So, let's get the confessionals out of the way.
Normally, I could give a shit if I'm fat or skinny--I function much along the same lines as Rosie O'Donnell when she said she simply doesn't pay attention to her body enough to know if she is fat or skinny or a spaghetti noodle. I'm the same way.
But being a lover of sports, being a lover of 'movement'--I find myself forced to confront the fact that I am fat almost every single time I step outside my door in my tennis shoes and jogging pants.
See, fat girls aren't supposed to exercise. Or be mobile. Or demonstrate their physicality in anyway other than the prescribed fat girl ways of eating, sitting and watching t.v., hiding behind towels, etc. Most of us as women know at least part of the reason why that is. If your body isn't 'available' for male consumption, nobody wants to see it. And what better way can a woman possibly say she is 'available' than being skinny and working out in an effort to maintain that availability? So if a woman is fat AND working out--it's almost like a joke. Who does she think she is? How dare she assume that any man would want to see her fat ass heaving around a baseball diamond?
Feminists have discussed "fatness" within the context of sports/exercise/movement many times. Unfortunately, especially in blogland, this discussion is rarely fruitful. While some productive ideas are discussed (like the anti-gay/queerphobia that often presents itself in the form of fat hating), more often than not, what happens is that the discussion folds into a 'body-censoring' group project. In other words, fat women shoot hostile looks at skinny women who 'love the attention' their skinny bodies bring them, and skinny women throw the snark at fat women who 'blame us because men don't find them attractive.' And suddenly nobody is allowed to love moving their body because the results of moving ones body are so different for so many of us.
I think those are often brutally painful discussions because each person is more interested in proving her point than critically examining how exercise, movement, mobility, sports, etc is so strictly monitored by various cultures. Which leads to a lot of hurtful and triggering name calling and dismissals, and even worse, censors out the voice of many women who experience 'fat' and 'skinny' on levels that aren't what the mainstream expect them to or in multiple ways at different times. For example, as a Latin@, I am not considered 'fat'--but curvy (or big boned, ya feeling me, Latinas?). And playing softball with a group of other Latinas? I rarely experience insecurity at all. It's more about laughing, drinking a beer or two, and occasionally running like hell towards the next base. However, as a non-20ish woman simply walking around a university sports complex--I've been laughed at and have had fat friends accosted by groups of young hot shot university boys for being 'fat bitches.'
I, like so many other women, experience 'fat' in multiple ways that change according to who I am and how other people interpret me. Which makes me wonder: is it possible to reframe discussions around exercise, movement, sports etc to recognize the way 'fat' and 'skinny' are fluctuating and impermanent concepts? Is it possible to reframe how fat/not fat is talked about in feminist circles?
Why can't a fat woman do a 'skinny' sport like gymnastics or ballet without it being turned into a massive joke or a disgusting turn off (http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/International/Story?id=2999487&page=1)? Why can't a slender woman (who may be bi, lesbian, simply not interested, etc) move her body without maleness and male desire becoming how the rest of the world (including other women) interprets her movement?
Are the two situations connected? If so, how? And what can we, as women who are interested in creating space for women to move without shame, fear, or paranoia, *DO* to hear each group of women (and all the women not represented in the fat/not fat dichotomy) and support them?