{body liberation} Should you be the judge?

A fat white woman stands facing away from the camera, wearing black panties, with her hands spread over her butt.

Something I often see happen when fat folks talk about something or someone fatphobic is thin folks treating this as optional knowledge. Something they can choose whether to believe.

Most recently it was in yet another discussion about Brene Brown, who’s been openly fatphobic her whole career and has blithely ignored the multiple fat folks reaching out to her about it.

(I don’t want to hear about her interview with Sonya Renee Taylor. Taylor is a blessing and Brown hasn’t apologized for her harm or changed her ways.)

A thin woman wandered into the conversation and was all, “I’ll look into this and see what I think.”

The thing is, not only are fat folks not asking for thin folks’ opinions on whether something is fatphobic, but this kind of centering of thinness as knowledge, expertise and authority is both toxic and oppressive.

Also, it’s incredibly obnoxious. Cut it out.

When someone who’s marginalized tells you about something that’s damaging to them, you have one job: to listen.

You don’t get to make a judgment call on whether they’re right, or reasonable, or rational.

You don’t get to decide whether their argument is legitimate.

You don’t get to decide anything, because you’re not the authority here. And the discomfort that comes along with that is a valuable lesson in itself.

The facts that:

a) you assume you should be the authority in all things,
b) generally you’re encouraged to and get away with acting like the authority, and
c) it’s uncomfortable to have to take a seat and let someone else be the authority should be a wakeup call.

It’s time to sit down, listen to what fat people are saying, and then use the power of thinness that means other people treat you as an authority to tear down the system that elevates you and silences us.

If none of this is making sense to you, I wrote an entire workbook just to help you figure it out.

Hi there! I'm Lindley. I create artwork that celebrates the unique beauty of bodies that fall outside conventional "beauty" standards at Body Liberation Photography. I'm also the creator of Body Liberation Stock and the Body Love Shop, a curated central resource for body-friendly artwork and products. Find all my work here at bodyliberationphotos.com.