I’m not on board with Fat Acceptance and Here’s Why


Fat Acceptance as a concept has always seemed like a great idea to me. As someone who grew up overweight and gradually became obese, I know the sting of body judging all too well. It’s also no surprise that this movement has worked in tandem with 3rd wave feminism to break down our culture’s fixation on women’s bodies. So as a feminist, I see why it’s needed and important. Because simply by existing these people are committing two unforgivable societal sins: being fat and being female. This relegates them to the outskirts of society, unrepresented in our media beyond the headless fatties on the news with captions that read: “IS AMERICA EATING ITSELF TO DEATH?!”

We need to see fat women. Fat women exist. We need to see them living life, dressing the way they want, and feeling confident. The core of Fat Acceptance is restoring fat people’s humanity and in this way it has my full support.

I’d like to specify that I’m speaking about Fat Acceptance as expressed by white women. In my experience, the Fat Acceptance movement is made up almost entirely with women who are white and middle class. Women of color have their own brand of Fat Acceptance, but I’m not familiar with it and therefore can’t comment.

But then I see articles like this recent Buzzfeed list.

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Just to clarify: this woman is not fat.

I can see that this article is well-meaning. Bikini season is approaching and it’s a time of anxiety for a lot of women. Many of us struggle to lose weight fast enough in order to fit in (literally) while others feel left out completely, accepting baggy t-shirts as their only option.

In reality, these types of articles are extremely patronizing. They infantilize grown-ass women by telling us that we’re all special and all beautiful. This is, of course, impossible. When everyone is special, being special becomes meaningless. Same with beauty.

Now beauty is complicated. Certainly no one is arguing that fat people don’t have inner-beauty. Unless you’re one of those sad sacks over at fatpeoplestories on Reddit, in which case: what the fuck are you doing with your life?

But the issue I take with this Buzzfeed article is what seems to be a growing trend within the Fat Acceptance movement. The claim that fat people’s bodies are inherently as attractive as thinner, healthier bodies. Beauty is a broad concept and is not the same as sexual attractiveness.

Obviously, there is a spectrum of being overweight. Being a little curvier or having some extra fat is trivial and rarely interferes with people’s attraction. Women are beginning to celebrate curvier frames more in recent years and that’s good. But there’s a limit. There comes a point where fat begins to overtake your body. It hangs and sags, hiding your real curves and facial features. Especially if you’re short like me, being obese can completely consume your appearance. At my highest weight I can barely recognize myself.

And that just isn’t sexy.

There is a growing denial in Fat Acceptance about beauty standards. It is difficult to argue against the Fat Acceptance claims against of traditional beauty standards. Beauty standards are problematic. Yes, our culture is undeniably hateful toward fat bodies. Yes, women are the main target of this hate and are scrutinized within an inch of our sanity. Our bodies are a social battleground and that is beyond fucked up. It has to stop.

But the answer is to take control of our bodies, not to cover up the problem with airy platitudes like, “real women have curves” or “men like something to hold onto!” These are emotional band-aids that need to be ripped the fuck off.

The hard truth is that being obese makes sexual relationships more difficult. Stamina, joint problems, blood flow – all of these become relevant. Does your stomach hang over your genitals? Doubly so. What your partner probably won’t tell you is that these are all barriers that make attraction a struggle. That doesn’t mean they don’t love you. This does mean that your inability to control your weight will make sex harder.

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Neither is she.

It’s strange to me that so many people who talk about “body positivity” do so without a single thought for the negative affects of being fat. Please don’t send me your essay about Health at Any Size as I find the entire concept to be intellectually bankrupt. If you’re looking to be the magical fat unicorn that’s perfectly healthy at 350lbs, odds are you aren’t that unicorn. Focusing on the legend of such people actually does a lot of damage to others in the long run. Because, in the real world, most people who are obese are that way due to an unhealthy lifestyle. And it’s a hell of a lot easier to rationalize that you’re healthy at any size than to reevaluate your habits. I know, I’ve been there.

