Monday, October 5, 2015

Lipedema, self acceptance, and trolls

Image from this article
This is a really interesting article by Courtney Mina about dealing with the fat hate that often accompanies being open about lipedema or being body-positive in any way online.

She posted some pictures of herself in only undergarments on Instagram, Twitter (#biglegs), and Facebook to see if people would continue to be body-positive towards someone with large legs. She was open with people about having lipedema, what that meant, and how it has affected her life, all while still being body-positive.

Gratifyingly, many people were body-positive and supportive of her. This shows that body-positivity campaigns are making a difference and the message is being heard. 

However, there were also haters. Some of it was the open, in-your-face really vicious hate so common on the internet (yep, I get it too). Ugh. But that's such an obviously biased and obnoxious response that you mostly just have to let that roll off of you. Some people are just trying to stir up trouble and some people are just outright misogynists. None of us should be subject to such hatefulness, it's wrong wrong wrong for sexism like this to be so prevalent and our society needs to target this misogyny, but some individuals are so hateful they are simply lost causes. I refuse to lose sleep over them.

Of course there was also the poisonous "concern trolling" ─ I'm-just-worried-about-your-health stuff. This is the kind of stuff fat people get bombarded with by people we care about (because obviously you are simply in denial if you are fat and not trying to lose weight). They can't see how much they've bought into harmful untruths about weight and health, and they find it difficult to acknowledge that there really are medical conditions that can cause fatness. They think that since their bodies work a certain way, all bodies must therefore work that way, even when evidence for a disease process is presented to them. They mean well, but it's still hurtful.

And of course, sometimes the worst people of all are the "plus-size police," the women of size who so hate their own bodies that they try to police other fat women's bodies too. The self-hate they have is just palpable and so sad. The absolute worst are the ones who are in the honeymoon period during or just after weight loss before the regain begins, or the ones who are chronic dieters. They are in the "high" phase of the dieting addiction and they want everyone to join them on this drug. No one is allowed to rain on their parade, gainsay their experience, or present an alternative approach like Health At Every Size®. Anyone who approaches it differently is just "in denial."

Sadly, even some in the fat-acceptance movement have wanted to deny the medical reality of lipedema, a medical condition that often leads to heavier-than-average legs, hips, and arms. It's as if they think that any acknowledgement of a possible biological condition underlying weight means we are making excuses for it to appease the haters, rather than embracing our size with acceptance. [Nope, you can acknowledge the biological causes and still be part of fat acceptance.]

I thought this post had many thought-provoking things to say. Definitely check it out. I was encouraged that many people were supportive of her, but I have to wonder how many were supportive because she is young and beautiful. There's a heck of a lot less supportiveness out there for middle-aged and older fat women, but I have hopes that this, too, will improve with time. Body positivity should not be only for the young and beautiful but for people of all ages and looks.

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