Thursday, 18 March 2021

Fat and Fear

For years I have joined and participated in fat related facebook groups discussing a myriad of topics. One thing I have noticed more in the last twelve months, more than ever before, is a very real fear being voiced in these groups. Fear of what? So many things, but it all seems to be under the umbrella of being treated with cruelty and/or fear of the validity of their concerns being questioned/ridiculed/ignored/worse. It has been absolutely heartbreaking but at the same time very understandable. As a fat person, I simply cannot know if every new service or treatment or whatever is going to welcome me as a regular human being. I feel this has worsened in the pandemic, but I have stayed home, except for once a week visits to my empty office.  

Let's Talk Fat Phobia – KTSW 89.9


I am in fat groups specific to fashion, bargains, health things, accommodations/adaptations for easier home life/care, cooking, movement, you name it! I love it. I love hearing about experiences from fat people all over the world. Certainly the experiences of people the world over would be similar, regardless of body size, right? It should be! Sadly, that is not what I am seeing and hearing. Some of the things I have seen most often is finding regular items in the world that can hold/support/last in accommodating a fat body. Such as furniture, for both home and work, and being able to access and afford such things. Chairs, of all sorts, though very often portable or folding options are sought out. Sofas and couches that will last for years without breaking or degrading over time. Bed frames that can support two fat partners, or even mixed sized partners. Office chairs have got to be the number one thing I see folks searching for and how difficult it is to find and afford them with higher weight limits. The pricing and quality do not align, and I say this as a very experienced office manager who has tested and ordered hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of office furniture in the last three years. It may have a higher weight limit, but often the quality of materials is subpar, in my opinion. Or maybe I just hate pleather? The styles are dreadful as well, but I guess I’m used to a specific look and feel from my professional life. It is upsetting though. 


I found myself in that very same battle, hunting and searching, and looking up specs on manufacturer’s websites looking for my own home-office chair last August. I finally found one I liked the look of, was confident in the weight limit, and then I got hit with a medical predicament that left me unable to sit in said chair for many months. Having to sit on my couch to work has had its ups and downs. Mostly it’s a mix of cushions that provide the back support I so sorely need, but I have a rolling laptop table that is old as hell that is always my handy helper. It has also made me reconsider my lil’ Macy’s loveseat I bought 5 or so years ago. I had no idea then just how much use I would get out of it but I am wondering at what point one should replace such things. I think I will hold out. Flexsteel is the brand/material everyone recommends for couches and such for fat folks. It is expensive, but about the same pricing as Joy Bird and similar modern furniture places. I cannot recommend a specific brand or style for an office chair, however. With everything shut down it’s impossible to try things before you buy them and office chairs require assembly. 


Fat people put up with a lot of hate and cruelty from a variety of service providers. I have seen fat people afraid that they would be refused services such as hair, nails, tattoos, physical therapy, massage, spa services, buying a bicycle, buying a car, and so much more. It is so upsetting to see the stories and experiences folks have shared in the fat groups I’m in. Their fears and experiences are very real and very reasonable in my opinion. Not that the way they’ve been treated is reasonable, but the fear in response to past cruelty is. The truth is I have not personally experienced fat hate while seeking these same services myself, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t real or didn’t happen. That is something we all need to work on I think. Just because you haven’t seen or heard or personally experienced something doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. And there is no reason anyone should have to fear for their safety or health or sanity when wanting such services. (I’m hoping one day aps like “All Go” will provide a way for us to all report on such things.)


The number one thing fat people are afraid of during the pandemic has been health care. Needing health care, seeking it, being taken seriously (regardless of the need at hand), affording it, getting existing insurance to cover things, getting/having covid while fat, and so much more. Body size should not prevent people from seeing us as human, and yet here the hell we are. We get treated as though having a fat body is something like forgetting to take out the trash to the extent that it has taken over your life and you are a lesser human for it. We know this isn’t reality, but it is akin to how we are often treated in medical environments. I have been incredibly fortunate to have received care from so many medical care professionals in the last six month while trying to figure out my medical mysteries and not one has mentioned my weight. That is not the norm. I have had to advocate for myself and have even had physicians stand up and walk across the room to get in my face in the past simply because I refused to listen to them insist my stomach required amputating. It does not. My stomach is fucking fine! Ahem!


The barriers and obstacles of life are everywhere for everyone, but for some they are greater and carry far more impact on our daily lives and well being. These fears are based on past experiences. Not everyone is able to fight back or advocate for themselves. Often it is our own loved ones that make us feel these fears or even that we somehow deserve to be treated poorly. (If you love someone you would never suggest such a thing, in my opinion, but I don’t have a lot of friends or close people in my life because I cut out that nonsense immediately. Your mileage may vary.) No one deserves to be treated poorly for their body size, period. I will say that it does help to have someone present to simply act as a witness or to ask follow up questions when we’re in these more intimidating situations such as health care. So often we are not believed. So often we are blamed. 


To live in this world in a fat body is to know that every time you leave the house there is a great likelihood of being subjected to harassment, shame, ridicule, abuse, violence, denial of services and then some. Simply existing in a larger body pisses people off and that is the real shame. Fat people have always existed. These fat groups are a way for us to connect, share stories, share resources and tips, and to witness and hold each other up when we cannot on our own. It is a beautiful thing to have such a community to be a part of and rely on. I would want such a community even if we weren’t so often marginalized. Having these groups has helped me even when I had no need to post or comment myself. Seeing what fat people experience in the world is important to me. It validates and confirms so much of what we’re told “can’t be true”. Ha! I had an ex who would say that so often to me I question why I stayed in that empty relationship for so long. Ugh!  

Divi Meetup Network Community Update: May 2020 | Elegant Themes Blog


Fear is such a fucked up thing to live with and under the constant influence of. We cannot live the lives we choose for ourselves when it feels the world wants us all dead. That is the harsh truth. How can anyone find their true and best authentic self when constantly fearing for their lives? No one can convince me that fat folks are weak, that is for certain. We have found ways to support and accommodate and connect and to find ways to improve our lives through community. Community is how things get done! Community is how people thrive. It’s just a fact! We see it everyday at this point, people coming together to support a cause or person or need in the world. How many go fund me campaigns have you seen for medical and funeral expenses in the last year? Countless! That is a form of community helping itself. The internet has broadened what community is and means. I am so glad that we have it. 


What online communities are you a part of? What have you seen as a need for fat folks in the last year? What resources do you wish were more readily available to fat people? Is there a big fat need you haven’t been able to find a solution for? Share it! 

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I’m here for realness and sincerity, honesty and vulnerability, I’m here for the good and juicy bits of life that shine for me when I know I’m heading in the right direction.

Rad Fatty Love to ALL,
<3
S

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