Who gets to be included in fat acceptance? What does it mean to be pro-fat acceptance? Are people who aren't considered fat by some impartial measurement system- does fat acceptance include them? Does it have anything to say to them?
I've been thinking about these questions a lot recently. In really specific terms, since I read Jenny Trout's piece on the song "All About That Bass".
I agree with a lot of what Jenny has to say. I also personally don't like the song, b/c I don't like the singer's voice. And I have a personal beef w/ people putting on a fake Southern accent. It grates on my ears, b/c it's usually bad. It is irritating as fuck to hear someone put on an accent like it's a fashionable accessory when it's an accent you've had to eat a lot of shit for actually having.
I have a US Southern accent, and people make all kinds of negative assumptions about me. Someone who isn't from the area puts one on to be "cute" = BOO! I don't like it. (I should say "had" the accent. I've been in the Philly area for a decade now, so it's pretty much gone at this point.)
It also makes me wonder if this girl is trying to sound black, which is a whole other ball of awfulness- cultural appropriation and structural racism and see Izzy Azalea's racist ass.
I had a conversation with my best friend, Mikkie, that I can't stop thinking about.
I'm not going to rehash the whole thing (it was LONG, y'all), but here's the gist.
I don't believe that song is a fat acceptance song, because the singer is clearly not fat. And while the message of "you can feel good about your body even if it's not a very thin model body" is a good one-- that's not fat acceptance.
Because a feeling good about yourself message that is only targeted at women who are in the medium/average range does exactly nothing for me. It says- "it's ok to have curves", but it's only saying it to women that are already in the 'acceptable' range.
It's Jennifer Lawrence talking about how the word "fat" should be banned. It's Beyonce singing "Bootylicious".
It's the message that it's ok to have curves- if you look like Beyonce or Jennifer Lawrence.
That's not enough. So if I'm fatter than a US size 10, then it's not ok. That's over the line. That's "promoting obesity".
When you have a system that sets up women who are clearly in the average/middle (or even the smaller side of average) as the largest acceptable body, that means there is no room for me or people larger. It skews everything.
It's ok to say you love your body-- if you're thin enough already. We'll allow some variation in body shape, but only under this line. If you're over that line, then the world expects you to hate yourself. And you better preform hating yourself as publicly as possible.
Do you want people who are smaller than you to not feel ok about their bodies?-- No. Not at all. Fat hatred touches women who aren't fat, because they're scared of what will happen to them if they slip over that line. It touches them because what counts as "fat" keeps getting revised downward while the penalties for being fat grow ever more severe.
But I don't accept that mainstream "body acceptance" is meant for me. I know it isn't. And the "be ok with yourself" message is not meant for me either. If I didn't have a problem with the singer's voice, I might jam to the song anyway because nothing in mainstream culture is meant for me. I have to take my enjoyment where I can.
So I sing along to "Bootylicious". But I am not fooled. Because if Beyonce was a US size 26, we would never have learned her name. If Jennifer Lawrence was a size 3X, she would not be in movies. She especially wouldn't be starring in them. And if Meghan Trainor was actually plus sized-- if she wore a US size 30-- no one would want to hear her sing about loving her body.
If she wrote a song about loving her body and put it on the internet, she would be getting death and rape threats. And the only national attention she would be getting is dudebro comedians making fun of her. Because how dare she. Can't she see she's disgusting??
That is not fat acceptance. If it was, it would make room for us. For real fat people.
For me, fat acceptance is not about making individual people feel better about themselves. Although it does do that, and that's not a bad thing. But I want more than that. I want this entire system of women being held down and held back because of looks-- I want to smash it all. I want the whole system of discrimination to come tumbling down.
And a song about how you can feel ok if you're already acceptable-- that's not doing it for me.
It's not enough.