Category Archives: oppression

a rite of passage – my first troll

So, I got a comment the other day from my first troll. I’m a big lady blogger now! It actually makes me feel a little like I’ve “made it,” so to speak. It happens to most of us (and for an absolutely epic takedown of trolls, please see Fat Heffalump’s piece from a couple weeks ago), so I can’t say I’m surprised. I should say I don’t want to make light of the situation. I have been extremely lucky in that they are few and far between for me. Some folks get this drivel on a daily fucking basis and I can’t even imagine how that must feel. So I’m also sending a special shout-out to any other folks out there who have to deal with mean-spirited, small-minded people who spew hatred in their direction. I’m sending you happiness and sunshine! And the occasional “fuck you” to the trolls on your behalf!

I won’t give him or her (I don’t know the gender of the commenter but for sake of ease, he’s a he in this post) the air time and paste the comment here, but basically this person is seriously, truly concerned that I am a huge massive fatty fatty 2 by 4. I’ve been compared to an animal of the sea (hint: an awesomely fierce and beautiful whale of the killer variety) and have been told that I shouldn’t post pictures of myself. Among other things.

And you know what? I’m not even mad. Are you kidding me? While anger can be an absolutely fantastic outlet for people (and it certainly has been for me, I’m not knocking the anger!), this time all I felt (well, after I laughed) was sorrow for the commenter. What must be going on in his life such that he feels it necessary to take time out of his day to tell someone they shouldn’t do what they obviously enjoy doing. Is he unhappy with his life? Do I intimidate him? Does my obvious comfort with how I look make him feel like shit about his own body? I don’t know, but on my best days (and fortunately I read the comment on one of those days), all I want to do is send good vibes out into the universe so that this person can feel better about himself and not feel the need to post what he perceives to be mean things about some random person on the internet. On my bad days? That’s where the anger comes in handy.

And if the person who sent me that comment is reading this? To you I say: I hope whatever is going on in your life rights itself, because life is too god-damn short to be an asshole about what other people choose to do with their bodies. peace.

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sometimes you just need a break

I haven’t posted in about two weeks, which is the longest break i’ve taken since perhaps November of last year. And this past week is certainly the first this year that I didn’t meet my new years intention of posting once a week in 2011. And you know? I’m totally ok with it. I was gettin’ pretty bummed there for a little while, what with the constant shit-storm being lobbed at low income folks, women of color, fatties, etc. And while my instinct is generally to dive into the FA movement head first, spending glorious hours online in this community of awesomeness, I felt myself pulling away a little bit. I’m still not exactly sure why, but my first thought is that i was simply tired. This shit takes work. It takes work to care, and it takes work to fight a system set up to frankly push anyone who may be on the margins away, so far away that they don’t have a voice. I don’t mean to pretend like I’m a martyr and that my problems even come close to the struggles others face on a daily basis, and I am privileged in all sorts of areas of my life, but it does just become really heavy on your soul after a while.

Last Friday, my office had a retreat and for the afternoon we had a training on how oppression shows up in the body. Essentially (truly, this is a 30 second breakdown of what took the instructor over 30 minutes to explain to us, so please know that I’m sure I’m leaving out some pretty important stuff, but I’m trying to nail the basics), our bodies are conditioned, through hundreds of years on this earth, to do one of five things when we come into contact with oppression, in whatever form: fight, flight, freeze, appease, dissociate. Apparently our bodies deal with oppression (racial, class, gender, ability, size, etc) in much the same way that they deal with trauma, as oppression is a form of social trauma. How we react has almost nothing to do with our “thinking” brain and almost everything to do with our “animal” brain. It’s our gut reaction, one that has worked for our ancestors for years and years. In order to start to dismantle that animal reaction (if one chooses to do that), a hell of a lot of work must be done such that we can choose which of the five reactions to use at any given time, depending on the circumstances.

Up until recently, whenever I dealt with oppression because of my size, my animal instinct was to dissociate from my body. I’m fairly certain this is common among the fats. If you can remove yourself from your physical body – the body that is being oppressed when it tries to fit into a seat and can’t, the body that is being yelled at on the street for being “unattractive” – you can protect yourself. You can protect your heart and your soul from just getting crushed. But this, for me, was dangerous, because it allowed me to talk SO much shit about my body because, you see, it really wasn’t even my body. It was just…something else. Not even someONE else. Just a thing. And it’s easy to say awful and mean things to a thing, isn’t it?

So I think this is what I was doing when everything just started to feel like a bit much. I went back to my historical animal instinct and dissociated, I can’t point to any one particular incident, I think it was just an aggregation of a bunch of little things. And it must be said that our animal instincts aren’t ever really wrong. They’re what has worked for us a thousand times over, otherwise we likely wouldn’t do them! We’re smart creatures. Our ancestors were smart creatures. We want to survive. So we do what allows us to survive. For me, it was pulling away from examining my body in the world, from engaging in the FA community and movement for a couple weeks.

Fortunately, I have another tool in my toolkit when it comes to dealing with oppression, and that tool is to fight. So I’m back to fighting, and I think it’s because of my dissociation for a little while that I am able to say the following. Bring it.