Fat Slut, you said…

So, hello, brand new year. Unfortunately it’s also hello to diet talk overload. Yup, it’s everywhere. The diet industry goes crazy in January. Over the years  I have managed to switch off from most of the weight watcher ads & gym discount flyers. I basically make it my business to mute the diet industry; I don’t buy magazines that tell me I’m not good enough, I don’t follow social media accounts that constantly talk about weight loss & I shun brands that use body shaming in their advertising. Of course, I also actively participate the body posi community. This works well for me. However, more and more I am realising that I simply cannot escape the notion that fat is just awful. The problem is that lots of the people I really like & choose to have in my life are, to be frank, fat phobic. 

I understand that everyone will not share my views on body positivity. I also accept that other people are free to do whatever the choose with their own bodies. In fact I am delighted when people find a way to love themselves. However they do it, finding genuine peace with yourself is a wonderful thing & I applaud anyone who gets there. What I don’t appreciate is having to listen to all the fat phobic crap that others believe in. I will never understand why people think it is ok to express their revulsion of fat people to me, a fat person. If you had brown hair & I repeatedly made negative comments about brown hair, you’d probably feel hurt, or pissed off. Well, surprise, surprise, fat people have feelings too. 

You can feel however you like about your own or other people’s bodies. If you want to do slimming world or Atkins or eat raw, knock yourself out. Run & lift & body pump until your heart’s content. If your internal voice mocks & degrades others based on their physical appearance that probably needs investigation, but it’s still entirely your affair. Once you voice those insults out loud, they become my business too & the truth is, I don’t want to hear it. 

I do not want to hear how terrible you think celebs looks when they gain weight. I don’t want to listen to your jibes about naked fat bodies in movies. When you talk in disgusted tones about your own fat, you are telling me what you think of me. Your talk of how your own much thinner body is not fit to carry a child or how being fat makes a person a terrible parent, you are commenting on my abilities. Every time you comment ‘I’m a fat bitch’ on picture of food you ate or tell me what is ‘bad’ about every item on a menu you are pushing your issues on me. 

And here’s the thing, I can’t stop you. You are free to say & feel whatever you please. You can hate your body & my body & Rebel Wilson’s body & Cameron Diaz’s body too. You can laugh & be rude. You can continue to say right to my face that you find people like me to be entirely undeserving of respect. I presume that often you are oblivious. I get it. Sometimes we are blinded by our own internal struggle. Everyone has moments of complete, but unintentional insensitivity. Sometimes, though, you know. You know that you are degrading fat people in front of a fat person. Mostly, we’ll let you get away with it. I know I do. I excuse & ignore. I tell myself you did not mean to be cruel. Well, no more. This is me giving notice. In the future I intend to point out that the body you’re mocking is just like mine. I will tell you that I don’t want to hear about your diet. I will mute you on social media if your timeline is toxic because I can do as I please too. I choose not to engage in anymore bullshit. I wish you well with your own self love journey, but I will no longer be party to my own debasement. You do you. I am going to do me.

A privileged person’s guide to privilege…

I will never understand why the concept of privilege is so offensive to so many people. Mostly, let it be said, privileged people. It is beyond me why it frightens people to look at the privilege in their life & say yes, that has helped me and no, I did nothing to earn that aid. ‘Owning your privilege’ is merely acknowledging your good fortune. Privilege does not make you bad a person. However, refusing to countenance it’s existence makes you a bit of a dick. Since no one wants to be one of those, let’s go through this together.

If you belong to a group who hold power in society, you have privilege. If you belong to a group that is considered the default in society, you too have privilege. The fact that you do not face institutionalised discrimination just for being who you are is a huge advantage. Being born white, straight, cis, able bodied are all privileges. You will not face prejudice or disadvantages for merely existing in your body. Life is not a level playing field; some of us are sprinting before the starter’s pistol sounds.

Part of this kind of privilege is the fact that you did nothing to earn your advantage. Thus, many people will rail against the notion that they should have to apologise for holding it. Well, no one is asking you to. You are not responsible for the fact that you are white or male or cis gendered. No one is critising you for being any of these (or any other privileged) things. The problem comes when you refuse to own the benefits you have gained from life’s lottery. When some people have to struggle just to reach the starting line, ignoring that becomes offensive. We do not choose what privilege we come into this world with, but we do choose what we do with it. Acknowledge the factors beyond your control that eased your path. Then use your position to clear space for those without your advantages. 

Some of you may be thinking I have one of those privileges you speak of & my life is hard, so I don’t feel ahead of the game. Privilege is not a guarantee of fabulous life. You could be a straight, white, cis, able bodied man & still have terrible things happen to you. The privilege comes in the fact that they did not happen because you were straight or white or cis or able bodied or male. No matter your situation the abscence of the barriers that come with being a minority are still always advantageous. 

It’s also important to remember that it is possible to have privilege in one area & none in another. For example I am white, from a comfortable back ground, well educated, cis gendered & straight passing. I am fully of aware of the advantages my parents have given me and of the discrimination I have never had to face. I hold a lot of privilege. However, I am also disabled, I’m female & I’m fat; all of which incur significant hardships. My daily life is a slog. I do face discrimination & I am discredited, but I’m still lapping my trans, BAME, LGBTQ, impoverished (& so many more) brothers & sisters in the race of life. 