You may think you’re sending out positive messages to those who need help salvaging their self-esteem in a world full of fat hate. And to some that’s exactly what you’re doing. But what we don’t see are the people who are addicted to food and covering with Fat Acceptance ideals. There are people in the Fat Acceptance movement who are killing themselves slowly with food and sedentary living while others applaud and tell them they’re flawless. There is- and I’m being totally serious here– an ongoing search by Fat Acceptance activists for doctors who will ignore weight problems when treating illness. Those doctors are then reviewed favorably online and passed around to others who have been “fat shamed” by their doctors.

Just in case you haven’t noticed: that’s fucking insane. If 5 doctors tell you that your weight is a contributing factor to your health problems, the answer is not to find another doctor. This avoidant behavior is at the core of where Fat Acceptance has gone off course. It’s blatantly ignoring health, to the detriment of it’s own community, in order to create an accepting environment. What’s shocking to most is the best example of this is in the Pro-Ana movement.

Pro-Ana (also called “Thinsperation” or “Thinspo”) is objectively heartbreaking to anyone outside of its community.img_1610

Young women support each other in their search to starve themselves in the name of Fashion, beauty, and a feeling of control. They give each other tips, tricks and even help each other hide their disorder from family and friends. It is both the completely opposite of Fat Acceptance and its greatest parallel. Feminists have condemned Thinspo as degrading, horrific and a symptom of living in a world where women’s worth is based on their dress size. Women everywhere cry out, “This is awful! How could she think this is sexy? Can’t she see she is hurting herself?” And they’re right. Regarding the physical component of sex drives- bodies that are physically unhealthy or malnourished aren’t as attractive as healthier bodies.

These women take their weight to extremes which objectively hurts them. Yet the Thinspo community eagerly jumps to their defense, swaddling them in a blanket of comforting platitudes, reinforcing their feelings with validation. They are enablers, just as addicts of all sorts enable others.

On the other side, Fat Acceptance communities are doing their version of the exact same thing. They create online communities that encourage people to accept their bodies without any knowledge or consideration of their health. A popular saying with this crowd is, “You can’t look at someone’s size and know their health”, which has a grain of truth but it goes both ways. No, you can’t always know if an overweight person is healthy or not. They could, in fact, be dangerously overweight. They could be only a few years from losing their mobility or even a limb to diabetes. But the need to enable each other overrides any health concerns. Perhaps it’s easier to get behind Fat Acceptance because of its foundation in feminist thought. Pro-Ana is a clear example of damage caused to women by living in a patriarchal culture. It sends the strong message, “This is what happens when men control women’s bodies.” Fat Acceptance, in theory, should be about women taking back that control.

I’ve noticed that the vast majority of people in Fat Acceptance are young women, mid-twenties to early-thirties. Very few men, unsurprisingly. These women are at an age where serious weight-related maladies may have not yet presented. The decline of their health may not be fully apparent yet. Unfortunately, the reality is that it’s only a matter of time and both Thinspo and Fat Activists need to realize the limits of the human body…

You can get to a point where you are too old and unhealthy to fix your body. People can, and do, get stuck. Some damage is unrepairable. There is nothing feminist or empowering about becoming trapped in your body. Nothing at all.

WomanFeminists want equality. But that also includes taking responsibility for ourselves and accepting reality. We can’t demand equality while expecting everyone to pretend that someone who appears unhealthy is as sexually attractive as someone who takes better care of themselves. It’s the same thinking that leads adults to tell their children that they can be dinosaurs when they grow up. These placating white lies are meant to soothe egos but ultimately only infantilizes women, keeping us in a place of inferiority. The trade off for equal treatment is that we can’t expect to be handled with kid gloves. Thems the breaks.

I still firmly believe that Fat Acceptance at it’s core is a positive movement. I’d like to see it move away from comforting platitudes about sexuality and focus on the capabilities of fat people. I want to support those efforts to humanize and to push for representation. You have a right to take care of yourself as much or as little as you want, no one can force you to gain or lose weight. But I’m not going to lie to you and tell you that it’s sexy when you don’t care for yourself, it isn’t. We are grown ass women who can handle ourselves, and it’s time we act like it.

Haters Need Not Apply: Friendship and Third Wave Feminism


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It’s always a shock to me when I lose a friend. There’s some vestigial feeling from years of after-school specials that my friends are my friends for life. B.F.F – best friends forever, right? It feels alien, despite the fact that it’s totally natural. As people grow, our values and personalities change and that inevitably means social circles must be culled. As a young woman my low self esteem taught me that a loss of a friend was a sign that I was a bad person, a mean person, a “bitch”. These days I know better, or at least I’m trying to remember to know better.

