Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Being Fat During Hurricane Florence

This past weekend, Hurricane Florence swept through my state, creating panic and destruction. I'm a few hours inland, but the path of the hurricane was expected to go right through my city before, last minute, dipping south and going around us. We got some flooding, some power outages, but it was nothing like it was predicted to be- thank goodness!

In the week leading up to the hurricane making landfall, I was a busy busy bee. I'm what I call a practical prepper -not end of the world zombie apocalypse prepper, but i know shit goes bad prepper. So I already had bug-out bags ready, a comprehensive first aid kit, two weeks worth of meds packed, and lots of water. That didn't stop me from running myself sick trying to prepare for loss of power, loss of water, and possible evacuation for myself, my family, and my companion animals.

But the reason I'm such an anxiety ridden prepper who needs to know exactly what could happen in every possible situation? Because I'm fat. Being trapped and unable to be rescued is one of my greatest fears. It's the core of my agoraphobia as well as claustrophobia. Getting stuck. Rescuers being unable to lift me. It's horrifying.

I think back to Hurricane Katrina and stories of fat patients being left to die in hospitals because they were "too much trouble" to move safely. As someone who's also disabled, I'm convinced that I will die in any major cataclysmic event.  So, despite being really well prepared for anything that could happen, I was terrified. I was having daily panic attacks, the anxiety triggered a mast cell disease flare as well as a fibromyalgia flare, both of which added to my panic (how could I be rescued when I was having anaphylactic reactions to everything?!)

This goes beyond the fear of not fitting in a movie theater seat or airplane seat (very real fears!). I'm afraid of dying. Not because fat is an illness or because fat causes medical problems that will kill me.. it's not and it won't. I'm afraid for my life because of the negligence of people in a society who demonize fat to such a degree that our lives are forfeit , unimportant. Worse, I'm afraid that my family's lives are in danger because of fatphobia. Is my son less likely to be rescued because they don't want to bother with a family that includes a fat woman? Will he have to watch them leave me behind?

At this point, eight years into fat activism, I feel like most of the things we think about are obvious (to me at least), but when you're forced to really confront how deep it goes, how far reaching the danger, and how horrific the potential deaths, it's easy for someone with a panic disorder to really freak the fuck out.

During Katrina, there were three specific patients who were killed rather than evacuated, due to weight. One, Janine Burgess, was suffering from end stage cancer and nurses justified giving her  a lethal dosage of morphine because she may otherwise become conscious (she was sedated to the point of unconsciousness) and, without proper medical care, would suffer greatly. Did they evacuate other end stage cancer patients?

Also, there was Rodney Scott, He was chosen to be the last to be evacuated due to his weight, combined with being paralyzed and unable to walk . While he was successfully evacuated, his life was prioritized as the least important of patients needing evacuation.

Lastly was Emmett Everett, a man who begged medical staff , multiple times, to not leave him behind. He knew what was going on. His roommate had already been evacuated. a man who was awake, aware, ready to evacuate, and in good spirits. He even graciously told the doctors to evacuate others ahead of him. In the end, he was deemed too heavy to be moved at 380lbs. Emergency personnel have said they could have evacuated Everett, but were never even told he was there. Nurses told Everett that they'd give him something to help with dizziness he was experiencing. Instead they gave him a deadly dose of morphine and midazolam (a sedative).

Emmett Everett was murdered- straight up murdered- because staff didn't want to deal with him. They didn't even try. And no one was prosecuted for his death or the death of Janine Burgess. The limit for who they deemed unworthy of saving seemed to be "300lbs". I am 305lbs.

Is it any wonder that I worry? I should. Sometimes anxiety is unfounded and creates a mountain out of a mole hill. This is not a mole hill, it is a monstrous mountain that we keep being too afraid to look at or acknowledge.

The obvious answer to this is to actually think of fat people as people. To prepare for evacuating us and having life saving policies in place for us. It's not impossible, it's not even all that difficult. The issue is simply that no one cares enough to put in the small amount of effort it would take.

I made it through Florence without being hurt or stranded at all, but the future is always uncertain. My life will always be uncertain.


