Everybody Galileo Now

I had an amazing time on Saturday night with Deb Burgard who is a longtime hero of mine.  She was in town for a conference and I met her for the conference dance.  In addition to watching Eating Disorder Specialists let loose and boogie, I got to dance to P!nk’s Raise Your Glass with Deb Burgard – when you meet one of your life heroes and they are even cooler than you thought they were, that’s a good day.  Afterward we had an amazing conversation and she brought up the idea of “creating Galileos” which made me think.

I truly believe that Size Acceptance and Health at Every Size are “Galileo Issues”.  Just like Galileo knew from the evidence that the Earth revolves around the sun, we know from the evidence that no method of  intentional weight loss works for more than a tiny percentage of people.  We know that healthy behaviors make healthier bodies of all sizes. We know that you can’t hate or shame people healthy.  But “Everybody knows” that weight and health are the same thing.  Everybody knows that people can lose weight if they just try hard enough.  Just like “everybody” used to know that the sun revolves around the Earth.

The thing about Galileo is that he had more than just the true information and evidence.  The reason that we know about Galileo, the reason he is important, is that he had the courage to stand up and tell the truth in the face of overwhelming opposition.

I often remind myself that almost everybody has been lied to about weight and health by the diet industry, the government, the media, their doctors etc. This misinformation is being spread actively through all of those channels.  So most of the “everybodies” truly do not know any better and aren’t even aware that they are part of a system of oppression against people of size, or that they are spouting misinformation about weight, health, and weight loss.

So I also spend a great deal of my time patiently explaining the truth – that people come in different sizes, that weight and health aren’t the same thing, that there are healthy and unhealthy people of every shape and size, and that no matter what, people of all sizes deserve to be treated with respect.  Then I try to give people the tools, resources, and support they need to treat people of size well. But I also go a step farther.

I absolutely believe in giving information and providing support to people who want to do the right thing but aren’t sure what the right thing is. But the final step, to me, is about giving them the opportunity to choose to be Galileos – so that they don’t just know what’s true, they are brave enough to speak that truth – to become a size acceptance activist at some level.

There are lots of ways that we can give people the opportunity to become a Galileo.  Sharing our personal stories so that they can get a sense of what it’s like to live in this society as a person of size.  Discussing how many of the people and organizations that are spreading the lies about weight and health are profiting from them can give people the  opportunity to become angry at having been lied to, and having their money stolen. Talking about the importance of giving everyone the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness without living a life full of shame and stigma.

When we educate people we start to reduce the “everybodies” in “everybody knows”.  But it’s tenuous because they go back out into a world that tries to convince them that the sun revolves around the Earth.  When we support people in choosing to become Galileos, not only do they not buy back into the lies that are being sold to them, they increase the number of people who hear the truth and have the chance to become Galileos themselves.

In the next few days I’m going to be blogging about some ways in which the “everybody knows” people are trying to up the ante in the war on fat people.  One of the things to remember is that those of us who know the truth have a choice – we can choose to be Galileos if we want.  We can choose to speak truth in the face of overwhelming opposition.  We can help other people do the same.  Nobody is obligated, but we all have the opportunity. So if you feel like standing up and telling the truth then I think that’s awesome and I’m here to support you any way I can.  Because I think we need all the Galileos we can get.

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I do HAES and SA activism, speaking and writing full time, and I don’t believe in putting corporate ads on my blog and making my readers a commodity. So if you find value in my work, want to support it, and you can afford it, please consider a paid subscription (it works kind of like a fan club: you get extras and discounts and other cool stuff), or a one-time contribution.  The regular e-mail subscription (available at the top right hand side of this page) is still completely free. If you’re curious about this policy, you might want to check out this post.  Thanks for reading! ~Ragen

Published in: on May 7, 2012 at 9:13 am  Comments (6)  

6 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Ok A meeting one’s Icon or Idol and having them be just as cool if not cooler then you thought IT awesome. I met mine back in November, and will be seeing her and the rest of this specific dance troupe in June.

    I am SO proud to say I am a Galileo. I ended up becoming one not by choice, but just, because..it happened. I Spoke up and spoke out in the dance community about acceptance of dancers of all sizes (had an article published on a belly dance site that is currently running about full figured dancers and not discounting them)

    When I perform or teach, people can see that “Hey I am out of breath and tired but SHE the full figured dancer, the teacher, she isn’t tired at all..that’s impossible!” And then they start to get it. Seeing is believing.

