Thursday, June 21, 2007

Awareness and amazement

I am pretty new to the whole fat acceptance movement, and it has only been in the past few months that I have discovered that there are other people out there like me, people that don't think it is OK to hate other people, or themselves, based solely on one aspect of their bodies. It has been a radical, paradigm-shifting experience for me to realize that there are other people who see the sheer madness in the degree of self-hatred our culture is steeped in, and are willing to speak up in an attempt to change that little bit of our cultural fabric.

I guess I have always been a bit of a fat pioneer -- at ten years old I was in a women's size 16, I have never been any smaller, and even though I hated my body, I (mostly) did not let that stop me from doing the things I wanted to do -- I went swimming, even though I hated myself in a bathing suit, and I never really thought much about it until a few years ago when, at a weekend-at-the-lakehouse mini-vacation I friend commented to me that she admired my ability to walk around in a bathing suit without shame (the shame was there, I just hid it better than she did. Plus, the towels I tied around my waist would never stay, I was too big, and it was a pain in the ass to keep tying them.).

Since I have discovered that fat acceptance is a whole movement, not just some happy bunny fairy-land style wish in my brain, and I have stared reading what other people have to say about the subject, it has astounded me how pervasive fat hatred really is, and how far I still have to go before I am truly free from those hateful messages. It's very much like learning a new word --you never notice it, but once you have learned it, you suddenly see it everywhere. I hear the hatred, of self or others, in women's conversation, even from women who would argue that they are very accepting, and are in many ways. I suddenly understand that so much of the "beauty" that women are obsessed with, that we are told is about making us feel good, is really only about making us hate ourselves, or each other, to buy products, or, even more sinister, to keep us from competing with men. I find myself becoming a bit of a conspiracy theorist, thinking about how much more women could be doing, to fight for social justice, or education, or even equal treatment in the workforce, if only we could put the same amount of effort into those causes instead of our pursuit of the Perfect Body, and I wonder if there is some force out there whose agenda is just that -- distract the women so they never realize their full power. I wonder too, if some force is feeding us (no pun intended) all this fat hatred to keep us malnourished and stupid. No one has ever changed the world by starving themselves to fit into the perfect dress.

In the spirit of my growing awareness, I have decided to add a new category called Hate Watch. These will be entries about some of those subtle things I keep seeing -- the hate in sheep's clothing. If nothing else, it should be an interesting exercise.


Gordita said...

I don't really think it's men who conspire against us. It's been my experience that women hate women much more than men do. I just switched departments at work, from being in an office of nearly all women to now being the only woman. In the office of all women, jealousy reigned . . . they were like the proverbial crabs in the bucket, pulling down anyone who might show herself exceptional. In the office of men, I don't hear any gossip except "good gossip" - they support each other, and me.
Btw, be careful about that whole "hate watch" thing . . . sometimes it can get easy to see it where it isn't. (You tend to see what you're looking for).

Gordita said...

One more thing . . . I totally agree about the tragedy of wasting a life, and potential impact and true greatness, on starving oneself to fit into the perfect dress. Kudos for articulating that.
I also love your use of the English language . . . you are quite a wordsmith. Always a pleasure to read your posts! :)

Erin said...

Gordita, I agree, women are, in general, much, much more hateful than men are -- at least overtly. This phenomenon fascinates me, and I am very interested in exploring its roots, and uncovering the rotted core underneath it. I beleive that is just a symptom. I want to discover the disease.