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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