Disclaimer: I am cognizant of the fact that in the plus sized world, I'm a "small fat" person, or in other terms: merely overweight. You should absolutely seek out writings and the words of bigger folks on what #fatacceptance can look like and means to them. I do not mean to speak over bigger folks with my writing, merely help elevate their voices where I can.
This weekend I helped some best friends move, build a bunch of cat shelters and nuzzled a bunch of dogs. We got apple cider donuts (yay Fall!) and debated on the pros and cons of ginger snaps. Fall brings out important conversations like that.
So imagine my surprise when I logged in to SWitter to see a barrage about fat folks, and their bodies. Not all of it was positive, which is really sad considering we are sex workers and our jobs take us to some very intimate places when it comes to different bodies.
Within the conversation are two concerns that came up: 1) #fatacceptance as a way of enthusiastically encouraging "unhealthy" eating habits and 2) the question of sex workers and fat clients.
So let's tackle them:
#fatacceptance saves lives. (yup, that's a study if you click on it) . Still, since I got a couple of curious folks in my inbox asking about what I mean by that, I thought I'd write out some thoughts. Doesn't science says "you'll die if you're fat"? Well, science says you'll die eventually because you know, we have not yet invented immortality. Comes with being a human territory.
Within the lives that they live, #fatacceptance says that we should allow fat people to live their lives in peace without constantly berating them about weight loss. Fat people get harassed, berated and shamed when they're eating in public, are harassed when they're trying to travel, and are likely to get worse care (or sometimes no care) by doctors.
That is institutional fatphobia. When fat folks are denied basic human care and decency simply because of the size that they are. That's terrible and all of us in our everyday lives participate in it.
Even though there are now studies that fat shaming does not help people lose weight, we continue to push people into it. Everyday fat people are pushed into going on diets, exercise plans, and surgeries that are extremely traumatizing on their bodies with little to no improvement on their overall health. And in the meantime, we deride them for wanting to be intimate with other humans.
That's where sex workers come in.
As sex workers, especially as full service sex workers, we often advertise ourselves as the connoisseur of intimacy and pleasure. We radicalize sex positivity and body positivity by offering a different outlook and a different venue on sex, kinks, bodies, relationships and intimacy. We offer a world where people can walk in and be their most authentic, vulnerable, and loving. To themselves, and to the workers who choose to share their bodies.
In our field, it is important then to understand what #fatacceptance means. And in that vein, what does it mean to have sex with fat folks. It is our job to research this. It is our job to be prepared for all different bodies when they walk through our doors when that is what we offer in so many words in our branding. Fat sex is not like thin sex (and it is not like "overweight sex" or "curvy but healthy" sex), just like sex with disabled people is not like sex with able bodied people. As full service sex workers who deal in bodies, research is the least we can do.
(If you're watching porn for that research? Get it from your fellow indie colleagues and pay your porn creators. Their content gets stolen the most).
And if as a sex worker you want to refuse service to certain patrons because of their size? That is absolutely your right, but that action is not feminist in the least.
I'm going to end this blog post with this handy image: are you contributing to another's eating disorder? Or in the context of this post: are you contributing to institutional and someone's internalized fatphobia? (image transcribed below)
Do I contribute to another's eating disorder?
What we hear, think and say has a profound impact on how we feel about our bodies. The following are ways in which we might unintentionally encourage eating disorders.
- Praising or glorifying another's appearance based on body size or attractiveness
- Complimenting someone when they lose weight or diet
- Encouraging someone to lose weight
- Talking negatively about our bodies
- Discussing measurements, weights, or clothing sizes
- Thinking of foods as "good" or "bad"
- Making fun of another person's eating habits or food choices
- Criticizing our own eating
- Considering a person's weight important.
- Saying someone is "healthy" or "well" because they're thin
- Expecting perfection
- Encouraging more exercise than is healthy
- Assuming that a large person wants or needs to lose weight
- Allowing media to dictate what body type is "in"
- Discussing weight, shape and appearance of others in judgmental terms
- Showing excessive concerns about your child's weight or shape
- Responding negatively to change in your daughter's body as she matures
For more information, please contact the Renfrew Center foundation at 1-877-367-3383 or visit www.renfrewcenter.com
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