If you were following the comments on Wednesday’s post, then you probably saw this one coming. If you weren’t, the basic background is that a reader suggested that I post a food log. I said:
No. I don’t try to prove things to people any more. I understand that you are well intentioned and where you’re coming from with this, but I’m not going to do it. I’ll post my food log and then I’ll have to deal with 1,000 comments and e-mails where people call me a liar, or tell me what I SHOULD be eating to lose weight, or offer to let me try their weight loss plan for free etc. I don’t feel like dealing with it and I don’t owe anyone an explanation.
A reader named Barbara made the following comments:
Ragen is an Activist. And unfortunately being an activist has to come with a certain amount of disclosure. You can’t say ” take my word for it”…You can’t say ” I am a fit, healthy, proud fat person who has nothing to hide, and wants to share with the world that you can be fat and healthy” And then say ” No body will believe me if I put the information out there, so I’m not going to” You either believe that you are helping the cause, or you believe there is no changing peoples minds and you are wasting your time.
Barbara is well-intentioned, but from my perspective she is way too into telling me what I can and can’t do. You are welcome to read my response to that comment on that post but today I want to talk about one phrase in particular:
“an activist has to…”
Personally I don’t feel that those words should be put together in that order, ever. There was room for Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr., Harvey Milk and Larry Kramer, Gloria Steinem and Betty Ford. I am IN NO WAY comparing myself to any of these people but they are all heroes of mine in one way or another and they had very different styles of activism so I feel comfortable that there is room for fat activists who post food logs, and for those of us who do not.
In fact, I think that this is particularly true for fat activists. When we live in a world that constantly pummels us with messages that we are not healthy, not attractive, and not worthy of love, just getting out of bed in the morning and not hating ourselves is a revolutionary act. When so many fat people think that they deserve to be shamed and stigmatized, standing up for our basic rights to be treated with respect and dignity constitutes activism.
If it seems like I’m picking on Barbara, I’m not. I believe that she had the best of intentions and I wanted to talk about this because her comments are just representative of things I hear all the time from lots of people – what I’m obligated to do and who I’m obligated to be so that I can meet their definition of an activist. For me, activism is about what we want to be and how we want to be it, not about trying to fit our picture into someone else’s frame.
You be the boss of your fat activist underpants, and I’ll be the boss of mine. I think that we could use a whole lot more fat activism of all kinds and a whole lot less people telling us how we have to do it.