I was in a group on a social media site where a member posted a photo of women in a group photo. The women had clearly taken time to get dressed up for the picture and the joys of sisterhood had them glowing in the photo. A couple of Petty Betty group members wanted the rest of us to know that most of the women looked good but that the big(ger) woman in the photo “needed a girdle” because “no one wants to see all of that”. I responded that no one owed anyone a flat stomach. My response was met with the regular schmegular “people should take pride in how they look” spill. Again, don’t nobody owe you no flat stomach *shrug*. No one owes you a girdle. No one owes you the discomfort of restrictive shape-wear that makes their body shrink. This is not a judgement of folks who partake in shape wear. This is to say that no one is owed another person’s decision to wear shape wear.
Within a society that privileges thinness (the accepted standard for body beauty of women and femme folx) and prizes proximity to thinness, talking sh*t about fat(ter) bodied people is a normalized practice. It’s a regular habit to tell fat(ter) bodied people what they “should do” with their bodies. We, fat(ter) folks, are told to shrink ourselves and that we’re taking up too much space. Let’s not even start on weight loss/diet culture’s rampant ever presence and portrayal of fat(ter) bodies as deficient of confidence, attractiveness, joy, movement, or beauty. Health trolling is part of the culture as well. Health trolls (poorly) disguise their disgust and disapproval of fat(ter) bodies in feigned concern about fat[ter] bodied people’s health and wellness when all fat(ter) bodied folks want to do is post a selfie on the gram. For my own mental health, I don’t engage folks whose overt or covert purpose is to shame members of #TeamMcThickems. I’m Joseline Hernandez to the foolery: “I cannot.”
Real talk, I used to be a respectable fat. I was a fat who let everyone know that I wasn’t like the “other”, “bad” fats. I was a “good”, respectable fat who ate right, worked out, and had my fat in all the “right” places (hips, breast, thighs, butt; by shape wear and genetic body composition). I had to unlearn/am unlearning all of that mess. I had to ask myself how I won/benefited/profited from the shaming of bodies in general and fat(ter) bodies specifically. The answer was that to shame fat(ter) bodies brought shame on my own body and required me to remain bound to a set of ideas that brought no liberation. What good does shaming a body do? N-O-N-E. As I continue (present tense) to unlearn unhealthy, shame laden ideas, I now know that nutrition and fitness are for me and not currency that I leverage to shame other fats or to prove my worth in a thin-centric culture. I recognize the freedom that each person and body has to exist, be comfortable, have fun, and be free of shame.
Seriously, no one owes you a flat stomach. No one owes you the absence of back rolls. No one owes you a long sleeved top and pants in the heat so that you don’t have to see their body. Period. Point blank. Full stop. I didn’t come to take up all yall’s good time, but yeah, don’t nobody owe you no flat stomach. The next time you fix your lips to tell a fat(ter) bodied person (or anyone, really) what to wear, remember the lesson from Wedding Crashers: “You shut your mouth when you’re talking to me.”
If you’d like to read more critical discussions about weight/size, visit the body is not an apology website. As for me and my house, just know that yall gone catch this thigh meat and exposed back all #Summer2018
Written by: Dr. J/Joan Collier, #CiteASista