Size Matters: Breaking it Down to Basics

Tasha Fierce
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Tasha Fierce is a Black feminist writer from Los Angeles. You can follow her on Twitter at @MissTashaFierce and read more of her work on her blog, Tastefully Ratchet.

Since we're nearing the end of this blog, I thought now would be a good time to answer a question several readers have asked and basically summarize some of the lessons I hope you've taken away from our time together here. These are just starting points—I would suggest you do some further reading about thin privilege as well as how to practice FA.

  • Fat people are not unattractive or unable to be attractive simply because they are fat. This became an issue early on in the life of this blog. Fat and beauty are not mutually exclusive. So it follows, saying something like "your face is gorgeous" is really worse than just not saying anything at all. Most fat people don't appreciate the sentiment that goes along with a statement like that--too bad your body is so damn hideous. You don't need to comfort or coddle fat people with "well-meaning" pseudocompliments, really. And by saying that I don't mean you have a license to tell fat people how disgusting you think they are in the name of honesty. This is a situation where the old adage "if you have nothing nice to say, don't say anything at all" applies.
  • Fat people don't need you to worry about their health for them. One of the things I hope y'all really take away from this is that fat is not inherently unhealthy or healthy. Therefore, you can't tell a person's health by how fat they are. So "concern trolling" really amounts to people getting out their disgust of fat under the guise of caring about the fat person in question's health. This is why I talk about "concern trolling" so much—it's not really actual concern and is quite transparent, especially coming from strangers on the Internet. Fat folks can handle their own health issues, thank you.
  • Fat is a value-neutral or positive term. The word "fat" doesn't need to be dressed up with euphemisms. It's extremely important that we normalize the neutrality and/or positivity of "fat" if we're ever going to advance fat acceptance. On the flip side, I wouldn't suggest you come out and call someone "fat" if they're not familiar with fat being used as a non-pejorative. Yes, some people will still be offended if you call them fat, so try introducing them to fat acceptance gently and let them get comfortable with fat as a neutral/positive term. Tread lightly, however. Here on this blog "fat" is thrown around on the regular, but we do have to face the fact that outside of this place there's a lot of people who don't get that it's OK to be fat.
  • Fat acceptance requires acceptance of all sizes and the choices fat people make about their bodies. Note "acceptance" and not "approval" or "admiration." I've said this many times but it bears repeating—fat people are not expecting you to do anything but respect them as human beings and respect that they have the right to decide what they do with their bodies. "My body, my choice." Sound familiar? Fat people should be allowed agency over their bodies without you up in their faces telling them how wrong what they're doing is. You don't have to like it, but you do have to accept it.

I want to reinforce these points because I think they're crucial to FA. Hopefully you'll take these ideas to heart and practice them in your daily life, as you interact with fat people AND as you interact with pop cultural representations of fatness critically.

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9 Comments Have Been Posted

thanks

Thank you for this series. i really hope folks take the basic lessons away from it, and then expand on that.

Fatty Love!!!

This is such a great post

This is such a great post and a great way of breaking down the ideas of Fat Acceptance into simple terms, I think I'll be linking a lot of people to this entry when I'm trying to explain what Fat Acceptance is really all about.

Thanks for writing this

Thanks for writing this blog, Tasha. I've really enjoyed it, and it's made me think quite a lot about fatness in our society. Hopefully I'll get to read some more of your work in the future.

Terrific summary of what

Terrific summary of what you've been writing about. Thanks so much.

Two questions

I loved this series, Tasha. Really insightful, economic commentary on a topic that really needs much more critical analysis. So, thank you.

I have two questions that I wanted to pose at the close of the series.

1. As you've covered fatness and mention thin privilege, I wonder what we make of "in-between" bodies. "Average" seems like the wrong word. "In-between" may ingratiate itself into a binary, but it may also exacerbate it instead of suggesting a flow of continuum. But how do we begin to theorize these bodies?
1A. I loved loved loved that you addressed gradations of fatness (i.e., fatness is not monolithic, but encompasses a range of bodies).
2. I'm totally behind making "fat" a value-neutral or positive term. But I struggle with its usage because I'm not fat. I was a chubby kid, but I've been a petite lady since high school. So it seems insulting to fat women for me to use that word. Thus I wonder what the rhetorical responsibilities are for fat allies who are not themselves fat.

Great work!

Why must it end? :(

I have loved this series on fat. Why must it end here??? :(

Would love to see more fat talk. Surely there is more to talk about.

That's great to hear!

Guest bloggers here only write for us for eight weeks at a time, though often we wish it could go on longer. That's so we can ensure a variety of different voices on the blog, and so they can get back to their day jobs without us taking up too much of their time.

However, it's great to hear that you enjoyed this series! We're always brainstorming potential topics, and we'd love to have another series on fatness and pop culture on the blog soon. In the meantime, Tasha is blogging as part of the Grand Rounds team here every Friday! http://bitchmagazine.org/post/grand-rounds-dissecting-greys-anatomy-with...
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I really wish this blog didn't have to end.

Even though I'm size privileged (in Tennessee anyway...I have a feeling I'm a size considered "chubby" in certain places on the East and West Coasts) I've really gotten a lot out of reading this blog. I learned things about others. I learned things about myself. I got a little bit more comfortable with myself and a little bit more accepting of others because of some of the things you've written. I tried to get my friends of all sizes to read this blog....I have no idea if any of them did. Either way, I just want to say thanks, and that when this blog ends I'll miss being able to read it.

Health and Weight

Hey Tasha,
Thanks for writing this! I've really enjoyed your posts, they've helped me realize prejudices I've probably had unconsciously, despite the fact that I thought I was open-minded and non-judgmental. Just adding to the health comments previously made, weight most definitely does not define the health status of a person. I'm a tall size zero, and my lifelong frail and underweight body is the result of poor health and immune system deficiencies. I've suffered from sicknesses since a child, and even now get sick much more often and have less energy and stamina than some of my fat friends. Despite my unhealthy reality however, I do receive comments from strangers, teachers, co-workers, ect, about how healthy I appear, whereas my friends say they never receive such comments! It's outrageous!!

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