I used to be the type of person who emphatically believed that fatter people should pay more on an airplane. I’m cringing as I remember what a judgmental jerk I used to be. I also used to gossip with another co-worker about how someone else sits at her desk all day and has gained 20 pounds in a few years of working a desk job. I really thought people who didn’t like the way they looked weren’t working hard enough to change. Judgmental jerk, seriously.
Then I was ditty-bopping around the Internet and got sucked into a wormhole of tumblrs, blogs, and websites that have opened my eyes and radically changed my perspective. I have confronted my own bias about fat. I have stepped back and tried to understand other people’s experiences. My world is forever changed.
It all started with the brouhaha surrounding the news anchor who stood up for herself against the viewer who called her fat. The Internet was alive with the sounds of popping wires, people flailing around with their opinions and beliefs. It was all so predictable. What was different this time was finding this sane discussion of the issue. If you don’t do anything else on the Internet today, read that article. Read it right now.
This part is what smacked me upside the head:
This issue, despite the protests of the emailer and some of his defenders, is not really about health at all. It’s about making sure there is always an underclass of people who can be readily identified, and that identity used as the foundation on which to prop up hackneyed stereotypes and value judgments (lazy, smelly, gluttonous, stupid, low-class), which ultimately results in an entire group of people being devalued as human beings for having one, relatively unimportant characteristic in common.
Then she says, welcome to appearance-based discrimination 101. I think she was talking directly to me. I’m a staunch feminist. I know all about the pressures that women face compared to men. However, what I failed to see everywhere around me was the gross implicit discrimination directed at overweight people in the most insidious, subtle (and not so subtle) ways.
I devoured this blog. After finishing each post, I would gasp and think “I could have done better in my life.” What’s really beautiful about the Fat Nutritionist blog is the current of self-acceptance. She could have called her blog MoreCompassion and meant it. Whether she is discussing people who are fat, gay, old, mentally frustrated, etc., she just exudes acceptance and affection. It’s beautiful and unfortunately there’s not enough of it in this world.
Through the Fat Nutritionist’s blog, I found this tumblr called This Is Thin Privilege. The posts in there made me cry not just as I read them but as I drove home later in the day and reflected on them. Here’s a small example of the content you’ll find:
Thin privilege is wearing sweats and being “cute and athletic”, while I wear sweats and get told I “look like a slob.”
People think like that all the time! Here’s another example:
Everything I have read was just evidence of how horribly we treat fat people. It’s like it never even occurred to some people that fat people might be happy the way they are. Everyone isn’t dying to be a size 3 or uncomfortable with how they look. And it also shows me how much privilege is associated with being thin. It’s perverted.
Another piano that fell from a third-story window and landed on my head was TheBodyLoveBlog. One of my new favorite quotes from here says:
“The only thing that anyone can diagnose, with any certainty, by looking at a fat person, is their own level of stereotype and prejudice toward fat people. ” Fat Studies: An Invitation to Revolution by Marilyn Wann
My mind has been blown and I am all the happier for it.