Let’s talk about thin priv for a sec. Let’s talk about this episode of This American Life. Let’s talk about how, especially for women, but to a certain extent for men as well, body size has a linear relationship with every single aspect of life. And the relationship is, as body size increases, quality decreases. Job prospects vanish, dating prospects vanish, treatment by strangers deteriorates, likelihood of getting harassed increases, doctors dismiss symptoms unrelated to weight as caused by excess weight, the ability to get published decreases, opportunities to go on television or do public speaking diminish, respect from others decreases, perceived competence decreases. I could go fucking on.
Let’s talk about anorexia. According to the Mayo Clinic:
Other emotional and behavioral signs and symptoms related to anorexia may include:
- Preoccupation with food
- Refusal to eat
- Denial of hunger
- Fear of gaining weight
- Lying about how much food has been eaten
- Flat mood (lack of emotion)
- Social withdrawal
- Reduced interest in sex
- Depressed mood
- Thoughts of suicide
Let’s talk about symptoms 1-4. WHO THE FUCK DOESN’T DO THAT? Ahem.
Who doesn’t hate themselves in direct proportion to how much space they currently take up?
I don’t hate myself because there’s anything objectively bad about taking up space. I don’t hate myself because I think fat people are worse people than thin people. I think fatphobia is stupid, superstitious, mean-spirited, ugly, unscientific, hateful bullshit.
I hate myself because society rewards people for being thin and punishes them for being fat. I hate myself because not being as thin as possible means I’ve failed the marshmallow test. It means I’ve behaved shortsightedly. I’ve given up countless huge benefits for a short-lived, not-that-great reward. It’s a failure in self-control.
Do I feel bad about hating myself? Not really. I feel sad. I feel sad that I can’t fully embrace fat-acceptance because I’m afraid that if I really believe, like, internalize, that fat is as good as thin, then I might get fat. If I truly believe fat is beautiful, I might get fat. If I stop hating myself in direct proportion to my size, I might let my size creep up.
But do I blame myself for any of that? Not really. It’s not a hill I should have to die on. It’s not a hill I’m going to die on. I admire the people who stand up to fatphobia by living full, unashamed lives as large people in a society that hates them. I’m not going to do that. I have other things I want to do, other superstitious phobias I want to combat (sex). Being fat would make all my other work harder and less effective.
Do I have an eating disorder? Do I engage in disordered eating? No. I live in a disordered society.
I’m trying to get it, but having lived through my teens and twenties making nothing more than light jokes about getting fat or the chub we had someplace, I just don’t remember any anxiety about weight, other than from the very, very heavy (and to the one those women have great lives now). And now I’ve been very fat as well as having been very thin, and the difference it has made in how people treat me has been negligible. I wouldn’t know what resources make you feel better about yourself, but I am pretty sure, given how diverse our social group was- that they are pretty widely available. Maybe feeling better about sex makes the weight issues fall away?
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