Doing the News Roundup for the NAAFA Newsletter (which is free, y’all, and you can subscribe by going to the NAAFA.org website), I read an interview with Ingrid R. Pipes.
Ingrid R. Pipes, the Editor of Rosewater Magazine, talks about being the “funny fat” person. Something I can relate to.
I consider myself to be, among other things, a funny person; and one of those other things among which I am is a fat person.
The article helped me understand how I came to grow up as a fat person without much of the emotional trauma that other fat people suffer through.
Making people laugh can be a very effective coping mechanism. And I think I used it well.
However, I think I differ from Ms. Pipes in one respect. She says,
Coming into fat-acceptance consciousness often stares directly into the face of learned coping skills. Once one realizes that telling self-deprecating jokes feels just as shitty as being hurled insults, the laughter looses [sic] its feeling of security. After the laughter fades, a more serious fat performer is left standing under the proverbial limelight sans jolly material. The audience is uneasy if and when they realize they are laughing at the body and not the joke.
First, sorry, I can’t let this go – “looses”. Really? And you’re supposed to be the editor-in-chief?
But back to the subject matter here. Sometimes I make self-deprecating jokes – but mostly I do it not to make fun of my fat body, but rather, to point out that I know who I am – I know I’m fat, I know I’m old; and I’m okay with those things. That’s why I call myself This Fat Old Lady.
Or I make a joke to gently (or not so gently) point out someone else’s problem. When someone tries to say, “Oh, you’re not fat.” I call them out on it. I’ll grab a piece of my belly and shake it at them and ask, “Really? What do you call this? Of course I”m fat!”
I don’t want to be denied, I want to be seen!
But I want to be seen for who I really am.
The other part of Ms. Pipes’ article talks about using accomplishments as a shield from judgment about her fat body. That I can relate to.
If you are one of the best (or at least, some level of special), then people might think twice before they take a shot at your fat body.
I never thought of my competitive nature that way; and I can see where it absolutely may be part of my motivation.
I don’t feel bad about it. Trying to be your best, whatever your motivation, is still trying your best.
It certainly plays into my feeling good about who I am; and since I don’t feel particularly driven or obsessive about being competitive or “winning” and I in no way embrace perfectionism in my life (I am way too pragmatic for that) I don’t see being good at things and having some pride in doing things well as a bad thing. I do find this idea interesting and it’s something I feel I want to think about.
I used to play the role of the “good fatty” – I wasn’t “that fat”, I exercised (kind of), all my “numbers” were good, etc. But then I got older and eventually I got old and, you know, shit just starts to naturally come apart as you age. And I faced my biases and realized that there are no good fatties and/or bad fatties, we’re all just fatties trying to do the best we can at any given moment. It’s still hard for me to let go of good/bad fatty and it’s something I still struggle with. However, it is only a concept that I apply to myself – not others. As usual, we often feel free to judge ourselves when we would never think to judge others.
Ms. Pipes says that her personality and strengths are reaction to abuse; but then, isn’t that true of anyone who has faced abuse in their lives? As the saying goes, that which does not kill us only makes us stronger (or something like that).
I’m thinking that Ms. Pipes might benefit from thinking less about her fat body and stop blaming it for everything – her successes and her failures. It’s a body. It’s a fat body. How you feel about your body is up to you – but mostly there is a lot more to every individual than just the size of the body they are in.
So while I gained some insight into who I am (better late than never, right?) from this article; I also learned what who I am not. When you have a fat body in this fat-hating society, learning how to be more than just your body is a long and often tiring journey. But it’s worth it.