There are a number of Fat Activism, Size Acceptance, and Health at Every Size spaces that I moderate. This week people in several of those spaces have expressed frustration that I don’t allow diet or weight loss talk. They ask why they aren’t allowed to try to lose weight if they want to. The short answer is that they are. It’s none of my business. I respect the decisions that other people make about their bodies just like I want mine to be respected. I fight against the industries (for example I fight against the diet industry and weight loss surgery and those who shill for them) and I fight against people who try to tell me what I have to do.
But I also understand that the question is deeper than that.
No matter how much we love our bodies, fat people face a lot of stigma for our size, and thinness confers tremendous benefit. I can understand the desire to try to solve social stigma through weight loss, or to try to lose weight to solve the issues with getting clothing in our sizes, or buying into the idea that manipulation of body size is the path to health. People are allowed to do all of these things.
For my part I think it’s important for people to have access to information not paid for by the diet industry, including information regarding their odds of failure so that if their attempts fail it softens the self-esteem blow. People are allowed to believe that manipulating their body size is the key to being healthy and feel that they need to lose weight for health reasons. I think they should have access to true and correct data about health and weight. I don’t think that they are required to do any research or justify their choices in any way, I just think that they should have easy access to the information.
To me social change is more important than social approval. I think that the cure for social stigma is to end stigma, not to insist that members of the stigmatized group change themselves. In my experience when you try to change yourself to change the behavior of others or gain their approval, you soon find it’s never enough -there’s always something else that somebody wants you to change. If I was offered a pill that would make me into the perfect stereotypical beauty I wouldn’t take it. That doesn’t make me worse or better than those who make different choices. Our bodies – our choices.
People are allowed to want to, and try to, lose weight. However, where people get tripped up is in the belief that they should be allowed to talk about that in Fat Activist, Size Acceptance, and Health at Every Size spaces. Nope nope nope. It is ok to have spaces that don’t allow diet or weight loss talk, it is ok to have 100% body positive spaces, it’s ok to have a policy of “absolutely no diet talk” or “absolutely no negative body talk.” The spaces that we create – be they our homes, blogs, Facebook Pages, Twitter, Youtube, or Instagram accounts – are ours. They exist because we created them and we have every right in the world to moderate them.
I notice that with most bullies, their bodies left junior high school but they left their brains behind, and so they’re still using every schoolyard bulling technique that exists. From calling us “chicken” to creating some twisted logic, to trying to do it by force. We get bombarded by negative messages about our body every single day, and we have every right to create spaces that support us and our choices, even if that means excluding people who want to be in those spaces but refuse to respect the rules of the space, regardless of their reasons or intentions. Our bodies, our choices. Our spaces, our rules.
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