Where's the acceptance in FAT acceptance?
When WATRD received an email from Bianca and Sylvia, aka “The Zaftig Chicks,” I was more than ready to listen to their story of “unacceptance” from the FA movement, since many of you know we have sparked a few riots around here.
But here is the cool part - The Zaftig Chicks felt so strongly about how they were being treated for simply expressing their REAL feelings that they decided to BAIL. Yep, striped their blog off of the oh-so-popular “Notes From The Fatosphere” feed, and went merrily on their way (after dealing with one hell of a lot of harassment for making that move.)
Got your attention? Here’s their story.
Hi, my name is Sylvia, and I’m fat. I’ve been fat since I was 9 years old. I’m not really sure how I got to be fat, but no amount of speculation will change the fact that I was and am still fat.
And you know what? I’m ok with that. I know that the ridicule and teasing and insecurities I was subjected to because of my fat only made me a better person, as clichéd as that sounds. Yet so true. So sure, sometimes I look in the mirror and I’m not always happy with what is looking back at me. Does that have to do with being fat? Perhaps. But it could also do with me just not fully comfortable with myself – yet. Inside or out.
So about a year ago, I was exposed to “Fat Acceptance”. I read the practically requisite piece by Kate Harding called “The Fantasy of Being Thin” and it spoke to me. You mean I can be fat and happy? It was a new awakening for me.
Bianca and I started the Zaftig Chicks as a way to explore our own struggles with being comfortable with ourselves, and to show the world (or anyone who would read it) that fat people are just people who can be fun, funny, insightful, sexy and intelligent, just like normal people.
I guess I didn’t know what we were getting into.
We asked to join the “Notes from the Fatosphere” feed because yes, we wanted readers. But if we wanted just readers, we could have found them anywhere. Fat Acceptance is where we thought our voices could be heard and appreciated, and where we could find an audience.
And we did! Well, for the most part. But we also gained a lot of haters. See, we never set out to be a “Fat Acceptance” blog, because we were just trying to figure it all out. And we stated as much, several times on our blog. But we got called out several times for being childish, douchebags, self-serving, bitches – you name it – because we dared (*gasp!*) to go against the grain that is the FA Activist Extreme.
When all that died down, it was obvious that there were lines drawn in the sand, and people sided with us. It was a great feeling to have people stand up for you (indirectly, mostly), but it was like fighting a war that wasn’t ours.
We weren’t trailblazers, we were newbies and didn’t have any credibility in the FA community, but I guess people liked us because we were fun and took pictures of our bellies every day for a month and posted them.
But ultimately, we found that we were censoring ourselves around every turn because no matter what we would say, someone would get offended. Or it wasn’t PC enough. Or someone’s feelings might get hurt.
And though we didn’t set out to intentionally do any of those things, we became a product of that environment and lost ourselves in the process.
What I’ve learned about me is that my intro into Fat Acceptance meant that I could just eat whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted – because that should empower me, right?
But instead, I gained 40 lbs and am suffering from serious back pain that may or may not be related to weight gain. I’m 35 years old and struggle getting out of bed in the morning. I want to have a baby, but I’m afraid I won’t be able to carry it without immense pain, much less take care of it because of the shape I’m in right now.
I don’t want to be skinny, I like being “pleasantly plump” and having meat on my bones. I don’t have unrealistic ideals for what my body should look like or what size I should wear. I just don’t think that my body was made to hold this much weight.
Did I say clearly enough?
These are MY FEELINGS about MY BODY.
Bianca has similar feelings, and this coupled with the militant and narrow-minded tone that seems to be the majority of the FA movement (aka, the loudest voice), we decided to get away from it, and get back to what we wanted to do in the first place. Our “exit” post is here: http://zaftigchicks.squarespace.com/home/2010/1/12/a-very-special-message-from-the-zaftig-chicks.html
We knew we would lose some readers. What we didn’t know was that people would be downright hurt by our decision to “leave”, assuming we were starting a dieting blog.
Blog post after blog post was written about our departure. Some directly calling us out, some alluding to it. People who once supported us coming out of the woodwork to comment on how disappointed they are in us. People we have never heard from telling us that they will never read our blog again. Comments about what a bad fit we were for Fat Acceptance.
All because we still want to be fat, but we also just want to empower ourselves and be healthy.
It seems to me they are doing more damage to the movement than we would ever have. I guess only time will tell.
My first foray into fat acceptance was Kate Harding’s site, Shapely Prose. I remember reading passionate posts about how fat was not a moral failing, diets didn’t work for 95% of the population, and fat people deserved the same basic rights as everyone else. I thought it was awesome, and I still believe a lot of that today.
When Sylvia and I decided to start our own blog, we chose to join the Notes From the Fatosphere, a Fat Acceptance feed. Not only did it come with a built in audience, we were hoping to really start living Fat Acceptance for ourselves. But we were soon left with a bad taste in our mouths. We found that in actuality, a lot of Fat Acceptance followers are anything but accepting. If you don’t think X, write about Y, and preach Z, then you are not welcome. If you dare to mention weight loss, or question any of the tenants of FA (not that anyone will actually tell you what they are, you are expected to know before you to dare to open your mouth – but I can tell you, don’t you dare mention privilege unless you are apologizing for having it), you are mocked and called names.
This attitude is one of the reasons we decide to leave the Fatosphere feed. We don’t pretend to be perfect, but we are open to other people’s thoughts and ideas, and realize that we do not know everything there is to know about being fat.
Not all FA followers are like this. There are some wonderful, thoughtful, funny, and just plain awesome FA blogs. But the militant majority had ruined it for many people looking to love and accept their bodies. They feel just plain unwelcome in those circles. And it’s really sucks, because fat acceptance could be such a wonderful community, instead it comes across as exclusionary and elite.
Another reason we decided to leave was because we have decided to lose some weight. We both have some health issues, that may or may not be caused by being fat, but are certainly being aggravated by it. Now both of us have been fat long enough to know that we will never be thin. And we have no interest in trying to get thin. That does not mean we cannot be healthy. Some will argue that there is no way fat can be healthy, but I think you are wrong. We are focusing on eating better and exercising more.
We knew that even mentioning the possibility of losing weight would be a huge NO on the Fatosphere feed, so we started a new site, and posted it would not be on the feed. We knew we would lose some readers, but we were ok with that. What we didn’t expect was being accused of betraying people, playing with people’s emotions, faking the whole thing for publicity and media attention, and trying to get in with FA to purposely hurt people. Saying that we want to lose weight for our health made us Judas in some people’s eyes.
That’s not the kind of acceptance I want to associate myself with.
I want to be able to do whatever I want with my body. I want to be able to choose health without judgment. I want to be able to question things without militant harpies getting all bent out of shape.
I was worried I may regret leaving the biggest fat acceptance feed. But I know now it was the best choice we could have made.
Visit us at www.zaftigchicks.com!
Check out the 31 Days to Better Body Acceptance Project here!