Today in the US was Martin Luther King Jr. Day. This is actually a kind of a big holiday for me because he is a hero of mine – Dr. King dreamed a dream and then worked tirelessly, eventually giving his life, to make it come true as part of a community that was ready for, and demanded, change.
Today I’m reflecting on how important the “community that was ready” part is. There has never been a civil rights uprising by a group of people who thought that their poor treatment was their own fault, and that’s where a lot of fat people are right now. They’ve bought into the idea that their bodies are proof that they are lazy or weak-willed or deserving of bullying, shame, stigma and poor treatment. People are allowed to do that, I just want to make sure that they know it’s not the only option.
I think, based on where was are as a community, that it’s extremely important that fat people understand they can demand respect. It’s very difficult to have a civil rights movement when the people involved aren’t sure that they deserve civil rights.
But I also see that there are some things shifting in the world. More and more information is coming out showing that bodies naturally come in a variety of sizes, and that weight loss is almost never successful. There’s so much more research that shows that healthy habits are the best choice for health. Fat people are starting to realize that they deserve respect for their bodies as they are. A conversation around bullying has begun and there are people realizing that weight loss is not the cure for social stigma – ending social stigma is the cure for social stigma.
So I’m adding something to my activism. Something that I call “Ninja Commenting”. For a very long time I’ve avoided commenting on negative discussions about fat people on the internet because you just get shouted down by rabid internet trolls. But then I got a few e-mails from readers who were self-described “lurkers”, they read the blog but never comment, and get a lot of benefit from it. It occurred to me that there may be people reading those fat hating comment threads desperate to hear a fat positive message. So I decided to start trying “Ninja Commenting” – if I happen upon a fat hating thread I leave a comment. I do NOT check the box to get e-mailed replies and I resist, with conviction, the temptation to go back and check on my comment. I Ninja Comment and get out of there. It allows me to add another perspective to the discussion without sacrificing all my Sanity Watchers points and my mental health.
I posted something about this on Facebook today and Erin accidentally typed “roll” instead of “trolls” and an idea was born. Let’s be a gang of positive internet commenters. We’ll call ourselves “Rolls not Trolls” and soon we’ll own the internet with our Ninja commenting style.
If that’s not your thing it’s totally cool, but let me encourage you to make 2012 the year of doing some fat activism. We’re over 60% of the population – in the United States, fat people control the vote- so this system of oppression only works with our buy-in. It doesn’t have to be a big major thing either – repost some HAES or Size Acceptance stuff on your Facebook or Twitter. Go to the blog of someone doing fat activism and leave a supportive comment thanking them for their work. E-mail someone you admire and tell them that you think they’re awesome. Get involved in a cause (here’s something you can do right the hell now! ) You’re not obligated to do this and of course it’s totally cool if it’s not your thing, I’m just making suggestions here.
If you’re interested in doing Rolls not Trolls for real, I could start a Facebook group and we could share discussion links and get more than one person sharing the body love. (To be clear, I’m not suggesting that we go to people’s personal weight loss sites and try to convince them to do something else. I hate it when people do that to me and I try really hard not to be a massive hypocrite.) I’m saying we add our voice, loudly, to discussions on the New York Times, WebMD, etc. If you’re interested let me know and I’ll get a Facebook page going.
Edit: As of this morning (1/17) by request we started a Facebook group. Come join us at https://www.facebook.com/groups/165890630180774/
Whatever you do, remember that your Big Fat Dreams are NOT impossible, every little bit helps, and we’re gonna win.
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