I was in an interesting conversation on Facebook where people were discussing whether or not, as Size Acceptance activists and/or Health at Every Size practitioners, they buy “diet’ products and why or why not. This is something I’ve thought about a lot.
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, and it’s true that if everyone stopped buying products that attempt to sell things to us by convincing us that we’re not good enough, they would stop doing it, 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 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 sold using a weight-loss or anti-obesity message. It occurred to me that I spend a great deal of time trying to counteract these messages and that giving the people who create the messages money is a bit counter-intuitive. So I decided to stop funding the very thing that I am trying to fight. It has 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 oatmeal containers that try to terrify people into eating oatmeal in an effort to prevent them from looking 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 my purchases to be in integrity with my beliefs. Sometimes it is easy – “Biggest Loser” branded carrots are right out, I’m not giving money to a show that abuses fat people for profit. Then there are some others that are much more judgment calls – does Sweet and Low count? For me it’s easy to over think, and worry about being perfect and I have to remind myself that, just like the rest of civil rights, it’s not about perfection, it’s about making the next choice and doing the next thing in front of me. Nobody can do everything but we can all do something, and this is one of the things that I try to do.
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