Not Just Fat

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A friend sent me this animated video clip about Roxanne Gay and fat acceptance because it made her think of me. I don’t really identify with Gay although I admire her bravery. We are both fat women, but, just as I don’t identify with someone just because we share gender or race or nationality or taste in books or music, I’m not about to identify with Gay just because she is fat or because I agree with many of her opinions.

Gay became fat through eating in order to comfort herself after being gang raped. And she saw fatness as a shield, a way to protect herself.

I struggle with the way fatness is portrayed by the media and seen by the majority of people as a negative and repulsive thing, but on a personal level I don’t see fatness as a way of hiding and I’ve always had a healthy relationship with food.

In my opinion, Gay’s situation reinforces the idea many people have that fat people are damaged in some way. It’s more nuanced than that and of course there are many stories about fatness and fat acceptance, but I feel those who believe only negative things about being fat will tend to focus on stories like Gay’s.

Her book Bad Feminist is on my 2017 reading list and I will also read her latest book, Hunger, because I think we need to acquaint ourselves with as many different experiences of fatness as possible.

Fat people need to be seen as simply people, whose fatness is just one aspect of our lives, like the colour of our eyes or our hobbies. Our fatness is not the be all and end all of our existence. It is not the only thing we are. Although it tends to be how others define us, our fatness is not the only thing we are.

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