Friday, January 8, 2016

Disability in the New Year

It's a week into the new year. I can't believe it's 2016 already! (wasn't 2000 just, like, a couple years ago? Seriously now.) This year is starting out with an amazing shoot (next week duckies.. just be patient!) and more positivity and energy than I've had in a long time. Although I took a six month break from The Fat Naked Art Project, we've started posting there again as well. It's been one hell of a week.

All that being said, I want to take this opportunity to write about disability and fatness as well as disability and activism.

What spurred this new post? Well, honestly, the amount of money I just had to spend on prescriptions (and I still have a couple more that I need to pick up today).

Most of you know that I have thyroid disease (Hypothyroidism). Some of you know that I have Bipolar Disorder (Type I). I haven't talked about my Migraines, or having POTS (Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrom) or even my Chronic Fatigue. I don't talk about the pain that I'm in daily from injuries resulting from being Hypoermobile either. Heck, I don't even really talk about my Acid Reflux or now it's given me Chronic Nausea for so many years that I've forgotten when it started which severely impacted my life. I'm also in recovery (5 years) for Atypical Anorexia.

So I want to take a moment to talk about how those affect me, affect my activism, and affect how people see me in regards to my activism.

Firstly, most of you probably already know about Spoon Theory. For those of you who don't, go ahead and go read up. For a quick TL;DR-  spoons are a metaphor for energy/ability either mental or physical and is typically used by the disabled community. I even made a text based game called Spoons to help my friends and family understand what it's like a little better.

Having disabilities, both mental and physical, makes my job tough to say the least. I'm going to be brutally honest here and I know this will draw a lot of hate from trolls (which I'll talk about a little later). I'm a Stay At Home Mom partially because I have too many disabilities to hold down a traditional job. Even modeling is difficult and I've had to cut back on how many shoots I do. I'm also a photographer, but I can't do that full time either. This puts me at an emotional and financial disadvantage (I'll add that I do have class privilege because of my husband who is able to work). Oftentimes I come up with a money making scheme that involves photography or making things, but, inevitably, I run out of spoons time and time again.

Not only does my Fatigue affect my modeling, but my Bipolar Depression limits how many shoots I can do as well and when I am able to do a shoot, my Chronic Pain (from injuries), limits my movements. In particular, I have Chronic Tendinitis in both shoulders which means I can't fully raise my arms or put my elbows over my head.

There are both mental and physical limitations to what I can do in any given month, week, day, or even hour. By fat, the Chronic Fatigue has been the most limiting. It's hard to explain to people what it feels like to sleep twenty hours a day (and no, you don't wish you could do that), to miss so much of life because you're too exhausted to even eat. (Luckily I start a new stimulant medication for this tomorrow!)

I think though that, by far, the hardest part of being disabled and an activist, is the part where people mock you and dismiss you for your disabilities.


  • Why are the fat ones always crazy?
  • Right... it's a glandular issue... uh huh... 
  • Exercise intolerance? (part of POTS) she's just lazy cause she's fat. 
  • She wouldn't be so tired if she just lost weight. 
  • no one listen to her... she's bipolar/crazy. 
  • An eating disorder? Eating too much isn't an eating disorder fatass. *
*It can be. It's actually called Binge Eating Disorder (BED)

It's difficult having such a huge part of yourself, one that you have no control over, being mocked and shamed. This is ableism. Ableism is the oppression and discrimination of people with disabilities in favor of people who are able bodied (people with no disabilities.) 

Having your work and your beliefs and ideas dismissed because of illness is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of how the disabled are treated. Ableism intersections with just about everything, including Classism for those with disabilities who cannot earn a living. We also face higher incidences of domestic violence and violence in general ad have a higher mortality risk due to ineffective or insufficient care as well as just by virtue of being oppressed. Being fat and disabled almost ensures medical neglect and social stigma. Sometimes I worry about how shortened my life will be, not because of my lifestyle or my weight, but because of how others treat me, including medical personnel. 

The trolls/abusers of the world will always always use your disabilities to their advantage, as I've found out personally when I came out as bipolar as well as anorexic. Trolls, like all abusers, will use anything and everything they can to break you, including gas lighting, insults and belittling you, threats of physical violence, and more. 

The key, for me, has always been fat acceptance which has enabled me to learn to stand up for myself, to have confidence, and to love myself regardless of what other people say, do, or think.

So, while 2016 has, so far, been an exceptional year for me, I, like many others with disabilities, will face many obstacles throughout the year(s), but I will always turn to my fat acceptance community to keep me strong, mentally and physically. 


1 comment:

  1. I've been following your blog for a while and you may wonder why since I am not a pro fat activist and am slim. The thing is I am fascinated by people who stand up for themselves and make something positive out of what other perceive as negative. Now I learn that you have disabilities and I feel so sorry because I too have mental disabilities. Anxiety and depression (since age 12...I'm 31), probably borderline personality disorder according to one shrink I saw 10 years ago)and last year I had the most terrible experience ever: the symptoms of a UTI without the UTI for almost one year in a row, no treatment worked, the medical team realized it was psychosomatic and I spent 3 weeks in the psychward where the medication made my condition even worse and I ended jumping from a staircase and crashed down 6 meter below, breaking my right femur and elbow, spending 3 month in a wheelchair...well nuff said. What I mean is that I think I understand you and think you are very brave. Keep going girl!

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