Not a single person who has ever fat-shamed me has even bothered to asked me if I want to be thin. I don't.I hate the gym. It's a traumatic space for me. Being a fat person in public is hard, and being a fat person in a gym is even harder. It can shatter your confidence in a split second, with one chuckle, one smirk, one look of disgust, one eye roll from another patron. Gym culture is toxic, and like many other institutions centered on physical appearance and desirability, it's built on a foundation of fatphobia and antagonism, whether the gym rats on Instagram want to admit it or not. For a long time, I hated exercise, too. When I was growing up, I wanted to wrestle. I wanted to play football. I wanted to take up boxing. I wanted to lift weights. I wanted to climb the trees in our front yard. Instead, I was limited to gymnastics, cheerleading, and basketball, activities that were acceptable for a girl to be engaged in. I still defied my mom and climbed trees sometimes, and I was always reprimanded for it. I quit cheerleading after one season because I hated it, and did the same with basketball because I had no passion for it (even though it did sometimes help me feel the masculine energy that I had always longed for as a girl, but had not the language to take about it). For financial reasons, gymnastics was no longer accessible to me, and while I did enjoy it, it was incredibly gendered and classes for girls never focused on strength and conditioning like the classes for boys. I played in the marching band in high school (which burns way more calories than you “cool kids” think it does, by the way), but apparently that wasn't enough. Countless fat kids and teenagers, and people who just weren't thin enough for their family's liking, are unfortunately familiar with forced exercise and degradation from the people around them growing up. My mom forced me to exercise in the way that she wanted me to, punctuating her disgust for my lack of a trim body with comments like “You can't honestly say that you're satisfied with yourself” and “Don't come crying to me when the boys don't want to date you.” One year, I actually did lose some weight, unintentionally. It was the year I played basketball. My jeans would no longer stay up on my hips without a belt and my mom praised me in a way that she never had before, and hasn't since. It made me self-conscious. It made me anxious. It made me feel like shit. It made me hate her, and myself.
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We can’t look at Patty and feel empowered by her character when she is a walking testament to everything we are told is wrong with us.Netflix loves revenge stories, especially super problematic revenge stories that push harmful stereotypes and reinforce dangerous narratives. 13 Reasons Why has had a controversial run on the platform, and now they want us to make way for Insatiable—an obviously fatphobic upcoming series whose creators are promising that it’s not as terrible as it seems, and it seems pretty terrible. The story follows Patty, a fat teenager played by Debby Ryan, a thin actress. In order to play both fat and thin Patty, Ryan wears a bodysuit that honestly it looks someone just strapped a maternity belly on her and said, “That’s good enough.” Despite the fact they put a thin person in a fat suit and did a terrible job of it, I have to say that, for me, this is preferable to having to watch a fat actor take this role and serve as a real-life “before picture” for Ryan. After a fateful meeting with someone’s fist, she spends the entire summer with her jaw wired shut and shows up on the first day of the new school year with a smoking hot bod, as rated by conventional beauty standards. She decides she will get revenge on the people who made her life he'll when she was fat. Her vengeance is where the story is supposed to be “empowering,” but we’ve already boarded the fat-shame train before we even get to that point. This series is marketed as a dark comedy, in the vein of Heathers or Jawbreaker. In reality, it is nothing more than a revenge body narrative that begins from the idea that fatness is undesirable and fat bodies must become thin in order for those who inhabit them to be truly happy. Patty does not come back from her summer still fat and decide to let her tormentors have it. She only seeks this revenge after she returns as a thin person who suddenly has access to a world of options that were blocked to her before. Regardless of what she decides to do with that social capital, this entire story still rests on that fact.
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Body positivity, as a movement, was meant to give space to bodies that an oppressive society says are not worthy of love and acceptance. The body positive movement has a lot of problems—not in the general message that we all deserve
Remaining positive about our bodies and keeping our head above the water of diet culture is a constant struggle.[Content Note: This article will discuss the use of the word “diet” in both a general sense and a restriction sense. The point of this post is to help dismantle diet culture and educate those on the effects of it. I understand if just reading the word is triggering for some folx. Please take care of yourself.] When a doctor asks you about your diet they mean, of course, what foods you consume to keep you alive. Unless you’ve told them that you’re dieting, they generally don’t mean the restriction of calories and foods that your body needs (until of course, they do meant that). This is probably the most neutral manner in which we use this word and it’s still triggering and violent. The word diet needs to be stricken from our vocabulary until we’ve moved beyond diet culture as a society. Diet in the most neutral terms means just the food you eat. “My diet consists of meats, veggies, fruits, and grains,” for example or “I’m trying to maintain a vegan diet”. This is however, not how we use the word most often. The vast majority of the time when we speak of diet, we are talking about dieting. “How’s your diet going? Did you try this new diet? I’m on a new diet!” are all common phrases that we hear all around us in our everyday lives. Which is why if someone asks you how your diet is and they legitimately mean “are you getting enough nutrients” most of us make the immediate association to “are you restricting enough?” Diet is a weighted word that has come to mean, by and large, the act of dieting and food restriction. Even in body positive, no-diet talk spaces, using the word diet to speak of food choices colors all further conversation with the idea of restriction and all that comes with it. Well meaning suggestions are suddenly suspect and in the back of our mind we hear that programmed, little voice that is telling us that whatever we’re eating, it’s too much, it’s not right. Kicking up this mental storm causes us to fall back into the same habits that diet culture supports. What Sonya Renee Taylor in her book, The Body Is Not An Apology calls the “Body-Shame Profit Complex (BSPC)” which speaks of how shame is used against us but is also the same mechanism as diet culture that sets the stage for companies to profit from out our self-hate. It is also a tool that keeps people, especially femme presenting people, oppressed. This doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have a negative effect on masculine folx, because it does, it is just that it is marketed much more heavily to femme folx.