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Some of you may have seen that Hasbro are bringing out a new Potato Head which is gender neutral, so kids can make it look however they want and have a toy that reflects them and/or (a) member(s) of their family. This, of course, has been contorted in the media and picked up by frothy-mouthed fuckwits, screaming in panic that The Gender Neutrals Are At It Again, bellowing "they've gone too far this time!!!"
Cue eye-roll. "Water off a duck's back" (thanks, Jinkx) - let them have their outrage, we know what's what, and we know that we're going to be on the right side of history. I try not to let any of this kind of shit get to me personally, because it's so prevalent, but also and ultimately so pointless. And yet.
So why am I writing a blog post about it? Because the story and tired old "jokes" were picked up by some people who I respect, and who I know would be horrified if they knew anyone thought them to be transphobic. That they would get on the Gendered Potato Bandwagon itself is one thing, but the thing I found particularly jarring is the box of nastiness it allows to open in the comments section. Talking about the freaks, the snowflake generation, how soon enough no-one will be allowed a first name, we'll all have to identify as animal/plant/mineral (um: plant, please).
This post is particularly for those people who find it harmless, just a joke, "good bantz", who don't necessarily want to do the thinking as to why it might be problematic. I'm not coming to be the thought police - I'm coming to explain why I'd like you to not engage or support conversations or "jokes" like this. To say to you directly : we need you to do better.
If you don't want to be seen as transphobic, don't post stuff that trans people themselves tell you is transphobic. EVEN IF you don't think it is. As a white person, would you tell a person of colour what is racist or not? As a man, would you tell a woman what is sexist or not? As an able-bodied person, would you tell someone living with a disability what is ableist or not?
If you don't want to be seen as transphobic, don't post shit that has already been co-opted by the Piers Morgans, That Rightwing Dusty Dick Who Died Recently In The States, and Katy Fucking Hopkinses of the world.
If you don't want to be seen as transphobic, don't allow transphobic comments on your page or posts. Make your stance clear. Use your power and privilege to show your allyship, if it's truly there.
If you don't want to be seen as transphobic ... don't do transphobic shit.
Would you make a similar "joke" about (the representation of) a gay character? Lesbian, disabled, older, Black? No (I hope). So don't make, or repeat, the "joke" about trans* or gender-non-conforming people.
You're seriously going to defend to the death the right of a potato to use the correct pronouns and forms of address? Great. Bring that same energy when it comes to defending the rights of your trans* children and siblings.
Trans and queer people are some of the funniest fuckers out there. Many people with trauma use the sticks we were and are beaten with to hone their wit - it's often our first line of defense, and attack. It's hard to carry on beating someone who's given you a good belly laugh. Elevate our voices. Listen to us when we tell you how these "jokes" make us feel.
When they go low, we go high.
And finally ... it's a fucking plastic potato. And the Mr AND Mrs versions still exist.
Time to do everything we can to make sure we carry on existing, and record that existance in ALL the his-, her- and theirstory books.
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Why I’m not going to talk about weight anymore.
I’m sick of it. I’m sick of thinking about it and talking about it, using it as a yardstick for how worthy I am, how deserving of love or attention, how hard I’ve worked, how much I’ve “let myself go”. I’m sick of it being a major source of stress and sadness for me, for those I love, for the world. I’m sick of it being the number one topic of conversation in so many relationships. My weight or theirs, or someone else’s. So I’m not going to do that anymore.
In the 20 days since I hid my scales, I have eaten much more food that does me good, both mentally and physically. I have moved my body (almost) every day in ways that make me feel good. I have been outside, I’ve felt more energy, I’ve given out more love, and directed it inwards, too. I’ve flirted with two gentlemen (well, one wasn’t a gentleman, but he got a flirt anyway). I’ve felt worthy and capable of being flirted with. My energy and emotions may have been all over the place (hello mid-long term sobriety + HRT + SPRINGTIMEWAHOOOOOOOO) but I haven’t once directed them into punishment and regret for a number on a scale or the way my pants fit me. I’m not going to get back on those scales. Don’t need ‘em, don’t want ‘em, not having ‘em take up room in my wardrobe or in my head again.
Is it going to be hard? Yes. I will fuck up and find myself talking about it, I am certain. But I’m going to gently remind myself when I catch myself, and hope that others will do the same to me – this is not something I want to talk about or discuss further. Not my weight, not yours. Diet culture is EVERYWHERE and is SO toxic. I have played both active and passive roles in diet culture in my own life, work, and family for as long as I can remember. I’m not doing that shit any more. I don’t have kids, but I do have people who look to me for guidance, and my guidance on this is: focus on the love. Focus on being kind to yourself, *where you are now*. Don’t wait for your weight or size or job or marriage or friend or face or fortune to change before you allow yourself to be happy.
Body positivity isn't about 'letting ourselves go'. It's about seeing ourselves where we are right now, and finding joy and worth and love and value in ourselves *where we are right now*. It doesn't mean we can't aspire to more, doesn't mean we stop working to be our best selves, it just means we don't hang the idea of self acceptance or love on an arbitrary number, whether that be one we find on a scale or on a label.
As a trans person navigating a transition ‘later in life’ (PS fuck the 14 year old who said that to me online, I’m thirty fucking six FFS), I have issues with how my body looks and feels. As someone who grew up with a different body type and home setting to many of my friends, I have issues with how my body looks and feels. As someone for whom food has equalled comfort, love, and safety, and exercise has equalled risk, danger, and pain, I have issues with how my body looks and feels. They are my issues. I can (and do) work on them in therapy and with myself. But I’m making damn sure I work on the mind aspect of the mind-body connection just as much as the body aspect.
As a sober person and coach working primarily with people’s sobriety and overall health and wellness, I have a responsibility to others to practise what I preach. Everybody say love? YEP. Even to that big belly. Even to those wobbly thighs. Especially to that second chin. How you would talk to your best friend or little kid, is how you need to talk to yourself. Would you make fun of them or tell them they're disgusting for a bit - or a lot - of extra fat? If so, please question that and work out your answers as to why. If not, here's your invitation to channel that voice when talking to and about yourself. I need to set the tone of how these conversations should happen whenever I get a say in it. I want to make sure people know what I’m about. I am *not* about the diet culture. I *am* about finding and developing the love, of self and of others. Now, not later.
So I’m making my commitment here and now: I will not talk about my weight in public or private again. I will try to steer weight-related conversations *away* from the topic (towards mental health, body acceptance and positivity, undoing the learnings we’ve all unconsciously assimilated) in the future, or I will remove myself from the conversation. I am not prepared to passively contribute to the culture which predominantly affects women and femme people but which seeps its toxicity all throughout society. I’m not going to contribute to the often ableist and racist nature of those conversations. My weight and size is not up for discussion with you, and I’m not going to engage in discussion about your weight and size, either. There are MUCH bigger things to think and talk about, and it is this obsession (fed and fanned by the media throughout the world) with becoming and staying smaller and smaller which is keeping us from being as big as we need to be to reach our own stars.
In terms of starting points for resources, I've been following these people for a while:
Aubrey Gordon - your fat friend
iWeigh - iWeigh Community
Ericka Hart - Ericka Hart
Anti Diet Riot Club - Anti Diet Riot Club
And of course, my group for radical warriors working on their self love and sobriety - The Deep Duckpond