The world is full of well-intentioned people. And just because their intentions are good, it doesn’t mean that they are not wrong for what they say or do, particularly when their actions or words can — and do — harm people.
In my drag persona and in my life, I have known firsthand for over 40 plus years what it has been like to live being fat, overweight, chunky, biggie size, living large — whatever we call people of size these days. After all, my drag name is Buff Faye, and I try to be a strong champion, positive influence and role model for those who do not fit the boxes that society places on us.
I realize that when it comes to health — mental and physical health — that the journey is one with lifelong struggles in the form of isolation, self-harm, bullying, harassment, drugs and alcohol, depression and even suicidality. It has never been easy to be “fat” in our society and it never will be.
So you can imagine my reaction when I was reading my qnotes this past week and saw an article that read “Fat is not fab.” Uh, hold up… what is this about?
I thought maybe the article was a personal story of someone who was sharing their weight loss journey, maybe tips on how to mentally and physically prepare to lose weight or possibly a “shocking headline” to merely make a point about how people who are fat are often bullied?! I was wrong.
Instead, it was written by a dancer, choreographer and fitness trainer named Jack Kirven.
Jack, according to his website, was “born in Atlanta, GA and grew up in Augusta. He has always been athletic. Jack started competitive gymnastics at seven, adding ballet at twelve, and then pursuing Dance, Personal Training and Athletic Conditioning as a career.” Well, get her! Damn, queen that’s impressive and I mean that seriously. One step away from Olympic gold and a tiara!
Jack first tells us he loves fat people and how he would “cheer” (and likely pirouette) happily for all fat people who loved themselves. Because as he says, he would never shame anyone “given my own struggles with body image.” Then the kicker, Jack writes “it has gone too far.”
“A fat person isn’t cushioned, plus sized, curvy, thick, cuddly or pleasantly plump. A fat person is fat.” What did he say?! So much for not shaming or blaming fat people.
Then he tries to backtrack: “This does not mean I blame people for being fat, or that I think they are failures by default.” But Jack, Jack… your words… surely you can have found a better way to write this or possibly from your experience being overweight. Oh wait, you have never been fat. Silly me.
Jack then goes on to prove his point and brings up the hit rapper song artist Lizzo and her song “Tempo” saying how he loved Lizzo for being inspiring and confident at first and how she speaks truth for fat people like herself. At least, Jack is clear that he has never been fat (gasp, no). But hold on… then Jack says: “It’s a great message. However, Lizzo, and many other fat famous people, tend to justify their self love within the parameters of humor or sassiness. And what is that? It’s an inverted fat joke, and how is that actually helpful or healthy? How is it empowering to be huge and knowingly eat crap food in a music video while simultaneously acknowledging to some degree that it’s oddly repulsive and needs to be softened with whimsy? But the moment that gave me a visceral response? When umpteen huge women in ridiculously small shorts (so, it’s now equal opportunity sexual objectification?) formed a circle around Lizzo and started twerking. Appalling.”
HOLD UP!? Somebody hold my Big Mac, Whopper and Frosty! What did he say?! Did Jack call plus size women dancing appalling? He shames fat people and their bodies without even a hesitant breath. Maybe Jack, in his best intentions, thinks because Lizzo is a celebrity and she does not give a damn what other people say, it’s okay for him to write this. That’s not the point. One of the reasons I even care to write this column is not for Jack or for me. It is for the people who physically and mentally are struggling out there with weight loss. They are alone, isolated and feel the words, the shame and the bias language written in this article and it cuts away like knifes deeply in their hearts. Many have wounds and heartache related to their weight loss journey. I have been there. I know this to be true.
Jack is clueless. He calls “huge” women “appalling.” I would never want to be trained by someone who writes such things, regardless of how good his intentions are. It is wrong. This article does nothing but point blame — and perpetuates the horrible shame that people of size encounter every day of our existence.
I am disappointed that qnotes even published this article. Furthermore, I challenged Jack to show his personal commitment to help overweight people in the comments and possibly to offer free sessions. His response, “Why would I do my job for free?”
Society can never understand, unless they have lived the life of a plus-size person, what it is like— our journey. It is still the one prejudice and form of discrimination that we allow and justify today.
For the record, I don’t call myself “Buff Faye” for the stereotypes or the laughter. Rather, I do it for the empowerment and the self-proclaimed affirmation we all deserve to live — with respect and human dignity. And I am fat and (wait for it) F-A-B-U-L-O-U-S!:
DRAG TIP: Find a fitness trainer who inspires and uplifts you. Make sure they are in the business to help people, not just make a fast buck by selling you sessions.
Buff Faye calls the Queen City her home and lives for Lizzo and her song “Tempo” (plus she loves to raise money for charities). Find her at your favorite bars and hot spots. And don’t forget her monthly Saturday night shows, Sunday drag brunch and regular Friday night party bus. Learn more at AllBuff.com. Follow on Twitter @BuffFaye.