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.

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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

Why dating “guy gamers” turned out to be a bad idea


Sure, it seems fun at first.

Mostly because it’s comfortable. Every night is like a pajama sleep over that ends in sex. That’s the American Dream. That’s before spending every night in playing League of Legends or Assassin’s Creed gets really, really boring.

I dated a lot of men who considered themselves “gamers”. Why? Low self esteem, mostly. I knew a lot about games and enjoyed playing them. And that interest was a “hook”. Something that men could relate to and feel comfortable talking about. I didn’t feel like my personality and looks alone was enough to generate any real interest (and as a teen I was probably right). My focus was being good enough for them with no question as to whether they were good enough for me.

Now obviously this is all based on my personal experience and my friends. There are always exceptions. However, if you feel you’re the exception to any of this, just feel content in that. I don’t need to hear about it and honestly if you can’t control your impulse to convince me that you’re the special-special than you’re probably exactly the type of guy I’m talking about.  Consider this constructive criticism from the opposite sex. So here are a few observations about dating “guy gamers”…

They lack real world motivation.

I have found that most of the gamers I dated did little else but game exclusively. They were not well rounded people with different interests. Cooking, sports, politics (unless it’s about gaming), art, fashion, music (unless it’s video game remixes), travel, are not as interesting to them as the latest DLC on Steam.  Most of the men I dated never went to college for anything unless they attempted to do something in games. But all attempts fail, inevitably. Everything is too hard, too complicated, they work too much or sleep too little. Excuses abound.

This becomes a problem when you want to go out and do real world things. Take a walk, go dancing, go to the library, go to the beach it’s all just too much effort for a gamer boyfriend. I hope you have a really tight-knit circle of friends because you’ll be seeing them a lot while your boyfriends at home raiding.

They don’t take care of themselves.

You may have a varying level of interest in your health and appearance, but in my experience guy gamers just don’t bother. I’m not saying they’re unhygienic, but they’ve had that gigantic t-shirt since high school. Cargo shorts, socks with holes in them, the dreaded trench coat of Doom. You have to beg them to get a hair cut or just shave every now and again. Try not to swoon ladies. Sure, you can’t judge a book by it’s cover but do try to make an effort, lads. It shows us you give at least [1] fuck.

Not to mention their health. They may be your scruffy, Aladdin-esque street rat today. But a lifetime of sitting on their butts and a junk food diet is going to wreak havoc on their bodies in the next 10 years. This isn’t a dig on bigger men as they’re sometimes the most loving and supportive. But add bad skin, greasy hair, breathing problems, and uncontrollable sweating into the mix and…yeah. It’s not cute.

They don’t take any interest in real world issues.

This one is self explanatory. Politics of any kind is unknown to them unless it’s relevant to gaming. They may have read a lot as a kid, but rarely do now. They don’t do much of anything anymore. So once you’ve exhausted the latest gaming news you’re left to contemplate if everyone else’s boyfriend is this boring.

They all say they want to make/write/animate games but never do.

God, this. What does a person who takes no interest in anything except games plan on doing with their lives? Why making games of course. Except the reality is game development is fucking hard, expensive and lacking a lot of the glamour they think it will bring them. Here’s a tip, unless he’s in the actually programming and development phase of the game by the time you’ve met him- he’s probably just a dreamer. The older you both are, the more true that statement rings. Don’t get pulled into his fantasy about how he’s going to eventually hit the big time. Odds are he probably wont make it past drawing concept art.

They’re way more sexist than they think they are.

Strap in, kiddies.

This is a common problem with men raised on a steady diet of “save the princess” story lines. If he labels himself a “gamer” he probably considers himself part of an exclusive, insular community. Of men. Not you, you’re not actually part of that. He’ll say you are- but not treat you that way. Actions > words. Unless he actively addresses the treatment of women in  gamer culture in conversation, there’s a good chance he’s on other side of the fence. The other side being so impossibly self centered he’d never take those complaints seriously.

This usually manifests in one of two ways:

1. ) He’ll put you up on a pedestal. It feels nice at first, getting treated like a princess. Until you realize he’s got you set up to fail. To him you’re like a glorious hot chick trophy to be paraded out to his friends, “AND she plays games” he’ll say in the same tone one might say, “AND it has a cup holder”. Enjoy holding in all your farts for the remainder of your relationship. When you inevitably exhaust yourself trying to keep up he’ll sputter a vague complaint about how, “you’ve changed”. He can’t put his finger on what it is, but the magic is gone. And so goes that relationship.

2.) The other and more common one is he’ll expect you to be “just one of the guys”. This means you need to be covertly female. You need to play games like his friends, eat like his friends, talk like his friends all while balancing being casual and hot. You need to be sexy while also dressing in a way that doesn’t indicate that you’re trying too hard. You need to be bold and swear like a sailor but never EVER call him out on anything in front of his friends. Be attractive, but don’t take too long getting ready or you’ll give yourself away.

And most importantly never ever ever align yourself with other women in gaming. Do not talk about Anita Sarkeesian. Do not complain about the way women are designed in games, always except that the amount of harassment you get online is normal and understandable considering how super sexy you are. Consider it a compliment and shut up.

If you do complain, get ready for a circle jerk of men (including your boyfriend)  interrogating on every detail that will end in you giving up and them laughing the whole thing off.  I know, right? Where do I sign up!?

They think they’re the hero.

What I took away from my experience of dating guy gamers is a consistent theme of being “the special”. He wont say it, he wont even imply it- because the protagonist never does. It has more to do with the way he reacts to situations. It’s as if playing the hero of so many different stories has imprinted this idea of their super specialness. He’s waiting for the adventure of his life to drop into his lap, for someone to swing through a window and tell him only he can fight the alien invaders that are about to conquer Earth.

Or perhaps he’s just so afraid of real world challenges that it’s easier to immerse himself in a world that’s set up to accommodate him. It doesn’t really matter because overall the result is the same for you: a crappy, self-centered boyfriend who treats you like an NPC in his adventure.

It’s not all their fault.

I would love for it to just be that gamers make shitty boyfriends, the end. Easy peesy. But no, we as women play a role in why these types of relationships suck so much. In my case it was because I came into it with such low self-esteem I was incapable of calling them out on any of it. Not that my ex boyfriends would have responded well to that, but not everyone is so lacking in self awareness.

The takeaway here is that it’s okay to have expectations of your boyfriend. Some guys just don’t put forth any effort and you’re not being mean when that doesn’t impress you. It’s doesn’t make you “high maintenance” or “shallow”. Because a lot of gamers subscribe to the idea that you should love them for exactly who they are. Not taking into the account that normal people are driven to grow and evolve- not stagnate on a couch. So the next time you’re on a date and the guy says he’s a gamer, it’s important to remember what all comes with that. Learn from my mistakes, ladies. It’s okay to dump a loser.