Monday, March 21, 2011

Acronyms Mean Things

Edit to Add: With apologies to Shannon. Posted  then looked at my feed and "Hey look at that!" GMTA?

There is a post-thread currently running on Tumblr that's had a turn or two. . . Maybe three or four, on the regular blog circuit. 

Every now and again the 'inclusion issue' comes up within the online F/A community. Like the Good Fatty / Bad Fatty kerfuffle and the Diet Talk brawls that tend to flare up. This time it was an inbetweenie, someone who has experienced, remembered, or feels that they've experienced weight based bias or fat shaming, someone who now feels segregated within fat acceptance for not being fat enough. The issue has come up before and, if I'm not mistaken, the last time originated with a person or group who felt marginalized within F/A for being TOO fat. It can foster in depth examination of the messages we might be trying to send. Generate frustrated missives calling for and end to the divisions and button-holling typically caused by such discussion, and a general irritation at the seeming need for Fat Acceptance advocates to explain, re-explain, review, clarify, and re-clarify forever and ever, Ramen. All this is enough make folks wonder what message, if any, is actually getting through.

Perhaps there's a simpler explanation for why this happens so frequently. Maybe the simplest explanation is; 'It's not about you.' Really? It's about us as fat people. This would include you, if you want it to. 

Dealing with body issues is a deeply personal thing. It shapes how people feel about themselves and can effect one's sense of self-worth (As if we didn't know this already) to the extent that a lot of us are constantly searching for ways to improve, modify, or completely change our bodies (This we know as well. There's a point here. It's coming). When something new comes along (like, say, accepting  your body as is) many people will dive in head-first looking for The Apocryphal Revelation that will Change Everything. . .  For Me. Unfortunately, after getting around some skepticism over the initial message, I think many find. . . Not something that is focused like a laser on their specific situation, but something spread out across a broad spectrum of situations. Hence the feeling of betrayal, "This Movement said  it was about Fat People but it's not about what I want to do / feel / think or how I am / want to be. BUT I'M FAT TOO!!". Ummm, yes. 

And, no. Social Justice Movements generally aren't about individual people. In fact, they tend not to focus on rigidly defined types of people with exclusive attributes. Or, at least they TRY not to. This, then, would be the point; If you're looking to join a movement that's concerned with changing things for a loosely defined group of people solely to see what YOU can get out of it, you might not be going in with good motivations. There is also the distinct possibility that you're not going to come out with anything resembling what you were looking for.  

"But what about the 'Lifestyle' part? I thought Body Acceptance was supposed to be about being inclusive of everyone." Yes, Fat Acceptance should be all inclusive, and I would argue that it's made valiant efforts in trying to do just that. But we also have a long history of ACTIVE appropriation from Diet Culture (The primary reason for the 'No Diet Talk' philosophy many adhere to). Where Blogs, Forums and Community Spaces have been overrun by people seeking to give or receive diet advise. With a little open minded reflection one might understand a little nervousness about growing trends that seem to be headed in the direction of erasing or undermining the experiences of those who don't just feel fat but are, in fact, actually fat. Still, Inclusion might not be IMpossible.     

As the questions of who's not fat enough and who's too fat circle around for yet another pass, I find myself fighting my own 'divided = conquered' issues. Not quite comfortable with the idea that BODY Acceptance and FAT Acceptance might not always be the same thing. It has been a discussion we've had before and, personally, I've always had a problem with the implications of internal segregation. This movement however, like most organisms, is evolving and the possible interpretations of what Body / Size / Fat Acceptance means must evolve with it. So, perhaps now, these are distinctions we should start working to define. And this might well be a good place to start.

Muzak Therapy:
Billy Corgan / Mina Loy (M.O.H.)