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A “duh” moment. April 13, 2008

Posted by phledge in fat, phlegm.

In the car this afternoon I realized that I didn’t have a good sense of the relationship between fat acceptance, body acceptance, and size acceptance.  I was mulling it over and it sort of struck me squarely between the eyebrows:  fat acceptance is to feminism what body and size acceptance are to humanism.  I think.  So, I strongly support the right for every person to achieve their goals without externally imposed limitations, and that’s humanism, but I feel that women have more externally imposed limitations than men and they deserve help in overcoming those limitations, and that’s feminism.  (Loose translation—I don’t think I could adequately describe either feminism or humanism in the entirety of this blog over the course of five years and I have shit to do during that time.)  So fat acceptance, to me, is more…well, urgent, shall we say.  In recognizing the suffering of the unprivileged, we learn to embrace both fat and thin (and everything in between) people.

One thing I have noticed about engaging in fat acceptance is that I don’t hate skinny people anymore.  (Well, there are some skinny people that have garnered my negative attention but it’s not because of their bodies.)  I have been so angry—and still am, to varying degrees and at different times—that thin people seemed to get all the breaks, but now I know that they’re just as trapped in a paradigm as I’ve been.  And my feminist training did a 180 and said, ‘heyyyy, that sounds familiar,’ and now I remember what it was like to be so angry as a woman because I thought men got all the breaks, but to release that anger when I discovered the chains of masculinity as seen through a patriarchal lens.  OMFG, it all comes together.

I cannot thank the spherosphere enough for bringing me to this place, one post and/or comment at a time.



1. Rachel - April 13, 2008

I don’t consider myself to be a fat acceptance activist, rather I prefer the term fat rights activist. For me, fat rights more accurately sums up my political goals and ambitions. I see fat rights as the political, and body size acceptance as the personal. I use the broader term body size acceptance here, because fat people do not have a monopoly on body image insecurity. But the two ends are mutual in and of each other, also. As they say, the personal is political.

I also don’t see feminism as strictly a “feminine” sphere pertaining solely to women. Rather, I think feminism has evolved to include all marginalized peoples under its umbrella of humanism. All of which is why I see all three issues – fat rights, body size acceptance and feminism – as broadly inclusive of peoples of both genders and all sizes.

2. sweetmachine - April 13, 2008

This is a really useful analogy, phledge — mind if I borrow it (with attribution, natch) in future discussions?

3. phledge - April 13, 2008

Rachel, one of my big epiphanies in this kind of thinking is that I could look at someone and think, ‘yeah, wow, they have a perfect body,’ while that same person could look at themselves and think, ‘Jesus, when did my thighs get so big?’ I’m still ruminating over the relationships between fat, body, feminism, rights, gender, and the whole lot of it; I find it interesting that you separate the “rights” from the “acceptance,” because, as you say, the personal is political and to strive for one by default engages activity in the other. As far as feminism being “feminine,” I guess that’s my somewhat clumsy way of compartmentalizing my affection for working for women, which in turn affects the whole but would make my head pop if I tried to write out the relationships. One could, I think, argue that feminism, GLBT activism, racial equity work, and other social justice networks are the trunk, tail, and tusks of the elephant that is “fighting patriarchy.”

What I guess I’m trying to reconcile, poorly so by my estimation, is where my energies are most needed. It’s just too much of a mountain to look at with my widdle teaspoon. Better sense?

And SM? Absolutely, if you think it’ll be helpful.

4. Rachel - April 13, 2008

Phledge – for me, it’s more of a semantics issue. I don’t care if others accept me or my fat body, but they can’t discriminate against me for it. It’s the same reason why we don’t have civil and gay acceptance movements, but rather civil rights and gay rights movements.

5. phledge - April 13, 2008

Excellent clarification. I’m not using my words very well, but as a seasoned blogger you certainly are. Thanks! 🙂

6. Rachel - April 13, 2008

Well, other equally, if not more, seasoned bloggers prefer the term fat acceptance, so it’s all relative, I guess.

7. wellroundedtype2 - April 13, 2008

I’m totally with you on how much my feeling of “I hate that person and their perfect body” has faded as I’ve been more accepting of my own, and more active in promoting fat rights and HAES. Now, I mostly only hate the people who think that because they can manage to be thin, everyone else should be too.
And today I feel like I’m back at square one, realizing I still have so much work to do to unlearn the idea that even as a little child, I thought that because I was fat (chubby, really, and just barely) something was really wrong with me and it was my own fault. Maybe having a child of my own makes me realize how completely ridiculous that idea was/is. But it sure sounds like internalized whathaveyou.

