There is a quote by Anna Lappe that says “Every time you spend money, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want.” As an activist, that rings really true for me – the way that I spend my money is a form of activism. I can spend money in a way that supports companies that support me, or I can fund companies that do something between ignoring and outright oppressing me.
First, to be clear I’m not talking about a boycott – boycotts have absolutely proven to be effective tools in the right circumstances, but this is something different than that. This is about making choices for how I spend my money regardless of how anyone else spends theirs. These decisions aren’t easy, they are rarely cut and dried, and they typically involve sacrifices. They are also personal decisions for each of us, and it’s not anybody’s job to tell us what to spend money on and our choices don’t make us better or worse than anyone else. I’m not trying to tell anyone else how to live, it’s just something I think is worth talking about, so I’ll confine the discussion to me.
A few years ago I made the decision to stop buying or consuming anything with a weight loss message. It occurred to me that I spend a great deal of time trying to counteract weight loss messages and that when I give them money they use that money to put our even more weight loss messages that I then have to try to counteract. It eliminated a lot of drink options, a lot of food options, there are stores where I don’t shop, and items that I don’t buy, but when I make the oatmeal from the brand that took me 10 minutes to find and cost $0.50 more, I feel good that I’m not paying for more labels trying to terrify people into eating oatmeal so they don’t look like me.
Of course this leads to all kinds of judgement calls – I don’t want this to become a thing that overtakes my life but I do want to feel that my purchases are in integrity with my beliefs. Sometimes it is cut and dried for me – I simply refuse to fly Southwest Airlines – I’ll either pay more or not travel if I can’ t afford it, because their treatment of fat people has been so abhorrent (Trigger Warning – fat shaming, and many bad things) that I simply will not give them money. Then there are some others that are much more judgment calls – does Sweet and Low count? It is sweet and low calorie but is just saying “low calorie” the same as a weight loss message? For me it’s easy to overthink, and worry about being perfect but, just like the rest of civil rights, for me it’s important to take, and celebrate, small steps.
If you haven’t yet, please consider signing the petition to keep kids off The Biggest Loser.
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