immigrants, poor people, queer people of color, disabled folks, women (esp trans women of color) and gender-nonconforming folks if you are in academia and you don’t feel smart enough, remember that you are in the playground and training grounds of the elite. academia was not designed to include you. you are surviving something that has been systemically designed to exclude you in order to keep power in the hands of white, middle class, able bodied cis-men.
knowing this, don’t let academia train you to believe that elitism is the right way to make it through school. you can learn shit, hold the knowledge of your people in your heart, discard shame for your humble beginnings and/or marginalized identities. move through this experience knowing that the changes it offers you don’t have to include accepting academic elitism, inaccessible language or superiority. you can can simultaneously own the privilege that comes with being college educated and connections to your roots. academia does not have to kill your spirit.
(ᵒ̤̑ ₀̑ ᵒ̤̑) wow!*✰
by Sam Alexander
Many discussions about fat acceptance and fat-phobia are dominated by white feminists, and revolve around societal standards of beauty for white, cis-, women. Unsurprisingly absent in some of these discussions is how internalized racism can fuel body negativity, and even more absent is the topic of gender dysphoria in regards to fat acceptance.
The common narrative we are supposed to follow is to overcome internalized racism and internalized misogyny to accept ourselves. This oversimplified message of self-acceptance neglects to talk about self-love as a process that never ends, and often places the onus solely on the individual to resist constant and relentless shaming and oppression. And when gender presentation and gender dysphoria are in the mix, it becomes even harder to follow the narrative of “learning to love your body.” Can we distinguish feelings in ourselves that come from internalized oppression versus feelings that stem from societal perceptions of our gender?
As a fat person, I am supposed to fuck conventional beauty standards and embrace my sexiness. As a mixed-race person of Asian descent, I am supposed to fuck my internalized racism and embrace and reclaim my culture. But how do those two narratives of self-love play off of each other and possibly even oppose each other? And where does my gender identification fit into my culture? There is also my gender dysphoria, which often has roots in my fat distribution (i.e. carrying more weight in my breasts, hips, etc. and only being read as a woman). And how might this be different when we take into account (dis)ability? It’s a bit of an intersectional mess.
We can see that it is nearly impossible for many individuals to pick apart the roots of their unhappiness with their bodies- and learning self-love is not always the commonly validated choice. The problem is reconciliation between the bodies we want, the bodies we could feasibly have, and the bodies we have now. Where self-confidence lies on that spectrum varies by individual, but we must always be mindful and critical of where our body insecurities may be coming from.
Perhaps we should set aside the message of “learning to love our bodies” and open more discussions about “unlearning body hate” in all forms. This means not only being critical of how we feel about our own bodies, but how we feel and react to all bodies. It means critiquing misogynistic, racist, ableist, capitalistic, classist, and cissexist ideals of beauty. It means discerning between having personal preferences and assuming that everyone shares those preferences. It means critical consumption of media. It means learning to appreciate all bodies, not just our own, and adopting a stance against body hate as a life-long, collective process. It means no one should have to be alone in loving their body.
I once told a joke about a straight person.
They came after me in droves.
Each one singing the same:
Don’t fight fire with fire.
What they mean is: Don’t fight fire with anything.
Do not fight fire with water.
Do not fight fire with foam.
Do not evacuate the people.
Do not sound the alarms.
Do not crawl coughing and choking and spluttering to safety.
Do not barricade the door with damp towels.
Do not wave a white flag out of the window.
Do not take the plunge from several storeys up.
Do not shed a tear for your lover trapped behind a wall of flame.
Do not curse the combination of fuel, heat, and oxygen.
Do not ask why the fire fighters are not coming.
When they say: Don’t fight fire with fire.
What they mean is: Stand and burn."