I get a lot of e-mails and comments from people who are discouraged by the amount of fat hate that exists, and how intense it has become. People sometimes ask if really I think that we can change anything. I also get lots of e-mails and comments from people asking what we can do to help create that change. Today I want to talk about both questions:
I do believe we can change things, because I’ve seen it happen. If you read this blog you know I rarely compare oppressed communities because I prefer to avoid playing the Oppression Olympics. I’m not trying to say that the Queer community and the Size Acceptance community are the same, but hear me out on this one:
In the summer of 1969 GLBT people had a mountain of prejudice in front of them. They were kicked out of public places in sweeps made by the police. Homosexuality was listed in the American Psychological Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical manual as a sociopathic personality disturbance. Lists of “known homosexuals” and their friends were kept by the FBI. Those who went to gay bars risked arrest and those who were arrested had their identities published in the newspaper. The Post Office tracked addresses to which queer-themed publications were sent. GLBT people were publicly humiliated, physically harassed, fired, jailed, or institutionalized. Until June 28th of 1969, GLBT civil rights groups had been using a non-confrontational educational approach.
Then, on June 28th, 1969 when the police raided the Stonewall Inn, a group of the most disenfranchised members of the GLBT community decided that they had had enough. They picked up beer bottles and bricks and spiked heel shoes and rioted. For the first time in history, GLBT people fought back.
Forty three years later Will and Grace was a hit. We have openly gay politicians, actors, singers, comedians. People from Jay Zee to the actor who plays Captain America have come out in favor of gay marriage. As a member of the queer community I understand that we’re not there yet, but the Queer community has made tremendous strides in a relatively short time.
They didn’t give up using education and non-confrontational approaches, but they stopped pretending that everything was fine when it wasn’t, or that it was ok for people to “compassionately” put them into mental institutions. They stood up, they fought back. That’s how we make change. Nobody is required to be an activist, but if you want to work for change the good news is that there are lots of ways to fight, and it doesn’t have to be complicated:
The first thing we can do is just live. By doing what we want to do (shop, go to the gym, eat, take a pottery class whatever) in our fat bodies we help to normalize the fact that bodies come in a variety of sizes for a variety of reasons.
Be vocal about loving your body. Be vocal about choosing Health at Every Size. I think that talking about my SA and HAES is important and I don’t feel bad about it because I have to hear about weight-loss and diet constantly. We deserve a voice and at least equal airtime. They may not give it to us, but we can take it for ourselves. For tips on talking about these things check here, here, and here!
Speak out against weight bullying, body shaming and stigma whenever you hear or see them. If your employer sends out a weight loss e-mail, send an e-mail asking them to provide evidence, or telling them how it affects you negatively. When you see fat hate on the internet leave a reply – even if it seems like you are the only one or that you’ll never change the mind of the poster or other commenters, you’re not necessarily posting for them. You’re posting to put another tangible piece of HAES/SA into the world and for the person like you who is reading the comments and will now have another point of view. (Then you can post it to the Rolls Not Trolls community on Facebook and we’ll ninja fat bomb it with positive comments!) If you hear a fat shaming comment speak up, if you’re feeling non-confrontational you might try something like “I wish we lived in a world where people saw the beauty in bodies of every size” or something similar.
Be a big fat role model for whatever you love to do – it gives other fat people the idea that they can be a big fat role model. Tell anyone who says you’re “promoting obesity” to fuck right the hell off.
But it starts with just you, by yourself somewhere, deciding that you have had enough, that’s it’s time to pick up a rock and throw it – not because you’re sure it will change the world, but because you’ve had enough and it’s time to fight back and that if they want a war, you will give them one. As for me, I refuse to become collateral damage in the war on obesity – I will be a Size Acceptance warrior and together we will change the world.
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