It Gets Better is a noble sentiment, and maybe for some people part of a stigmatized group it’s true. I certainly hope it is.
But I’m not convinced it’s an accurate statement for the fat kids out there; especially not those who grow into fat adults.
For people of size, I’m not sure it does Get Better, at least not naturally.
Left to its own devices, the Western Beauty and Culture Machine will happily crush you underfoot –for your own good, of course– for being too big for their britches.
Everywhere you look there will be pop-up ads and billboards and interchangeable vapid reality TV “stars” admonishing you from photoshopped pages to change your body into something society deems acceptable. Only then will you get invited to the cool parties, have a partner who loves you and finally be worthy of full human status.
Oh, and don’t you dare be angry. They’re just doing it so you’ll feel better about you! They’re “just worried about your health”. Did they mention you have Such A Pretty Face? Did they make the Pointed Sigh?
It’s not like people really need much of a push to treat fat people as sub-human anyway. We’re manifestations of weakness, of the laziness and sloth they fear in themselves, we deserve our bad treatment because really, we’ve brought it upon ourselves. (You can try pointing out science refuting the claim that size is more than just a case of calories in vs. calories out, but be aware it’s dancing-with-a-pig futile in many if not most cases.)
Nope, you’re a lazy cow and there’s nothing sacred about cows in this culture: They just get slaughtered…or worse, slaughter themselves.
Bullying is now news, after too many –one is too many– kids, perceived or identifying as something other than cut-and-dried hetero, committed suicide.
But bullying, we all know, is not new news and it’s not solely the domain of gay kids.
Yet how many front page human interest stories do you hear about the plight of the fat kid being bullied in school?
Whither our tearful congressmen? Where’s the garment-rending when a bullied fat kid commits suicide?
More importantly, where are our 24-hour specialized hotlines to stop those suicides before they happen?
Tormenting fat kids is less of a headline and more of a forgivable rite of passage, swept neatly under the Children Can Be So Cruel rug (Children Can Be So Cruel, a fully-licensed subsidiary of Boys Will Be Boys and She Was Asking For It In That Skirt Partners, International)
Yeah, children can be so cruel.
Is it a newsflash that adults can be too? The “War on Childhood Obesity”, however good its intentions might be, is just another way to codify and institutionalize size discrimination against the people least capable of defending their own interests: children.
Regardless of age, if you’re fat, Society, either openly or covertly, wants you to hate yourself thin. Except we can’t hate ourselves thin, at least not in the long term. Sometimes only thing that sticks from years of being hit in the head with the anti-fat hammer until our ears ring with self-hate is…guess what? Self hate.
So it’s hard to say It Gets Better because really, it’s going to get worse. Subtler, to be sure, but worse.
What’s the solution? We can’t wait for it to GET better. We have to MAKE it better. Individually. Put on your own oxygen mask, then help your neighbor.
Make it better by applying a critical eye (and okay, sometimes a critical finger) to anti-fat bias.
Surround yourself with positive, thought-provoking friends and resources. Read The Fat Nutritionist. Understand Health at Every Size.
Reject any media that celebrates a culture where our bodies are punchlines and our feelings don’t count but still want our precious, precious dollars. I’m not the smartest girl on the block (and it’s not even a very big block) but even I have a problem with giving companies money to insult me.
Stop watching E! and its equally abysmal coterie (Those channels make you stupid. They just do. Read a book. Watch a documentary. Just step away from the “Reality TV” before mindless describes more than just your choice in entertainment).
For the love of all things holy, stop buying women’s magazines.
Watch the runway shows if you want to be up on fashion, at least you’ll only subject yourself to the models and not hot pink headlines offering quadruple chocolate fudge bombs, plastic surgery tips and “630 Ways To Drop Fifty Pounds By Thursday You Pathetic Spinster Cow!” on the same cover.
Find your own path, define your self BY yourself.