Shoog McDanielRocks, 2018.
Photo: courtesy of the artist

Aesthetic Strategies against Big Pain

Florence Andoka
Contrary to the Western ideal of whiteness, mobility, thinness, and eternal life, my body is big, handicapped, and Black; and without quite being able to unravel how these intersections work out, I am certain of only one thing: it is that my own suffering is also caught up in a bundle of discourses centred on my body, regarding my weight in particular. To consider a fat person from a non-fatphobic perspective, in my opinion, requires that one simply consider the fat body as existing and thus legitimate by that very fact.

The socialization of fat people is woven into a network of oppressions that generate helplessness and exclusion — and thus suffering. This pain is not physical, in an anatomical sense, but resides in the violence of the subject’s interactions in the world. Following Michel Foucault’s reasoning, power is not exercised through disciplinary institutions only but also through a multiplicity of micro-powers, myriad individual power relationships, and the mass of things said that are archived and form our culture. Fatphobia is thus potentially everywhere: outside me, within me, within the Other, the caregiver, the teacher, the boss, the lover, the community. As a fat person, I continue to exist within and without this determination, within and without the suffering that is still associated with it. I am committed to anything that enables me not to avoid it altogether, nor even to radically convert this vulnerability into strength, but rather to exist with, against, regardless, somewhere in the folds of a world where attentions converge and where one had better hold on to that which can do good.

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This article also appears in the issue 106 - Pain

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