Outfitblogging: Coming Out

By | February 5, 2009


Click through to Flickr version for outfit info.*

Today, this blog came up in conversation with my coworkers.** I’m pretty lucky to work in an environment where I can mention my blog where I (alongside my fellow bloggers) post potentially-narcissistic fatshion photos, profanity-riddled rants about challenging expectations (AKA the “fuck you” factor), and notices about the existence of fat-vagina-shaped sexual aids… and nobody trips.

At any rate, it got me thinking about the trickiness of being “out” as a fat person.*** I’m pretty overtly out as a fatty at work if only by virtue of having been there so long, and not being inclined toward remaining silent on the issues that are important to me, be they fat-related or in connection with politics, race, gender, and so forth. It is my considered opinion that coming out as a fat person – to friends, family, or colleagues – is a totally necessary battle and a vital step in one’s acceptance process. What good is having the knowledge if you’re not speaking it aloud?

Being out as a fat person means letting folks around you know that you’re not likely to participate in idle diet talk or body shaming, and are, in fact, likely to question or challenge it when you hear it (in my case, in a friendly and humorous way, though some folks prefer a more aggressive approach and that’s fine too). Being out as a fat person means being willing to talk about one’s fatness in a forthright way, even when it makes people slightly uncomfortable – the more I can help people to get over that discomfort, if only by being blunt and honest about my body, the less power fatphobia has over us all.

The fact is, fat activism is good for everybody, even people who are not fat, even people who don’t know it exists or who don’t think they need it. It’s good for everybody to hear about fat activism, even in circumstances and scenarios when they weren’t expecting to get hit with a dose of body love and social justice. Because everyone’s got a body story; everyone’s got an issue or an injury or a sad point or a sore spot. Fat activism starts with fat people but extends to everyone who lives in a culture in which beauty standards are dictated by a fatphobic culture; even folks who aren’t fat have to live with the fear of getting fat, which is a powerful thing.

This is not a new idea and it’s not mine alone; many brilliant folks have written on this with far more flowery (or academic) prose than I. Nobody should feel ashamed of their body, no matter what it looks like.

Ideally, that is what fat activism is for.

* Incidentally, that’s my much-beloved Alicia dress from SWAKdesigns, as previously gushed over here.
** I was telling them about this excellent mention of the site in Time Out NY, alongside a piece on the ever-fabulous Deb, proprietress of Re/Dress NYC. HELLO THAR, Time Out NY readers!
*** I’m unabashedly co-opting the traditionally-queer (as much as anything queer can be traditional!) use of “out” here because it just plain fits and I am not fond of reinventing the wheel. Also, there are similarities.

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