Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Kind of a Big Deal

LW: It’s just another vector of oppression. People really freak out when you use the word “oppression” in combination with the word fat, because people think about it as a changeable state. And it is, to a degree, but so is class. Regardless, that conversation is kind of meaningless. The fact is that fat people exist and are mistreated now, so we have to deal with that now, whether you think fat people are just failed thin people or not. 
FREQ: Jesus, that’s so depressing. 
LW: It’s something that I didn’t even articulate to myself till writing this book, that I always thought of myself in the future. This was just my temporary body, and my real self would have a thin body, because that’s what real people have. But when you don’t think of yourself as a real thing, when you live in the future, you can’t advocate for yourself in the present. You can’t demand respect and rights and humanity, because you don’t really exist. Fat people are mistreated, and it’s acceptable to treat them like they have less value. It’s ok to not just be cruel to them but to underserve them in every area of society, like medical care and employment. There was a study that found fat women are more likely to be found guilty by juries, because we conflate body size with all of these different aspects of morality. Fat people are lazy and stupid and dirty and selfish, so it’s ok to hate us. It’s also really flattering to your ego if you’re a thin person, because it implies that you’re good person, moral person and a disciplined person. That’s why it’s really hard to shake the hold this idea has on people, because it makes them feel good. 
The way we talk about it is just so screwed up, because broadly speaking, fat people are not the cause of fat people. The broken system is. Fatness correlates with poverty and race and geography, because people live in places where they don’t have access to fresh food, or they don’t have time—they’re working multiple minimum wage jobs, so they don’t have time to go home and cook a beautiful cabbage. Even if you can get cheap produce, if you’re working 20 hours a day to keep the lights on for your kids, what are you supposed to do? Then you see people get pilloried in the media for feeding their kids McDonalds. People say things like, “oh, it’s child abuse and fat people’s children should be taken away.” The whole thing is backwards, where we blame people for being victimized by a system without ever acknowledging the system at all.

-Interview with Lindy West in Feminist Frequency Newsletter

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