So, privilege isn’t always cut & dry. It does not translate to a perfect life. Nevertheless, it’s a head start. It is a whole bunch of problems you’ll never have to even consider. Privilege is being able to dismiss that the premise is even real. 

In keeping with my entreaty that you use whatever privilege you have to help dismantle the current societal hegemony I would encourage to read these voices on the topic.

Lori Lakin Hutcherson

Strong in broken places

Taking up too much space 

That crazy crippled chick

The Second City

Tell me lies….

The older I become the more I realise that the world lies to me. I am keep coming up against perceived wisdoms that just aren’t true. In particular I feel some life events are so surrounded in supposed gravitas that we’re all set up for a fall. So many situations that I was led to believe were scary, amazing or life changing were in fact no great revelation to me. So, here’s a my top five non milestones.

  
Losing my virginity was no big deal. It wasn’t planned, I was just getting it on with a teenage boyfriend and it happened. I can’t even really remember the details. We progressed past our usual stopping point and I realised I didn’t want him to cease. So, we continued and had sex. It wasn’t fantastic and it wasn’t awful either. I didn’t feel any great pain; I didn’t really feel much beyond a sharpness when he first penetrated me. I didn’t bleed other than slight spotting in my knickers the next day. Afterwards we didn’t have a big discussion, there were no I love yous or promises. I think we went to sleep. It was nice. We had a cuddle and kiss in the morning then I left with my best friend to find food to cure our hangovers. I honestly didn’t feel changed in anyway. It seemed to me just a natural progression. I hear other women talking about regretting who they first slept with, wishing they’d waited for someone really special or even they person they married. I’ve never felt that way. The guy I shared my first time with certainly wasn’t a great love, he turned out to be a bit of a pig, but it’s never given me a moments pause. I was a teenager, even then it never occurred to me that he would be The One. I think that’s how it should be. Sex doesn’t define a person. It’s entirely healthy to experiment, make mistakes & learn from them. For girls especially we need to remove the idea that losing your virginity is somehow losing worth. We also need to ditch expectation that your first time should be an amazing, cherished moment. It hardly ever is and that’s ok.

  
Graduation was another milestone that didn’t rock my world. Sure I was proud of myself for attaining a good degree. I had to wade through some adversity during my university years and I was glad I had made it to solid ground. Other than that, it was unspectacular. I didn’t even attend my graduation ceremony. The thought of the gown and marching on stage when my name was called made me feel nauseous. So, I didn’t bother. Neither did I have a fancy dinner or party. At the end of all our exams my friends and I had a mighty piss up, but come graduation time we were all onto the next stage. We were trying to find jobs we actually wanted whilst working jobs we needed to pay the rent. In short I was getting stuck into being an adult. Graduation already felt like old news.

  
Getting my period was another supposed life changer that left no discernible mark. I can remember my friends getting theirs before me and feeling a tad left behind. The actual details of my first period have left no imprint. I have a vague memory of perhaps calling my mum into the bathroom, but that may just be the influence of countless teen movies. My mum had gone over what to expect long before the event, so there were no shocks. My early periods were unremarkable. I didn’t suffer from cramps or mood swings. I merely found the whole thing a messy nuisance. I didn’t feel like a woman, I felt inconvenienced. 

  
For me, leaving home was also accomplished without a fuss. I had always had a good relationship with my parents, but I craved independence. So, when I fell head over feels with an inappropriate guy, I leaped at the chance to move in with him. I was young, yes, but I wasn’t scared. My mum thought it an ill fated idea and told me so. I ignored her and she knew me well enough to know she had to let me make my own mistakes. There were no arguments or tearful goodbyes. I didn’t have a lot of belongings, so the actual moving was a simple task. I had already been spending most of my time at the boyfriend’s flat, so there weren’t any ugly surprises. I had to learn to be a little smarter with my money and the bf obviously turned out to be a big error in judgement. That said, I have no regrets. I wanted to spread my wings and I did. I loved the autonomy of having my own place, even more so once I freed myself of the stupid first love. I never looked back. I have lived independently -mostly on my own- since & I wouldn’t change a thing.
Now for the one I was actually scared of, but turned out just fine. The big 3-0. In last couple of years of my twenties I had begun to slightly dread turning 30. It wasn’t the aging, but realising I was nowhere near where I thought I would be at 30. I had for some reason believed I would be settled, own my home & be well on the way to motherhood. Turns out that’s not what life had in store for me. So, I made the usual jokes about mourning my youth and felt uneasy. The funny thing is when 30 became a reality, I was completely fine. It dawned on me that my, childless, less than settled state was not actually a problem. I hadn’t met anyone I could be happy with, so singledom was clearly a better option. Living alone suited me, in fact I wasn’t sure I really wanted anyone else invading my space. As for children, yes, I wanted them, but I knew It wasn’t my time. On top of that I felt pretty good. I didn’t feel old & I still looked rather nice. My 30th birthday ended up being a lot of fun. My family and friends organised various lovely events. I was whisked away for a spa weekend and glammed up for a drunken nights out. Yet, again I had been deceived. 30 wasn’t scary, it was a blast.

  
So, what’s my point? Relax. Hardly anything ends up feeling the way we’re told it wil & that’s just fine.