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Brittany Gibbons Headshot

I'm Not A Fat Enabler

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I was recently dining with friends when one of them told me that the work I was doing was just enabling people to be fat. I was a "fat enabler."

You know, because if we give "them" clothes to wear and self-esteem, we're basically just encouraging them.... like really fat, feral cats.

Clearly, this gem of a friend hasn't been paying attention at all.

You see, the plus-size movement is often simplified down into two sects: The body lovers and the fat activists. For the record, both of them are dope as f*ck, but I reside somewhere in the middle of those two places. I'm going to like you regardless of your weight, unless you're a dick, completely unrelated to your body size.

If you're losing weight? Awesome. If you aren't losing weight? Awesome. I'm gonna go ahead and judge you as a person the same exact way.

I'm not saying I don't see obesity. I feel like saying that is akin to the people who make grand statements about "not seeing color." Seeing color doesn't mean you're a racist. It means your eyes work, but that you are hopefully able to see color not for a discrepancy in normal, but as a beautiful component of diversity.

That's how I see bodies. They are diverse. We can't all be Gisele Bundchen, but good heavens, can you imagine if more of you were? Think of all the XXLs that would be left behind for me at Target!

The only thing I have any interest in enabling is for women to stop hating themselves. I don't care what weight they are doing it from. I work in the "now." And, because I don't have my degree in Chubby Girl Feel Good Studies, I'm basically making it up along the way.

Which I feel OK about, because really, what are our other options?

Trolling people online? Bullying them in high school? Shaming them in public? How's that working out? Not so hot, huh? I know. Bummer. I'm not trying to make anyone feel like less of a special snowflake here, but chances are, if you are calling somebody fat, you're probably not the first one to tell that person that. My guess is that it's been browbeaten into them the majority of their lives by several people before you. Now, I'm not sure what the clinical trial time frame on shitty social experiments is, but we've been trying this tactic out for -- sayyyy -- EVER, and it has a zero percent success rate. Unless we're measuring success rates in suicides and eating disorders, then the numbers are slightly more impressive.

Also, this whole making assumptions about people's health based on their weight thing people do in the comments sections of blogs or news sites or, heaven forbid, out loud? Equally ineffective. Unless I'm shifting around uncomfortably on a paper-covered table in your house, you don't get to make wild accusations about my health. You're playing doctor to an entire population of people you don't know, and you're not a real doctor.

And while I can't begin to speculate why someone else's weight is of direct concern to another's personal happiness (because really, we should be seeking fulfillment in hobbies and interests outside of playing 'Guess The BMI of Strangers'), if the end goal here is to inspire change, we suck at it. Like, hard.

We need to decide to treat everyone we meet with respect without some contingency of courtesy based on weight or looks. When you treat someone with kindness and esteem, it models for them how they should be treating themselves.

*adjusts hippie headband*

Here, let's try a metaphor.

Loving your body is like having a new pair of shoes. You love them. They cost a fortune, and you feel amazing in them. The last thing you are going to do is step in a puddle, you care about them too much, ya know. You keep them shiny, you wear them in public every chance you get, and you treat them with kid gloves.

But, what about the people who don't have new shoes yet? They're walking around in uncomfortable, unflattering pairs of Napoleon Dynamite velcro boots. They spend their entire day hating them, so accidentally stepping into a mud puddle and getting them even dirtier is the least of their concerns.

If I spend my days showing women that they're a new pair of shoes, they start seeing it and believing it, and as an unintentional result, they avoid more of those unhealthy mud puddles.

You see, I'm not a fat enabler.

I'm a "new shoe" hoarder.

New Shoes