Approaching my 30th year I can safely say I’ve lost a lot of friends in my life. But I no longer have the erroneous fear that it reflects poorly on me. Rather, it shows a progression toward not tolerating toxic people. In addition to that, I’m beginning to finally understand what friendship is and surprisingly most of my female friends have fallen short.

My original understanding of friendship and sisterhood was defined simply by just the women in my life. Friends by default simply because we liked the same things. But this practice has backfired more times than I like to admit. Because the unfortunate truth is that most women in America create environments that are hostile toward each other. We engage in behavior that reinforces the negativity toward ourselves, willingly and with a viciousness that’s extremely damaging.

Few times in my life have a felt the sting of feminine misogyny like when I break up with a guy.

Full disclosure: I’ve broken up with lots of guys. Sorry, not sorry. I have a tendency to come into relationships too weak and always trying to see the best in people. But once I find my footing, I’m usually shocked to find myself attached to someone pretty unworthy of my attention. Hence all the breaking up.

It’s during these times of transition that women show their true colors. True allies will be supportive, empathetic and honest. But I have admit, these reactions are the minority. Here’s a list of things I’ve experienced from other women:

  • Refusing to speak to me ever again because they’re mutual friends with my ex.
  • Believing everything my ex tells them without bothering to ask me anything personally.
  • Going through mutual friends to ask if I’ve cheated on my ex.
  • Flying into jealous temper tantrums when my status turns from “in a relationship” to “single”.
  • Perceiving any emotions I have about my ex as proof that I’m one of those “crazy bitches”.
  • Slut shaming me for getting into relationships too quickly after my break ups.

The worst part of all of this is I’ve known most of these women for 5 years or more. These weren’t office friends. Break ups are a time when women are asked to stand with other women. But this often proves too much for them, the knee jerk instinct to align oneself with men is too strong.  And can often have disastrous consequences. Women often stay in toxic, abusive relationships partly because the other women in their lives refuse to acknowledge what’s happening is abusive or unhealthy. They try to help find ways to cope with unacceptable behavior instead of helping them leave. And when those relationships do end, those very same women create an air of silent judgement more chilling than the break up itself.

All these things have happened to me and as I em entering my 30’s this May, I’m determined to stop this pattern. I want and need women in my life, sisterhood is extremely important. But a strong dedication to supporting other women is a requirement. If you’re not a feminist, you’re no friend of mine nor to any woman. I no longer have the time or interest to drag people with me into a healthier way of friendship. You get it or you don’t, you’re either in or out.

Don’t waste my time, ladies. I promise not to waste yours.

XOXO

We are not the Specials: the Nerd’s Appeal to Pity


Bitter Nerd: A portion of the Nerd community. These people struggle to self analyze and a have strong need to protect themselves from any criticism. They resent that they’re lonely and often blame women for their lack of sex lives.

[NOTE: If you are a Nerd, but do not fit this category: good. You do not need to send me an essay long email about how you’re not bitter. Do not send me your memoir about how hard things were for you growing up. If you cannot control your urge to inform me about how you’re not a bitter nerd- you probably are a bitter nerd.]

I recently tweeted out the following series of messages on my Twitter.

This came from a place of frustration. I realized during a conversation that I genuinely feared the reactions of nerds to my content. I feared it in a way I never felt about any high school bully. The anxiety over backlash and internet tantrums had actually kept me from writing my feelings, posting content, and saying what I really felt on more than one occasion. All this from a demographic who rallies about free speech in violent games. And it pissed me off.

The subsequent reaction to it blew up my Twitter feed for a bit. The majority has so far been mostly positive or at the very least introspective. The negative reactions were… less than constructive, as they tend to be. In instances like this negative reactions tend to spiral down 1 of 2 different crap chutes. So here’s a handy guide that may help you pinpoint the particular issue you’re dealing with.

Appealing to pity

Arguments that fall under this category generally take the form of…

“I was bullied in the 80’s and girls didn’t like me.”

“Women only like neanderthals.”

