Fat and Not Afraid

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Monstanto Makes You Fat

February 6, 2012

On Monday this picture appeared on my Facebook wall, posted by an acquaintance. I have seen, and written about, similar sentiments before, but this one takes the whole damn cake, but it also led to a little lightbulb moment for me. 

There's a lot going on here explicitly and implicitly, and this is my take; Mega corporations like Monsanto are bad for us. GMOs, which Monsanto are infamous for developing, are therefore also bad for us. The pinnacle of human achievement is a man with an automatic gun and a bloody shovel (agriculture? peasant revolution? Beating down peasants? Herding the fat man forward? You be the judge). Thanks to things like McDonalds/fast food and companies like Monsanto, humans have passed our peak and become fat, with all it's awful associations. The next step down the road is mindless consumption, shown as the pig.

I left the following comment on both my friend's wall and on my own when I reposted the image: "I'm really sick of 'progressive' folks on the left (and just assholes on the right) using fat people as a scapegoat for the world's ills. Fat people are fat for a variety of reasons, not just because of poor diet and/or lack of excersise. Monsanto is evil; equating fat people with Monsanto makes fat people the enemy. I say no thanks to that thinking and think we can do better than stereotypes." A friend reposted it with my comment and added: Really. Knock it the fuck off. Your bigotry (hell yes, I went there) is unbecoming. 

Under her post the conversation got heated as a mutual acquaintence said she didn't see this picture as a statment about fat people per say but more as a commentary on how Monsanto is turning us into mindless consumers unable to care for ourselves by robbing us of the ability to grow our own food, and making us eat that which we don't even know is safe. I was agog she didn't think this was about fat people; as a fat acceptance advocate I immediately focused on this as yet another image of fat people being badly treated in the media, that people who are that big are being used as a symbol of what GMOs and fast food do to people is hateful, misleading and wrong. As a scientist, she took the image very differently, focusing on what she knew about Monsanto and their despicable practises.

When I was taking English in university I was introduced to the post-modernist way of thinking and reading; if I read a text and see something in there, it's there (and I can prove it in a 1500 word essay!). What characters wear (red shirt vs. white shirt) for example, says something about their motivations during a scene, or maybe if it's a theme, their personality. What seems obvious to me may not be to you because of our different upbringings, associations, experiences, etc. For me, the Monsanto picture is *obviously* a jab at fat people as well as the company. That she didn't immediately agree with me or understand that put me on the defensive, and things went downhill from there. I failed to keep an open mind. I failed to consider how she might be seeing things (other than to assininely tell her to check her privilege. *facepalm*).
Her perspective and experiences and mine are very different so it led to very different takes on the image. She agrees that the use of a fat person in the picture is wrong, but that's not the most important part of the image to her. Neither of us is WRONG mind you, just coming at something from very different places.

Sometimes, with fat acceptance or feminism or anti-globalization or occupy or any of the dozens of things I care deeply about, I need that reminder; the world is not made up of people who think like me and agree with me, and just because they DON'T doesn't make them an adversary, not until they actually show it. Jumping all over someone for having a different take on something doesn't help to have a conversation. Then again, the positions that I hold on many things are pretty rigid for a reason, and if someone *doesn't* agree with me, it's probably because of unexamined privilege and/or sheer ignorance and/or bigotry. You're antichoice? Homophobic? Misogynist? Racist? Violent? A fat hater? I'll tell you right where to go and how fast you can get there. People who hold those views don't want a conversation and I wont validate their opinions with giving them one. They're entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts (to paraphrase D.P. Moynihan). On the other hand, someone simply saying "I don't see that the way you see that" is not one of those people, and deserves better than an ill-thought out and snarky reply on Facebook. So my journey into maturity continues!

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