For the past few years, photographer, activist and friend, Substantia Jones, has celebrated love from February 1st thru Valentine’s Day by posting pictures of couples in love.What makes her work different than the many other photographs of loving couples is that her couples are fat ― and often in various states of undress. For those first fourteen days of each February Substania shows the world something most rarely see depicted in mainstream imagery – that fat people are in love and are very much loved in turn. That’s the good news…
Each year more and more other media outlets take notice of her work with glowing accolades. And without fail, whenever she receives these well-deserved accolades for her work in other media, especially social which will often reprint her photos, there is a backlash. Even when an article is overall positive or at least enlightening, as we erstwhile and current models of her Valentine’s Day series, Adipositivity.com, Uppity Fatty and Fat People Flipping You Off series know…
Because, in spite of that good advice, every now and then I forget where I am, the internet, and it will start off with praise and commentary for the article, then someone post that first bad comment. And once that first negative comment appears – from that point on it snowballs into a downhill shitstorm. And that’s the bad news…
For just as inevitably, the negative comments swing from how someone looks around to those who will start spouting their unasked for two cents regarding someone’s “health.” This is when those, who from a mere photograph can and will spout, near chapter and verse, of the presumed physical, and sometimes emotional, ills of someone, especially the fat someone. Often they do not even bother to be nice about it by wrapping it in the sandpaper of “can” and “may”.
Look at her, you know she has hypertension or diabetes at that size.
I can see his ribs, he’s got to be anorexic.
I just don’t understand how people don’t see the double standard. There could be totally average size people pictured and you don’t question their “health”, because it is the “standard.” Average, thin or athletic looking people could have heart disease, diabetes or liver disease, but no one makes definitive presumptions about their “health”. Give him a salad, get her a cheeseburger.
And for God’s sakes some arm chair Dr. Oz-es out there, really need to stop acting like your judgment is somehow based on some noble concern for our health. Especially when you are basing the things you spew upon a double standard.
Because you simply cannot judge someone’s heath based on a photograph. Unless, you’re Sherlock Holmes, but since he does not exist and even if he did Dr, Watson would tell him to zip it any way, you’re not him, but I digress. You know nothing about the people in the photographs or their background. They may have health issues that prevent them from losing weight, they may have depression or any number of things that would cause weight gain. You do not know if they’re trying to lose the weight and frankly it is none of your damned business whether they are or not. If I have a salad for lunch today, it for the same reason I will have a cheeseburger for dinner tonight, I like the taste. My food consumption is not up for public discussion, especially from a perfect stranger – because there is nothing perfect about them if they are commenting on my food choices–, and especially while I am actually eating.
Average, thin or athletic looking people could have heart disease, diabetes or liver disease, but no one thinks about their health. No one would comment that she or he could be a contributor to the high cost of insurance. Yet, one look at a fat person and it is almost considered a given. Commenting that a fat is a contributor and that it is something we all have to be concerned is pure sizest bullshit. By making this presumption it bears the extrapolation that some think all fat people are poor and/or do not have insurance. Unless you personally are footing that fat person’s insurance premium, it is just an opinion, an erroneous one at that, and I believe most of us are familiar with the adage regarding opinions and sphincters.
No one should voice an opinion on the healthy or non-healthy status of someone else’s body, whether they are fat, skinny or in between; not even a random someone in the medical profession. The only person who can voice a definitive opinion on someone’s health without impunity is that person’s private doctor.
You are not attracted to fat people/skinny people, that is fine, beauty is… after all. Do you have a right to that opinion? Absolutely. Do you have the right to voice that opinion? Yes, you do. However, is voicing that opinion germane to the conversation at hand? If not, then please keep that opinion to yourself and avoid potentially derailing a conversation that was not about you and your opinion.
Writing Our Lives #52essays2017 challenge – Week 8
A year-long weekly personal essay/memoir/creative nonfiction writing challenge. To learn more about this challenge or to participate, check out Vanessa Martir’s website and learn about it.
And let’s see how others are slicing this week:
Slice of Life Writing Challenge|Two Writing Teachers