Saturday, August 11, 2018

ASDAH Conference- Dr. Bacon (and the inner turmoil of ally cookies)


Although the first day of the conference was spent in my room, recovering from an anaphylactic reaction to perfume, I was able to make the second half of Saturday's speakers! I was able to get there just in time to see Dr. Bacon's talk. When I ran into Dr. Bacon as I entered the conference center on Friday, I squeaked and covered my mouth like a kid meeting their favorite Disney character. A good way to start out embarrassing myself! But after Dr. Bacon's talk, I felt even more lucky to just be in the same building!  Here's what Dr. Bacon did right:

We all know that Dr. Bacon wrote the groundbreaking book Health at Every Size, which is now a decade old. For many of us struggling with the scientific reasoning that people used to justify fatphobia, especially in the medical field, this book saved lives, and continues to do so. It gave us ammo to be able to say "no, i'm not automatically unhealthy because of my size, and I deserve proper medical care". It was page after page, chapter after chapter, of studies that we had never heard of. That most people had never heard of! For a science nerd like me, it was a revelation and made me an instant convert to intuitive eating and the HAES model.

BUT

A good bit of Dr. Bacon's talk on Saturday included what was wrong with that book. In Health at Every Size, there was a heavy focus on changing behaviors to change health outcomes, rather than focusing on body size, shape, or composition, which is most common in the medical field. Here's the thing Dr. Bacon realized though- Intuitive eating and behavior based health focus doesn't work for everyone. An example used was that if someone had an abundance of free food from the fast food place they worked, but couldn't take it home and had little or no access to food at home, then listening to hunger and fullness cues would not be the healthiest practice. Loading up on food to keep them going until the next work day is what would be appropriate.

I remember very clearly, after reading HAES, paraphrasing parts of the book by saying that no one would eat twinkies forever. Eventually you get tired of twinkies and your smart body craves a salad. This is what's wrong with the original book. Some people will always love twinkies and hate salads and we have to realize that that's okay. (And hey, fat and thin people can like both or either).Dr. Bacon, on Saturday, said that only about 10% of health outcomes are really effected by "lifestyle" and behavior and that this number is already readily accepted and agreed upon by people in the research field of health.

What's really impacting our health outcomes? So many things! From genetics, to stress in the womb, to how polluted your city's air is, to  what's in the food that you eat (hormones, antibiotics, mercury, etc), to food insecurity, to dieting... gosh I could go on and on! It's amazing how many things, how our experience, effect our bodies temporarily and permanently. It seems like every day we're discovering that something we thought was safe isn't, and something we thought wasn't safe is. College humor said it well in their Plasticine Diet bit when they said "health science notoriously unscientific!".

There was so much more that was talked about, but I'll never get to it all here! So Dr. Bacon talked about all this and acknowledged the problematic parts of the first book, as well as talking about Body Respect, Co-Authored with Lucy Aphramor in 2014. When Dr. Bacon was praised afterwards, many people clapped- including myself- and Dr. Bacon pointed out the disturbing fact that a thin, white, person was gaining so much praise at a conference meant to highlight marginalized fat people. And there was absolute truth to that.

Because then come the cookies...

And here I find myself in a tough spot. Dr. Bacon is right... we talk all the time in activist circles about allies performing for ally cookies. Basically doing the right thing for praise rather than doing the right thing because it's, you know, the right thing. We are so amazed, so enamored, by a thin person who isn't awful to us, that we don't even know how to act other than with abject praise and deafening applause.

I'm very glad that Dr. Bacon recognized and pointed this out. All that praise was unwanted and
undeserved given the huge amount of privilege that allowed Dr. Bacon to get to where they are today. To have three graduate degrees, to have been published, well received, to become a public speaker, to have their word taken as fact with credibility behind it. That takes privilege folx. And Dr. Bacon acknowledged every bit of it. And I feel so grateful that someone would do such an amazing, but basic, thing to help us.

