For Shame, Feministe

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Feministe has been on my blogroll since I discovered that there were such things as feminist blogs on the internet. It’s a site I’ve loved for a long time because of the diversity of articles and perspectives that fill the site and reflect the diversity and passion of feminism in general. One of the regular summer features of Feministe is the influx of guest bloggers, another way to share multiple perspectives from bloggers with a smaller reach than the gianormous audience of Feministe. Usually the guest posts are a feature I look forwards to because the concept & practice are so much a part of why I enjoy reading Feministe.

That said, I imagine it will be quite some time before I return to the site after reading this atrocious guest post: Fat & Health, by Monica. Only really it’s not about fat nor health so much as it is about ignorance, privilege and contempt.

The comments on this post are closed, so I’m sharing my thoughts on this clusterfuck of a post here:

The hell? My brain is stuck on some kind of reel screeching ‘Does Not Compute!” and I have years of health & weight & diet issues scrambling to be heard and feeling this article in my gut (no pun intended, though it is appropriate).

This post is the antithesis of acceptance, compassion or understanding. The guest blogger’s comments addressing her tone amount to “well, I’m always an asshole no matter what I write, so fuck you and don’t mind the tone of this piece telling you what a fattie you are AND dismissing any differing opinions.”

I have health issues (My god, do I have some bizarre health issues). I have weight issues. Above and beyond I have body image issues that have at times cost me my health, my friends and even my fucking sanity. All of these things are interrelated and interconnected and influence one another. Nothing related to weight and health is as simple as this extraordinarily privileged author makes out to be, and I do not understand what is to be gained by equating the author’s individual experience of the world (especially an experience of the world so personal and pit-fall-filled as weight, health, access to health care & access to compassionate doctors) with an universal experience of the world, and then telling people to STFU when they offer experiences that differ and their own pain related to those experiences.

This connects to my art as well; I tag my vagina-related embroideries as ‘body positive’ because I believe strongly that the most constructive & mutually beneficial way to move forward in the world is to accept our bodies (or at least to try to accept them) with love and compassion, and to offer that same lack of judgement to other people. Bodies, people and experiences are complicated and imperfect and unique, and our world is richer for that; it’s when we forget that nothing is universal that problems arise. I’ve been at war with my body for literally decades (and I’m freaking 24 years old and can’t remember a day where accepting my body has been an easy thing, if possible at all), comparing myself (and coming up short no matter what my health or BMI is) or to images from the media, internalized expectations from ballet classes and ice skating and modeling, and trying to bring about impossible changes to my body, and it is fucking exhausting. Letting go of that anger and worry and mental preoccupation, even for a moment, is one of the most luxurious experiences I can imagine, and being able to say ‘This is how I am”, and rest with that statement is incredibly powerful to me. That moment of letting go and accepting ‘This is how I am” is part of what I hope folks get out of my artwork.

And I’m all for differing opinions. If this post had been a perspective on how, for this author, the BMI index had played a beneficial and positive role in her personal experience, I would have loved to read it and consider it. For me, the BMI has been nothing but a tool of self-destruction and self-loathing, and while I’ve never had a doctor comment on my excess weight, I have had people give me bucketloads of praise for looking great while eating 300 calories a day and starving myself for the pursuit of a BMI of 18. I would have loved to hear that something that has been so negative in my life was positive for someone else, because hey, maybe I could learn something from that perspective. Instead, this article did not feel like a considered opinion or perspective so much as a dismissal of alternative viewpoints and an attack on naysayers, and the degree of insensitivity that it was expressed with is appalling.

For shame, Feministe and Monica, for fucking shame.

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