I have been reading a Fat Acceptance (FA) blog for the last few days. It’s a witty, incisive look into the devastating consequences our fat-phobic society wreaks on people (mostly women). I found it because the author, Kate Harding, wrote an essay on Salon.com. I have known about the FA movement for years, but I haven’t embraced it because, like most women, I’ve struggled with food/fat/weight issues most of my life.
I have put Kate’s blog on my blogroll because it’s the best of the fatosphere (yes, that’s what it’s called) I’ve found thus far, but my post today is not specifically about my food/weight/body image issues. I need to think more about that. No, this post is sparked from something I read in Shapely Prose (Kate’s blog). There were a couple women recovering from EDs (eating disorders) who didn’t feel welcomed in the FAM.
This caused me to think about how groups are formed and who gets to be in said groups. Now, on-line, it’s pretty simple. She who starteth the blog gets to decide who gets to contribute on said blog. I have no qualms with unequivocally stating this premise. It gets a little dicier when I broaden my mind to think about movements in general.
Follow me on this one. I grew up thinking I was the all-American girl (read, white). I wanted to be white so badly, I could almost taste it–except, I didn’t know that that was what I wanted. It was just something embedded into the very fiber of my being.
In college, I first realized that I was Asian American, Taiwanese American, to be precise. Oh, I knew my parents were from Taiwan, spoke Taiwanese at home, and had a circle of Taiwanese friends (which included Taiwanese church), but that was them–not me. Ironically, it took me attending a lily-white college like St. Olaf to realize how very other I was.
Remember, this was in the late eighties/early nineties, before Asians were acknowledged (not that we really are now, but that’s another post), and there were five of us on campus. Yes, an exaggeration, but not by much. By a stroke of luck, one of my JCs (junior counselor) was Indian from India and proud of it, damn it. She tried to get me interested in the various groups she was involved in, but I didn’t want any part of it (sorry, M.!).
I finally saw the light my sophomore year and started attending multicultural groups. I also started dating a guy from Sri Lanka and hanging out with his friends who were mostly Indian from India. I had to suppress the American part of me to be considered an honorary Asian, but I didn’t have much qualm about it at the time because I was so furious at what I perceived as American doctrine bullshit, I was flattered to be considered a ‘real’ Asian.
That started to chafe, however, so I tried to integrate those two parts. Unfortunately, I then became aware of feminist issues which sent me into a tizzy all over again. Oh, and as I stated in an earlier post, I became aware of my physical attraction to women at the same time I dated the Sri Lankan guy, but I shoved that to the deepest recess of my mind because I had too much shit to deal with.
If all that wasn’t enough, I lost whatever religion I had around that time as well. Actually, I never really believed in the Christian tenets, but it was around that time that I stopped trying to make myself believe in them. While I was exploring the feminist movement, I was repeatedly told that my issues as a woman of color wasn’t relevant. Oh, not in so many words, but in actions.
Meanwhile, in my Asian groups, women’s issues were routinely ignored. I quickly learned that for most people, it’s really fucking hard to think about a perspective outside of your own. In other words, if it doesn’t directly affect me, why should I give a fuck?
After college, I kept trying to find groups that would accept even fifty percent of me. I found the same problems outside college that I had inside it. When I finally came out (in public, no less, in a performance piece), I joined APLB (Asian Pacifica Lesbian Bisexual) until I realized that the B was just in the name for window decoration. It was ok to be bi as long as I didn’t talk about being attracted to men or even friends with non-gay men. Not, in my opinion, helpful over all.
I gave up on groups after that because I was frustrated that I couldn’t find one that wasn’t pretty narrowly focused.
Fast-forward to now. It’s all about the internets, baby, and I still have trouble finding a place where I belong. This is a reason I go to different blogs because I can’t find one that fills all the different niches in which I fit. Or don’t, as the case may be. It’s also a reason I started my own blog. I want to get my voice out so that even if I’m the only fat Taiwanese American bisexual agnostic-deist female with four tats, I can at least know I spoke my mind.
P.S. I used a Margaret Cho clip because she is pretty damned similar to me in many ways, and I adore her.