The Corpulent Declaration

I’ve been getting a few emails from people and companies that have profoundly misunderstood what I’m about and what I stand for. Sometimes this means that they haven’t read my stuff closely enough, but I suspect that I haven’t signposted my core views as much as I should have.

In order to avoid having the same three conversations over and over again, I present to you the Corpulent Declaration.

1. Yes, I am fat

I should not be required to defend the way I classify my body, and yet…

I am fat. According to my measurements, I am plus sized. I weigh 95kg/210 pounds (give or take a few). According to my height and weight, I am obese. When people talk about the obesity epidemic, they are talking about people like me. I have had people tell me that they are worried about my health because of my size. I’ve seen the frenzied whispers when I wear something ‘too tight’. I’ve heard people snickering over the size of my arse. In my view, I have fulfilled the selection criteria.

I recognise that I am not very fat. I’m conscious that I have a measure of thin privilege. But that doesn’t negate the fact that, yes, I actually am fat. As Kate Harding said in a really awesome article on Salon:

It’s … OK to point out that I’m not that fat, so I’ve never personally been the victim of the worst fat hatred our culture has to offer — that’s the plain truth. But telling me I’m not fat is a goddamned lie.

2. My fashion doesn’t flatter

This is aimed at the clothing companies – and PR companies representing clothing companies – that email me promoting their “tips to look slim and sexy instead of fat and frumpy” or “Sizzling Swimsuits to Flatter Any Figure” (those are direct quotes).

I’m down with people wearing whatever they want. Some fatties want slimming clothing and that is their prerogative. But I wear miniskirts, spandex, bodycon, horizontal stripes, bright colours, shapeless sacks and leggings as pants. Fat girl fashion rules mean nothing to me.

3. Good health is a fine goal, but it’s not what drives me

The argument that fat and health are not mutually exclusive is a worthwhile and valuable one to make (and one I make fairly often). Having a fat body is not a health problem in and of itself except in the most extreme of cases, and fatness is no barrier to healthy behaviours. Health at every size (HAES) is a fantastic alternative to weight loss and absolutely deserves to be promoted.

However, I am not a HAES advocate and Corpulent is not a HAES blog. It is not my job, nor my purpose, to encourage fat people to lead the healthiest lives they can. I don’t advocate for fatties who meet a certain set of criteria. I just advocate for fatties.

I know that some people are fat by choice. I am well aware that some fat people don’t exercise, don’t eat well, have health issues or have mobility problems. I’m not ignorant; I just don’t care. No matter our situation, we are all worthy of respect and dignity from ourselves and from others. That’s the point of it all.


13 Responses to “The Corpulent Declaration”

  1. 1 apri 19 August, 2011 at 1:18 pm

    Amen sister! This will be posted on my fan page!

  2. 2 Clara Bee 19 August, 2011 at 2:06 pm

    Just discovered your blog! This so perfectly encapsulates what I’ve been trying to explain to friends and family for so long. If society is going to rob me of the the (completely arbitrary) title of “beautiful”, I’m not going to let them rob me of my right to identify as whatever the hell I want.

  3. 3 Cate 19 August, 2011 at 3:16 pm

    Love, love, LOVE!!!!!

  4. 4 Mark 19 August, 2011 at 5:16 pm

    Oh you AREN’T that fat, for real… and I would definitely take a run at you if I got the opportunity..! All that matters is that you like yourself and that is that with that..!

    Cool that this isn’t one of ‘those blogs’… mind you, I do post fitness tips in my blogs but it is my lifestyle and not my life, that has me in the gym.

    Anywho, do your thing girl… if you need someone to get your back, I got it..!

  5. 6 Deirdreeirdre 19 August, 2011 at 7:32 pm

    I completely love this declaration. This is the way many of us fat girls feel. But I wouldn’t have described it so well.
    So I’m sharing it for my friends to understand why I try to tell them about my body.
    And thank you so much for your work and efforts, Frances, ’cause you’re a really reasonable defender of fat people and that’s what we need.

    Love from Spain!

  6. 8 turgidmosquito 20 August, 2011 at 4:25 am

    “No matter our situation, we are all worthy of respect and dignity from ourselves and from others. That’s the point of it all.”

    Wonderful. Thank you.

  7. 9 Chubstr (@bigboyfashion) 20 August, 2011 at 5:00 am

    Somebody probably needs to write an article on how to look fat and frumpy instead of slim and sexy. Seriously though, I like what you’re saying here and I feel like it sums up a lot of the things I feel about Chubstr and what we’re trying to do.

    Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up trying to please different groups of people instead of writing about the things that matter to you. At the end of the day, that’s a big reason a lot of us are doing this.

  8. 11 sleepydumpling 20 August, 2011 at 2:25 pm

    I luff you Frances, I luff you a lot. This blog post made me punch the air and say “YES!” repeatedly.

  9. 12 Rubyfruit 20 August, 2011 at 4:12 pm

    Applause. For all of it.

    Especially Item 1 (because I get “but you’re not fat!” comments a lot and I just look at the person all sideways) and Item 3 (good health a good thing but it–and the pursuit thereof–are not required to gain respect).

  10. 13 keira 23 August, 2011 at 8:27 am

    It shits me royally when people require fat people to be healthy in order to be worthy of respect, but rarely if ever require the same from thin people.

    Its just an excuse for their hatred, because (hopefully) saying, “I hate fat people just because they are fat” out loud make them uncomfortable.

    Yay for a great post.

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