Where are we at that a thin person being kind to us is so overwhelming that we treat them like royalty? We can't necessarily help our feelings. I feel grateful, I feel near tears, I feel overwhelmed with thankfulness. The question, I guess, Is what will I do with those feelings? How will I channel that back into the Fat Liberation movement to make it better tomorrow? Dr Bacon's talk gave me a lot to think about (and boy did I take a lot of notes), but the Dr's willingness to step aside and not take credit gave me even more to think about it. I hope, some day, that Dr. Bacon and I can have an actual one on one talk because I truly value what they have to say... and I'm interested to see where these cookies go.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

ASDAH Conference- The Healing Of Not Being Afraid



I just woke up in my own bed for the first time in almost a week and boy am I glad to be home! I spent the weekend across the country, in Portland OR, as the Association of Size Diversity and Health 2018 conference. It was my first conference, not just with ASDAH, but any conference. I was excited, bright eyed, bushy tailed, and too sick to attend most of it.

Unfortunately, I was brokenhearted after having to leave only a few minutes after the first keynote speaker. I had an anaphylactic reaction to something and was in and out of the ER the whole weekend. The good news is that I met a local fattie who wasn't attending the conference, but had volunteered to hang out with me while I was in town. Now I have a Portland bestie!


A whole weekend with swollen throat tissue was not fun. It's like having something stuck in your throat while being choked at the same time. Worse, it made it hard to enjoy the overwhelming amount of vegan food available in Portland! (I did, however, go to Doe Donuts.. which was amazing! A good alternative so that you never have to step foot in Voodoo Doughnuts- known for it's sugary doughnuts and racism).


But, the weekend was not lost, even though it seemed so at first!


I attended the pre-conference talk on fat as a social justice issues, lead by  Nancy Ellis-Ordway PhD MSW, and Rachel Smith MA LPC NCC CACII RYT 500. And no, I don't know what most of those lettters or numbers mean. 


We started out by getting used to saying "fat" out loud. What? I've said "fat" out loud more than I have just about any other word. I use fat daily, I write about fat, I tweet and go on facebook rants about"fat"!  So there I was, in a room full of people, almost all of them fat, saying this word out loud. It was revolutionary.

Sure I use the word "fat" a lot, but it's always within the context of being in a fatphobic culture or even talking directly with a fatphobic person or group of people. Being able to say it, out loud, with other fat people who are there to LOVE the word and your body and their bodies... it was so much different than the defensive and activist way that I usually use the word. I was slightly blushing at saying it out loud, I was buzzing and beaming!

That was all I got to participate in on Friday, of course. After the mast cell reaction, my mood plummeted, exacerbated by the vegan options at lunch actually not existing and being asked if i could just eat lettuce and sliced tomatoes. A terrible thing to ask in a conference full of people who have been told our whole lives to just eat lettuce and sliced tomatoes, especially for those of us with eating disorder histories.

But let's get past that and onto the two talks I was able to attend Saturday! I was able to attend the keynote talk by Dr. Bacon, author of Health at Every Size, and co-author with  Lucy Aphramor  of Body Respect, and who has a new book coming out, hopefully next year. This talk was amazing and I felt lucky to be in the same city as Dr. Bacon, let alone the same room. Though Dr. Bacon had many criticisms of Health at Every Size, that's what made being there so wonderful. Weaving in personal stories with explanations of overlapping privilege, and adding that a thin, white, person being applauded for being decent was problematic, created an overwhelming atmosphere where I wanted to give this person all the activist cookies in the world, while completely agreeing that privileged people treating marginalized folx with respect isn't a cookie-worthy act.

I don't think there's a way to describe the feeling of hearing the best thin ally I've ever encountered, honestly and genuinely not want applauds and thanks for being an ally. And Dr. Bacon is right.. the fact that I want, so badly, to gush and beam over a thin person not hating me, is a very real problem.

The next talk that I was able to attend was by Mäks Roßmöller (pronounced "Max"), a somatic therapist from Germany who has created the #Reframefatreclaimmovement (Reclaim fat Reclaim Movement). I'll be honest, this was my absolute most favorite talk. Their website is in German, but if you speak German or know someone who would benefit, pass it along! At one point in the talk, Mäks explained that fat often exists in the body to protect things that are delicate and precious, such as the eyeballs or inner organs which are surrounded by fat for protection. 

