Over and over again I read people saying (mainly to white fat folks) “Wait, a minute! Wait a minute! You can’t compare being fat to being Black or queer! That’s absurd! And insulting to Blacks and queers!”
Yes you can, dear. And no it’s not, homie.
First, when one makes a statement like that you get a major F in intersectionality 101 my dahlings. By creating these rigid categories of identity -one fails to see that many folks are located across these identities. In other words-they are fat, black and queer. Oh my word.
Inadvertently, you are denying their existence by creating normative constuctions of what black is (slender, heterosexual, male) or what queer is (slender, white).
Secondly, you are barring fat folk from engaging with already existing discourses of critique. See, when you take seriously fatphobia and fat based discrimination and you see the way that these things intersect with racialized thinking (for instance the thought that whiteness defines what it is to be human or civilized), you can start to make amazing connections. Lesley over at Fatshionista does this when she talks about the queering affect of fatness.
Another example would be the way in which black fatness leads to certain types of policing within the black community. This policing is of course tied to the impact of white supremacy on black life; it also is a means to narrow who can be included in blackness proper –a class determined idea of black citizenry.
You didn’t think the media made such a big deal about Michelle Obama’s arms for nothing, right?
But alas we stumble upon a caveat. If you (as a fat acceptance activist/scholar) are going to engage with this type of comparative body politics, you have to take it seriously. You can’t just throw these comparisons around to promote the idea that fat people have it worse than black folks. When you do that you also fail intersectionality 101. Remember those fat folks of color???
You need to be aware of your positionality. For instance, you can think about how your whiteness affords you privilege but how your fatness can undermine or complicate this privilege.
It’s tough work. I’m still over here trying to find articulations that make sense of my fat,black, hijabi, Muslimness.