Never Again, Starting Now

Forty three years ago today, at almost the exact time that I’m typing this, the gay rights movement took a dramatic turn at The Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village.  It was there that some of the most disenfranchised members of the gay community fought back for the first time in the start of what is now known as The Stonewall Riots.

From an activism standpoint what is most interesting to me about the Riots is that there was really nothing special about that night.  Gays were subject to a tremendous amount of overt, purposeful institutionalized oppression by the government at that time.  Police raided bars that were known to cater to LGBT people, including the Stonewall Inn, all the time. Personal accounts from people who were there indicate that many of them had been in many police raids prior to the raid at the Stonewall Inn.

In the early hours of June 28, 1969 the circumstances were the same – but the people changed.  They made a decision that no matter what the odds were, no matter who was against them, even if the government and most of the country claimed that they were unhealthy, a drain on society, gay because of bad choices, or whatever else – they were going to fight back.  They were not going to lay down and allow this oppression to go unanswered or try to change themselves to be who other people thought they should be. So they picked something up and threw it – not because they knew how they would get to the equality finish line, but because they were not willing to go another day without fighting back. They decided: Never again, starting now.

So many people who perceive themselves as fat in the United States still feel like they deserve the treatment they are getting.  It’s not even about whether people want to change their body size or not, it’s about the fact that no matter what they want to do with their bodies, nobody should be treated the way that fat people are treated.  American citizens are promised the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness – which should damn well include the right to live without having a war waged on us by our government because of how we look. And it’s not limited to America, around the world governments have decided that the best use of fat taxpayer’s money is to use it to shame, stigmatize and oppress us until we get thin, which the research says 95% of us never do long term no matter how hard we try.

It doesn’t matter whether you are thin or fat, whether you are dieting, or practicing Health at Every Size, or something else – you can be a Size Acceptance Activist.  Size Acceptance is about ending weight bullying, stigma and oppression  and allowing everyone to make their own decisions about their health.  It means that I support people’s right to diet and they support my right to practice Health at Every Size and none of us would ever say a negative word about each other’s bodies, and we all stand for a world without shame, stigma, weight bullying or size oppression.

We are living in a world where fat people are being stigmatized and oppressed.  As wesurf the internet today,  we’ll probably see articles that try to convince us that fat people are to blame for the troubles of the world (as people have tried to blame so many other groups), we’ll probably be recruited to fight for the war on obesity, we may overhear/be part of conversations where fat people shamed or stigmatized,  we may witness or be the subject of fat bashing.  That happens every day, those circumstances haven’t changed.  But we can.

You can decide that you won’t allow this oppression to go on unanswered.  If you are struggling with self-esteem you can look for ways to support yourself in the belief that you deserve to be treated with respect in the body you have now. If you find that you have negative feelings about fat people you can take responsibility for actively working to overcome those feelings.  You can post body positive things to your Facebook page, twitter, blog, pinterest, tumblr etc.  You can sign a petition, you can interrupt body snarking and stand up for the fact that all bodies are beautiful, you can leave a positive comment in a space with a ton of fat bashing (for some support with that you can join the Rolls Not Trolls community).

You are not obligated to be a Size Acceptance Activist but you can if you want to be, and there are endless ways to take a stand. Not because that particular stand is going to end weight bullying – you don’t have to have any idea how we are going to end this war. But consider that unless we fight back it’s not even a war on obesity, it’s just a massacre of obese people.  NOBODY deserves to be treated the way that fat people are treated right now.  It will stop when we put a stop to it, and that starts when we say Never Again, Starting Now.

Only a few days left to pre-order the book.  Pre-ordering my book now to  get an autographed copy and free shipping!

Fat: The Owner’s Manual – Navigating a Thin-Obsessed World with Your Health, Happiness, and Sense of Humor Intact, with foreword by Marilyn Wann, is now available for pre-order.   This is a book about living life in the body that you have now, making decisions about what you want in the future, and how to get there.  Whether you want to change your body, fight for size acceptance, just live your life, or understand and support your fat friends and family, this book was written to provide the insights, aha moments, humor, and hard facts to help.

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I do HAES and SA activism, speaking and writing full time, and I don’t believe in putting corporate ads on my blog and making my readers a commodity. So if you find value in my work, want to support it, and you can afford it, you can  become a member (you get extra stuff, discounts, and you’re always the first to know about things) or a you can support my work with a  one-time contribution.  The regular e-mail blog subscription (available at the top right hand side of this page) is still completely free. If you’re curious about this policy, you might want to check out this post.  Thanks for reading! ~Ragen

22 thoughts on “Never Again, Starting Now

  1. It’s kind of hard as I’m sitting and trying to watch the news on this health-care debate fiasco – not just because I have strong opinions on it but also because at least once every hour or debate somebody chimes in with “well, our health care system would be SO much better if people just watched what they ate and maintained a healthy weight.” Healthy of course meaning within the acceptable BMI.” Everyone nods. Everyone is also thin in these debates, but who’s checking?

