Sunday, July 20, 2014

Coming full circle with fat phobia, Anne Wilson, & self hatred.

In case you didn't know:

fat phobia, defined as a pathological fear of fatness.

"America manages to champion terrible food while also hating fat people."

I can distinctly remember a time when I realized that I had severe body issues. It was much earlier than you'd think.  I believe I was about 8 and the words of my fat phobic, uncaring father and my disturbed, anorexic, ignorant stepmother Linda played like a record in my head. "Don't eat that or you'll get fat."  To them, being fat was the worst thing I could become... I mean I was already a female living in the sexist state of Florida but that's an entirely different story.

"Prepubescent girls are developing eating disorders as young as 5 and 6 years old. They may be getting their obsession from parents who are preoccupied with their own body images, the experts say."

Fast forward to my first year of High School where I had developed an eating disorder and knew that being fat was not the key to getting people to like me. During that time I discovered the band Heart. I was thrilled to see a full figured woman fronting a powerful band. She became an instant role model. It would not be until a few years later when I discovered '70's Heart and the fact that Anne Wilson was once a much thinner performer.

I remember during this time that a trend of fat jokes involving Anne began to circulate around my high school. Anne became the punch line to most fat jokes. At the time I was not comfortable with these jokes or the rude doodles being passed around depicting the overweight singer eating copious amounts of food. I knew that I shouldn't laugh and that I wanted to be the one person who came to Anne's defense but at the time I'll admit I was too frightened of the possibilities of my friends turning on me and noticing my ever fluctuating weight.  I mean, was defending Anne Wilson worth losing a shot at being Homecoming Queen?  I kept silent on the issue of weight and soon realized high school and its ideas of what was socially acceptable were not for me.

Very soon after leaving high school I started Jack Off Jill with my high school friend Tenni. I had started to gain weight but was never reminded of my new plus -size by the new like-minded group of friends I had fallen in with. I also was estranged from my father and step mother which help build my self esteem. This was the most freeing time of my life. I discovered 3rd wave feminism, adopted a new style and was writing lyrics about the injustices I'd faced as a younger girl.  As freeing as this time was creatively, I had not developed healthy eating habits and starting drinking so my weight went up quite a bit during this time. Jack Off Jill had become a popular band in South Florida and because of the constant reassurance of people at our shows I did not feel "less than" because of my weight.  Of course there were the select few friends who I knew were fatapobes but nothing was ever said to my face.

It wasn't until I got to Los Angels were I was reminded of my size and where my "place" was in the world. LA was full of fataphobes and there were several working at my record label who could not see past the number on the scale. They eventually realized that if they perhaps tried marketing me as a larger, loud and proud person rather than constantly trying to fat shame me, Jack Off Jill wouldn't have imploded. Obviously, that wasn't the only reason for the implosion, but it certainly didn't help. Why the fuck did I not stand up to those who didn't believe in me?  Perhaps because after years of being told my weight made me "less than" I truly didn't believe in myself. 

Now fast forward to 20014: I've been on the thin side of things longer than I have been on the fat side of things. I know there are people who have their opinions on why I lost weight. I can give you my only honest answer, it was because I did not want to live the rest of my life in a wheelchair and made a choice. After consulting several doctors about my medical issues they all agreed that is where I would most likely end up if I didn't lose weight. I went to several credible doctors because I know that overweight people are often told "white lies" to scare them into losing weight.

"The medical industry regularly risks fat people's health by refusing to take health issues seriously."

I had rarely thought about my weight until very recently when somebody from my South Florida past called me a fat ass on a thread on facebook. I was shocked not because he said this after not seeing me since I was a teenager or the fact that he was overweight himself, but because I couldn't believe that was still the "go to" insult.

"Fat people are considered fair game for humiliation... including by professionals."

Now my  journey comes full circle. A month ago I finally got to see Heart play live. Anne Wilson was incredible. I realized while watching her in the sea of loyal fans that at her heaviest she may have been a few pounds up from my heaviest in Jack Off Jilll.  What a fucking hypocrite I was for not standing up to fat oppressors all those years ago.  So after this long winded diatribe I am here to say I'm sorry Anne Wilson. You are an incredible performer and I hope that I still have a fraction of your singing power and look half as good as you do at 64. Please forgive me. I promise NEVER to be silent about fat phobia. Fat phobia is real and fat acceptance is not common among young people in the United States. It's very clear to me that more people need to start a dialogue and tell their stories. It's so important. Okay, what are you waiting for? Please share, discuss, & share your stories.

Always remember: Be size positive. Set an example of respect for size diversity. People naturally come in different sizes and builds, and that’s okay!

Some food for thought,

Special thanks to Kitty Stryker (I pulled some of her quotes)
Follow Kitty Stryker on @kittystryker

And please follow my editor and partner in crime:  @cjotucker 

1 comment:

Lonzie Jackson said...

Well said, Jessicka. Well said.