It Gets Fatter! Fat Queers of Color Take on Fat Phobia in Our Communities
Written for Black Girl Dangerous by Jackie, Sara and Asam of the It Gets Better Project
For many of us, queer or not, it doesn’t get better - it gets fatter! Instead of hating ourselves or clinging to false platitudes about how much better its going to get in some vague far off future land, we want to celebrate ourselves and our bodies the way they are now. We want to create a space to talk about how important (and how fucking hard) fat positivity can be in this horribly, offensively fatphobic world. And since people of color are socialized in entirely different ways from white folks when it comes to our bodies and the ways we relate to them, we think it’s high time we had a space to really talk about what that looks like.
The most disturbing thing about fatphobia, apart from how many of us face it in our lives in so many small and not so small ways, is just how deeply and insidiously entrenched it is. We grow up our entire lives being given these messages from almost everywhere - messages about how many different ways our bodies are wrong for simply existing in the form that they happen to exist. Most of us have never even been told that its okay to be fat. And because fatphobia is so often tied to (faux) concerns about one’s health, the idea of questioning these incessant messages that tell us what our bodies should be doing or what they should look like seems almost unthinkable to most people.
This project was born out of the frustration and the isolation that a lot of fat, brown queer folks face in their communities, and in an attempt to find a way of feeling less alone in ours. While there is a thriving online community of white fat people, we know that there is something uniquely different about experiencing fatness as a person of colour. For instance, Sara, being a fat brown visibly Muslim woman, has heard incessant commentary and opinions that not only criticize the physical space she takes up as a fat person but also how she is supposed to represent herself as a Muslim woman.
For so many of us, divorcing our multiple identities from each other is simply not possible. Because of “single issue politics,” so many movements that have been based on eradicating a single oppression have always left some of their similarly (but not identically) oppressed siblings in the dust. Homophobia movements have often left behind people of colour, poor people and trans* people, for example. For us, the It Gets Fatter Project tries to acknowledge the intersectionalities of oppressions while still being focussed on a broad topic like “body positivity.”
We also wanted to talk about a different analysis on fatness, one that doesn’t try to talk about how it’s OK to be fat if you’re healthy but rather deconstructs fatness and health and tries to separate the two to make a less ableist discourse. We wanted to start a project like this simply to get people to accept the idea that different bodies exist in different shapes and sizes and that they always will - no matter how much we are taught to hate certain bodies and no matter how much we are taught to hate ourselves for being embodied in a way that seems unacceptable to the dominant discourse. Fat bodies are always under attack not because everyone cares about fat people’s health but because, in their very existence, fat bodies present a kind of challenge or danger to the status quo simply because they ‘fail’ to conform to the many ways we are required to police our own bodies. This is why we believe this project is so important - we want fat people to be proud of the many different ways their very existence radically undermines ideological configurations of what the “healthy” or “beautiful” body is supposed to look like.
Being fat positive and unlearning the body shame that each of us has grown up with is so important if we are to begin reclaiming our bodily autonomy. Self-love and self-acceptance are super difficult things that we all struggle with every day, but what gets us through 90% of the time is the emotional support we receive from the people we love, the amazing stories we read from fellow fat people of color, and knowing that those people live and exist and struggle just like we do. It is so incredibly healing to hear and share each other’s stories - and that is one of the most important goals of this project.
We are so excited about everything that has come out of the It Gets Fatter Project so far. Feeling like we’ve been able to connect with fat folks from around the world has been truly life changing! We never expected this project to get so big, and we’re so stoked to see where it will go in the coming months (and maybe even years!).
If you want to know more or get involved, go to http://www.itgetsfatter.tumblr.com
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