What a Riot! April/May 2012

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Queering body image

What a Riot! By Wyatt Riot, PQ Monthly
 
We live in a body image-obsessed society. Everywhere we look there are advertisements telling us that our bodies are wrong. You need to lose weight, gain muscle, get shorter/taller, and basically stop looking like you and start looking like someone else better than you could ever be. No matter what we look like, we’re doing it wrong. This is what the diet industry and most of our society want us to think anyway. In our society we’re taught that only specific types of bodies are ones that should be accepted. Why do we only see one type as a “healthy†body? When you look at someone you don’t know what type of health they’re in. All you see is a body. Why are we so quick to assume? Why does society teach us that some specific body types are a healthier body? We’re taught early on that it’s better to shame one’s body and be told we could be better, more pretty, more handsome, more desired — if only we just changed our weight or looked a little bit more like “the perfect body.†When I did a Google search on “the perfect body,†my results came up with thousands of images of white, thin, and hairless bodies. Don’t you think if we lived in a world where everyone looked the same we’d live in a boring world? If I stand up straight I’m about 5’9.†And my weight? Well, I have no idea what I weigh, nor do I really care. Why should I? It’s just a number. Weight doesn’t equal health or wellness, it doesn’t really mean anything. It’s a number that people obsess about because somebody else told them it was wrong and that you should watch it. What does this obsession do? Nothing. It fills us with negativity — something none of us need any more of in our lives. I haven’t always felt this positively about my body. As a fat, queer, and trans person I have lots of hang-ups about what my body is supposed to look like. It’s hard not to obsess about it. I try to surround myself with support networks of body-positive people. In Portland we’re really lucky to have all the resources we have. Fat Fancy (located at 1013 SW Morrison) is a radical fat fashion boutique. It has lots of clothes (for all genders), shoes, body-positive zines, and it’s owned by two queer women. During the summer months we’ve got Chunky Dunk (www.chunkydunk.org) which is SHAME-FREE swimming for everyBODY. We also have Asha Integrative Wellness (www.ashaintegrativewellness.com), which is dedicated to being a body-positive health and wellness center located on NE Broadway. We’ve got more but, this column can only hold so much! Instead of spending our time feeling sorry for ourselves, making excuses for the actions we do or don’t do, making up reasons so we can treat ourselves to a delicious dessert, or comparing ourselves to others, we could turn this around and just spend a little more of our time patting ourselves on the back, looking in the mirror, and telling ourselves that we are loved, valued, beautiful, handsome, or whatever words make us feel good. By doing this, we could create a more healthy and happy body image in our society. Health shouldn’t be about what someone else thinks you should do. Health should be about what makes you feel good. What do you feel passionate about? What makes your heart swell with love and joy? Instead of filling ourselves with all of this hate and negativity, we can move in the world with our passion. Let’s stop the nonconsensual beating up we’re doing to ourselves and learn to be our own lovers and treat ourselves as such. As queer people we’ve got enough hate on our plates; let’s start serving ourselves up more love. Let’s work together and make a new world where we realize health can come in every size and shape. I hope we can all learn to take better care of ourselves and our bodies and teach others why hating your body is not good for your health or soul. Let’s teach others by example. Let’s teach all the generations that loving yourself is so much more important than harming your body with negativity. Let’s stop making excuses and start treating ourselves like the wonderful people we are. We deserve it.  
Wyatt Riot is a white, queer, trans person living, loving, and working hard in Portland, Oregon. He can be found at school, doing some type of sex/kink education, or eating delicious foods. Reach him at fagtastic@gmail.com.