Then they said the most amazing thing that I have ever heard in my history of being involved in Fat Liberation: "What if fat forms on my body because it is precious?". In that moment, with my eyes closed, my hands on my belly, feeling it move and shift as I breathed in and out, I felt gutted in the best possible way. So much of the Fat Liberation community is about undoing harmful stereotypes around fat. About accepting these fat bodies that most of the world hates so much. But this... this was a complete re-framing for me. It wasn't about being defensive, it wasn't about proving people wrong, it wasn't about educating other people on my own humanity.... it was about the elegant and delicate beauty of fat, of being fat. My life is changed because of this talk. If you have a chance to attend one of their workshops please do it! 

The the information was scientific, compassionate, innovative, and mind blowing. They talked about the ways in which the body biologically stores trauma. 

An example which was both simple and likely relate-able to almost all fat people, was simply the act of sucking in your stomach for decades which makes learning to belly-breathe difficult and even painful. For me, it is so painful to take deep breaths, that I'm terrified of yawning. They also talked about fat as this living entity, with a liveliness, in constant movement. They defined Soma (as in somatic therapist) as "the living body in it's wholeness". And this was only a tiny portion of what was talked about. I can't even explain the depth of which this talk touched me.

Whew! And finally, I was able to attend the keynote talk by Substantia Jones about representation of fat through photography. She's such a real and genuine person, easy to get along with and laugh with, and the same was true through her talk, which features the photography of people like Patricia Schwartz, Laura Aguilar, Catherine Oakson, Lauri Toby Eddison, and, of course, Substantia herself. As the photographer for The Fat Naked Art Project, this talk was deeply interesting and it was so amazing to see the work of so many photographers who came before me. I can only hope to make a fraction of the impact that these people made.

The conference also included a couple of performances such as "What I learned From Fat People On An Airplane" by Kimberly Dark. If you've seen any parts of this online then you know what an amazing story teller Kimberly is... but it's nothing compared to seeing her in person!

Overall, the conference was a struggle. I missed most of it, was uncomfortable and sick the whole time, at times felt hopeless about how I can even keep living with these illnesses, and, at the same time, an amazing, uplifting, reinvigorating experience that I will never forget. I crave more and I feel like the activist burn-out I've been experiencing for a while is gone. I'm ready. I'm willing. And I'm ready to jump back in to this amazing community. I can't explain the amazing feeling or being around hundreds of strangers... and not having to be afraid. 

Friday, July 6, 2018

I'm Back And Ready To Rumble

      Hi there world. Hi followers- those of you that are left after a two year hiatus from me. If you're wondering what happened? Well- I'm sick. Really sick actually. In the last three years, I've been diagnosed with over a dozen different illnesses both physical and mental, some of which can be deadly and, most, thanks to a genetic connective tissue disorder. I'll be posting a page at the top of this blog that outlines some of the major illnesses and disorders that I have.

      I've spent the last couple of years seeing doctor after doctor, getting treatment for various things. I have over a dozen specialists from a neurosurgeon to cardiologist to psychiatrist. I stopped modeling, I stopped being a photographer, I couldn't leave the house without a large first aid kit and a mask on my face. I've had to give in and get a permanent handicap placard for my car, as well as a wheelchair that I use part time on bad days when I can't walk for more than a few feet without passing out or being in pain.

      All of this has sucked- big time. I've struggled with depression and spent a lot of time wondering if this was what the rest of my life was going to be like. I'd hoped to feel relief in getting answers, but only ended up worse and worse and I realized all of these things are life long and have no cure- and barely any treatments.

      BUT, after two years, I finally picked my camera up again for the return of The Fat Naked Art Project and I'm finally figuring out the steps I need to take in order to function and be happy. Editing those photos felt GOOD and, in a low histamine environment, I was able to do more than I've been able to in a long time. (needing Low Histamine= mast cell disease) I'm back and ready to rumble. I'm ready to take on fat liberation issues because, goodness knows, there are still plenty of instances of oppression that need to be talked about. I'm even setting up a shoot which I'll be modeling in.

