Not so fat
I wrote this tweet earlier today:
Big favour to ask. When you meet me for the first time, please don’t comment on my weight. Even if you think you’re being kind. Cheers.
— fat gay vegan (@FatGayVegan) August 14, 2016
I’m sure most people get what I mean.
However, a Twitter user asked why I would say that when it appeared I was proud of being fat based on my blog name. Wasn’t I inviting questions or comments on my body by using that name?
Here’s a brief explanation of what is going on here.
Fat Gay Vegan is a name designed to grab attention and provoke thought. It is me taking words that have been used to negatively frame me (and other people) and turning them on their head. In the process, I use that attention to draw people to stories about improving outcomes for animals.
I believe I have successfully created spaces online and in real life to bring support and happiness to a number of people exploring veganism. It is wonderful to hear people use the words ‘fat’, ‘gay’ and ‘vegan’ so openly and willingly when they say my blog name. It feels like a small victory in a cruel world to have been able to reappropriate some of these terms in a positive way to help animals.
But maybe this is where it gets a bit murky for a few people.
My blog name is an attention-grabbing headline with the power to make people reconsider the words and concepts involved but it is not an open invitation to comment on or ask me about my own personal weight and body shape.
To give you an example…
I have lost track of how many times over the past six years someone has met me for the first time and said, “You aren’t as fat as I thought you would be”.
LOL! Why would I want someone to say that to me?
Of course I understand these people think they are paying me a compliment because most of us are conditioned into thinking that being thinner or lighter is the ideal and everyone on the planet must be trying to get skinny.
But I am left feeling bemused and sometimes saddened by these interactions. My weight is an extremely personal topic for me and as it does for most humans it impacts on my physical health, mental health, social outlook, self esteem and pretty much every aspect of my life. My body is because of my life and my life is because of my body. It is me defined.
There is no part of me that wants a stranger (or a friendly blog reader) to make a comment on my weight within ten seconds of meeting me. It is my personal business how I feel about my body and I don’t want people I don’t know (or even those I do for that matter) telling me how they view my weight on a sliding scale of fatness.
This is not an attack on people who have said such things to me. It is me putting the information out there and asking others to consider the topic. Consider how deeply personal your own body issues are and then imagine how you would feel if strangers were to make comments to you about your size, shape or perceived fitness upon meeting you.
This is also not a ‘poor FGV’ post. I like that this is a platform where these sorts of topics can be shared. I think it helps more than just me to talk about them.
I am not alone in trying to be a happy person who also has conflicted feelings, experiences and emotions surrounding body image and self worth. This blog post is for all of us. None of us really want to feel judged, so maybe we can all afford to be that little bit more thoughtful and compassionate before we speak.
If you think I called my blog Fat Gay Vegan because I am proud of being fat and want strangers to comment publicly on how they view me, please remember that is your understanding or perception of the situation. It is not mine and I don’t really want to hear it.
If I want to talk to you about my weight or shape, I will let you know. As will anybody you meet at work, at a party, in the street or any other conceivable setting.
Let’s look after each other as we try to work together to look after non-humans.