Thursday, June 26, 2014

Throwing Out the Underpants

Ragen Chastain is one of my heros. Let's get that out of the way first and foremost. She's amazing and awesome and I could not be more excited or honored that she even knows I exist. But, since we're all individuals we're going to disagree on some things. And one thing that's always always bothered me is the underpants rule. Well, not all of it. Let me explain. The Underpants Rule basically states that you are The Boss of your Own Underpants. This means that you don't get to tell me what to do and I don't get to tell you what to do. This is particularly used in, you guessed it, fat acceptance circles where Ragen is pretty much a celebrity.

Okay, great, I mostly agree with that rule! Except for when it comes to harmful behavior. And when I mean harmful I mean perpetuating social stigma and bigotry or something serious that may result in very real physical or psychological harm being done. For example, I'm not going to tell you how to dress, but I am certainly going to intervene if you, say, tell me that you're suicidal, or have an eating disorder, or something like that. I'll try my best to talk you out of it. You may be the boss of your own underpants, but that has a huge limit. Most people agree that self harm such as suicidal ideation is a point at which someone should intervene and stop saying "your choice, do what you want".

Well, I've been an activist for a long time, even before I found fat acceptance issues to advocate for, and I've always stood up to someone who is bigoted. In my opinion your underpants stop being your own when you're hurting other people. Which is why I wrote the post that I did about weight loss surgery for example. So while proponents of the underpants rule say "you can choose to lose weight if you want to because they're your underpants", that's past my threshold. I say, you're perpetuating fatphobia and thin privilege and therefore you need to be talked out of it/ stood up to. It's not just fatphobia I apply this rule to. I don't stand for any kind of bigotry, especially from my friends and people that I love.

So I'm sorry, but I"m going to advocate for throwing out the underpants, or burning them, or whatever you choose to do with those underpants that keep you from being the best advocate and activist that you can be. Because while sometimes it's prudent to keep your opinions to yourself, sometimes it's necessary to share them and to get people to change their way of thinking. When I was bragging to a friend about getting my calories under x amount and she introduced me to fat acceptance, it changed my life. If she'd just decided to let me lose weight (which wasn't working anyway) and not say anything, then I'd still be hating myself and perpetuating and defending fatphobia.

Some people empathize with people wanting to lose weight in a way, saying that thinness holds a good deal of privilege and therefore it's understandable that it's desirable and they're right, it does. But I wholeheartedly believe that privilege is a bad thing and wouldn't exist in a truly egalitarian world. We should reject privilege and do our best to educate people against the privileges that we do posses. So yeah, thinness will give you privilege (however temporary), but by specifically trying to attain privilege you're perpetuating bigotry. Privilege only exists because oppression does as well. Ending bigotry should be our number one priority. Sorry underpants.

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