As I look forward to spending 3 weeks at home with my family (and no homework and Sims and warm San Diego weather), I’m not looking forward to dealing with food policing and comments about my body. As much as I appreciate the advice that I’ve found on the internet from fatty bloggers and feminists, I think it misses an important power dynamic. When I go home and deal with fat talk, I’m not dealing with peers. I am dealing with the people who know me best, care for me most, and can crush me so easily. And there are real power dynamics at play. I, like many college students, am financially dependent. I have a lot of autonomy and power, but I know there’s a line that I won’t cross because of serious consequences. I’ve got student loans and terrible google results. Sure, I guess I could sell my soul to Wall St. and “make it on my own,” but I have no interest in that. I want to keep my parents in my life; i just don’t want them to be fat-hating people.
Part of the reason I started this blog is because I felt that there was a voice missing in the fat community. The most vocal fatties, lovely as they are, are not in college. They don’t fly home for the holidays after finals. They aren’t financially dependent on parents who may not share the same understanding of fat, health, bodies, dieting, or even fashion. Yes there are still power dynamics at play when adult children go home, but the power dynamics are even sharper for young adults who are still growing into full autonomy.
So, what’s a fat
chick college student to do?
When I was home for 4 days over Thanksgiving there were fat-phobic comments abound. Both of my parents are trying to lose weight right now. They posted their starting, current, and goal weights prominently in the kitchen, and, try as I might, I couldn’t even keep up with the “I’ve earned this” food comments. (Protip: you don’t have to earn food. Eat or die.) I know that this is going to be a problem over the longer holiday break. While I was able to just roll my eyes and mutter snarky comments under my breath for 4 days, that’s not going to cut it for a longer stretch of time.
For now, I’m still in the research phase. I’m reading all of the “stop fat talk” articles I can. With respect to the power dynamics, I think there’s a lot of wisdom in LGTBQ* stories of kids coming out to their parents. And I’m going to brush up on some of the pro-fat science; it’s always nice to come prepared with useful statistics and facts as a way to feel assertive and ready to defend myself against well-intended health concerns. The goal is to consolidate all of that information and form it into something more feasible and practical for me, a financially dependent fat college student, to use when approaching my loving but misguided parents.