Worth Your Weight

May 8, 2008

More love for Pattie

Filed under: fat acceptance — worthyourweight @ 2:37 pm

I highly recommend reading Dr. Pattie Thomas’ book Taking Up Space. Now, IIRC she caveats this comment to the point of pretty much nullifying it, but I only noted the part that impressed me. So that’s what I’m quoting here.

[…]”your wanting to lose weight leads to my oppression”[…]

Every single one of the above activities [plastic surgery, WLS, no-fat diet, food/activity journaling, Weight Watchers et al., over-exercise, diet pills] is dependent upon a portrayal of my body or a body similar to mine as unacceptable. […]

As much as those decisions are personal, they are based on an understanding of fatness that asserts that someone who looks like me is stupid, lazy, over-indulgent, and greedy. I don’t object to the activities. I object to the demonization.

This is really powerful for me. It explains perfectly why the cover image of this weight loss memoir (published by Seal Press! LOL) is so disturbing/insulting. Wow, you’ve shrunk yourself so you can fit your entire body into one leg of your old pair of pants. What about the women who still wear that size of pants?

Another thing that’s really stuck with me from her book is Pattie’s excellent point — one I’ve not encountered much — that fat discrimination actually hurts everyone in that talented people aren’t utilized to their fullest when denied opportunities because of being fat. Fat discrimination squanders a valuable pool of human resources.

I’ve also already linked a couple times before to her essay “Top 10 Things I’m Tired of Discussing” (PDF)*. The title sounds off-putting, but it’s well worth a read. It’s where I learned to change my perspective about people who use scooters while shopping. Granted, I wasn’t anywhere near the perspective of the jerk mentioned here (whose rant was correctly identified by Big Liberty as hate speech). But I did feel like, “Oh, I feel bad that person has to use a scooter.”

Well, let me tell ya, I feel good and happy when I see scooter drivers now. I beam at posts like Boombatti’s “Paul Prudhomme Rocks.” I have Pattie Thomas to thank. She writes:

I love that there are some fat people out there who are just being themselves and who assert the space to be themselves. I also love the fat people who are visible at the Wal-mart on the electric scooters. I love fat people who use their walking poles and get out for a stroll. I love fat travelers who demand a space on the beach to simply be. I love fat
people who fight for a seat on the airplane. I love fat people who demand a comfortable seat at the theatre, the doctor’s office or the classroom. You see, I think that any visible fat person is a good thing because we are told to make ourselves as invisible as possible.

Me, too. Pattie, you taught me this. Now I grin and say to myself, “You show ’em,” when I see a fat person reclaim her place in the world by “daring” to shop from a scooter.

Pattie also has a blog, although the last update was in December: http://fattypatties.blogspot.com/

*Big Fat Blog turned me onto this essay

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5 Comments

  1. What an awesome post – I’ll definitely put the book on my list. That thread BL linked to was desperately heartbreaking, and yet you (and Patti) are so right – it IS nice to see! When I see people scooting around and being used as a metaphor for all that’s wrong with America, I have started to think – “Well, they were probably there all along but they just couldn’t freaking get around, and/or were made to feel they didn’t deserve to. It’s probably a very positive sign. I don’t think we’re ‘getting fatter’ – just the fat people are becoming more visible.” And yeah, you bet that’s a good thing.

    Especially if you gain superpowers from doing so muahaha. :)

    Comment by AnnieMcPhee — May 8, 2008 @ 6:49 pm

  2. That cover art – I didn’t realize that’s the woman being interviewed on BFD that made my blood boil. I was just looking at her blog and she just luuurves “Hungry Girl.” Uh, yeah. Gasket is officially popped.

    Comment by AnnieMcPhee — May 8, 2008 @ 7:29 pm

  3. “When I see people scooting around and being used as a metaphor for all that’s wrong with America, I have started to think – ‘Well, they were probably there all along but they just couldn’t freaking get around, and/or were made to feel they didn’t deserve to. It’s probably a very positive sign. I don’t think we’re “getting fatter” – just the fat people are becoming more visible.'”

    Excellent point!

    Also, sorry I didn’t make it clear that the book cover I linked to was Pasta Queen’s book. I just cannot promote that at all.

    Comment by worthyourweight — May 8, 2008 @ 8:19 pm

  4. Seal Press: Proving over and over that they’re Not Actually Progressive. “Groundbreaking books. By women. For women.” What, exactly, is groundbreaking about a “O hai i lost weight, LOL @ my old big pants” book? There’s about 5000 of them in your average Borders.

    Comment by La di Da — May 8, 2008 @ 8:45 pm

  5. I agree WYW. La di da, I always hate those pictures and covers, and you’ve both kind of clarified why. Part of me says “those pants look about my size” (I could be wrong; I often am about that) but now I will always hear that condescending “haha! old fatpants! haha!” Yeah. Not cool.

    Comment by AnnieMcPhee — May 9, 2008 @ 12:13 am


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