In case you needed more of a reason to love Laci Green
Oh hello. I love you.
Yes yes and a million times yes. Everything in this. Just yes.
It’s nice to see a smaller person echoing the same rhetoric that I do as a bigger person.
But why do I feel so weird about a slim person validating my size but in such a positive video? I dunno. This is so awesome, because FA is all about pushing to normalise fat bodies and the word itself and to have non-fat people on board is FUCKING RAD. I just feel kinda patronized in a way? Am I completely alone in that? Am I just being cynical as fuck? I don’t even know.
But for the most part, I love it.
^ I love Laci Green, I really do. I also totally understand where you’re coming from. It makes me uncomfortable when non-fat/slim people stand up for fat bodies. I mean, it’s lovely, but…I can’t help but feel as though plus-size people’s voices and bodies aren’t validated until non-fat people speak for us. Like, “Oh look! A pretty, white, slim-privileged person thinks all those fat, icky bodies are cool, so…maybe they are cool?” Laci’s message is a positive one, yes, but it’s like, why can’t I as a plus-size person talk about my body in a similarly sharp, evocative way and, in so doing, validate my body and my presencemyself.
Overall, I am in agreement with Laci and it’s totally awesome to have her on board the FA movement. Her voice is indeed a powerful one.
Noodling around with the ideas presented above:
Fat is a slippery topic, because who is fat? We have clothing sizes and BMIs and weight, but people of all shapes and sizes will either claim to be fat or deny it. Marilyn Wann wrote something that illuminated the issue for me: “Fat functions as a floating signifier, attaching to individuals based on a power relationship, not a physical measurement.” Someone deemed a healthy weight by popular standards is bombarded with media images that make them feel like they have to lose weight. They talk about how fat they are directly to or in the presence of someone like me— and it’s always someone significantly smaller than me, I remember a classmate complaining about her weight, which was less than half of my own— which invariably makes me feel simultaneously invisible and grotesque. Then I turn around and vent on the Internet, where there’s probably someone larger than myself who’s reading and thinking “Yeah, but you don’t have to buy an extra ticket if you want to go on a plane.” The parts that bug me about this video are when she references her own body to talk about issues that I can’t imagine she actually has to deal with as acutely as fatter people do— for instance, I highly doubt her belly restricts her clothes shopping the way that mine does (there is a difference between not flattering and not having the existing state of one’s body acknowledged by the manufacturer).
Going off a point Laci makes in the video: I’ve been tentatively analogizing fat and class in my mind. Fat is a spectrum, and one on which one person can occupy different places throughout their lifetime. We assume that people have complete control and agency over their place on the spectrum, so their status is directly linked to valuable qualities (e.g. determination, industriousness), and indirectly linked to their worth and status in other facets of life (e.g. intelligence, kindness, social skills). We see ourselves as superior to those on the “worse” side of the spectrum, but inferior to those on the “better” side. Likewise, we are terrified at the prospect of edging further onto the “worse” side of the spectrum— then we’ll embody all those awful qualities, and that’s how people will see us! Like those people we don’t like! Oh God! So then we reinforce our disconnect from those people by depersonalizing and criticizing. People from the “wrong” end of the spectrum who try to advocate for themselves are easily silenced, because of all the negative attributes that automatically get attached to them the minute we see their bodies.
So then we end up with this sticky ally/oppressed situation, as is the case with other movements: we’re all affected by these standards, either through others’ policing of our bodies and/or the internalized pressure to achieve or maintain. But people like Laci, who have bodies that look like hers, can walk away from said movement with very little at stake: she will still have more positive attributes and opportunities associated to her based on her body shape and size than I will, and I will likely have more than someone larger than me. On the flip side, those positive attributes afford her credibility with the general population that I don’t have. Her message is spot-on, I love this video, and it is nice to be validated by someone who has little stake in validating me and people like me, but it is coming from a privileged stance. And that is where the nose-wrinkly part will always come in, because as the poster above me said, it’s fucked up that we can’t advocate for ourselves as effectively.
And, of course, there are intersecting issues and identities that complicate all of this.
tl;dr Let’s all rally around hating on Jillian Michaels.