I want to share this story from a friend of mine.
Back in May, my friend — let’s call her Rachel — went to a Beltaine celebration. This celebration was attended by various mutual friends of ours; bunch of local pagans.
Rachel has food allergies and eating disorders. Most notably, she’s a recovering anorexic and she has to be completely gluten-free or she gets sick. She’s also fat, though going gluten-free has caused her to drop a lot of weight.
At some point during the celebration (it’s a day-long thing, at least) she went to go grab a few bites of food from the tables because she hadn’t eaten anything all day and she wanted to make sure she could eat something that wouldn’t make her sick before the hordes descended and devoured everything except the gluten.
People started making comments about how she “couldn’t wait for dinner” and “they could all wait; what made her so special?” People scolded her for having no self-control.
You’ve got a person with eating disorders and food allergies grabbing one or two bites of food before everyone else, and you make comments about how she can’t wait for dinner and that makes her, what, have less self-control than everyone else?
For the record, Rachel has amazing self-control. I know this because I know her — and I know how hard it is to go gluten-free, especially when you’ve been eating it all your life. I see her look at gluten longingly, and whimper when we’re at dinner and someone’s eating delicious garlic bread, or something else with wheat in it — which includes most foods, ever. (I exaggerate, but seriously — the US and Canada are addicted to gluten.) But she never caves.
And she’s had plates of food of hers thrown out before at pagan gatherings. She will put together a plate of food early on and put it to the side so that it’s uncontaminated, because people are not careful with keeping things gluten-free. And then she’ll wait to eat with everyone else, and someone will throw her plate of food out. As someone with eating disorders who’s had her own plates of food thrown out, I can tell you — that is hella triggering.
This particular incident triggered Rachel so much and she was so upset she couldn’t finish her plate of food. She was so upset she couldn’t eat. To be treated like she had no self-control when she has far more than your average person? Her eating disorder came back and she’s been fighting it since.
I’ve witnessed stuff like this before. I’ve also witnessed skinny people eating before everyone else, and not even receiving a second glance. The only people who get comments or scolding is the fat folk or the children.
Fat shaming in pagandom exists. This is only one example; today’s earlier post showcased several others.
To that end — I’ve created a tumblr where people can send in their stories: Fat Shaming in Pagandom. Anonymous submissions are allowed; just note that if you troll, you’ll be deleted, so why bother?
If you’ve been fat-shamed by other pagans and you want to share your story, please submit it to the tumblr. I think it’s important to shed light on this.
Is it just me or does this whole discussion have a strong gendered component to it? A bunch of men think there’s a problem and women are stepping up to defend their body autonomy. The whole obesity in the US discussion really seems to be more about getting women to comply with some arbitrary thinness standard while fat guys host TV shows about traveling to eat weird foods.
It’s true, there is a hugely gendered component to it. It’s why “fat is a feminist issue” — shaming fat women is about controlling them, controlling their food intake, owning their bodies.
Which isn’t to say that people who aren’t women don’t get shamed — just that it happens more often to women, or people who are assumed to be women.
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