On “feeling fat” and the multiple truths of fat experience

Jenny Trout recently wrote about “feeling fat” vs. actually being fat in the context of reactions to Meghan Trainor’s song “All About That Bass.” Her main point is that, although body image is a problem for many women of all sizes, our conversations about body politics need to center the experiences of fat people–especially those on the larger end of the spectrum–who face regular discrimination for their size. She makes the important point that:

While average-sized women are concerned with not “feeling” fat, fat women are facing challenges that affect their lives far beyond damage to their self-perception. Plus-size clothing stores Lane Bryant and Torrid only sell clothing up to a size 28, at prices prohibitively expensive for low-income women. Buying clothing in a physical store is, if not impossible, then highly unlikely, for women who exceed the “plus-size” category.

Our health is at risk, too, and not just from the obesity-related illnesses we’re warned about; we’re faced with bias from the medical community that puts our health, and potentially our lives, at risk. Obese people face rising weight-based discrimination in the workplace, women especially.

I agree 1,000%. This is a big part of why I also felt uncomfortable with “All About That Bass” being held up as the body-positive anthem of the summer. Fat activism is a civil rights issue, and as its ideas have spread, they’ve often been watered-down to “inspiring” pictures of size 8-ish celebs and platitudes about loving your body (as long as it’s not too fat). We need to keep bringing the conversation back to the realities of being fat in a fat-phobic culture: workplace discrimination, medical bias, street harassment, lack of available clothing, lack of properly-sized chairs and medical equipment, discrimination in adoption proceedings, policing of children’s appetites–in extreme cases, even taking them away from their parents simply because they’re fat–and the ubiquitous messaging that our bodies are a disease to be eradicated at all costs. Continue reading