      So I hope you're looking forward to some more content because I've got it for you! Stay tuned and don't touch that dial!


Thursday, August 4, 2016

Sex and Prejudice; The Intertwining of Bigotry and Attraction

"I even know thin "allies" who exclusively date and sleep with other thin people under the guise of "it's just a preference!" or "I just haven't found a fat person I'm attracted to yet". Guess what? We make up 2/3 of the population in the United States, but you haven't seen a single fat person who is attractive and willing to sleep with you? Give me a break. "




That quote appeared in my last post while discussing fatphobia in intersectional vegan spaces and intersectional spaces in general. I posted it in several intersectional vegan groups and, while people agreed with most of the article, there were several people who came out with excuses for their lack of attraction to fat people. It appears that the above quote, needs some explaining.

These are some of the reactions that I got:

"Romantic/Sexual attraction can't be controlled"
"Not being attracted to fat people doesn't make me fatphobic!"
"What if POC are only attracted to other same POC? Is that racist then?"
"Then lesbians are misandrists for not being attracted to men!"
"Asexuals are racist, sexist, fatphobic, etc for not being attracted to anyone!"
"Guilting people into having sex with people they aren't attracted to is problematic/oppressive"

Oh man, where to even start with these! I guess, from the top.

The idea that attraction is innate is false. With the exception of sexuality (which is more fluid than people think), who we are and aren't attracted to is something that's been drilled into our heads since we could understand human language- maybe even before as we witnessed relationship dynamics around us. Studies show that children as young as 3 already express bias and prejudice in who they want to be friends with. This has been demonstrated with both skin color and body size and it's not because children are born racist or fatphobic, it's that they are taught to prefer one thing over another. In other word, yes, attraction can be controlled. It is controlled, just not by you.

 Don't get me wrong, attraction is deeply socially ingrained and conditioned and it's not an easy thing to change, but it is possible to change because it's not a product of our biology, it's a product of social conditioning. Working through prejudices and biases can absolutely change who you're attracted to. Your attraction is greatly influenced by social beauty norms- this is one reason why different bodies were considered attractive at different points in time- because the beauty ideal changes based on social factors.

What is learned can be unlearned. Isn't that a lot of what intersectionality and allyship is about? Unpacking our previously held prejudices and understanding our own privilege as well as how oppression intersects across marginalized groups? Well guess what- fat people are a marginalized group and you don't get to just dismiss all of us. We're incredibly varied individuals. Maybe you're not attracted to all fat people- no one is attracted to literally everyone- but to say that no fat person could ever pique your interest is fatphobic at it's core.

So yes, not being attracted to fat people, any fat people ever, is indeed fatphobic. It shows that you see us as nothing but our fat, nothing but our bodies. It's not only fatphobic, it's also objectifying and dehumanizing. You have reduced us to our bodies and deemed them unworthy. What's more, you, as the thin privileged, don't get to decide what is or isn't oppressive or problematic when talking about fat people- we do. The voices of the marginalized will trump your privileged voices every time. Your job, as an ally, is to listen, internalize what we've said, and to work towards changing the attitudes that we've called out.

It's interesting that the white, cishet, male, poster decided to bring POC into the argument. As I pointed out in the last post, people who are fatphobic often have other prejudices they're hiding. This was no different. Here's the first thing you need to know: POC can't be racist. Racism requires a power over someone else on a systemic level that people of color just don't have. POC can, however, be biased and prejudiced (this is not the same thing as racism). If a POC doesn't want to date or sleep with their oppressor (white people) then that's fine. In that case, it's less about skin color and more about the people who are enacting violence against you every day. In the same way, I could refuse to date thin people because their privilege makes it harder to relate and, at some point, they're going to say or do something bigoted against me. Should I have to put up with oppression from the people I love and who are supposed to love me? I don't think so. But, let's be clear, marginalized folk refusing to sleep with their oppressors is not the same as the privileged refusing to allow attraction to the marginalized.

