Over the past day or so, I have had some strong reminders about why I don’t participate in pagan* communities more. I haven’t been able to read more than a few posts, because at a certain point my eyes just slide off the shaming and hatred. It’s not like anything new is being said, anyway.
Some guy (an “important figure” in pagan mass media) died of heart failure, and now there’s all this hand wringing and pearl clutching and wailing and “OMG WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO ABOUT THE FATTIES?!” bullshit flying around. And it’s all cloaked in self-righteous religious language that is all about shame.
When you tell me that I am not being responsible to myself or my gods because I am fat, you are shaming me. When you tell me that I am not treating my body as sacred because I am fat, you are shaming me. When you tell me that I must exercise to be a good pagan, you are shaming me. When you tell me that I don’t have “Right Relationship” with my body because I am fat, you are shaming me. When you tell me that by being a fatty, I’m making paganism look bad, you are shaming me. When you tell me I’m a bad pagan if I don’t eat the way you say I should, you are shaming me.
Or you’re fucking trying to, anyway. Me, I get angry instead. Shaming tactics are an attack.
We say, in most pagan religions, that everywhere and everything is sacred, and we only have to stop and notice it. Well, my body, too, is sacred, exactly as it is. I don’t need to change my body to make it sacred, any more than any place needs to be consecrated to be sacred. I can pay attention to my body and treat it well without being thin, and without eating in the way these fat-phobes prescribe. It is more important that I eat, period, and treat my body well that way, than that I eat according to some high holy plan. If trying to eat the way they tell me to means I wouldn’t eat enough or often enough (because, say, I can’t afford their diet, or because I don’t have the ability or the energy to prepare it), then no, it is not treating my body well to try to eat that way. If trying to exercise the way they tell me to means my body feels worse instead of better, then it’s not treating my body well.
Paganism is very very white, very very cis, very able-bodied, generally straight,** often middle-to-upper-class, and astoundingly blinkered to and by its own privilege.*** There are plenty of fatties, but not nearly enough body positivity or fat positivity, and there’s a huge lack of awareness of the realities of health and fatness, as well as a lack of awareness of thin privilege. It’s better than the overculture in this, and there are some good spiritual practices centering on loving your body as it is, and some good archetypes of fat bodies, but it’s actually been getting worse rather than better for a while now, and the current mess is symptomatic of that. Many of the people spouting fat-shame and fat-hate in this are using the standard privileged language about “finally talking about this” and how they haven’t been allowed to, and “starting a conversation” as well as classic concern trolling.
I keep trying to come up with more to say, but honestly I’m just hurting over this. I sharply limit my participation in pagan communities because I am far too often hurt and disappointed by them. Particularly in this. Many pagans talk about how paganism isn’t like Christianity because it doesn’t try to drive people by shame and fear, especially around our bodies, the way some forms of Christianity do. But here we are, with pagans doing exactly that.
*I prefer lower-case pagan to upper-case Pagan, because paganism is a broad category of religions, rather than a specific religion. A specific religion should always be capitalized, as, say Wicca or Asatru or Hellenismos or whatever, but I don’t feel like a category should be. This is why I do it this way, but I don’t have any attachment to anybody else doing it this way.
**And, unfortunately, a number of the traditions in which that’s not true are kind of horrible about a number of things, especially Dianic Wicca, which is mostly (but not entirely) extremely transphobic and gender essentialist. The Radical Faeries are generally pretty cool, but they’re still mostly for men. There are groups and individuals who talk about trans identities and archetypes as sacred within paganism, which counters some of the Dianic and similar crap, but honestly not enough, and way too many cis pagans who claim to be accepting of trans people, but won’t actually stand against transphobes.
***Oh, gods, the appropriation.