Whiteness and Fat Acceptance
I’ve been staring at this page for far too long thinking about how to put feelings into words and who I’m talking to and why I’m talking at all.
Tumblr, sometimes I don’t give you nearly enough credit and sometimes I let you shake me far more than I’m comfortable admitting. You’ve given me heros and goddesses and enemies and family and an immeasurable amount of knowledge and love. You’ve been the only ones watching my life but that’s a post for a whole nother day.
What I need to talk about today is my silence…our silence.
I want to acknowledge my silence and its admission of guilt.
I thought for a long time that my silence and divorce from Fat Acceptance as a movement and the loud voices within it that hurt that ones I love, the ones I want to destroy things with and the ones who’s voices I need to hear was enough. I thought that it was the right move and that by doing better, educating myself and not supporting those who were not interested in examining the ways in which they committed violence, I was better.
but my silence is hurting people and my silence is an act of violence.
I was a wee babe coming into Fat Acceptance years ago and I remember the ways I learned and unlearned and rinse repeated White Supremacy, ableism, cissexism and size privilege. I remember who taught me and who didn’t and I remember why it was easier to fall back into the fold when things got icky.
I remember the ways in which I fucked up time and time again (and still do) and who encouraged that and who held/holds me accountable for my shit.
Fat Acceptance (has gotten much bigger on tumblr, and it is clear now that it is starting to crystallize as a movement) is for white cis women who want to feel good about themselves and feel a part of something that speaks to them directly.
Clearly, I get why that’s appealing and comforting for so many. I was right there with you!! Fat people ARE oppressed and [non-normative (whatever the fuck that actually means)] fat bodies do experience violence. No one’s arguing that.
In fact, the only thing that people are arguing with is FA’s inability and sometimes, vehement refusal to even acknowledge and talk about the ways in which bodies other than white cis women’s experience extreme violence….sometimes at the hands of white cis fat activists.
There’s so much to be said about Fat Activists and Fat Acceptance and how we build certain voices up and how MISOGYNY and size privilege and white supremacy create activists and how they then become the ones who create the knowledge and enforce it. Even if all they’ve ever done on Tumblr is be fat and pretty for you
See, I handled this the way I handle my day to day in a lot of ways. You say shit that embarrasses, irritates or bores me and I just get rid of you. I’m an adult and I value myself so I don’t keep people in my life who aren’t working towards the same things and don’t add to my life. I don’t waste time. I worked HARD to survive and I know the value of my time now.
I thought ignoring you and doing my own thing was the best solution. And for me, it was for a bit.
I struggle with how to handle those conversations with people who just don’t want to talk about their whiteness. I don’t have the language just yet or maybe people who like me would prefer I just talk about sex and take pictures of me being fat and pretty.
I see what gets notes and what doesn’t.
I see how I’m being used and how I benefit from this system.
I am tired of that bullshit about how hard it is to think about how your actions and words will affect people who are not white, able-bodied, cis, poor, or those who have to think and worry about what borders mean.
And I’m sick of that bullshit about how you didn’t realize you were supposed to know everything and you didn’t mean to hurt anyone so that doesn’t make you racist, classist, ableist, an asshole, etc. Because all you have to do is be accountable.
Because your inability to give value to the words and criticism of POC is about your white supremacy and your manicured upbringing as a white person. Your experiences and your attitude towards criticism is a white person’s luxury. You’ve been told all your life the ways in which you’re better, you’ve been given the luxury of ignorance and your desire to avoid these uncomfortable moments of admitting that you’re wrong is a testament to that.
Often when I get to this part of the discussion (because I’ve really tried to talk to white folks, admittedly I’ve done it one on one, not out here for all of tumblr to see) I get the standard, “I’m not racist because___________” or “They pick apart every word I say!! I can’t do anything right!!!” or “ugh lighten up” or “HOW WAS I SUPPOSED TO KNOW??”
And that’s cool, but like….tumblr is a treasure trove of information regarding whiteness, capitalism, patriarchy and social justice and the tools are there if you want to see them. There are people out there who haven’t given up on Fat Acceptance and continue to try and educate white folks and show them where they’re lacking.
There are people having conversations that seek to include all bodies and practice respect. There are people out there who can do these things and still find a way to celebrate beauty, joy and resistance.
There’s also that thing where someone tells you that you’ve hurt them and how and then you just fucking listen, apologize and do better.
Because that’s just about being a decent fucking person. Its just about how if you had apologized, people would continue to give you the incessant rim jobs they were giving you here. Because for the most part, the masses would and do continue to support you no matter what.
Because you’ve built your gilded pedestal on the backs of those you ignore. The absolute least you could do was apologize and remember them.
So someone participates in a gross photoshoot but they’re pretty and they’re fat and they like their body and you admire them for those things and well….they’re nice to you!
Maybe someone is fat and loud and funny and is strong for you in ways you can’t yet be strong for yourself.
Think about what being a good friend to those people means to you really.
Understand that you can try and be a good friend to them and that they’ll still prefer to continue on with friends who encourage their racism and are comfortable with their inability to grow and learn.
Take stock of who in your life wants to make shit better and who just wants to “have a good time”.
Remember that we’re all learning and that getting uncomfortable and being open to learning and encouraging that in others is the only way to tear down a system that hurts, silences and kills.
Understand that we’re all in this together and you can and will choose sides. Whether it be through action or inaction.
Tumblr is an interesting space that allows you to really see the ways you participate in bigger systems of power. You can decide the bodies, lifestyles, ideas and conversations you want to give a voice to and you can see and interact directly with those who benefit and get hurt by those decisions.
Lets fuck shit up in new and exciting ways where we can learn and grow and appreciate each other. I feel scared to speak out sometimes because I don’t have the answers or the language but I do have the desire to create intentional movements that include more bodies and voices and I guess this is me trying to be accountable.