Thursday, 29 January 2009

I don't see myself as oppressed

When it comes to being fat, I just cannot see myself, or feel myself to be an oppressed person, or a victim of oppression. Why? It's too soon and there has been too much collusion on in the process of fatness by fat people either directly or in keeping silent.

Too many lies have been told about how no, it doesn't hurt to be vilely abused, and yes it is going to help me lose weight and I'm going on a diet again and this time it will work and so on.

Not that I'm trying to engage in victim bashing, but that level of acquiescence doesn't tend to get off lightly being bully fodder for too long.

It's important to say this because any pain of saying it, is less than the pain of dodging it, developing a great big fear of it and having this hang around in the background, haunting you.

When I've said that this is not the kind of mechanistic oppression that keeps people down in the past, it seems to have caused a great deal of anger and hurt. As if I am belittling the suffering of fat people, if I don't believe that this is oppression, as opposed to oppressive.

The thing is, the idea that social ostracism/criticism is all that it takes to keep certain other groups down is actually quite insulting to them. It is also somewhat trying to justify our responses which have uncomfortably shown a willingness to go above and beyond the call of duty when it comes to selling ourselves out and pretty mindless self loathing.

Rather than negating fat hatred, this need to make false comparison feels like an attempt to siphon off some of the sense of credibility we need to rediscover for ourselves, from within. It is there, I truly believe that.

I myself am fat, and I feel like being honest about what this anti-obesity crisis is doing to real people like me, fat and thin alike, frankly. I would not wish to minimize it in any way.

Nor do I need to overstate it either, which in the end, kind of amounts to the same thing, minimizing pain by talking it up, as if it cannot stand on it's own. As if it has to be apologetically talked up.

It is what it is, and I'm tired of the whole feeling ashamed of being fat in all it's aspects. I don't need to define my experience in terms of what others models of their troubles if they don't fit. My experiences re fat are kind of unique, neither one thing or t'other a lot of the time, that's part of what makes it fascinating. I don't wish it to be derivative for the sake of it.

Fat acceptance,as well as fat hate, is what it is. it's a voyage of discovery, not something to be fitted into what exists, because;

That's how what exists came into being, on it's own terms. We too should define our experiences by the patterns they make, if that is like other things, good, if not, also good.

But possibly more, it's one of the debts of honour I owe myself after years of trying to live a, overlooking the feelings and responses of my mind and body, trying to force it to be what I thought it should, not what it was, something that experience has finally taught me is infinitely more precious.

More than anything, we owe ourselves the unashamed and unvarnished truth, after selling ourselves out to a vision of what we should be that did not take account of who we really are.

This and my usual curiosity, motivates me to explore and experience fat acceptance on it's own terms and on the terms of other fat people, it is our experience and we are taking it back.

One of the things I resent about this endless comparison is that it's as if all of that means nothing unless we hold it to be oppression, whether it is or not, it's about the feeling and the hurt, but social pressure and exclusion does hurt, we are social creatures.

Our treatment is oppressive, and that is not necessarily the same as oppression.

And yes, being messed about in social contexts is enough to create discrimination, we are social animals after all.

Fat hatred is undoubtedly oppressive, not quite the same as being oppressed per se.

From the beginning, fat acceptance has struck me as a small thing. Philosophically speaking, it strikes me as almost a non-entity. It's really self acceptance for fat people specifically, and everyone by default, well to me anyway. The need for it is a superfluous conceit brought on by those who wish to turn us into social pariahs. It is the idea that self esteem is not needed if your fat that's truly radical, in a bad way. Why wouldn't fat people benefit from self-respect the same as those who seek to try and rob us of it?

If we don't need it, neither does anyone else, that the destruction of self regard and esteem of ordinary people can be so easily argued should give pause for thought.

It is true however that fat people's rights may well start to be infringed more seriously, although it is beginning in some peripheral areas such as adoption and fertility treatment in specifically the NHS , right now. I still cannot see that this constitutes oppression, it is a sign that things could get out of hand and we are well within our rights to object without overstating our case.

For me, it doesn't matter either way that I don't see FA as a civil rights movement per se, it still feels too premature to say this with conviction. I feel and have always felt that the fact that any group of reasonable individuals who have a complaint or complaints to make, should be heard. The fact that it is about us, personally, makes the case especially compelling, we should not have to be oppressed to make a rational case that the treatment we are receiving is unfair and unjust, that is genuine.

Fat people in general have never routinely and consistently objected to the treatment meted out to them in the way that others in similar position have, for many good reasons true. But this makes it hard to say what the response would be if we did, as those others are not treated the way we are it feels as if we offered ourselves up somewhat by our reactions, even if that seems harsh. It's not a condemnation of us, I reserve the right to be wrong and to pay for it, which we more than have physically, spiritually, financially and in other ways. That in my view also adds gravitas and legitimacy to our demands.

It's quite possible that if we stopped collaborating with the 'obesity crisis', it would thoroughly change it's trajectory, or crumble and any rights impinged upon, restored. It's possible that the moment for this is passing or has passed, either way, until widespread resistance is in effect, it's hard to see whether the obesity circus is sustainable without being shored up by our collusion in the process.

And resistance doesn't seem as costly or self destructive in this context as it often is in others.

That doesn't fit quite so well with race or gender, the collusion is there, but it is so much more arcane and mind shattering it's difficult sometimes to even see as it is often outside all societies fields of reference. For instance, compare the status of women's assessment of the failure of the weight loss diet hypothesis versus the status of the idea that it works, it's mainly men shoring up the credibility of the latter. The point is we -women- constantly collaborate with this view by endeavouring to answer such questions as, what's the proof diets don't work, treating that kind of enquiry as if it makes any sense at all, panders to that hierarchy. The hierarchy should be of ideas not particular persons.

Civil or any other rights unfortunately, are not guaranteed from attacks by the unscrupulous, anymore than we are guaranteed freedom from crime or ill health. We have been told by wise heads to be ever vigilant. Fat acceptance is to me part of that vigilance, that is more than justification enough.

Oppression is a state that you tend to avoid identifying with, if you do not have to. Care has to be taken not to have a 'slumming' romance with the idea of it, it is a deeply demoralising concept to contend with. It doesn't liberate, it just tells you about the job to be done. It hurts, it is not a prize to be won.

The mindset you get into if you falsely associate with this is also a potential worry. If you are falling short so to speak, it can shape your behaviour in ways that can be self defeating, you mind is convinced things are a certain way you imagine them to be, so it can act accordingly. Even if that ultimately isn't useful.

I feel that a lot of fat acceptance is valuing our rights enough not to wait from them to be destroyed before acting. We should fight like fury before any window is wholly shut.

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