My blog received a comment on Facebook that addressed something that I’ve been wanting to talk about for a while – whether or not Size Acceptance is exclusionary or unfriendly to thin people and whether or not it should be. The original question said:
She has deals for “Size Positive Businesses” if you join her membership. If she is truly an advocate of health at EVERY size why do only the bigger girls get price breaks? That right there made it feel like an exclusionary movement. Maybe I don’t get it. Isn’t this a movement to get society to change their views AND to get ALL women to concentrate more on their health than their weight? Does she only expect large women to read her blog? If so…FAIL.
First, to me the Size Acceptance movement is about creating a world where people of all sizes are respected and live lives free from stigma, shame, bullying and oppression, and the Health at Every Size movement is about recognizing that health an be pursued through healthy habits by people of every size without pursuing a specific body size or shape.
Second, I’m confused that to this person “Size Positive” means only “bigger girls”. The deals to which she is referring include clothing that is specific to plus-sized women but also things that would work for people of all sizes and genders. And that’s where I think some of the confusion about “exclusion” comes in:
There are some ways in which exclusion is really not ok to me. Saying that we are for size acceptance and then putting down thin women or saying that fat bodies are better than thin ones is, in my opinion, never, ever ok for any reason. Sayings like “Real women have curves” “Skinny bitch,” “Eat a sandwich” “Nobody wants a bone when they can have the meat” etc. are not okay to me. First because size acceptance means all sizes. Second because the path to civil rights and self esteem is probably not paved with hypocrisy so doing to others the exact thing that you want them to stop doing to you doesn’t really make a lot of sense to me.
However, there are some things that could be considered exclusionary that I think are totally ok:
Businesses, for example plus size clothing companies, that produce products strictly for fat people are, in my opinion, ok and do not make the size acceptance community exclusionary. The entire world is set up for people who are not fat. Seats, public transportation, hallways, aisles in stores, clothes etc – almost everything is set up for people who are not fat. One of the benefits that “straight sized” women have is that if the airport loses their luggage they can go into any store that sells women’s clothing and find clothes in their size. That’s not the experience of fat people. I have been in massive malls where there is not a single piece of clothing would fit me. Businesses that cater to fat people are targeting to an under-served market where there is a need and less competition and that’s a completely legitimate business choice. Every business does not have to cater to every person.
I also think it’s totally ok for there to be spaces where there is no pro diet talk or weight loss talk allowed. I think that people are allowed to choose weight loss just like I’m allowed to choose Health at Every Size, but just like it’s not ok for me to go to an Atkins Diet support group with a piece of cake and a soda, it’s not ok for people to talk about their weight loss practice in a Health at Every Size Space. We each get to make our personal choices and every discussion that exists does not have to accommodate each of us and our beliefs. The fact that every discussion doesn’t involve the beliefs of every person does not make the Size Acceptance community exclusive, it makes some discussions exclusive and that’s ok.
Fat people are an oppressed group of people who are fighting for our civil rights which means that, while we need and truly appreciate allies, we also need the ability to create spaces that are safe for us, creates products that serve us, and advocate for ourselves; and doing that means that not everyone is included in everything and I think that our true allies understand that and support it.
Like the blog? Check Out the Book. The E-Book is “Name Your Own Price”!
I wanted everyone to be able to afford Fat: The Owner’s Manual – Surviving a Thin-Obsessed World with your Health, Happiness, and Sense of Humor Intact so it is now available in soft cover and e-book which is “name your own price
Get Special Deals from Size Positive Businesses
I do size acceptance activism full time. A lot what I do, like answering over 5,000 e-mails from readers each month and giving talks to groups who can’t afford to pay, and running projects like the Georgia Billboard Campaign etc. is unpaid, so I created a membership program so that people who read the blog and feel they get value out of it and/or who just want to support the work that I do can become members for ten bucks a month To make that even cooler, I’ve now added a component called “DancesWithFat Deals” which are special deals to my members from size positive merchants. Once you are a member I send out an e-mail once a month with the various deals and how to redeem them and your contact info always stays completely private. (If you are a size positive merchant who wants to do a member deal just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org and we’ll get it set up)
The regular e-mail blog subscription (available at the top right hand side of this page) is always completely free. If you’re curious or uncomfortable about any of this, you might want to check out this post. Thanks for reading! ~Ragen