“I was never given the opportunity to work on my social skills, that’s why I’m like this.”

The overwhelming message here is of course the word bitter nerds hate most: Entitlement. Along with privilege, they hate these words because they cast criticism on their behavior. And criticism of any kind can’t be tolerated because…

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Bitter Nerds are actually the most sensitive people on Earth.

For all these people complain about the over sensitivity of social justice advocates, I don’t seek them out and never have. Social justice advocates are not the one sending endless, whinging comments to my video about Game Grumps. They see any criticism they receive as the cruelest, most undeserved attack on their poor widdle selves. While seeing any criticism they give anyone else, no matter how toxic or abusive, to be totally justified. It’s just them exercising their free speech and- gosh darn it- they’re proud!

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But back to appealing to pity.

Although these people can be frustrating, they’re problem is really just having a deep-seated sense of persecution that they’ve carried into adulthood. Combined with  feeling entitled to women’s attention, and therefore not responsible for improving themselves- this breeds resentment.

It’s impossible to get through to someone like this until they first understand that they are responsible for themselves and what they say and do. They must be open to the idea that they’re flawed and capable of improvement. But they’re also hypersensitive to anything that might resemble snark, anger, or sarcasm. Replying in any of these ways will result in them doubling down on their feelings of persecution.

Bitter nerds love to consider themselves misunderstood anti-heroes and lone wolves. I’d like to point out that this is a pretty common coping mechanism. One I fell victim to in my own youth. It gives you a  sense of identity and shields you from the sting of criticism.

“I’m not a loser, I’m just misunderstood. They don’t get how special I am. And that’s fine as long as I am super duper special.”

The problem comes up when you’re confronted with the reality that so many other people suffered in the same way. People we thought “had it all” struggled just as much as we did, if not worse.

Case in point, my boyfriend.

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Stupid hot guy… I bet he traveled the world with the money he made being popular in High School.

If I had met him in high school I would have never spoken to him. I would have never even considered talking to him. He was cute and on the soccer team and had legs like Chun Li. Guys like that didn’t go out with chubby nerd girls who drew Sailor Moon fan art in their notebooks. He might as well have been a different species.

But the reality was he was taking so many AP classes at such a young age that he could barely connect with anyone in his school.

“The older kids didn’t like the younger kid showing off, and the kids my age didn’t relate to me because I wasn’t in any of their classes. I felt like I was completely alone. I had some friends, but I didn’t feel like I was part of a group like everyone else was.”

Learning this was kind of mind-blowing for me. I was so absorbed with how everyone dismissed me and how bad that made me feel that I was totally oblivious to the fact that high school sucks for everyone. If you’re fat and ugly, like me, you were an invisible loser. But if you were beautiful then fat, ugly girls like me would resent you forever. You can’t win. And the first step in escaping this persecution complex is realizing that we were not the only ones suffering. And no, our suffering wasn’t worse or somehow more important than others. We are not the specials. 

Appealing to pity only proves that you’re still operating the same way you were in adolescence. It’s a self-centered and extremely flawed perception that has no place in modern conversations about politics, social justice or gaming. I implore you, as a fellow nerd, we all seriously need to grow out of this. I know it’s hard to stop. After sitting in a specific chair for long enough that butt nook is pretty damn comfortable. It soothes us to think that we’re the real victims because it takes all the responsibility off of us to change our behavior. But that’s a coward’s approach to the world. It’s time to take up the sword, put on our big kid pants and start acting like the heroes we look up to in our games.

The Feminist Gamer Tidal Wave


It’s no secret to anyone who runs in the communities I do (nerds, gamers, reviewers) that something is indeed amiss. Social changes are often sparked by one large, public event that sparks an outrage- that seems to trigger a host of other events. Enter Anita Sarkeesian. If you don’t yet know about Anita and the controversy surrounding her kickstarter project. Feel free to fill yourself in:

• Tropes Vs. Women In Video Games Vs. The Internet – Rock Paper Shotgun
• This Week In Harassment – The Borderhouse Blog
• Kickstarter Video Project Attracts Misogynist Horde – The Escapist
• Tropes vs Movie Bob – The Big Picture, The Escapist [VIDEO]
• Feminist Frequency Kickstarter project smashes target – Games Industry
• Awful Things Happen When You Try to Make a Video About Video Game Stereotypes – Kotaku