Speaking of dragging other marginalized people into it, it's again interesting that we couldn't just talk about fat people- now we have to drag queer people into it. Specifically monosexual queer people. Is it misandrist for lesbians to only date women? Well no. Firstly because misandry isn't real. Not anymore than "straight oppression"or "reverse racism" is real. As I explained above- oppression takes an element of systemic power that oppressed people just don't have. Women just can't be sexist against men.

But I get what you're asking- what you're really asking is if sexual orientation is a choice or socially conditioned the way thin preference is. The answer is a little complicated since a lot of people fall within the gray area of sexual attraction- the largest portion of the LGBT community, for example, are bisexuals who can absolutely choose who they want to date and sleep with. I would not blame a bisexual woman at all if she chose to not sleep with men (her oppressors), but, we've already talked about that. Strictly monosexual women are born with their sexualities already intact. If we're talking about social conditioning- we condition our children for straightness, not queerness. Sexual orientation is something we're all born with. Fatphobia isn't. And, may I just say, it's super shitty to try to compare queerness to socially conditioned preferences.

After discussing this- do I really need to go into the "asexuals are racist" argument? Innate sexuality vs conditioned preferences.. can we move on now?

But really, bottom line, can you not drag other marginalized people into the discussion? It derails the actual conversation and does a disservice to those people who deserve their own opportunity to talk and have their voices heard.

The last one was a big one for me because this person was trying to reverse the blame by implying I'm the problematic one. This is a tactic often used by abusers in interpersonal relationships. It's like saying "It's your fault I hurt you, you shouldn't have made me mad!" Reversing the responsibility is manipulative at best as well as a straight out refusal to recognize your own privilege and prejudices.

Yes, guilting people into having sex with someone, for ANY reason, is not okay. In fact, that's not even sex, that's rape. But that's not what we're talking about here. No one is forcing anyone to sleep with someone they're not attracted to. What we're arguing here is that if you weren't fatphobic, you would experience a wider variety of attraction, including to fat people. We're not saying to sleep with people you aren't attracted to, we're saying to sleep with people you ARE attracted to and that that attraction, free from prejudice, includes fat people. Excluding any entire marginalized group, outside of sexual orientation, as a possible partner will always be problematic.

Honestly, the amount of fatphobia that I experienced across the three groups that my last piece was posted proves my point about intersectional vegans or even just intersectional people in general. Many aren't actually intersectional. I also want to point out, in the same threads, I witnessed ableism, tone policing, racism and sexism. (I was actually told that my style of writing was "too dominant" and that I could make my point by being "less dominant"- tone policing and sexism all in one!). I do want to take a moment to thank the admins in each group who stepped in to shut the problematic people down- in one case the admins had to actually turn commenting off because it was getting so awful and out of hand.

So, if you claim to be intersectional, I suggest you start unpacking some shit and letting your bigotry go. Being intersectional means always striving to improve yourself and how you interact with marginalized people and communities. I expect better from you, starting right now.

I will be taking questions in the comments, which may end up on a future post.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Intersectional Vegans: Search for a Community That Doesn't Exist

Fat.

Fat is something that pretty much everyone talks about. The discussion is almost always centered
around how not to be fat with the occasional fat acceptance blurb thrown in there before promptly being smashed and strangled out of existence. Fat acceptance is a stain on intersectional politics.
Even the most intersectional among us tend to be fatphobic, especially thin intersectional identified people. Let's be honest here, fatphobia crosses political lines. It doesn't matter how conservative or how progressive you are, you're probably fatphobic. You may even consider yourself to be an ally to be fat people and the fat acceptance movement, but when is the last time you called out fatphobia, posted an article on fatphobia, brought it up in a group, raised up the voices of fat people, or even made a simple post on social media denouncing fatphobia. Where are you allies when I'm fighting trolls telling me to get cancer and die or to kill myself and make the world a better place. You're probably focused on some intersectional issue - any intersectional issue- except for mine.

