This week has been... surreal.
A week ago, a fat positive hashtag was started on Twitter by @mazzie and @FatBodyPolitics called #notyourgoodfatty. (TW on the hashtag- it has been invaded by trolls, so if you don't want to see a bunch of fat hatred and thinsplaining, it might be better to scroll down to the beginning.)
What does it mean to not be a good fatty? It means that for fat people to get along in the world we have to constantly explain and apologize for ourselves.
"I'm trying to lose weight." "I go to the gym." "My blood work is good." "I'm fat but I'm still healthy."
Amanda Levitt of Fat Body Politics is absolutely correct when she refers to this as a performance. It's the dance that fat people feel like they have to perform to deflect some of the judgement the world pushes down on them.
There's a couple of problems with being a "good fatty". One is that health is not an option for everyone. In fact, every single person is going to end up unhealthy at some point in their lives. Hopefully, the ill health will pass, but for some it doesn't. If we allow "health" to serve as a shield to protect us from fat stigma, what happens when we do get sick? What about disabled fats or fats with chronic illness? Should we just hang those people out to dry- concede that they deserve to be harassed and punished? Should we be assigning blame for sickness onto the sick? (Mocking and policing around diabetes-- I am looking right at you.)
No. I reject that completely. I reject disclaimer-ing how much I exercise or how well I eat to deflect stigma. I reject the idea that we are going to separate out which people deserve to be accorded rights and dignity and which people don't.
And the second point is-- it doesn't even work. People who want to troll us around our weight and perceived health call us liars all the time. Why bother to detail what you eat and how you exercise to someone who is just going to declare- in all their Troll Scientist Wisdom-- Nope. If you lived how you say you do, you wouldn't be fat, so I won't believe you.
This is what it means to not be a good fatty. It means you don't participate in fat stigma by trying to bargain your way out of some of it.
I really enjoyed the hashtag. I found it on a Friday (my day off), so I was able to really participate. I met and followed a lot of really awesome people I might not have known otherwise. It's a beautiful thing-- fat people engaged in lifting each other up and sharing our struggles and stories.
But then the inevitable happened. Trolls. Because heaven forbid a group of marginalized people have a place to talk to and find each other without The DudeBro Army jumping on it and harassing people.
Trolls can come from anywhere- anywhere someone is having a sad that they aren't getting the attention they feel they deserve (for doing fuck all). And Reddit especially is a hotbed for this kind of nastiness. They have multiple message boards devoted to how much they hate fat people.
It seems like a charming place. I know every time I've interacted with Reddit users, I've been delighted by their wit and graceful manners. I'm sure it's just a coincidence that something I tweeted got linked on Reddit and my Twitter was flooded with dudebros calling me a fat cunt.
Ok. First I'm going to talk about plus size clothes, specifically women's clothing (since I don't know much about men's clothing). Then I'm going to address the Man Tears crowd.
(Note- "Women's clothing" is only meant to indicate clothing labeled and sold that way. I'm struggling w/ inclusive language since sizing and cost are so different between women's/men's/unisex clothes. Indicating the clothes as for "women" is not meant to indicate anything in reference to who is actually wearing them. If you have an idea of better phrasing, please leave a comment.)
Clothing options for fat people are a problem. It's gotten better in the past few years, but that just means it's gone from almost nothing/worse than shitty to just kind of shitty.
People who wear straight sized clothing can go to any mall in America and come out with an outfit. All thin people have to do is decide they want clothes, and they can go buy some. If I want to buy clothes in a physical store, I have one option in most places- Lane Bryant.
And the clothes at Lane Bryant are expensive and not that great, fashion-wise. Similar clothing at Old Navy or the Gap is significantly less expensive. Target has very limited plus-size options, usually for more money. And on and on.
If you have a limited income- this is a big problem. If you don't want to present as femme, it can be a problem. If you need to dress in a certain way for your job- this can be a huge problem.
The point is- the system is set up in such a way to not penalize people who wear women's clothing for having a range of body types, but only up to a certain size. After that size- there is a penalty that has to be paid, and there is not a great way around it.
Example- When I bought my bridesmaid dress for my best friend's wedding- my dress cost an extra $50 more than everyone else's. Is it $50 more of fabric? I fucking doubt it.
So I make this statement and it becomes troll heaven. I think the reason for this is because it's appears to have a simple answer. "The clothes cost more because they use more fabric."
But as I said- the answer is not so simple, because if it was simply a matter of how much fabric is being used, then all clothing prices would be on a sliding scale- with the size 0 costing less than the size 10.
