Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Rejecting The Good Fatty Trope

Today the sun is shining, the weather here in West Kirby is glorious and having injured my ankle a week or so ago, I am finally feeling well enough to take advantage and go for a stroll.

I owe you no explanation about the state of my health

Its been a really interesting experience being a visibly fat woman with a limp. I've heard from fellow plus size babes with mobility issues how they face daily discrimination, but its been an odd sensation to experience it myself. 

No more playing the role of the "acceptable fat"

I am fortunate, my injury will heal but it has been such an eye opener. Over the last few weeks I have had pushchairs rammed into my heels when I was taking too long to navigate a narrow pavement, received eye-rolls when I had to ask for a seat somewhere as I was in so much discomfort and have generally found a marked lack of sympathy when trying to go about my daily business with a strapped up leg and a face full of pain.
I understand that it can be easy to feel victimized, when in fact people are just busy and have their own shit going on, but I have undoubtedly felt more than the faint whiff of fat shaming as I've waddled along with my ankle strapped up.

I owe you nothing

Its an experience which has made me realise how I have (unwittingly) built my confidence by tapping into the "Good Fatty" trope. 
On an intellectual level I may have always insisted that I don't feel the need to add a caveat to my fatness (I'm fat but healthy, I'm fat but live an active life) but the reality is that since developing  a pronounced limp I have felt some of my hard won defenses fall away. 
I have felt my body "take up space" in a  way I didn't before, I have felt judged on a whole new level and rather than laughing away this narrow mindedness I have wanted to challenge it. I have wanted to tell people my limp is as a result of clumsy child syndrome not of being impaired due to my size (which shames me because so what if it was?)
 Having prided myself on how few effs I give about the opinion of others I have craved a right to reply. 

Never explain

I don't necessarily think every negative thing that happens to you is a lesson, but in this case I think the universe has handed me a great big dollop of knowledge (along with cold spray, bandages and pain meds) 
Body positivity ( a term that seems to be increasingly losing meaning as it is co-opted to sell clothes that mainly don't fit fat people) is now in its second phase. The Good fatty trope may have made advertisers more comfortable using plus size models in campaigns but take away the commerce and its actually a noose around our necks. 
Having always been so incensed by the assumption that as fat woman I was unhealthy, I have taken on the role of the "Good fatty" without even realising I was doing it.
My rush to always counter fat prejudice withe examples of my fitness, happiness and joie de vivre, is I think both harmful and counter productive. I owe nobody anything. 

A healthy white mobile fat body needs to stop being the gold standard of how we are represented. When we as plus size women feel the need to work through pain, or over emphasise our emotional or financial success we pay a fat tax that should never have been applied (perhaps in response to all the times we are told we cost the NHS millions, whilst avoiding doctors due to that very same shaming)
I'm rejecting the Good fatty Trope and so should you. The message of "All Bodies Are Good Bodies" may require us presenting versions of fatness that wont inspire people to buy a lipstick or a coat but it may actually create a climate where the term Body Positivism is more than just a slogan on a deodorant advert.


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