Fat, Power, and the Would-be Know-It-All

I think the first “profession” I ever aspired to was that of Archaeologist. Well. That was after Ballerina. However, being too fat to be a ballerina- and that was how it was put to me when what I wanted to be/do came up in conversation- I had to find some other place to channel my energies. I went to high school. I went to college. I got an Anthropology degree. I learned another language.

Basically, the appeal to me was this: I could study people. I could watch them and learn from them, and possibly teach them something later on.

Because what do those PSA’s during after-school special commercial breaks teach you? “Knowledge is power.” Right.

I take to the fat-o-sphere a bit like the amateur anthropologist that I really am. I don’t comment all that much but when I do I try and make it insightful. But I soak up a lot, I think.I love reading the Fat Acceptance blogs. They make me feel at home in my cuddly body. They give you insanity watcher’s points. They tell you when you need to use them. It’s a really helpful thing.

But being so deluged with the scientific arguments that bolster the philosophy of fat acceptance sometimes does damage to the activist side of me. I find myself getting bogged down in theoretical debates over the virtues/evils of “calories in and calories out,” I find myself engaged in an inner struggle with my burgeoning inner vegan activist and her sister, my blossoming HAES-preaching revolutionary. I worry and toil inside over what to say when someone, inevitably, tells me I’ve “lost weight” in order to presumably “brighten my day.”

I really, really have to stifle it (the raucous laughter, that is) when some meat-eater wants to tell my fat, newly-vegan ass what I should or should not eat.

I get all wrapped up in it. The complexity. The arguments. The over-justifications.

It should really be much, much simpler- because I’m a person. And when the Know-It-Alls come knocking, they really just shouldn’t. Just because.

I’m not a Thin Man’s Burden. I have my own mind and can think for myself, but I’m pretty sure they (the Know-It-Alls) already know that. When a person expresses “concern” over my weight, I know it’s really that person expressing fear. They might verbalize that as fear for my life; they might be somewhat genuine in their sentiment. What they don’t realize is that what they are telling me is that I have to conform in order to suit the expectations of a wretched system, one that they have internalized and for which they have become gatekeepers. Because really, who wants to think of hirself as a gatekeeper for evil and oppression? It’s much easier to dress it up in “concern,” so that the person uttering the statement feels as though ze is doing the “right thing.”

They don’t realize it’s FORCE. It’s a VIOLATION. It ain’t right.

Simple. It really should be simple.

I don’t hurt people by just being here. In my particular case, animals don’t have to die so that I can have food. I, and most of my fat sistren and brethren, are just people. We have body mass. Just like everyone else.

Unfortunately, in our culture (and many others as well, but I focus on this one because it’s the one I live in) people are indoctrinated to think of power as personhood. If one doesn’t use some sort of culturally-designated superlative to describe and define hir existence, then the opposite must be true of that person. Our culture abhors mediocrity and awards extremism. You can’t be simply “good” and get by. You are supposed to be “the best,” at something. Or at least better than someone else in the room.

So I don’t think we should get all rankled when some Know-It-All attempts to exert some sort of power over one of us by presuming to know what’s best for us. As fat people, we inhabit a space in society that can be described as negligible at best and at worst, as a big hatred-garbage can. We might not be the “last” acceptable place onto which people deflect their most disgusting emotions. But we’re damn near it.

So please remember, when some Know-It-All is trying to tell you how to live your life, they are just acting out their fears in front of you. Don’t engage. Take control of the conversation. Say something audacious. Let them know that you aren’t someone they can look down their nose at, just because they feel an inner sense of superiority to the amount of adipose tissue hanging off your upper arms, or your waist, or your ass.  They get their “theory” from the evening news, in most cases.

And with that thought, it is now bedtime. Night-night, folks.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s