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I Can’t Wipe My Own Ass… And I’m OK With It.

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Have you ever seen a social media post that punched you right in the gut? Another body positive influencer turned anti-fat mean girl is out here serving luke-warm takes in the New Year. I’m not shocked. This is happening with frequency, now. I think it’s because we’re all aging into our 30’s and as our bones creak and muscles tense, we’re discovering our internalized ableism. Well, some of us are discovering and interrogating our internalized ableism. Others have chosen to use their mobility challenges as motivation to rekindle that old flame with Mr. Shame. A rose by any other name still smells like you think less of fat and disabled people, folks. 

Well, random influencer #9, guess what? I can’t wipe my own ass, either. I haven’t been able to “make the reach” since 2020, when we were all first sent home for the pandemic and I relied solely on my bidet. What can I say, I literally went nowhere. I lost my ability to reach and in all honesty, haven’t quite found my way fully back yet. I haven’t spoken super publicly about this, but I’ve written about my experience with this particular challenge over the years on my Patreon. My friends and family know, and for the most part they all have bidet attachments in their homes, too. And now it’s finally time to say it loud and proud, I don’t wipe my ass!

It hasn’t always been this easy to talk about. The truth is that I have felt a lot of shame about this. Like, when I spent hours in therapy talking about how my body had betrayed me so much that I couldn’t even do something as natural and standard as wiping one’s own butthole. I felt ashamed while I sobbed in front of my then-supervisor, admitting to her that I couldn’t return to work in person because I couldn’t care for my own toileting needs. I felt even more shame while I pursued an accommodation at my workplace, requesting that a bidet be put in place for me. I argued the case that this could be beneficial to many, not just me. Who else uses bidets? People with mobility challenges, temporary physical injuries, disabled people, folks of certain religions that require them to use a bidet for spiritual reasons, and yes sometimes, other fat people.

What strikes me most about this post is the glaring ableism. The anti-fatness is almost to be expected, we’re seeing many influencers ride whatever wave brings them praise and popularity. Especially if it means they’re hopeful of transitioning into the realm of the straight sized audience instead of being pigeon-holed into the plus size world. I understand the desire to receive praise for fitting in and being A Good Fatty by pursuing weight loss. I’m sympathetic to those feelings.

But ableism is a whole separate monster. And perpetuating harmful narratives is irresponsible for someone with a platform. The language in the post is a reminder that as a culture, we completely devalue the lives of disabled people. We have this preconceived notion of what a life worth living looks like. And it certainly does not include people who need help toileting. How many times have you heard someone say they’d “off themself” if they couldn’t wipe their own ass? I have heard it a few times in my life personally, and many times on television. 

All it takes is to just have one single disabled friend to recognize how worthwhile their lives are. I guess you’re showing your freshly TP chapped ass if you couldn’t think of one person that post might be harmful to. The fact of the matter is that there are people out there living full, worthwhile lives who also need assistance or adaptive devices in the bathroom. When will we as a culture start interrogating our narrative around what kind of life is worth living?

– J

If you want more information on hygiene for fat folks, check out J’s post all about fat hygiene here. We all deserve care and comfort and kindness. Please remember that there are fat community members out there that are here to talk with you about the hard stuff.

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Henny T

Sunday 18th of February 2024

Thank you SO MUCH for the forum made available to even share this as it is so personal!

I’ve been using a Jerry-rigged extender to wipe for almost 15 years now. I’ve tried the ones that are sold on medical supply websites, but they just aren’t as comfortable as what I have found myself using time and again. I bought a pack of long handled silicone kitchen spoons (like wooden ones but made of non-porous material), and wrap the length of toilet tissue around it.

I’ve never used a bidet and I’m not sure I could find someone I trust to install it if I bought one (I’m unable to get down to where I’d need to be to install it myself.) Is there a particular style or brand/manufacturer that you can recommend?

Germaphobe

Sunday 7th of January 2024

It’s truly remarkable how many bathrooms in peoples homes and Air BNBs are entirely not fat friendly: toilets tucked into small corners or oddly angled or without a warmed bidet. Over the years I’bet perfected a method of wafflestomping for those pesky situations but I’m usually too sheepish to explain why people hear the shower running.

Amanda Gleason

Thursday 4th of January 2024

I stopped following this person a while ago and am glad that I did. It shouldn’t be that hard to recognize the fault and apologize, rather than digging in on ableism. Thank you for your compassion and for sharing your experience so that we know we are not alone. Appreciate you J!

Nicole

Wednesday 3rd of January 2024

I appreciate your take, especially as a fellow fat woman, but I think it was taken out of context. I think it’s okay for someone to want to change and feel better in their body if they’re feeling hindered by it. She clearly was not talking about fat people as a whole, but her personal experience. You’re calling her an anti-fat mean girl, when you’re the one who sounds like the mean girl. Talk about your experience without tearing into others.

Cass

Wednesday 3rd of January 2024

Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this topic. Hearing another fat person talk about this is so helpful and reassuring in some way.

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