Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Just Be You

This might sound weird, or even counter intuitive, but I have come to a point where I find all of the 'positive pro fat, or curvy, woman' propaganda insulting. Yes that is right, I just said I was offended by articles meant to lift up and empower fat women just like me. I know it doesn't seem to make a lot of sense even to me.

Here is the thing. First off it is annoying that people feel the need to write such articles. You don't see '10 reasons it rocks to be thin' articles popping up everywhere. I get that is because thin is the accepted norm and seen as the more desirable body type by societal standards, but somehow to me it seems like by pointing to the fact that being fat can be awesome, being skinny isn't awesome. Why can't both be awesome?

Second, and this is the big thing for me, the articles are just flat out insulting. Most of the time these things are written by women of a certain size, so you would think that would mean they could say things that didn't make other fat women feel bad, but that is not true. Some of the boneheaded things that are written just make me sit there, mouth agape, thinking "Did she really just say that?!".

I clicked a link to one such article today, '8 reasons to love being curvy' or some such nonsense, and didn't even get past the first point without rolling my eyes. The list was point after point that either built up curvy girls by backhandedly insulting thinner women, or made it all about pleasing men, which is wretched on so many levels.

One of the points said something about fat women knowing their way around the kitchen so we will happily cook for our man and it will be good. The number of things wrong with this statement is amazing.

Just because I packed on extra pounds doesn't mean I did it being a gourmet cook. Alright so I did, but it doesn't mean all or even most big girls did. I know more than a few that did it through not cooking at all but instead eating out every meal. Fast food is going to take a higher toll on my waistline than my baked chicken and roasted root veggies.

Then there is the 'pleasing a man' aspect of the statement. I am sorry my purpose in life is not to please a man (or woman). I shouldn't have to justify liking my body for anyone but me. How can you call this an affirming article when you keep telling me that my body, and the reasons for my body being the way it is, is only good for pleasing my partner? That makes no sense.

Of course people throw out points that have nothing to do with food or men. One point that is said over and over again that I hate is "Curvy girls are funny". People like to say that fat people are funnier because we have to learn to laugh and make jokes to deflect all the awful things that are said about this. I suppose this is the theory that others laughing at you won't hurt if you are already laughing at yourself.

I find it horrific that this is even a mindset that is necessary.

Yes it is true that people say terrible things about and to fat people. This world is a constant onslaught of anti fat language. Mostly you learn to ignore it, but it never stops hurting. No matter how confident you become in your own body, or how well you learn to laugh it off, it will always hurt.

Instead of saying that we should just laugh or ignore such behavior I would love to see it say 'Curvy women (and men) are brave and stand up to bullies and senseless fat shaming by expressing to those that would bring them down that such actions are wrong'. I would love to see us work on stopping hateful actions than blowing them off with a joke.

I would also love to stop perpetuating the idea that fat people are only able to be funny. I want people who are heavy to be able to be the hero without also being a joke. To be sexy without making people laugh. To be tragic without it being about their weight. I want them to  be all the things everyone else gets to be. We are not stock characters in a Comedia play, we can play any roll we like.

Many years ago a young man walked into the shop we work at down at the Texas Renaissance Festival. This young man was maybe 15 or 16, very heavy set, and dressed as a jester. He was with a group of friends who were all much more fit than he was. While he was in the shop he was constantly cutting up and making jokes, entertaining his friends and everyone around, and seeming to have a good time.

The group of boys made their way to the sword counter where the typical bluster of young men took hold and they spoke of being strong and brave; all of them except the boy dressed as a jester. The husbeast noticed this right off. The husbeast is of course a large man, though for most of his life his size was dues to being over 6'6" as well as being a power lifter. Still he knows the plight of the fat man.

He took the young man aside and offered to show him a sword, but the young man resisted. Jesters don't fight he insisted. The husbeast looked at him a moment and asked why he couldn't be a knight instead of a jester, or even a king instead. The young man looked at him as though he had lost his mind and pointed out that he was the fat kid, and the fat kid is only good for being funny.

How sad it was that this young man felt at such a young age that he had no options in life but to be funny if he wanted to be liked. My husbeast told the young man that he was wrong. He pointed out that his friends listened to him, not because he made them laugh, but because he had the personality to command such attention. He told him that if he wanted to lead all he would have to do is take charge and they would follow, with or without the laughs. It was fine to be funny, but it was not all he was capable of.

The group of boys soon left our shop, the jester looking a bit more pensive than before.

A year passed before we saw that boy again. When he walked into the shop with his friends for a second time he was much changed. His weight was roughly the same, though some baby fat had melted away in a year as is want to do with young men of that age, but he was obviously altered. The young man walked with his head held higher and an air of confidence. Where before he had followed in the back of the group, he now led the group. Where before he only spoke to make a joke, he now led the conversations. No longer did he wear the hat or air of a man only there to entertain.

He went to the husbeast and shook his hand confidently and thanked him. He told the husbeast of how he had taken his words to heart. He had returned to his school and had stopped trying to be funny, but instead spoke his thoughts and found that others listened. He had run for president of his class and won. He had auditioned for the roll of the hero in the school play and got it. He had become a leader who didn't have to make jokes to be listened to. He was still jovial and cut up with his friends and made people laugh, but he made people listen too. He was not just a funny person, he was so much more.

Everyone is capable of being more. We should not pigeon hole them into being one thing because of their body type.

I think I tangented off topic there.
Where was I?

Oh yes, insulting pro fat articles.

If you are going to try and raise people up can we not do it at the expense of others? Can we try to not do it in a way that actually demeans us? Can we not possibly address the actual problems instead of making jokes or lists?

So here is my list:
I have said it many times before, and I will keep saying it because it obviously needs to be said.

If you are fat you are perfect.
If you are skinny you are perfect.
If you have big boobs or no boobs, a big ass or a flat ass, you are perfect.
If you are funny you are perfect.
If you are emo you are perfect.
If you are whoever you are you are perfect because you are you and you are exactly the way you are meant to be.
If you want to be thinner, good for you.
If you want to be fatter, good for you.
If you are happy the way you are, HOORAY for you (what is your secret?).

Don't judge others.
Don't judge yourself.
Just be, and be happy.

Don't allow others to put you down for any reason. Don't ignore it or make it a joke. Tell them they are wrong. Tell them they are hurtful. They will probably just say they were joking and you are too sensitive, and they will probably believe that, but they won't know how wrong they are until people start telling them it is not funny. We can't change the attitude of the world if we don't change our own attitude first. 

You don't need to make anyone else happy with who or what you are. You only need to be true to yourself, whatever size or demeanor yourself happens to be.

Just be.

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