Eli San is outraged. On social networks, this librarian denounces sexism, injustice and sexual violence. In his first essay, This Execrable Body, it is his bodily envelope and the ambient and internalized grossophobia that arouse his indignation. A raw and very hard story, which contrasts with the usual discourse against fatphobia.
Eli San – a pen name – doesn’t like his body. He even disgusts her and she expresses it without censorship. Having lived in a slim body for 26 years, she gained weight five years ago, a side effect of taking antidepressants. Not identifying with the positive discourse on body diversity and self-acceptance, she takes her keyboard to spit her hatred towards him, a hatred nourished by society, the advertising industry, medicine. And by an internalized grossophobia that she says she wanted to try to dissect, although the essay is more of an autobiographical narrative than an in-depth analysis.
“Before thinking of healing, I want to explore, to visit all the aggressiveness that I maintain towards the body that I inhabit […] I thirst for crude words and honesty, for a collective purge of all those filthy thoughts that line our psyches,” she wrote.
In an assemblage of fragments, she confides without taboos on her clothing discomfort, on the image of ugliness reflected in her inner mirror, on her desire to lose weight and on the drop in desire for her “tender lover” who has gradually deconstructed his own fatphobia as well.
Even before its release last Tuesday, the book was denounced by several anti-fatphobia activists in “stories” posted on Instagram.
Like the journalists, these activists had received the book in advance and were not warned of its violence. It was only after one of them contacted Les Éditions du remue-ménage that it informed them of the violent nature of the book.
These criticisms took the author by surprise: “It was difficult. The purpose of this book is so much, but not so much to cause suffering. Since then, she has multiplied the traumawarnings on her social networks. Since not all are ready to receive such self-loathing.
Eli San denies fueling grossophobia. She distinguishes between systemic fatphobia, which she says involves applying “our thoughts, behaviors, and attitudes toward others in a discriminatory way just because they are fat” and internalized fatphobia, which one applies to oneself. .
According to the reference site Fatphobia.ca, internalized fatphobia is “fatphobia that has been assimilated by and adopted by a person, as part of a non-conscious mental process”. Having negative thoughts about your own fat body is often considered fatphobic behavior. This is particularly a point of view put forward by Gabrielle Lisa Collard in her essay Rebel Body.
“If we’ve integrated internalized fatphobia, for me, that doesn’t mean you’re fatphobic,” Eli San argues.
“When I look at others, it may be a body identical to mine, I’m not necessarily able to see myself as beautiful as I see those people. “It is first, she believes, a question related to self-esteem. “I am not able to apply the same template to myself that I apply to others. »
For her, celebrating this body that she does not accept is just one more obligation. And failing to do so causes a great sense of guilt to settle in her. That’s why she wrote this book. To, she says, address a blind spot in the body diversity movement and to reach other women who do not identify with the current discourse.
“I don’t relate to it in the sense that it didn’t help me on my way, even though I tried for years. It is still an essential approach because it helps a lot of people. I’m not fighting against body positivity, but there is a vacant space. […] There are a lot of people unable to get to the final stage of acceptance, and then we are a little stuck. We’re swimming in our shit and we don’t know how to deal with it. »
Although it does not offer clear answers to make peace with her body, this book is the one she would have liked to read to help her on her way. “The writing process helped me. I really haven’t come to love myself, but yes, there was still a little journey. I am the same in life with everything. The approach “we put our finger in the sore, then we play with it”, for me, it worked. »