It amazes me that some of the angriest comments come from formerly fat people. Fat acceptance bloggers often experience these folks marching into their blogs and leaving behind vitriolic remarks on all manner of subjects. Some say that fat acceptance is wrongheaded and dangerous, while others deny that being thin confers social benefits based on discrimination. Yet others just leave nasty insults with no real clue as to what they're disagreeing about.
So I have to wonder: Why are they so upset by us? Was becoming thin not the panacea they'd hoped for? Are they afraid we'll succeed in our quest to make life better for fat people?
One formerly fat person* was extremely agitated by the suggestion that thin fat-haters are threatened by the idea of fat acceptance. Yes, she came in here, huffed about being absolutely NOT being threatened, no sir, no way. What's that line about protesting too much? If you're not threatened by us, then why do we upset you so much? Why seek us out to berate and insult us?
I have to wonder if formerly fat people lost all that weight, only to find that it didn't make their lives perfect. Losing weight is something that you never stop doing once you get started. If you do manage to stay thin, you have to put a tremendous amount of time and effort into it. You are fighting against your body's very nature, battling hunger and pain to prevent the storage of energy in the form of fat tissue. Many people will never be satisfied; they'll always want just five more pounds, or they'll fret when they gain a little bit, because it feels like backsliding. Becoming thin is difficult, and many people go through hell and take significant risks to get there.
Why would a person put forth so much effort into becoming thin? Well, partly because the social rewards for doing so are enormous. If you are fat, you are treated really badly by other people. You're judged for eating, you're judged for not spending every spare moment running on a hamster wheel, and you're judged for just taking up too much space. It is really difficult to put up with that kind of pressure, and a lot of people choose weight loss over social stigma because of that.
So now, someone has put themselves through a gastric bypass, spends all of their free time exercising, and cannot eat anything larger than an iPod shuffle, if that. They've lost the weight and have a socially acceptable body. The rewards are often immediate and immense. And then, they find this whole group of fat people who think they ought to get for free all those things that they worked so hard to achieve. It just doesn't seem fair--those fat folks should have to put forth the effort that the formerly fat did in order to reap the reward of basic common decency. What's more, if the fat acceptance movement succeeds, then those in the currently privileged class will find themselves losing their advantage over that class. It's a lot easier to get ahead if you always have an oppressed group to which you will always be favorably compared.
I understand the frustration. I really do. But the fact that you worked hard to conform to a fucked up system does not mean that the system does not need to change. One person's past struggles should not hinder the progression toward a fair and just society.
Formerly fat folks, I am sorry that you feel that fat acceptance invalidates the struggle you underwent. I am sorry that the idea of people shedding their body issues in favor of self-acceptance reminds you that you could not do the same. But times are changing, as they absolutely must, and, regardless of your personal history, they should change for the better. Bigotry and oppression, whether based on physical characteristics or cultural ones, should always be fought against--and if you surrendered in the past, it is never too late to change your position.
* And you know, I've just done my best not to give this person the attention she craves, because she is so self-absorbed as to believe that I was referring to her in a post, when the information she was responding to could not even slightly be construed as to apply to her. I was talking about having written a thank-you note to someone (a donor), and mentioning one of the things I'd written in that note. Somehow, this paranoid, delusional fatophobe thought I was talking about her(?!) and a snotty comment she'd written to me in a previous post--when my response to that comment had been simply to delete her comment, and say something to the effect of, "Not getting enough attention lately?" Talk about your wackos.