8. BigLiberty - April 14, 2008


Not only has fat acceptance/rights activism/liberation made me not envy skinny people any more, it has really helped me to shed my anger over body issues in general. I’m much more appreciative of people as people—I’ve really begun to transcend _all_ of the body characteristics that some people use to define others or themselves. It’s dawning on me that it’s all just the same dynamic: a way for some humans to divide and group others or themselves using arbitrary, non-character-defining attributes. I can’t say it’s been an epiphany, exactly, since I’ve been tending to this ultimate conclusion for years. But it’s really taken away the last vestiges of body-related moral high ground in my mind.

I think one of the hardest things to accept is that some of these body-related paradigms are self-imposed, and it might very well be those that self-impose the paradigms are the ones who truly undermine lasting acceptance and equality. It’s equivalent to negotiating with terrorists; by engaging in self-hate and/or division, you promote hatred of and/or the arbitrary group-division of others.

Great post, good to see you back on again. 🙂

9. Mikester - April 14, 2008

I’m confused how “fat” becomes a political issues….. Our Constitution is written to protect individual rights. So what, fat people are going to start voting as they’re told to, just like gay people do? (“Hillary is such a diva” *barf*!!!) They divide and conquer us like pawns on a chessboard whenever we fall into the trap of thinking that social problems can be solved using political solutions. Politics is about “POWER” people… it’s not about “acceptance” or “rights”…… Take it from a homo who is NOT politically gay and who exercises his rights daily instead of crying about having them “taken”….. This is an illusion…. Try confronting the phobes to their faces instead of tattling to their congressperson and you’ll see a much faster turnaround…. And finally…. If somebody doesn’t want to hire you, you shouldn’t WANT to work for them. Why would you allow your labor to profit somebody who won’t respect your individual rights?

10. Negotiating with Terrorists « Big Liberty - April 14, 2008

[…] with Terrorists 14 04 2008 Regarding a comment I made on Phledge’s post today: Not only has fat acceptance/rights activism/liberation made me not envy skinny people any […]

11. Evil Carbon - April 14, 2008

Being fat causes global warming!!

Global Warming Alarmists Beware… http://www.EvilCarbon.com

12. phledge - April 14, 2008


Being fat is not the problem, cocksucker douchehound. Conspicuous, unsustainable, unfettered consumption is the problem, and since poverty and fat are strongly correlated it seems to me that the fatties are really doing their part to help the environment by not driving Escalades, purchasing $2000 handbags, and flying coast to coast for drunken orgies in flashy clubs. But you know something? Not all thin people do that. Not all rich people do that. Not all fat people do that. Moral of the fucking story? Not all (fill in the blanks) do (fill in the blanks).

Anyone else want to address EC’s environmental concerns?

13. sweetmachine - April 14, 2008

So what, fat people are going to start voting as they’re told to, just like gay people do?

Shot who in the what now?

14. sweetmachine - April 14, 2008

Also, Phledge, EC totally showed up at the SP spam filter the other day. A douchehound with a mission!

15. phledge - April 14, 2008

I let Mikester in because, despite his many weaknesses, ie his not-in-a-good-way-liberal usage of the ellipsis as well as his unfortunate characterization of HRC as a “diva,” I actually truly do have a “hellyeah” reaction to his final statement, that it is counterproductive to work for people who do not respect our individual rights. Now, I already see my privilege in being able to say “fuck off” to someone who chooses to discriminate against me in the workplace, but I think the spirit is right. *shrug* It was questionable but I had to give it a little credit. But yeah, the rest of the post was a volley of tinfoil-hat ranting and judgment. I’ll think more carefully the next time I approve the halflings.

Also, interesting about EC. That one I just couldn’t resist. I mean, I’m not hot enough yet to get the good trolls.

16. AnnieMcPhee - April 14, 2008

Looked more like he was saying that a lot of gay people he knows or reads *say* “HRC is a diva” (in a good way) and he says “barf.” It didn’t sound like crazy tinfoil ranting to me either. Your space of course, but I find it interesting.

17. Mikester - April 15, 2008

Annie has it right….. I’m a gay Ron Paul fan who is sick of the Hill-bots and Obama-bees falling in line behind a false opposition…. Divide and conquer politics is one tactic by which they do this…..

So let me make my point very simple for you, Phlem: FAT IS NOT A POLITICAL ISSUE. Just like “gay” never should have been one.

“Individual Rights” is the new minority movement…
and Tin foil is the new black….
Pass it on!!

18. phledge - April 15, 2008

Let me make my point very simple for you, asshole: you’re done here.

Oh, and if you’re going to try to tease me on the basis of my screenname, the least you could do is fucking spell it right: “phlegm.” Christ, it’s right there in the tags, you git.

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