I can’t forget the other f-word

First I just want to thank those who shared their stories with me in the comments on my last blog post.  I learned a lot from you and really loved hearing other fat memories, whether they were similar or different from mine.  I think writing that post really helped me to realize that I want to be involved in helping young girls learn self-acceptance in some way.

That said…

My thesis is about fat and feminism, but I don’t think I’ve given enough airtime to the feminism part of it in this blog yet.  I am a fat feminist.  I feel like being fat has been a major huge contributor to my identity as a feminist.  My body (both height and width) has always made me feel unfeminine.  I can draw this theme all the way back to preschool, when we played house and I always had to play the daddy because I was the biggest.  Then, throughout elementary school I was a tomboy because I couldn’t see how I could fit into the dainty little girl image and boys’ clothes simply fit me better and more comfortably than girls’ clothes.  I remember resenting the fact that JZ, a fat boy in my class, was able to be one of the popular kids in school while I was teased for being fat.  I resented it, but I also understood it.  It was because he was a boy, and it didn’t matter as much what boys looked like as long as they acted like boys.  That’s just the way it was.

I was never sucked into the materialistic world of fashion that targets women as stylish clothes were never in my size.  That is not to say that fashion and feminism are mutually exclusive, but it made me question the constructs of femininity by fashion culture.  And at the same time, I never felt like an object of desire which made me inclined to think critically about heterosexual relationships and the male gaze.  I’ve always been more comfortable around girls because I feel like I am more judged by boys largely because of my body, or I would distance myself from boys because I didn’t want them to think I was the pathetic desperate fat girl coming on to them.

This was the foundation for feminism in me.  And then my feminism helped me come to fat acceptance.  Both help me to stop blaming myself and instead think critically about the world around me.  The two are so intertwined in my life that one exists only through the other.  I’m wondering how others experience fat acceptance and feminism.  To me, fat acceptance is inherently feminist for women because it is a rejection of the beauty ideal, or at least a call for a new beauty.

In my research I found an article in a 1974 NAAFA newsletter by Karen W. Jones that I really like and, though we’ve come a long ways since then, I think it is still applicable today.  She concludes her article by saying…

It has been said that every woman is one man away from welfare; for fat women, stripped of the benefits of male chivalry, this is all too often literally true. The condition of fat women reflects the true position of women in our society. In my opinion, everyone who shares a committment to ending discrimination based on weight should recognize the sexism it is founded on–we in NAAFA, especially, have a BIG investment in eliminating sexist biases if we are to tackle weightism ….and win!”

Right On!

What are your thoughts?  How have you experienced fat acceptance and feminism?  Do you even consider yourself a feminist?  I’d love to hear about others’ experiences.


** Just a note…I am not trying to discount men’s experiences of fat-hatred and fat-phobia, but I might be inclined to argue that some of  it comes from the other side of the sexist coin.  I think many men may experience fat as a feminizing concept, and are therefore likely to be given a hard time because to be associated with something feminine is to have his status lowered.

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