Not Sure What You Stand For?

I get a lot of reader e-mail from people who are struggling with where they stand and what they believe when it comes to Size Acceptance.  Sometimes they have questions about the basics or they are still going through the evidence but, for whatever reason, they just aren’t sure where they’re at.

Size Acceptance is a civil rights movement – it rests upon the idea that the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are not size, health, or healthy habit dependent – they are for everyone, of every size.  Those rights are inalienable and never contingent, and they include the right to live without having war waged on you by the government, media, diet industry, doctors, and every weight bully with an internet connection.  So if you’re not sure what you stand for, I would make the following suggestion:

Everybody of every size deserves to be treated with respect. The shaming, stigmatizing, bullying, discrimination and oppression of and against fat people needs to stop immediately, as does the conflation of weight and health. Health, as well as the priotization of it and the path to it, are intensely personal decisions that are not up for public debate or discussion. Public health is about making health options available to the public, not making fat people’s (or any people’s) health the public’s business.

If you’re not sure what you stand for, consider standing for that.

Looking for your input:

I’ve been getting a lot of e-mails asking if I’m going to do another book.  After a couple of things that happened this weekend, I decided for sure today that I am. I’m an unwilling combatant in a war against me because of how I look. So is every other fat person.  The other side of the war has a battle plan, and I think it’s time that I had one too.  So the working title for my next book is “The War on Obesity:  A Battle Guide for the Fat Side.”   It will include sections about armor (studies that we can reference, facts and statistics etc.) as well as situational scenarios – in the doctor’s office and they won’t treat your health issue – they just keep prescribing weight loss, walking around and a stranger suggests weight loss (happened to my friend this weekend!) with real situations and options for handling them.  I’m in the proces of outlining the book now and I wanted to ask for some input:

The first chance for participation if you are interested is to let me know what scenarios you would like me to cover in the book, or what information would help you feel prepared to fight back against the war on obesity.  It would be awesome if you would e-mail your ideas to me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org!

Like the blog?  Check this stuff out (purchasing these also helps support my activism work, which I really appreciate):

The Book:  Fat:  The Owner’s Manual The E-Book is Name Your Own Price! Click here to order

The Dance Class DVDs:  Fun classes for all levels! Click here for the details

Become a Member and Get Special Deals from Size Positive Businesses

I do size acceptance activism full time.  A lot what I do, like answering over 4,000 e-mails from readers each month, 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 want to  support the work 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 – your contact info always stays completely private.

Speaking Schedule 2013 – I am now working on my speaking schedule for next year.  If you would like me to give a talk at your university, job/company, or organization just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org and we’ll talk about the options to make it work for your situation and budget.

Published in: on November 20, 2012 at 12:46 pm  Comments (9)  

9 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I have been wondering about this very issue of where should I stand (and do I have the right to stand at all). I am a former fat person who maintains weight loss with diet and exercise. Is it hypocritical of me to tell other people that they’re fine the way they are when I am working (out of fear and self-loathing–always the healthiest motivators) to change/maintain the shape of my body?

    I used self-hate to get myself thin and use self-hate to keep myself thin. I know this is an emotional time-bomb and not actually healthy at all. But I remember how people treated me when I was fat. I never want to go back to that. It wasn’t right. No one had the right to do that to me. But, for me, it was easier to change myself than to stand up to the bullies and say, ‘you’re wrong.’

    I want to advocate for size acceptance because you are right. It is a civil rights issue. I know I never deserved the cruel treatment I got when I was fat. I know others don’t deserve it either. But is it really OK for some messed-up person with disordered eating to advocate for size acceptance? It seems a bit like a meat eating person advocating for veganism to me. (weird analogy, but the creative juices are not flowing this morning). It seems to me that I should get my own issues worked out because what I’m doing is directly contrary to what I think is right.

    • You can speak to the “collateral damage” of the war on obese people. You can talk about the personal price you’ve paid. Yes, you definitely have something to contribute!

    • Fighting for the rights of others to be treated fairly no matter who they are or what they look like might help you learn to love yourself better and help yourself heal.

    • @ Em–I agree with onesillyme’s analysis of “the personal price you’ve paid”, which of course fits w/ the military analogy of “collateral damage” (suggested by onesillyme) because at first glance the fat/weight stigma APPEARS to *target* so-called “larger size” people—but we know (when viewing through a critical lens) that everyone suffers when one group is systematically targeted (and blamed) for social destruction (domination).

      We don’t all suffer in the same way, naturally, or to the same degree of constant torment and anguish (and the required corresponding fight to overcome its cruelty), but when good and loving parents are (for instance) repeatedly warned (terrorized) about the so-called dangers (and implied parental “neglect”) of having fat children, and lovers (or spouses) are derided for falling in love with fat partners (because those partners are constantly stereotyped in media, etc, as *undesirable*, or supposedly emotionally unstable, and thus worthy of ridicule and scorn–rather than love and desire), and when small children learn from their earliest years (through social conditioning) to feel ashamed of fat parents and to fear fat friends…oh, yes, the damage spreads very wide, and far, and deep.

