We’ve spent time discussing the media’s portrayals of fat people and society at large’s reactions to such portrayals, now let’s get meta and talk about your reactions to portrayals of fat people in the media. Specifically the reaction to my last post about Donna Simpson and her fantasy of gaining 300-odd pounds. It appears there’s still a question as to what fat acceptance means and how we apply it. I’m not the spokesperson for fat acceptance, so what I say isn’t gospel, but this is the FA I practice and since I’m the writer of this here blog, it’s the FA that is applied to this space.
It seems that we have a lot of commenters who feel they can confidently diagnose various psychiatric illnesses in people who they know little about. Having some experience with mental health diagnoses, I know that there are a lot of diagnostic criteria that you have to meet to be diagnosed with a mental illness. From reading the articles linked in the post, I only learned a few things about Ms. Simpson besides the main point that she fantasizes about being 1000 lbs. 1) She likes to eat. 2) She makes money off her eating. 3) She is not dissatisfied with her body, and in fact enjoys her body. None of that indicates that she has binge eating disorder, or that she’s suicidal, or that she has body dysmorphic disorder. These aren’t even markers for any kind of mental illness, unless you consider love of fat a mental illness—which many people apparently do.
There’s also a misconception among many commenters that when I say “acceptance” I mean “approval” or even “support.” I’m not asking you to approve of fat people’s choices or fat itself. I’m not asking you to lend your support to say, Donna Simpson’s eating habits. I’m telling you that you need to accept fat people as human beings, treat us with respect, respect our personal choices (and by respect I don’t mean “admiration”) and keep your judgments to yourself while not allowing your personal biases to distort how you treat fat people. It’s pretty simple. It doesn’t matter if the fat person is a size 1X or a size 10X. You can apply these same principles of acceptance to any size of fat person. And hey, if a fat person ever asks you your opinion of their fat, it’s your lucky day! Feel free to tell them your opinion at that time. But until then, and at least in this space, no one wants to know how negatively you view fat, whether it’s your fat or someone else’s. There are many other spaces dedicated to talking about fat negatively, and they’re not hard to find.
It’s kind of sad that this constantly needs repeating, but I’m not writing about health here. This is about analyzing pop cultural representations of fatness and society’s attitudes towards fat—NOT about reinforcing society’s negative attitudes towards fat or expressing your confidence in your skills at remote diagnosis. Let’s try to keep that in mind as we hit the home stretch for this blog.