Don't get me wrong here, other intersectional issues are important- ableism, sexism, racism, queerphobia, transphobia, etc. But, I think, what you fail to realize, is that fatphobia intersects with each and everone one of those things. Intersections- I mean, that's what you thrive on. Looking at overlapping oppression and seeing the individual struggles that marginalized people face because of it. Unless that person is fat.

If you're not flat out fatphobic, I'm surprised, but what's far more common are people who claim to be allies, but don't actually care about fatphobia or thin privilege. You may pay lip service to your own thin privilege, but that's as far as you're willing to go. I even know thin "allies" who exclusively date and sleep with other thin people under the guise of "it's just a preference!" or "I just haven't found a fat person I'm attracted to yet". Guess what? We make up 2/3 of the population in the United States, but you haven't seen a single fat person who is attractive and willing to sleep with you? Give me a break.

Getting back to how fatphobia crosses political lines, I'd like to talk a little bit about fatphobia in the vegan movement. I think we all know by now, that vegans can be some of the most fatphobic people in the world. Veganism, even veganism properly focused on non human animal rights and liberation, has a vein of healthism running through it, which hugely intersects with fatphobia. The idea that veganism is healthiest when eating a plant based diet and that that will result in thinness as well as lack of health issues.

I'm pretty sure that I haven't met a single vegan yet who hasn't said something shitty to me about my body size (even if they've grown over time by knowing me and become a better ally). And those who haven't said anything shitty, well, their actions speak  loudest. Vegans often pride themselves on being progressive and intersectional, even as sexism, racism, fatphobia, and healthism flourish within the community. Even then, there are many groups which specifically were established to fight racism and sexism in mainstream veganism. Fatphobia is rarely, if ever, a part of their mission statement as something to resist or fight against.

I'm not even necessarily upset by mainstream vegans who engage in all kinds of bigotry. I'm upset at those vegans who think they are above those problems, that bigotry. Vegans who are intersectional, feminist, and anti racism. Vegans who talk about classism and accessibility, and then sideeye you when you are fat and not ashamed of it or actively tring to lose weight. Vegans who schedule meetings and social activities in places that you don't fit or belong. Vegans who talk about cleanses and green smoothies and how, not that size is important, but, they've lost 5lbs already.

As an intersectional feminist and a fat vegan, I'd love to say that I've found a communit who shares my ideals. I have not. I feel outside of every group or community that I am a part of and find myself leaving those communities with regularity.

Vegans: you need to do better. You need to be better. You need to talk about fatphobia and issues surrounding fatphobia. You need to talk about the oppressions that intersect with fatphobia and you need to acknowledge our privilege. Be an ally. No.. be a good  ally. Examnine your prejudices and biases and come out a better person for it.

I'm tired of standing alone.




Fatphobia, Ableism, and the Thin Privilege Voice

Years ago, I posted a video on youtube. I had seen a sign for a child's fat camp (weight loss program) and it pissed me off. I pulled into the next parking lot, walked, and took the sign, throwing it into into my trunk. Once home, I spray painted it to read "Give the gift of no diets", as it was near Christmas time. I literally received thousands of comments (they were moderated and never made it onto the actual video). They ranged anywhere from death and rape threats, to name calling, to vague future health threats, and even accusations of being a terrorist. I'm not kidding- a terrorist. Because, as their logic went, I was engaging in the mass killings of fat children by wanting them to remain fat. Interesting how twisted a fatphobe's logic is considering that fatphobia and stigma kill fat more children than fat ever has.

Still, the number one comments I got were on m breathing- heavy breathing specifically. The trolls took this as proof that I was too fat and needed to exercise and lose weight.

I have a condition, as some of you know already, called POTS (postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome). It means that as my posture changes, from lying to standing, my heart rate increases by at least 30 beats per minute, usually causing tachycardia (a heart rate of over 100). A normal heart rate for a woman my age is 60-100bpm. My standing heart rate is about 20-40 over that just from standing up.  Even mild exercise can make my heart go through the roof. Walking gently and leisurely can raise my HR up to almost 200bpm, which is the same predicted heart rate of a woman my age who is engaging in extreme exercise and is the maximum rate a heart should go. So, for me, walking slowly on even ground, is about the same as running a marathon for someone else. Have you ever seen someone run a marathon and not get winded? Yeah, me neither. (Oh, did I mention that fainting is included for someone with POTS? So pushing myself to exercise as my heart rate pushes 200 is very dangerous).

