Sunday, October 07, 2012

For Anonymous

In comments on my last post Anonymous asks to hear my thoughts on this post. The post is about the video of the Wisconsin news anchor Jennifer Livingston's response to an email saying she is not a good role model because she's fat. I dropped a link to it my last post because it was all over the Internet the day I wrote and in some ways spoke to my topic. My focus was on the casual use of fat jokes on television, which seem to be everywhere all the time. I had a mixed and fairly ambivalent reaction to the video because it was really about bullying. Not fat politics.
Apparently October is anti bullying month. OK. I'm in complete support of anti bullying campaigns even when they are syntactically problematic in terms of the lives of fat people. Complete support includes criticism. In my post I mentioned wanting some push back against the assumptions about fatness and Jennifer Livingston does not push back. She says she knows she's fat. When asked about her feelings about her weight she says she's struggled with her weight since the birth of her first child and she has three. That's a fairly common experience for women. She says she is not ashamed.
That articulation always makes me cringe. Struggle with weight. Fought with weight. Battled with weight. Perhaps the first step in getting clear about being fat is to give up on struggling, fighting and battling.
So. The post. The post is written by a gentleman who has lost weight and written a book and is now an expert. What. Ever. There are people in the size acceptance community who feel like he is the enemy. I am not one of them. I just don't find him interesting.
He says the guy who wrote the email does not seem like a nice guy and may have body issues of his own. Could be. Not my concern. He quotes a fat acceptance blogger but I'm not sure why. He follows the quote with:      
Though the movement has lots of good things to say, it glosses over what for me was a basic fact of my years of fatitude: Fatness is not good. That is *not* the same as saying that fat people are not good. My point is that the experience of being fat is not good. I hated being fat. 
Well ...sorry dude. Sorry being fat was such a drag. Please don't state your experience in a way that implies a universal truth. But I get it. You hated being fat and you did what ever you did to lose weight and now you're an expert.
This gets hard for me because I really, really, truly, deeply support people's right to make choices about their own bodies. That's what I'm asking for so that's what I aspire to give. But it does irk me when people who have lost weight seem to feel stronger/smarter/braver/truer. Makes me cranky.
To be fair he makes an effort to couch what he says in "his experience" but he is too privileged by the culture of fat hatred in which he writes. When he says "fatness is not good" he's going to get agreement. I suspect Jennifer Livingston would agree. I get that his experience was not good.  And he writes about food addiction, which I take seriously and know is a problem for many people. But not all fat people hate the experience and not all fat people are food addicted.  
He saw size acceptance in "Jennifer Livingston's retort". I did not. I'd like to claim her as an icon for my revolution. She has a seemingly successful career, a husband who loves and supports her, three kids. I think she's quite attractive and well spoken. She seems reasonable and grounded. But I don't see her wanting to be an icon for my revolution. She's talking about bullying. I'm talking about a radical shift in how we experience being fat and talk about fat bodies. I'm talking about it because it impacts jobs, housing, safety in and access to public spaces. I'm talking about it because fat kids are being told they have a disease. I'm being told I have a disease. Not at all useful and absolutely harmful. But Jennifer Livingston isn't talking about that. In fact she wasn't even going to talk about the email at all until her husband posted it and she was moved by the response. She's getting support for calling out an asshat and good on her for doing so but she isn't talking about fat revolution.
I may sound angry about this and I may be. I long for higher level of conversation about fatness. I get tired of the same old same old. I don't find the post particularly egregiousness. I just don't find it interesting. It's always the same. Fat people shouldn't be bullied. BUT. They should lose weight. I get tired of responding to the brain numbingly same ol shitness of it all.    


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