    One thing about Galileo…it wasn’t just that he CHOSE to get up and speak the truth (because e believe sometimes the truth speaks without people even saying a word such as my situation, but I digress) After he spoke the truth he had the RESPONSIBILITY of maintaining it, to never giving up on his fight for the world to see what he saw, through fact. The Diet Industries have done a damn fine job making everyone believe fat is bad and unhealthy to the point it has become something of terror. People fear getting fat at a level that is insane.

    So those of us that are Galileos, weather it be by choice or situation that makes us so, we have the Responsibility to uphold these truths. Weather it causes people to lash back, to act out, to be cruel. It is a difficult thing.
    All of a sudden you may have people looking up to you or saying you are a role model. Trust me no matter what I thought I was going to be when I grew up, I never thought it would end up being a role model for full figured women….But I am to a good deal of these women/dancers, and I have to keep it up.
    If I let MYSELF slip, then I am letting them all slip. Because no one wants to see their role model well..not bullet proof, or invincible.

    SO I am Happy to Call myself a Galileo :) And Stand strongly and proudly for it.

    (And back to the Icon thing, it wasn’t only awesome, she asked me to come to her studio ANY time I wanted and she snuck into the crowd to watch me dance during the show, and my family saw her and said when I started to dance this huge smile bloomed on her face. I had no idea she was there, and after she told me what she thought of my performance. It was AMAZING!)

  2. This weekend, I was having supper with a friend who mentioned in passing that he feared his wonderful doctor was going to fire him. When asked why, he said that he wasn’t losing weight, despite the fact that his doctor had asked him to do so.

    Without going into detail, I told him to forget about dieting, but to start walking a little bit every day. I told him about Dr. Steven Blair and the fact that health comes in all sizes. Then I told him to call me any time he wanted a walking partner.

    Bit by bit, never giving up, refusing “everybody knows…”

  3. Count me in as a Galileo. I’m taking a stand for truth. I think you and this blog for helping me do that.

    • Thank you, not think you. Stupid autocorrect.

  4. Funny thing: years ago I was in a production of Bertholt Brecht’s Galileo… about halfway through the rehearsal process, the Vatican announced that they were clearing his name.

    The other thing about that production was that the director had a lot of cool exercises for us to do to get into the characters we were playing. One night he told us that for the next rehearsal he wanted us all to bring in items that we felt said something about the mindset of each character we were playing. I was playing five parts. It was that kind of show.

    Anyway, I was doing well at coming up with items until I got to the scene in which I played a monk at the Vatican who was deeply threatened by Galileo’s work. I kept wondering what I could possibly carry to get across who that monk was. Then I saw it. When I was about four and he must have been seven, one of my brothers made a toy dog out of scraps of wood for me. The thing was a holy mess as a representation of a dog, but I’d kept it out of sentiment through the years. It suddenly hit me: this dog was the monk’s vision of how the universe worked. It was demonstrably nothing like reality, and yet he clung to it.

    I took it to rehearsal and pretty much everyone was mystified by my choice… but I was used to that. My thought processes have often mystified those who are not me. The director got it, and he appreciated the fact that I didn’t go for an easy choice.

    To this day, I still have that silly wooden dog. I still think fondly of the fact that my brother made it purely to make me happy. But now it means something more. It’s my personal graphic illustration of how important it is not to take received fact at face value without more proof. It’s a reminder that inflexibility in thinking is one of the most dangerous forces in the universe.

    And yes, it does remind me of a great show I was in once upon a time about a great man whose courage and fortitude still inspire me.

    The world definitely needs more Galileos.

  5. Ragen, thanks again for doing what you do. May I ask you about the assertion that is often made (as it was here: http://www.georgiahealthnews.com/2012/05/largely-preventable-health-conditions-hamper-u-s/) that the current generation of children will be the first not to live longer than their parents? Do you have at your fingertips what data people typically rely on when they make this assertion? Can you deconstruct it? It seems so counterintuitive. I quite agree with the article that the U.S. has some serious public health issues to address, but as you might imagine, I disagree as to what they are. :-)


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