Amazing Fat Activists Julianne Wotasik and Jeanette DePatie are going to be on the Dr. Drew show tomorrow night. They already did a piece for Fox News and they were amazing, and it has me thinking about working with the moveable middle.
The Dr. Drew show posted a Facebook discussion (Trigger Warning: Horrible) asking “Is it okay to be fat?”
We know that the answer to that question is an unequivocal yes. (If you’re confused about that, head to this post.
As an activist, the idea that a National television show hosted by a medical doctor thinks it’s ok to ask if people have a right to exist tells me a lot about where we are.
The posts in response to the question on Facebook are all over the place – there are the crazy fat haters, the misinformed who are spouting all kinds of numbers that they know nothing about, people who are suggesting that we all need to lose weight “for our own good“, and of course the activists representing for the Fat Side.
Whenever I have the chance to talk about fat activism I try to focus on the “moveable middle” (I can’t remember who I stole this phrase from – if it was you please remind me so that I can thank you properly.) These are the people who are capable of rational discussion and able to listen and think about what they’ve heard. Whether you are giving a public talk, commenting on Facebook, or talking about this with friends, here are some techniques that I’ve found successful in working with the moveable middle (of course none of these are a one size fits all and there is room for all kinds of activists, these are just ideas):
- Be calm, rational, and pleasant – especially in the face of shrieking, hysterical fear mongers and bigots
- State your case without equivocation
- State particularly obvious things like they are obvious – like “Of course fat people have a right to exist” – stated with an unspoken tinge of “of course, obviously, or duh” at the end.
- Be clear about the difference between Size Acceptance and Health at Every Size. Every person of every size has the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness whether or not they choose to prioritize or pursue health, and regardless of what path they might choose to meet any health goals. Other people’s body size and their health is none of anyone else’s business.
- Give people lots of simple things in the hopes that one of them catches in their mind and starts to create doubt. Things like “Fat people have a right to exist,” “There are healthy fat people and unhealthy thin people,” “Healthy habits have the best chance of making a healthy body,” “Other people’s health is none of our business,” “People engage in all kinds of activities that don’t prioritize their health – singling out fat people is just bigotry” etc.
- Be ready with evidence
- In addition to evidence, be ready with your personal story – whether it’s about how fat hate affected you, your HAES journey, or your SA journey, telling your story gives people something they can relate to
- Remind people of the dangers of “everyone knows”. Good examples are Galileo, Thalidomide, Heroin as a cough suppressant, etc.
- Be ready for the “But your fat is your fault” argument
- Remember that it’s not your responsibility to change people’s minds – in fact that’s impossible. All you can do is give people access to information and options, they are the only ones who can change their minds.
- Remember that you’re not just talking to the people who speak up, in fact sometimes those are the most likely to be the haters. Remember the fat person who is sitting at home or in the audience listening to you – you are giving them the option for a whole other life and as far as I’m concerned that is why every single chance we get to talk about this is so important
Huge thanks to Julianne and Jeanette for being willing to put themselves out there for the good of all of us. Kick some big fat ass ladies!
Pre-order my book (for you and/or that food policing family member) and get an autographed copy and free shipping!
Become a Member, Support The Work!
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, you can become a member (you get extra stuff, discounts, and you’re always the first to know about things) or a you can support my work with a one-time contribution. The regular e-mail blog 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