But that's not the kicker. People were observing that a light stroll shouldn't make a person breath so heavily. They were correct. But, the didn't account for illnesses which cause heavy breathing, especially in bitter cold weather. (For example, I could just as likely have had asthma, a much more common breathing issue than POTS.) I'm not saying any of this to justify myself or be the "good fatty" because fuck that. It's simply a bit of backstory.

Still, after about 4K comments or so, I posted a small comment about this condition. The response? The called bullshit. Suddenly all of those trolls were medical doctors. Comments ranged from trying to explain POTS to me (poorly), as to say it doesn't cause breathing issues, or people flat out saying I was lying about the condition.

This isn't the first time this has happened.

I have a list of medical diagnoses which numbers slightly less than two dozen. Several of which cause weight gain and other symptoms include exercise intolerance, heat intolerance, chronic pain (my joints don't hurt because I'm fat, the hurt because I'm a chronic illness patient), and so much more.

My point is this: when you're fat, people ignore you when you say you're sick. Unless you have a stereotypical "fattie" illness like heart disease or diabetes, then you're truthful, but deserve your illnesses. You're especially lying if you have thyroid disease or any other illnesses that create symptoms they'd  rather mock someone for. When you're fat, you're only allowed to be sick in the was that are deemed fatty acceptable. If you say you don't have those issues then you're lying. If you say you have other "non fat" issues, then you're lying. Fatphobia is inherently ableist (as well as misognistic which I've discussed before). Remember that when fat people die of heart disease, they died of being fat and the had it coming. When thin people die of heart disease it was a fight, a struggle that they lost, a tragedy.

Where does the thin privilege come in? Easy, if a thin person said they had any of the illnesses I have, they'd be believed, listened to, given sympathy, and get treatment and care by medical professionals. The same people accusing me of lying would be signing petitions for POTS research for thin people.

Thin people who consider themselves allies are in the position where the can use their voices to educate fatphobes- because they'll be listened to. Not always, maybe not even most of the time, but more than us fatties could ever hope to be listened to. Here, it gets iffy though. Because thin people should never speak over fat people, and yet their voices hold more power, more sway. Thin allies have to figure out was to speak for us, without speaking over us, and lifting up the voices of fat people in the process. I know, being an ally isn 't easy. But know what's even harder? Being fat. Add being a disabled woman on top of being fat and it's not an easy life. Just look at all of the health issues that chronic stress can cause- from joint pain to increased risk of heart attack and stroke.

I know this post is long and you maybe didn't want to hear about my chronic illnesses. You wanted some in-your-face truths about fatphobia and thin privilege and ableism. But the truth is that I'm tired. I'm worn out from being attacked ever day and not being able to defend myself and having no one come to my defense.

You, my thin privileged friends, are lacking in your responsibilities. I want to say that I expect more from you, but I don't. I expect to fight this fight either alone or alongside other fatties. But hey, I wouldn't mind being surprised once in a while either.

Here's my point, one type of bigotry almost never shows up to the party by itself. It brings friends. Fatphobia can often intersect with pretty much any other tpe of oppression. Fatphobia is not a single thing, by itself. This is why I feel weird when someone expresses fatphobic ideas and beliefs. I know that is not the only type of bigotry lurking. And fatphobia affects people on both sides of the political spectrum- so if your oh-so-progressive friend with privilege coming out of his ears decides to say something fatphobic, be assured that they are not the feminist the claim to be, they are not intersectional, as they claim to be, etc. And when they talk about intersectional issues, but don't mention fatphobia- be wary, be suspicious. And hey- call them out. That's your job now, okay?


Being Fat During Hurricane Florence

This past weekend, Hurricane Florence swept through my state, creating panic and destruction. I'm a few hours inland, but the path of th...