Now that we’re all caught up, I think we all sort of know – on some level, anyway- that video games have sexist representations of women. That’s not really debatable. And for those of you who will invariably choose the “men are objectified too” route. No… just, no. Get your facts straight, and then rejoin the conversation. We’ve all debunked this argument more times than is necessary and we’re moving on. But I think many were legitimately shocked at the harassment, death/rape threats and so on. I wasn’t really shocked- it’s that kind of retarded behavior that keeps me from bothering with XBOX Live. And I mean “retarded” in the most literal of terms- as in “completely stunted“. I’ve never known a person with developmental disabilities to use the phrase “uppity Jew cunt”.

I think as nerds/gamers we think we live in a futuristic community that is somehow above this kind of behavior. Like misogyny is regulated to Bro culture and frat parties. Clearly we’re far too smart to participate in this kind of Neanderthal shit, right? That was our bubble, and it got burst. And then it got better.

Crystal Dynamics walks onto the scene with quite possibly the worst timing in gaming history. They had redesigned Lara Croft to be less sexualized and had been given a pat on the back from modern society. Then unfortunately took two steps back, fell down the stairs and promptly shit their pants. After Sarkeesian showed us that some gamers are extremely sexist, Crystal Dynamics proved that even those who are trying are fucking up due to a complete lack of understanding. At least that’s how I see it. The Tomb Raider thing doesn’t come off as malicious to me, just ignorant. Which is almost worse because it’s easier to defend. Ya dun fucked up, C.D. It’ll be okay, but maybe you should like… talk to women before you try to flesh out female characters.

By the time the new Hitman trailer waltz in to the party- 2 hours late and wearing only a sign that says “MAKE ME A SAMMICH”- everyone was ready to fucking kill. I don’t even need to break down whats wrong with it. You either get it or you don’t. And really, it’s not any worse than most games that have been coming out for years, it just came out at the best time to be a perfect example of the level of sexist bullshit in gaming. No worse, just the status quo.

And if you’re extra local to this neck of the internet, you’ll know all about the uproar that happened at TGWTG. If you are a fan, then you already know. If you aren’t- you probably don’t care. moving on)

We’re collectively discovering something about ourselves. It’s difficult- for nerds especially -to accept that something about the status quo is fucked. That a facet of our community is really destructive. Not just to the outside world, but to us personally. Over the last couple weeks I’ve seen all manner of reactions. Some completely agree that it’s an issue and are standing with female gamers. Others are striving to find any tiny crack in the argument. This is frustrating, but at least these guys are being coherent. Pro tip, gentlemen: you’re not right. Just let it go. It’s not like anyone is blaming you directly, no one is calling you a misogynist pig. We were all raised in a culture that created this mindset, we’re all at fault, so do yourselves a favor and don’t take the criticism so personally.

The last group was inevitable: unabashed, juvenile temper tantrums. This is the sub group of nerds/gamers who just have no coping skills- they cannot tolerate any form of criticism. Mostly dispensing the same “FUCK YOU BITCH, GET BACK IN THE KITCHEN” joke that hasn’t been funny “BAREFOOT AND PREGNANT” was funny and that was never funny. These are the true man children of our community. I’m actually reminded Tom Green in “Freddy Got Fingered”** screaming “Look Daddy, I’m a farmer!” as he jacks off a horse. It’s the knee jerk reaction of someone who simply cannot cope and has to react by simply becoming what they are accused of being. “Oh so I’m an asshole? Well I guess I’ll just be an asshole then!” he shrieks as he throws his toys around the playground.

I really hate the modern idea of “It’s the internet, what do you expect?” that’s such a cop out. It gives a free pass for real people to participate in hate speech, death threats, and insane misogyny without any social consequences. What do I expect? I expect a little more out of those who consider themselves superior to Bro culture. I expect you to grow the fuck up and stop acting like a little bitch. There’s a problem, so why don’t you put on your big boy pants and do something about it? Or you can sit here in the sandbox and whine. The rest of the nerds are going to join the 21st century.

** Don’t watch Freddy Got Fingered, just watch the review by Nostalgia Chick, Nella and Oancitizen. I’m not a monster, people.