A Little Bit Brave

Truth GI’m obsessed with the Sara Bareilles song Brave (video and full lyrics both below.)  I think my favorite lyrics are

Let your words be
Anything but empty
Why don’t you tell them the truth?

Say what you wanna say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave

In the past week I’ve received a bunch of awesome e-mails from readers who have been brave.  One reader finally asked her doctor for a surgery that she wanted to help with pain, and the doctor said yes.  Another reader told her doctor that he needed to stop fat shaming her, presented evidence, and he agreed.  Another asked her favorite local Chinese place to get some armless chairs, and they did. My inbox has been joyfully filled with incidences of people standing up and asking for what they deserve and it makes me so happy.

When we think of activism we often think of protests and petitions.  These are all fine examples of activism but they take a lot of coordination and they aren’t always happening.  A lot of the power of activism is in thousands and thousands of people being brave, taking a risk, and taking individual action in the face of stigma, shaming, bullying, and oppression.

It can be setting boundaries at that family holiday dinner, asking your doctor’s office to get some armless chairs, refusing to participate in a body snarking conversation, sending an e-mail to HR questioning the company’s Biggest Loser competition.  For me, activism makes my world better just by participating in it, it’s a way that I push back against the tremendous amount of bullshit that I face as a fat person.  Every time I engage in some activism, however big or small, I feel better about myself regardless of the action or the outcome because I’m taking back a tiny bit of power from those who try to keep it from me through an inappropriate use of their power and privilege.

I set a goal this year of doing at least 200 acts of small personal activism each week (besides my writing, speaking, and other larger projects).  Whether it’s e-mailing a company that doesn’t make things in my size,  asking out loud for a table with armless chairs at a restaurant, posting an activism opportunity to my Facebook, e-mailing Sara Bareilles to thank her for the fabulous fat dancers in her video etc. I do at least 200 each week.  Now,  I totally get that I am able to do that because I do this work full time and have flexible hours (like I’m blogging right now at 2:30 in the morning!) and I have blog members, to whom I am incredibly grateful,  whose membership  gives me the financial ability to spend so much time doing activism.  Which is all to say that I understand that I am privileged to be able to do this and that my goal is not realistic for everyone, but what do you think about making a goal that is realistic for you – 1 a week, 1 a month?  If 1,000 people each did 1 bit of activism a week, that would be 52,000 incidences of activism in a year.

Nobody is obligated to do activism, and I’m not trying to tell anyone how to live. What I am saying is that I’m an activist because I want a different world, a better world, and the only way I know how to do that is to take action and be just a little bit brave.

Here’s the video and lyrics [Annoying warning – the advert at the beginning is on a rotation and, according to readers, one of them is the KIA commercial with the hamsters who are trying to lose weight.  Time for me to shoot an e-mail to KIA.)

You can be amazing
You can turn a phrase into a weapon or a drug
You can be the outcast
Or be the backlash of somebody’s lack of love
Or you can start speaking up
Nothing’s gonna hurt you the way that words do
When they settle ‘neath your skin
Kept on the inside and no sunlight
Sometimes a shadow wins
But I wonder what would happen if you

Say what you wanna say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave

With what you want to say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave

I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I wanna see you be brave

I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I wanna see you be brave

Everybody’s been there,
Everybody’s been stared down by the enemy
Fallen for the fear
And done some disappearing,
Bow down to the mighty
Don’t run, stop holding your tongue
Maybe there’s a way out of the cage where you live
Maybe one of these days you can let the light in
Show me how big your brave is

Say what you wanna say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave

With what you want to say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave

And since your history of silence
Won’t do you any good,
Did you think it would?
Let your words be anything but empty
Why don’t you tell them the truth?

Say what you wanna say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave

With what you want to say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave

I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I wanna see you be brave

Like my blog?  Here’s more of my stuff!

The Book:  Fat:  The Owner’s Manual  The E-Book is Name Your Own Price! Click here for details

Become a member: For just ten bucks a month you can keep this blog ad-free, support the activism work I do, and get deals from cool businesses Click here for details

Interviews with Amazing Activists!!  Help Activists tell our movement’s history in their own words.  Support In Our Own Words:  A Fat Activist History Project!

Dance Classes:  Buy the Dance Class DVDs or download individual classes – Every Body Dance Now! Click here for details 

If my selling things on the blog makes you uncomfortable, you might want to check out this post.  Thanks for reading! ~Ragen

Published in: on November 26, 2013 at 11:03 am  Comments (10)  

10 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Ragen, loved the video, the lyrics, and all the dancers featured. On the other hand, I had to laugh at the irony that the advert shown before the video was the one for Kia Soul that has the hamsters losing weight. I want the fat hamsters back, damn it!

  2. I didn’t get that same advertisement when I watched.

    WOWSA!!! I LOVE this song, but had not seen the video. Thank you for posting this and reminding me that little things make a difference in a big way. Just like the single, repetition of a drop of water creates a hole in the stone… we can make a difference in attitudes and society.

    This was a great way to start my day and to kick off my Thanksgiving break.

  3. The chair one almost made me cry. Well done all of you x

  4. What an awesome way to start my day. I comment on the video that it was nice to see normal people in the video, but corrected myself that they appear normal, but they are fantastic dancers and that is anything but normal. I loved it!

  5. It’s easy to forget that activism has many forms, many of which take little time and virtually no organization. Every time you stand up for yourself or for someone else, you are an activist.

    My activism? I sign a lot of petitions, comment on a lot of blogs, refuse to participate in body snarking, and eat what I damn well feel like in public, whether it’s a small salad or a great big slice of chocolate cake.

    Will it change the world? Not on its own, but if enough of us do it all at once, it will make things easier for the next generation.

    • … refuse to participate in body snarking…

      This is a huge one, I think. It can involve a very small time commitment (though I realize it sometimes comes with a lot of emotional commitment), but the results can be so pronounced.

  6. I emailed the organizer of an office-sponsored drive for a weight-loss company to say it was against policy. I’m an activist!

  7. Thanks for the video and song–I will have to download it! And it’s too bad she didn’t ask you to dance in it, Ragen!

  8. Wow–the universe has conspired to introduce me to Sara’s music… last night an older gentleman friend posted about her on FB. He had just been traveling through Malaysia and said they play her music & videos a lot there on the trains. He didn’t post a link, though, and I was curious but it was late and i didn’t take the time to search her out. first thing this morning, Ragen, here she is in your blog and OMG I LOVE HER and this song and this video and these people. i had tears in my eyes fairly early on, but the point where i burst into laughing/crying/clapping my hands in delight was when all the different dancers showed up with her and they all danced together!!! I get this way when i see videos with dancing groups, especially flashmob type things–i think it is a combination of my love for dance and the joy it brings when people do it together and a tinge of my sadness and loss over the fact that my body is not able to do much like that these days. Anyway, thank you, Ragen, for sharing this, because apart from the happiness i get from the video, the lyrics are eerily on-target for how i’ve been feeling lately. I am doing a teleclass with Anne Cuthbert and we had our second weekly call on Monday. Talked about emotions and expressing them… I have been realizing lately that this is a big issue for me. There are a lot of things I’m not saying to various people/entities for various reasons. Often it’s due to fear, sometimes it’s because I don’t even know who to say them to. Anyway, thank you again for delivering this bolt of truth and light to my inbox today. I feel Brave!

  9. I first heard this song here, in the context you provide. In the year since, “Brave” has become an essential part of the ‘soundtrack of my life,’ so to speak — and I really wanted to thank you for writing this post!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: