Before and after photos are one of those things that frustrate the hell out of me when it comes to fatness and weight loss. Seeing so many people congratulated on no longer having a “before body” is part of this frustration since we are taught to be in awe of those people who have an “after body.” Before images are always framed as being worse than the after image, in relation to weight loss it is the after image that always triumphs the before.
I don’t have a before body or even an after body; it’s a forever body. My body isn’t a failure and having an “after” image doesn’t make the before any less worthy / beautiful or as good of a body.
You all can guess at the things I did between the before and after.
* There are numerous forms of before and after photos that don’t frame the before in a negative way but I have yet to see one with weight loss.
The visual language of before/after images in a fat context is always inescapable fat shaming. No matter which way the weight goes! The juxtaposition has the same cultural currency forwards and back. Either the fat before is shamed in favor of the exalted thin after or thin before is presented to show the pitiable downfall of a fat after. Rock on subverting Before/After away from its fat stigmatizing foundation!
I take my selfies because I am that guy who, unless he takes the picture or suggests it, doesn’t get his picture taken. My friend who asked, truthfully had very little right to judge; everyone takes pictures of him, with him, and for him. The same is true of almost all my friends. I live in a world where I didn’t hear someone romantically call me beautiful and desirable till I was 26. I live in a world where either body privilege or race privilege is always against me. So I point my camera at my face, most often when I am alone, and possibly bored, and I click…”
yes! this is why i take selfies and DEMAND my photo be taken by doing queer photoshoots and performing
p.s. koreans call selfies “selca” (self-camera) so that’s what i usually call them. :P
Click through to the article as the quote is just a teaser of the awesomeness contained within. Vanity is a radical act for marginalized communities. Don’t ever let a person with privilege tell you otherwise. The revolution will be photographed from arms length with a camera phone and if folks don’t like it, they can kindly recall that no one gives a fuck.
yes yes yes yes yes
“I’ve never been the kind of person to apologize unnecessarily. Apologies should be saved for worthy occasions, like hurting someone’s feelings or using your roommate’s toothbrush on accident–not for existing. Life is too short. You can hate your body for all kinds of reasons; it’s a battle and a choice, to accept and embrace, or reject and hate. I know it’s more complicated than that, but to simplify things that’s how I feel, and right now I’m having fun!” - Beth Ditto
I’d love to see more discussion about the “how to get past the virulent message that fat people cannot have sex until they become suitably thin” part. I’m stuck there. I’ve been stuck there for-fucking-ever (pardon the pun) and I suspect I’m not alone. The caveat is the discussion cannot be more of the bullshit magical thinking “Just be confident!” crap that seems to be the only thing ever said about this.
I have yet to see a FA writer who talks about this part of the process in any way that feels similar to my experience of it. Most FA activists seem to have always been having sex, have never experienced the paralyzing pain of hitting this block and finding no way around it. It’s a part of the conversation about fat sex that’s missing. Everyone wants to skip past the hard shit of “everyone you’ve ever known has reminded you that you’re fat and therefore are not allowed to have sex or feel sexy yet somehow everyone expects you to have sex with SOMEONE” and get into mechanics/psychology for people who are already having sex (even if in some cases it’s not terribly healthy sex).
This isn’t a comprehensive answer, but for me, it was a non-intuitive piece of the puzzle.
One day, I posted a picture of me (just a regular face shot — I’d probably gotten a haircut or whatever) on livejournal. Somebody paid me a complement. I did my usual humble-I-thought dismissal.
But then the person got really mad. And like, not because I was being down on myself. They got mad because I had disrespected them.
What they said to me was really important, and it was this: When I dismiss their compliment, I’m saying that I don’t respect their judgment. And by so quickly and casually dismissing it, I’m relegating my estimation of their judgment to the lowest of the low, worth far too little to even evaluate.
They didn’t put it exactly that way, but it drove a point home. I’ve always paid lip service to being a relativist. I believe strongly that different people are beautiful to different people, and that there’s no one objective standard of beauty. And like most of us, I was conscious that I apply that to other people but not equally or fairly to myself. But I dismissed this as behaviour that, while it would be healthy to overcome for my own mental wellness, harmed only me. Not so.
When I dismiss other people’s opinions, I’m devaluing them and devaluing their input.
I was so focused inward when it came to the issue, I was thinking selfishly and not looking outward to see how it affected others.
Ultimately, it’s about respect, and about trust. I may not see what others see in me, and that’s not what I’m talking about here: I agree that it’s difficult or maybe impossible to just magically love yourself (and I don’t believe that you have to love yourself first before anybody else can love you — in fact, that’s a trivially disproven myth). What I’m talking about is respecting other people’s judgment and trusting in them to make those decisions for themselves. If someone sees something attractive or beautiful in me, even if I don’t see it, I need to have the respect for that person to trust that they see it, for themselves, and that they’re an adult who can make that decision for themselves.
If somebody thinks I’m attractive or beautiful, then that’s a decision they made for themselves based on their own perceptions of me, and that’s just as valid for them as my self-perceptions are for me, and imposing my opinions on them or thinking that they’ve had blinders on or once they see me naked they’ll think otherwise or any of those things is disrespecting their freedom and ability to make decisions for themselves, and it’s mean to them and wrong.
I’ve fallen back into the dismissive thinking, so it was good to see this post and get a reminder of that incident. The retraining doesn’t always “stick”, but I’m working on it, and I think I needed to have a kick in the butt in this regard.
so important. any time i imply to my partner that their standards are low for being with me or that i’m not “actually” attractive i’m being super disrespectful to them. it’s hard to remember that because it usually seems like the primary imperative is to make them understand why they’re making a mistake by being with me.
^^^ THIS. Even I, who have kind of stupid amounts of self-confidence, who always went around saying “everyone is someone’s type,” found I was unthinkingly doing this. Like, I said sex and all, but I kind of never like… realized to value others’ aesthetics, which included ME. I’ve been saying “Apparently I’m hot?” a lot this year. What I mean is I’m learning to believe and respect people’s tastes in finding me attractive.
“Ultimately, it’s about respect, and about trust.”
I am a kind of survivor; I think a lot of folks in the fat acceptance camp are survivors of one kind or another, and trust is hard for us. Trust is in many ways unfamiliar to me; it’s something I have to consciously remember and choose to deploy a lot of the time. This is the piece that I need to pull forward.
Society, however, does not see all fat as being equal. A man can be much, much fatter than a woman and still be viewed as comfortably within the standard deviation; most department stores carry men’s pants up to a size 42, which is the rough equivalent of a women’s size 24—a size that a woman would have to visit a specialty big-girl store or “Women’s” department to find. Men are comfortable on beaches with their beach-ball bellies hanging over their swimsuit waistbands, bronzing their fat in the sun, whereas my fat women friends struggle to find swimwear that does not feature a skirt.
So me, I’m transgendered. It means that the gender I present in the world is not congruent with the sex that I was assigned at birth; in practical terms, I mostly look like a man but have a body that some would consider physiologically female. Even though I don’t identify as a man (I am a butch, which is its own gender), I am taken for a man about two-thirds of the time. And when I am taken for a man, I am not fat.
As a man, I’m a big dude, but not outside the norm for such things. I am just barely fat enough to shop at what I call The Big Fat Tall Guy Store, and can sometimes find my size in your usual boy-upholstery emporia. Major clothing labels, like Levi Strauss, make nice things in my size, and I am never forced to wear anything that appears to have been manufactured at Mendel the Tentmaker’s House o’ Fashion. (Although those things do exist for men, too. Those terrycloth shirts with the waistbands? Oy.) I can order extra salad dressing or ice cream or anything else in a restaurant and have it arrive without comment; I can eat it in public without anyone taking a bit of notice, even if I am shoving it into my mouth while walking down a crowded street and getting crumbs all over my chest in the process. I can run for a bus or train without anyone making a snide remark.
As a big guy, I’m big enough to make miscreants or troublemakers decide to take their hostility elsewhere. As a woman, I am revolting. I am not only unattractively mannish but also grossly fat. The clothes I can fit into at the local big-girl stores tend to fit around the neck and then get bigger as they go downward, which results in a festive butch-in-a-bag look—all the rage nowhere, ever. No matter how clearly I order a Coke in a restaurant I must be on a diet, and so I get a Diet Coke—usually with a lemon floating in it accusatorily, looking up at me as if to say, “This is as good as it’s going to get, lardass.” Wait staff develop selective amnesia about my side of fries or my request for butter, and G-d help me if I get caught eating (or even shopping) in public as a woman.”
— S. Bear Bergman, “Part-Time Fatso” (via wretchedoftheearth)
Just a short PSA to say you can be fat posi and still have your own internalized body image issues.
It’s not like an overnight self-love explosion (I wish.)
You’re not a bad person for still feeling guilt/shame about your body, and you’re not a bad person for dieting so long as you’re not rubbing it in the faces of people who don’t want to hear about it. Loving yourself is hard and means different things to different people. That’s okay.
Loving yourself isn’t a linear journey either. Some days will be easier and better than others. One day (hour minute second) you can feel great about yourself and then awful the next. All of that is okay.
It is hard, hard, hard, hard, hard to overwrite what I was taught about my body and what it meant about me as a person in the eighteen years before I discovered fat acceptance.
“Our fourth Straddler on the Street is Julia; she chatted with us about burlesque, fat acceptance and making the body political.” via Autostraddle — Straddler On The Street: Julia)
it’s really exciting to me that a fairly mainstream site like autostraddle is posting openly and positively about fat acceptance and political bodies.
Surviving the Holidays in a Fat-Negative Environment
Last weekend, MetroFats held a very successful skills share around body-shaming during holiday visits with family. We discussed the following questions:
- What about holiday gatherings is hard for you? Is it just about body size, or is there other stuff too? What kinds of thoughts and feelings do the holidays provoke?
- How do we cope with body-shaming in the moment?
- How do we evaluate whether to set boundaries around body-shaming with family members?
- What can we do to take care of ourselves before and after a stressful event where implicit or explicit body-shaming is likely to occur?
Here are some ideas that we came up with:
- An excellent place to start is the Spending the Holidays With Your Family Fatcast by the marvelous Lesley Kinzel and Marianne Kirby. Lesley and Marianne suggest having a buddy to vent to via text message (or venting on Twitter), taking some time to hide in the bathroom when things get to be too much, and deploying the abrupt subject change (i.e. “Have you gained/lost weight?” “Nope. How’s your cat?”)
- Get some perspective: your family is doing their best, even if their best is terrible. Karen recommends this essay by Anne Lamott.
- Eat often! A glucose-depleted brain is a brain that has a hard time coping, and if you’re eating often you don’t really need to worry about eating the perfect thing, because you’ll eat again soon anyway.
- Hanne Blank’s Big Big Love has an excellent chapter on setting boundaries with your family.
- Use the Fatosphere to bolster your body-positivity before and after stressful family events. Here are some places to start:
Also see the links to introductory fat acceptance resources on our website!
- Perhaps nothing is more crucial than self-care before and after stressful events (whether or not they are family-related and/or involve body-shaming)! Here’s a list of self-care resources we compiled:
Meditation podcasts at www.easeandjoy.com
The Woman’s Comfort Book by Jennifer Louden
If you have a resource to suggest for one of these lists, feel free to email it to us at metrofats [at] gmail.com. We wish happy holidays to those who celebrate and look forward to seeing everyone in 2012!
If you are someone who diets, please understand that this is not something that everyone wants to hear about. Those of us doing the more difficult work of learning to love our bodies the way they are instead of depriving them or putting them through one fad cleanse or diet after another don’t want to hear your fat-hate. Many of us are survivors of diet culture, having been raised on fad diets and low-fat everything. We were taught that our bodies weren’t good enough and that dieting was the normal, healthy thing to do. Well it’s not. Now many of us are working to treat our bodies with respect, to love ourselves, to nourish ourselves. Hearing your body hatred and calorie counting can be painful. So please, do everyone a favor and keep it to yourself.
And here’s the kicker: Not wanting to hear about dieting or diets is not a judgement on personal choice. It is resistance to an industry and culture that does not teach us whole wellness and that would have us believe that disordered eating is a norm.
With respect to my reality and personal history, Weight Watchers/Atkins/Jenny Craig/Green Juice Fast/whateverblahblah diet in a box or book that you pay for to teach you to be thin or “healthy” is fat hate and a tool of fat-body fear mongering.
ALSO, I totally understand that its a fucking process. Tell me about it. But know that diet talk can sometimes send me over the edge in a way that is unhealthy for my well-being. It is also my belief that folk who diet are not a minority. Intuitive eating and HAES practicing folk are not a magic majority of all-powerful folk. They are the folk who are risking their sanity fighting the world for their own sake and the sake of all other BODIES.