Here is a genius who thinks that's exactly what I said.
Nope. Anyone who wears women's clothing can tell you that a size small and a size medium cost the same amount of money.
The other 'arguments' basically amounted to- maybe there isn't enough demand for plus size clothes, so they don't make as many, which is why they cost more.
Well, they certainly don't make as many clothes, but it's not because there aren't very many of us. According to this article from Business Insider- 67% of American women are size 14 or larger. Last time I checked- 67% was a majority.
That article is titled "Retailers can't ignore 100 million plus size American women forever", which is adorable, because they are doing their best to try. There is money to be made, but the fashion industry doesn't seem to want our money. It's fat stigma. They don't want fat people sullying their brands.
The other argument is that it's just too difficult for manufactures to lay out pattern pieces for plus size clothes in such a way that they can offer clothing at the same price because of the fabric waste.
I'm not a fashion designer, but I have made clothes. And there can be variation on how pattern pieces are laid out. Honestly, I just don't buy this argument, because we put a fucking man on the moon- we can't figure out how to make larger clothes without a per piece $5 - $20 tax? Or more? We're talking fabric at wholesale here. It isn't made out of gold, for fuck's sake.
Manufacturing processes can be adjusted. Or a decision can be made to increase the cost of all items by a small amount to adjust for any increased cost in making clothing at inclusive sizes.
There are online plus size retailers that manage to make clothes that cost roughly the same as straight sizes. Eshakti goes from a size 0 to a 36 at the exact same price. It can be done.
And let's be real- the prices we pay in America don't really reflect the cost of the materials. When you buy cereal, very little of your money is going to pay for the corn.
The point here is that they choose not to do it. Why do stores charge more for plus size clothes? Because they can.
It's a complicated issue. But it sure was easy for the Reddit dudebros to let me know where I was failing with my dumb lady brain. I started getting swamped with tweets about it being more fabric. Tweets from tons of dudebros, telling me how stupid I am to express an opinion on the cost and sizing of WOMEN'S clothing.
(I am being very deliberate by using the word "dudebro" here. Dudebro = a white cis straight man who is being a complete asshole.)
Heaven forbid you tell a white man to go away. Then you reap the whirlwind.
To all the people who harassed me for daring to call this white man A WHITE MAN, here's why I did it. (Enjoy being blocked, by the way.)
As a group, white cis straight men = White Men (tm). And White Men (tm) seem to think that they have the right to insert themselves into any situation, any conversation and offer their (very often) unwanted and frankly ridiculous advice/opinions. This is why the word "mansplaining" exists.
If you needed to have a perfect example of mansplaining, surely a bunch of dudebros coming at me to explain how I don't understand how women's clothing works-- this would have to be it.
They got so mad at me "for asking a question and not liking the answer". Here's a clue. Someone who makes a statement that is not in any way directed at you is not "asking a question". Did that tweet contain a question mark? NO. That's how you know it wasn't a question.
Every thing that comes out of someone else's mouth/mind is not a fucking invitation for a debate. And I'm not required to give a damn about what you think.
It went on for a couple of days. And this is the part where I want to be all punk rock, and go Yeah, fuck these assholes, but I want to be honest. And honestly, it got to be too much, very quickly.
My phone's going bananas while I'm getting hundreds of notifications when I normally only get maybe 10 or 20 in a day. I had to fight back a panic attack. And then this happened.
Being impersonated by a racist is... hard to describe. It's upsetting. It's demeaning. It makes me afraid that people are going to think this account is me.
Apparently Twitter doesn't give a damn if someone steals your picture and your name and pretends to be you. "Satire", you see. Why someone should be allowed to "parody" a non-celebrity is beyond me, but it makes me glad Twitter didn't exist when I was in high school.
All this, for being visible as fat, for refusing to give in to the shamers. For telling a white man to go away and refusing to bend to his will, which is to shove into every space in the world and make it about him and his Very Important Man Opinions.
How dare I call him and his dudebro brethren out for their fuckery and astonishing ignorance?
And that's where it stands right now. Everything has basically died down, although I expect a new influx of bullshit once I publish this. (Hello, Reddit user who is monitoring my blog! Thanks for the page views!)
I feel a bit put through the wringer. Josh and Mikkie both asked me if I wanted to lock my Twitter account. And I thought about it. I've met so many awesome people on Twitter that I don't want to, but I'm not ruling it out in the future.
I think the work that people do who are engaged in fat activism is very important work. I feel like it saved me and gave me the ability to imagine a better life for myself- a life where I was worthy of love and respect. I'm not going to give that up.