I know that you have learned to hate your body.
I know the messages, the images, the comments, both cruel and well-intended. I know the sinking feeling of seeing your changing body in the mirror, the sharp pain as your clothes dig into newly soft flesh.
I know it hurts, and the pain can sometimes feel immeasurable. I know it is tempting to validate that pain by asserting that you are the intended target of an oppressive system. I also know that, if you have never been a fat person, the name for that pain is not “internalized fatphobia.”
Internalized oppression is a longstanding concept in social sciences and social justice work: one that has been discussed for decades and one that transcends movements. Internalized oppression and its twin concept, internalized subordination, refer to the ways in which a group targeted by oppression begins to internalize the messages of their oppressors and begins to do the work of oppression for them. …
Just say fat.
Not “curvy” or “chubby” or “chunky” or “fluffy” or “more to love” or “big guy” or “full-figured” or “big-boned” or “queen size” or “husky” or “obese” or “overweight.”
Just say fat.
Do not screw up your face, straining as you reach for phrases like “he…struggles with his weight” or “body image has always been difficult for her.” Do not say “body positivity” or “self-love” or whatever lets you forget that you’re calling someone fat.
Just say fat.
Do not rush to correct fat friends who name their own bodies for themselves, using the words that fit their experience. Recognize that a fat person daring to name their own body is an act of growth and that when you correct us, you stunt it. It is also an act of rebellion, and when you silence it, you silence us. Remember that your comfort does not take precedence over our autonomy. Do not rush to soothe and center your own discomfort by insisting “sweetie, no! …
Note: contains discussion of anti-queer and anti-trans violence, including suicide.
I’ll never forget my first Pride. I had been one of precious few out kids in my small high school at the turn of the millennium. My experience of queerness, like many before me, was one of isolation. There is a deep uncertainty and pervasive fear that comes of not knowing other people like you, or of seeing those few others targeted by violence. That fear wraps itself around you like a cobra, its grip ever-tightening, and it had taken its hold on me.
As a fat, queer teen, school had been difficult. One of my few queer classmates had come out to his parents, who beat him. He died by suicide within a matter of weeks. The lone out trans student had used the bathroom that aligned with his gender, only to be met with physical assault from other high school boys, and complaints from male teachers, certain that their comfort took precedence over what they saw as the adolescent whim of gender identity. …