      The harm to loving human relationships between good people is incalculable. The harm to one’s relationship with oneself (the single and crucial relationship that forms the foundation for all our other relationships that we create as humans),—whether one is fat or whether one is so-called “normal weight” or so-called “thin”—is REAL HARM. It isn’t tangential or insignificant. The harm feels—for each unique individual—like a different kind of pain, and/or fear and/or shame and/or helplessness, perhaps, but the harm from fat stigma is nevertheless damaging. It distorts thousands of other perspectives within our shared lifeworlds—distorted views of existence which we seldom even recognize as results of fat stigma. Those multiple harms result for people of ALL sizes as a result of a single social stigma, such as fat/weight stigma.

      The solutions are clear: enlightenment, empowerment, solidarity, mutual aid, and careful critical analyses—with a huge dose of humor to dilute the intensity of the stigma’s poison by exposing its most absurd and ridiculous notions (b.s.) about “truth.”

      Yes, take care of your self (keep reflecting on and working to see clearly the harm to your relationships with self and others), and let your self care (and mutual aid with others) empower you to work and struggle and fight alongside your fellow human beings who approach this profound social movement for change from slightly different perspectives, yet who share powerful visions of a culture—a lifeworld for all of us—that is far more loving and infinitely more beautiful.

      Each of us (including YOU, Em) can join this critical/creative flow to co-construct a better world. So. Eyes open, chin up, practice believing that you WILL find your opening (you already have, here!) and your passage way and your unique moments of power—to plunge into this great emancipation of humanity. I believe that. May you, Em, like so many others, come to believe it too. We are not struggling alone as separate individuals any more. Now, together, we are never in this great…this astonishing lifeworld…alone.

  2. Ragan, I am so happy you will be writing the book outlined above! Although I’ve had some luck with doctors, I know that I may have to deal with the diet diagnosis at some point in time and would love to be armed with a good defense. I often find that when put on the spot regarding my own health my brain will run and hide. Instead of saying “I’ll email you the links” I’d love to have the info at my side!

    And thank you for including us in your research. I’ll be sending you some thoughts soon.

  3. I’d love to see some basic workplace scenarios, just because it would be very relevant to me. I have trouble speaking up at work (and occasionally other professional-type situations) about Size Acceptance (and subsequently HAES when the ‘but your health!’ thing begins), largely because I never know what to say or how to inject it into a conversation. And because I don’t speak up I just get to sit there feeling uncomfortable when my boss brings in snacks or someone asks if anyone wants anything from the cafe downstairs and I either have to ignore them or risk the “should you really be having that” speech from well-meaning coworkers.

    Being a naturally timid person I’d love to see some advice on how to deal with it when size, health, or food policing comes up in the workplace. Especially if its your manager or supervisor.

  4. The title is absolutely perfect, right down to the war metaphor and the provocative alliteration, which work together and function in multiple (even subliminal) ways to advance your main idea right from the start and to keep the focus unmistakably clear. (I’m a rhetoric geek from way back. Trust your unique language instincts. They’re accuracy is spot on.)

    I’m thrilled that you will be the author of this important work. Part of the power of fat stigma and weight-based oppression comes from the fear they instill–not just fear of obesity but fear about how massive the stigma has become throughout our social institutions and within virtually all cultural milieus–in addition to its especially insidious and disempowering form known as internalized oppression.

    And. So. Humor—one of your greatest strengths as a writer and as an activist, I’ve observed—will provide a sharp, effective blade for cutting the scary beast down to size—to use for deconstructing fat stigma’s power and for slicing away its frightening mask to reveal its absurdities right beneath the surface. It’s hard to feel afraid of something once you start laughing at its ridiculous (fun house) aspects.

    I can’t think of a better activist (and author) to write this particular book at this particular time.

    Best news I’ve heard in ages. :) <–Yep, that me, smiling with hope.

  5. The title is absolutely perfect, right down to the war metaphor and the provocative alliteration, which work together and function in multiple (even subliminal) ways to advance your main idea right from the start and to keep the focus unmistakably clear. (I’m a rhetoric geek from way back. Trust your unique language instincts. Their accuracy is spot on.)

    I’m thrilled that you will be the author of this important work. Part of the power of fat stigma and weight-based oppression comes from the fear they instill–not just fear of obesity but fear about how massive the stigma has become throughout our social institutions and within virtually all cultural milieus–in addition to its especially insidious and disempowering form known as internalized oppression.

    And. So. Humor—one of your greatest strengths as a writer and as an activist, I’ve observed—will provide a sharp, effective blade for cutting the scary beast down to size—to use for deconstructing fat stigma’s power and for slicing away its frightening mask to reveal its absurdities right beneath the surface. It’s hard to feel afraid of something once you start laughing at its ridiculous (fun house) aspects.

    I can’t think of a better activist (and author) to write this particular book at this particular time.

    Best news I’ve heard in ages. :) <–Yep, that me, smiling with hope.

  6. I love the idea of this book! (I’m so grateful for your first book too…) A big request, if you manage to (maybe with reader input) include some advice/ideas for people who don’t live in the USA. Here in the UK especially when it comes to healthcare, we just don’t have the choice to look for a size friendly doctor. Blanket policies are the rules and I can’t seem to think how to go about getting over this particular hurdle in accepting and loving my size (what will happen if/when I get sick.)


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