Forty three years ago today, at almost the exact time that I’m typing this, the gay rights movement took a dramatic turn at The Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village. It was there that some of the most disenfranchised members of the gay community fought back for the first time in the start of what is now known as The Stonewall Riots.
From an activism standpoint what is most interesting to me about the Riots is that there was really nothing special about that night. Gays were subject to a tremendous amount of overt, purposeful institutionalized oppression by the government at that time. Police raided bars that were known to cater to LGBT people, including the Stonewall Inn, all the time. Personal accounts from people who were there indicate that many of them had been in many police raids prior to the raid at the Stonewall Inn.
In the early hours of June 28, 1969 the circumstances were the same – but the people changed. They made a decision that no matter what the odds were, no matter who was against them, even if the government and most of the country claimed that they were unhealthy, a drain on society, gay because of bad choices, or whatever else – they were going to fight back. They were not going to lay down and allow this oppression to go unanswered or try to change themselves to be who other people thought they should be. So they picked something up and threw it – not because they knew how they would get to the equality finish line, but because they were not willing to go another day without fighting back. They decided: Never again, starting now.
So many people who perceive themselves as fat in the United States still feel like they deserve the treatment they are getting. It’s not even about whether people want to change their body size or not, it’s about the fact that no matter what they want to do with their bodies, nobody should be treated the way that fat people are treated. American citizens are promised the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness – which should damn well include the right to live without having a war waged on us by our government because of how we look. And it’s not limited to America, around the world governments have decided that the best use of fat taxpayer’s money is to use it to shame, stigmatize and oppress us until we get thin, which the research says 95% of us never do long term no matter how hard we try.
It doesn’t matter whether you are thin or fat, whether you are dieting, or practicing Health at Every Size, or something else – you can be a Size Acceptance Activist. Size Acceptance is about ending weight bullying, stigma and oppression and allowing everyone to make their own decisions about their health. It means that I support people’s right to diet and they support my right to practice Health at Every Size and none of us would ever say a negative word about each other’s bodies, and we all stand for a world without shame, stigma, weight bullying or size oppression.
We are living in a world where fat people are being stigmatized and oppressed. As wesurf the internet today, we’ll probably see articles that try to convince us that fat people are to blame for the troubles of the world (as people have tried to blame so many other groups), we’ll probably be recruited to fight for the war on obesity, we may overhear/be part of conversations where fat people shamed or stigmatized, we may witness or be the subject of fat bashing. That happens every day, those circumstances haven’t changed. But we can.
You can decide that you won’t allow this oppression to go on unanswered. If you are struggling with self-esteem you can look for ways to support yourself in the belief that you deserve to be treated with respect in the body you have now. If you find that you have negative feelings about fat people you can take responsibility for actively working to overcome those feelings. You can post body positive things to your Facebook page, twitter, blog, pinterest, tumblr etc. You can sign a petition, you can interrupt body snarking and stand up for the fact that all bodies are beautiful, you can leave a positive comment in a space with a ton of fat bashing (for some support with that you can join the Rolls Not Trolls community).
You are not obligated to be a Size Acceptance Activist but you can if you want to be, and there are endless ways to take a stand. Not because that particular stand is going to end weight bullying – you don’t have to have any idea how we are going to end this war. But consider that unless we fight back it’s not even a war on obesity, it’s just a massacre of obese people. NOBODY deserves to be treated the way that fat people are treated right now. It will stop when we put a stop to it, and that starts when we say Never Again, Starting Now.
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