Hey, little fat kid: My impaired, fat, hairy, white, male body

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Abstract

In this chapter, I take an autobiographical intersectional narrative approach, to explore the relationship between fatness, impairment, disability, whiteness, and male cisgender identity. By getting fat, I come to explore the growing thick relationship between my embodiment, impairment diagnoses, and future/current/past experiences of disability. Anna Mollow (2015) encourages disability studies scholars to “get fat” by incorporating the perspectives and insights of fat studies to “reshape contemporary cultural conversations about ‘obesity’” (p. 201). In the piece, Mollow writes of Sami Schalk’s claiming of crip, through her experience as a “nondisabled fat, black, queer woman” as a type of “sideways identification” that is at “the heart of disability studies” (p. 200). As a fat boy, teenager, and adult, I’ve never felt alienated from discourses of fatness. Indeed, the title of the paper comes from an experience as a young child, where I was buying milk, with my non-fat brother, in a grocery store, while our mom waited in the car in the parking lot. Another customer, an older white man, looked at me in the checkout line, and remarked, “Hey, Little Fat Boy.” Angry and ashamed, I quickly ran to my mom to tell her of the experience. She comforted my bruised ego by telling me I should have told the man, “I’d rather be fat, than ugly”: Body size pitted against attractiveness. Unlike my intimacy with fatness, I have struggled with identifying as disabled, at the same time, the number and severity of my impairments increased, supposedly in direct relation to embodiment. For example, my diagnosis of sleep apnea, according to my pulmonologist, is directly related to my fat body. Lose weight and cure my apnea, I am told. In the preface to my book, I describe myself as “marginally able-bodied,” while also acknowledging (and desiring) a disabled future (2015, p. xii). This disabled future is understood through my current (fat, male, impaired) embodiment, and family histories of sickness and disability, which have hereditary elements.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThickening Fat
Subtitle of host publicationFat Bodies, Intersectionality, and Social Justice
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Pages208-218
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9780429017643
ISBN (Print)9781138580022
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)

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    Gill, M. (2019). Hey, little fat kid: My impaired, fat, hairy, white, male body. In Thickening Fat: Fat Bodies, Intersectionality, and Social Justice (pp. 208-218). Taylor and Francis. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780429507540-18