So I don’t know if anyone who reads this blog was also on Twitter last night (who am I kidding, everyone who reads this was on Twitter last night, lbr). There was a really great discussion happening on the #fatmicroaggressions tag. The tag was basically people posting the hostilities and aggressions that happen to them because they’re fat. As you can imagine, although ‘micro’ was in the tag, these frequently became statements about issues that were hardly small.
Before I go on, if you DO go check out the tag, be aware of body hate, sexism, racism and ableism.
I will get on to talk about the content of the tag in a moment, but I wanted to bring up something else that came out of the tag. The term microaggression was coined by Chester M Pierce, with regards to discussions of race (wiki link here). Thanks to @definatalie for pointing this out and bringing up the fact that fat activism can co-opt words without much reflection and @ashleymoreass for mentioning it too!. As a white person, I’m pretty uncomfortable taking the term to describe my white problems. This may seem ridiculous to some – but when a term is used/created specifically to describe actions by a privileged group of which I am a part, I don’t think it’s silly to take time to consider whether or not my privilege means I should be finding another term.
@ellie_mint pointed out that although we may have been introduced to the term as one to do with race issues, it has in the past been used for a variety of social justice situations, which is also stated in the wiki entry on it. I don’t take issue with this – I literally only learned the term and its history last night (SO I AM CLEARLY AN EXPERT!), it’s definitely a useful term because it makes clear that prejudices aren’t always violent attacks, but little things (which of course add up cumulatively to massive things). Being so unfamiliar with the term and any discourse around it, I’m still unsure whether it’s a term I would use if I were to start a similar tag – I really don’t know the right answer.
And of course, me and other white people taking issue over whether or not we’re sure it’s the best tag to use doesn’t really take into account that fat isn’t just a white thing, there are plenty of fat POC who added to that discussion. And considering fat activism can be pretty white at times, that is a really positive aspect of last night that we should be making sure is encouraged, welcomed and listened to. Us white people wringing our hands over appropriate terminology may make sense in our own, personal use, but when we come together as a community the rights or wrongs of it certainly get a bit more murky. Also, as @ZAmmi points out – to assume that my use of the term is taking away from other people could be construed as me having a massive overestimation of my own importance. And whilst we all know I’m a totes a BNF in the SJ world, they do have a point – I may be over thinking this… a hint…
To be honest, I still don’t have an answer to this. The tag had already started by the time I saw it and joined in, I don’t know enough about the history of the word, I don’t know how the tag started (ETA apparently Melissa McEwan started it!) and it also isn’t just about white fatties.
And that leads me on to the actual content of the tag. You guys, I think it is so, so important for us to have discussions like these – not just to educate any people unfamiliar with fat activism on why it’s necessary, but because shared experiences are so important for building and maintaining our community. Some of the things that people were tweeting left me sitting in my chair pointing weakly at screen, knowing just what they meant.
With the lack of posts on the fatshionista LJ comm and falling out of the blogging circles a bit, I sometimes forget how much support from the fat activist community has helped me. I would never be as happy and content as I am now, I would still be stuck in a toxic circle of self hate and doubt. I’m so happy to see that the conversations that helped me come to love myself (and indeed set me on the path to understanding feminism and social justice!) are still going on, and taking place in new venues! I think Twitter is a great venue for sharing some experiences – obviously there are many things that don’t fit into 140 characters, but these tweets encapsulate some of the things that happen to us and also invite conversation and understanding. I’m so glad that this tag happened and that I got to see and join in!
Bustle.com has selected 10 of the most revealing tweets here, but I think if you have the time, you should check out the rest of the tag.
I know I’m not writing a super amount about the tag content – I honestly think it stands for itself and you should be checking it out! There are still some additions going on but it seems to have slowed down for now.
There’s a storify here
Or you can read it on Twitter here
Did you join in? Did you see any Tweets that really resonated with you? Does anyone else need a hug after being reminded of the hurtful shit that flies our way (I ask because I really do ;a;!)?