It’s been three years since we asked Is Fat A Feminist Issue? And over the past few days, the subject has come up again. And how.
I’d seen some stirrings on Twitter, while I was out of town for the weekend, about a problematic post on Feministe, but I didn’t have a chance to go read it.
Then this morning, I read this terrific post from Meowser on the controversy, as well as the strawman version of Fat Acceptance that is being engaged by some feminist bloggers.
We say, “What causes people to weigh what they do is complex and multifactorial, and varies a lot from one person to another — and you can’t tell what people’s habits are by their pants size.” They hear, “Weight is purely inherited and has nothing whatsoever to do with behavior.” (Uh, no. Try the behavioral factors have been played to fucking death in the media, and we really, really don’t need to flog them yet again. Also, try dieting is a behavior too, and it makes most people who try it fatter, not thinner, especially if they take it up in childhood.)
Meowser also pointed to this post by Aunt B, which is well worth a read.
I just don’t see how any discussion that involves people policing women’s bodies and trying to dictate what women do with them can ever be feminist.
“Weight can signal a lack of activity or too many donuts, and that shouldn’t irk anyone,” Monica says. But that’s not a cultural critique. That’s an invitation to stick our noses into the business of women who are somehow “signaling” by being fat.
Again, I feel like this is a point that feminists would mull over–does a body, merely by being a body, signal anything? If my having big boobs tells you nothing about whether I’m a slut, why are you so sure it tells you anything about whether I’ve had too many donuts?
Here are the reasons fat is a feminist issue that I quoted back in 2007.
Why is it a feminist issue? Because only women are hounded for our weight 24/7 in every possible media venue. Because women are constantly being pressured to conform to fuckability standards – weight, hair, makeup, clothes, shoes, and sexual compliance are only some of the things that women are subjected to…
Men are not subject to these pressures to conform. Men are only considered fat if they are well over 50 lbs. overweight. Every inch of a man’s body does not have to be fat-free, sculpted, cellulite-free, etc. for him to be considered a real man. A woman with fat on her body (except breasts and hips) is hardly a woman at all.
Yes, fat acceptance also includes men, and men also deal with fatism and self-esteem issues and pressure to have more ideal bodies. And body acceptance extends to everyone: fat, thin, in between, because we are all faced with a world full of unrealistic standards. So fat is not a feminist issue to the exclusion of anyone who is not a fat woman.
But should feminists consider fat a feminist issue? Do they have a responsibility to consider that fat shaming affects women disproportionately, or that a woman owning her body—the same body autonomy that feminists argue so vehemently for when it comes to sexuality— extends to her owning of its fat percentage? Absolutely.
Posted by mo pie