter because it's seemingly innocuous, so I don't want to come off as one of those pretentious, stuffy types who has a sneering, pseudo-academic response for everything, even a compliment. Even just saying, "Thank you, but your compliment is actually kind of insulting and here's why" seems too harsh.

Many people I am close to are guilty of innocent fat-shaming, myself included. Things like, "Wow, I had way too much dessert. I'll have to do some extra exercise to compensate." and "Once I lose some of the winter weight this will look better." and "The next time you see me, I'll look better. I'll have gotten in better shape and lost some weight." and "You guys look good. You've lost weight." and, lately, "I'll lose weight for your wedding some my good clothes fit." Cue my inherent need to educate and simultaneously make up for all the lost time I spent hiding under a proverbial rock repeating, "Your body: good. My body: bad." Firstly, my inherent need to educate needs to address the following:

  • Looking good and being thin (or thinner) are not synonymous. I, for one, look fabulous without being thin, so please stop associating the two.
  • Getting in shape and losing weight do not go hand in hand. This is an issue of correlation versus causation, which is another topic, but suffice to say, you can be in great shape without being thin. 
  • I care about what you wear to my wedding. I do. If you show up in informal, casual clothes, our relationship will need some time to mend. I do not, however, care what size you are when you attend. This will not affect our relationship in the slightest. If your plan is to temporarily starve yourself to fit into your clothes, that's your decision - don't make it about me. I'd suggest you buy clothes to fit your body now so you don't feel badly about yourself.
Secondly, my need to compensate for lost time needs to address this real truth: I spent from about age 8 to age 25 - the vast majority of my life, including my entire development - believing that I was ugly, that only certain, fetishist types of people would ever find me attractive (and not for good, wholesome reasons), that I was unhealthy, and that the body I was existing in could be cured with enough will power and motivation, both of which, apparently, I lacked. What a horrible way to live. Please stop fat-shaming, well-intentioned or not. Why would you want anyone to live with those thoughts?

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