Friday, December 10, 2010

You're big, but..

My advocacy of body acceptance is started to gain some attention among my friends and acquaintances both day to day and online. Luckily most of the reactions have been positive- but then that's mostly coming from body acceptance groups, facebook friends, or other social networking sites so of course they're going to agree with me- I wouldn't have added them to my friends if I thought they were jerks (that does occasionally happen and they also get promptly removed). However, I keep running into this one phrase over and over- "you're fat, but... ". Usually this is followed with something like "you're gorgeous" or "you're such a cool person".

Cue squealing break sound effect. Let's stop right there.. my being fat doesn't need a qualifier. I don't somehow become more or less of a cool person based on my weight and while weight added or subtracted from my face might change my appearance you're simply playing into social standards to say that I'm more or less beautiful depending simply on that. Yeah- people have preferences, I get that. So at best what you could say would be along the lines of "in my opinion", "to me", or "i think".  This statement makes fat an inherently negative term- something bad to be, but I somehow become a worthwhile person because of other redeeming factors? I don't think so. My worth as a person has nothing to do with what I look like- either my weight or my face or my height or anything else.

This might be a good time to bring up something that someone else mentioned which is that, in their opinion, I should add photos to a 'gone wild' forum for plus size people. I disagreed based on an objection to objectification as well as an objection that 'plus size' had to be separate- 'hey, go over there so that we don't have to look at you. There are plenty of fatty lovers there who can tolerate your hideousness'. Yeah.. not exactly the route I want to take. But then the next line also made me think. They said "it's a good self esteem booster when you're down".  While I understand the factualness of that statement it's a fact that I find deeply disturbing.. that if someone was feeling low that they would seek praise for their physical appearance instead of their charm, their wit, their talent, or their humor. My self worth is no longer connected to how I look and I look back on the days when it was with deep sorrow.

The bottom line is that your value as a person cannot be placed on physical attributes. And I hear all of you out there saying "yeah, easy for you to say, you're attractive" (or whatever other word people tend to use), but you know what? I'm pretty average. Photography is about lighting and angles and poses and makeup and props and a good photographer can bring out the beauty in anyone (and we all have it), but I know what it's like to have low self esteem and to feel ugly- because being called ugly is almost always tied with being called fat- whether or not it's true. Your could have perfectly symmetrical features, but that bully- that fatphobic person full of abuse and hatred? They're still going to call you ugly. You have to realize that yeah, to some people, you're not all that attractive (ditto goes for me) but to some people, you're gorgeous and amazing. Despite the "standard" beauty ideal, beauty is far from standard. Standard is an illusion made up with smoke, mirrors, and photoshop. There is such a wide variety of body sizes and shapes, of noses, and eyes, and faces.. just go out in public and people watch sometime- we are all so vastly different how could there be a standard? How could we ever think that any one person would appeal to everyone?

As a show of good faith I decided to post a photo that I took just before writing this post- no makeup, hair unwashed- I even made sure to make it big enough for you to really see. Yeah.. I'm just a normal person. And how I look doesn't change who I am. And how you look, doesn't make you more or less worthy than I or anyone else.


  1. This took more guts than so people will probably understand, a quite amazing photo.

    I know so many people who will not go out in public without their makeup etc on, it's almost like it's their security blanket.

    Great job.

  2. Neil- my aunt used to curl her hair and put on makeup just to check the mail or get the paper. You're right.. it's absolutely like a security blanket.