Thursday, 1 September 2016

Dear Fat People: We Deserve Better

Angry FrustratedThe world is not built for fat people, and the larger we are the more things are inaccessible (and this often intersects with the oppression of other marginalized identities that some fat people hold, including racism, ableism, healthism, ageism, classism, homophobia, transphobia and more.)

Sometimes it’s annoying – like when there’s a restaurant we want to try, but they only have booths that are too small.  Sometimes it affects us professionally – like if a conference room only has chairs with arms that don’t accommodate us. Sometimes it limits our ability to move around our world – like fat people who aren’t able or are unwilling to pay twice as much as thin people for the same airline trip.  Sometimes it affects our health – like when the doctor doesn’t have the proper sized cuff to take our blood pressure.

Sometimes it affects our survival – like when they don’t have an ambulance built to transport us or medical equipment made to save us, or we have surgeons who don’t have any training working on fat bodies.  Sometimes it affects our death, like when we find out that the reasons doctors don’t have training on fat bodies is that they won’t accept our donation of our bodies into medical programs.

And adding insult to injury are the endless flimsy excuses that people always seem to have to try to justify this stuff. These combine to give us the message that we’re not worth considering in the first place (since they knew fat people existed when they built that hospital, and chose not to purchase items that would accommodate both us and thinner people as well.) And when it’s obvious that the lack of consideration has negative consequences for us (up to and including death) we get the message that we’re not worth the effort to fix the problem.  In the fat phobic, weight-biased society we live in, this can happen so often that we can begin to internalize the message and accept the flimsy excuses, the tired justifications, and even start to think that maybe this is all we deserve.

I am here to tell you:  Fuck. That. Shit.  Seriously, fuck a bunch of that. Fuck all of it. You are worthy of seats that fit you everywhere you go.  You are worthy of being able to access travel, and medical care just like a thin person. You deserve for the centers that handle cadavers to figure out a way to work with larger bodies so that doctors have proper practice on fat bodies (and if they can ship a fat body 5000 miles to do a completely unethical autopsy, it seems like this is a problem that can be solved.)

This lack of access can definitely become our problem, but it is NOT our fault. The problem is a combination of prejudice and the power to wield it. It’s easy to hear this stuff and think “Damn, I’m not worth a $100 blood pressure cuff or a $40 chair!”  But what it actually says is that someone harbors prejudice and bigotry against fat people, and is  in a position of power that allows them to put that into practice to harm fat people.” So it’s not our fault, and it’s not what we deserve, but often it becomes our problem, and it’s what we get.

When you are dealing with these situations you may or may not be able to do anything in that moment to change them.  I’m not even worried about that with this post (I talk about it here,  here and here.) Today I want to make sure you know, every single time this happens, that you deserve better. You are worthy, no matter what. So I offer this three phrase mantra for you to use when these situations happen to you (feel free to change them up to work for you!)

  1. This situation is bullshit.
  2. I am not the problem here.
  3. I deserve far better than this.

No matter how you decide to handle the situation (and any way you handle it is absolutely valid,) no matter how many pathetic trolls comes out of the woodwork to claim that you are “delusional,” or that you deserve poor treatment, or that it’s “simple economics” or whatever, just keep repeating those three things until it sinks in, until you know it to your core – you deserve better.

If you could use more support, consider joining us for the Fat Activism Conference:

THE FAT ACTIVISM CONFERENCE:
TOOLS FOR THE REVOLUTION! 

This year we have a kick ass line up of speakers talking about everything from Re-Imagining Fashion from an Inclusive Framework” to “Activism for the Introverted and Anxious” to “Building Fat Patient Power While Accessing Healthcare” and moreThis is a virtual conference so you can listen by phone or computer wherever you are, and you’ll receive recordings and transcripts of each talk so that you can listen/read on your own schedule.  We also offer a pay what you can afford option to make the conference accessible to everyone. The Conference will be held September 23-25, 2016

Click Here to Register!

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Book Me!  I’d love to speak to your organization. You can get more information here or just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org!

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