Class

There are a lot of things I would like to write about right now, but I think the most prominent has to do with my identification as fat. Anyone who has been paying attention to FA or even just the obesity epidemic (the wording of which I’m going to ignore) is that fat is a class issue. Basically the argument is that poor people are fat because they do not have the time, money and/or access to gym memberships and fresh, healthy food. I’m not arguing that this isn’t true. It probably is, but I have no experience and haven’t done the research to really argue that.

See, there’s another side to this. I grew up in a pretty well-off area. While I was relatively poor compared to some of my classmates, they had the kind of houses that rival those on cribs and would be allowed to bring a few friends for a week in Paris for their birthday. So, relative is the key word there. I have access to good, fresh food. I have a gym membership (or maybe two). Thing is, I’m still fat. Or at least, I’m still what I would consider fat.

I’ve mentioned before, when I was in high school, playing fattest person in the room would generally mean me or a handful of other people. I went to a large high school. I can think of about four other fat girls out of my graduating class of hundreds. My idea of fat is different than a lot of people’s idea of fat. The problem is, all but a few media images reaffirmed the idea that the average woman was tall, blonde and thin. I had some sort of idea that the rest of the world wasn’t as blonde as I was experiencing but not about how they weren’t as tall or as thin.

When I got to college I noticed that while I did have a lot of friends who were taller and thinner than me and a few who were fairer there were large masses of short, dark, fat girls running around. I’d sit and people watch and marvel at the body type that represented the average sorority girl. Most were thinner than me, but I didn’t count a lot of them as thin. Maybe the freshman five/ten/fifteen (take your pick) played into this, but I think that wasn’t the case. I think I didn’t make the best social impression because the first two years were spent trying to figure out where my body fell on this spectrum. I’m still not sure, but I care less now.

When I hear things about my size being a small fat or an in-between, I don’t see it that way. I grew up being on the end of a spectrum, not the middle, and I don’t know if I will ever be able to deprogram myself from that. I was able to readjust my mental classification of others when I’m in that environment but put me back where I spent the first seventeen years of my life or ask me to evaluate myself and I’m still going to see things the way I was taught to see them by my environment that was then reinforced by the media. (The media is its whole separate rant.) Further when the idea of people getting fatter is framed in as a socio-economic argument, I’ve found that it is presented that the fat rich person is clearly an inferior human being because (s)he has no excuse.

This is a hard post to write because I do acknowledge that I have a privilege that comes with my family’s socio-economic status. Even in being fat. But the privilege doesn’t extend far enough to make me immune. I don’t want this to sound to FA like the “what about the menz” argument is to feminism. I’m not sure I’ve succeeded, but this is my experience.

July 15, 2010. Tags: , , , . Reflection. Leave a comment.