    The hardest thing is when I’m watching or listening to a person I REALLY like and respect and they start in with the weight control crapola. The other night Stephen Colbert was making some pretty nasty jokes about fat people and I was almost in tears, because it hurts you know? And a few months ago one of my favorite radio hosts said he thought it was “okay” to be repulsed by fat people so that “we” (not big fat fatty me of course) don’t think it’s okay to become fat. I think it sucked double because he is gay and makes some really amazing points about how bad hatred for something you can’t control is….and then he proceded to dish the hate right back out.

    I am just really sick of it.

  2. I will mention, as I tend to when Stonewall comes up: Trans women of color were front and center at those riots. They were among those first few who took a stand, who fought back. LGB groups (especially lesbian separatist and radical feminist groups) have treated trans people, and especially trans women, incredibly poorly in the 43 years since. Sylvia Rivera is a name not spoken often enough anymore, nor valued enough.

    1. Thanks for this; discrimination against trans-people is out of control and mind boggling to me… and also very very sad and disheartening. There are definitely parallels between the way the general public accepts trans-based discrimination and that against fat people. I mean, if you’d just lose weight/conform to gender stereotypes then people wouldn’t pick on/bully/kill you! Cause, ya know, it’s your own fault! F that sh*t.

  3. Another great post Ragen and I totally agree with you on all the points, I don’t think this “war” will be won any time soon and maybe not in my lifetime(I’m 51 on 4th July)but I feel that I want to fight on all the while I’m able to. Here in the UK we are also experiencing a lot of bad stuff being done by our current Government, mostly against disabled, out of work people and those without much of a voice. Trust me to have made the error of becoming disabled at the worst time in our country and there is a lot of hate/anger towards so called “disabled scroungers” led by the press writing leaked articles from Government insiders. Then back to the fat issue, getting harrassed at Doctors surgeries etc. and it’s all becoming so awful. I am still mad about the comments I had from the nurse doing my asthma check last month (weighing me and then lecturing me about the BMI and not doing enough exercise)and though I’m relocating soon, so will need a new Doctor’s, I have decided I’m going to put my concerns in writing to the manager at that surgery. Another side of that is I have this really stupid, annoying small lump on my ear and have this and been to the Doctors about it since September 2011, it causes me agony and pain at night when I sleep on it. I’ve had creams, potions, antibiotics and sent to a doctor next door to my own who had “knowledge about skin problems” and only got referred to a Dermatologist 8th June(there was an 8 week waiting list)who knew immediately what it was and asked why I hadn’t been referred to her months ago!!! And this is not the only issue with these doctors, another one asked me some months back(I had fallen in the street and hurt my knee)why I didn’t have a lot of movement in that leg, despite the fact I went in with a walking stick and my notes would say I have Arthritis and Fibromyalgia!! Well I’m sure they could blame that all on my weight?

    Best Wishes to you all. Marion, UK xx

  4. I would love to sign up for Rolls not Trolls but I do not Facebook (and won’t) – is there another way to join this community?

    1. Sorry Jen, this one is completely Facebook based – don’t worry though, there will be lots of other projects you can get involved in!



      1. Thanks guys – glad to hear there will be other projects! Have participated in a few already.

    2. Well, you finally gave me that last push to open it in both places. Rolls Not Trolls LJ and Rolls Not Trolls DW. Both are currently set for moderated membership (so I have to approve members, to keep out trolls), moderated posting (only members of the community can post), members-only commenting and members-only viewing, so you have to have an account on whichever site to view the community on that site. But it’s free, and not the horrorshow FB is on privacy issues. All you have to give it is an email account, really, to send notifications to.

      Downside: Having no facebook, I have never actually participated in the RTT group there and have no idea how it’s usually handled. Anybody who’s done that there want to join us on LJ or DW?

  5. Another perfect post. Read immediately after seeing a tweet about the Queen Mary needing to replace all it’s deck chairs because of obese Americans. While I have never been on the Queen Mary, nor broken a deck chair, I feel responsible and ashamed. And I hate that feeling!

    I think I need a revolution…

    1. I broke one chair in my life. I was sixteen years old. This thing was in the high school band room. It had a broken bolt, and when I sat on it, I went crashing to the floor.
      I weighed an earth-shaking 116 pounds at the time.
      I was already bulimic, and this incident, even though I laughed it off in front of everyone, caused me to be even more filled with self-loathing. Because of my body type (more butt than boobs and thighs like a rugby player) I became even more strict and hateful towards myself about food and purging.

  6. Thanks for the inspiration. I need to remember that it’s not always about convincing people, or proving that fat doesn’t equal unhealthy, or being pithy and clever. It can be as simple as standing up and saying “that’s a terrible thing to say about someone. Fat people don’t deserve to be treated badly by you or by anyone.”

  7. I just heard your interview on “The Story.” Thank you. I’m so tired of hating myself and feeling guilty all the time.

  8. No peace without justice, my friends.

    The thing about that night at Stonewall wasn’t that the police did anything different. It wasn’t that there were different people there. The difference was the people who had been arrested and harassed and pushed around before had finally had enough.

    I’ve had enough.

  9. For too long, we have been oppressed and abused by the thin-normative patriarchy! We need to take a stand. No more abuse, no more oppression, no more harassment. Stop the fat-hate, or YOU WILL SEE WHAT WE CAN DO!

  10. NOBODY should be oppressed under any circumstance. To do nothing is to allow it to continue. It has been my passion to help people to understand that we/I was born fat. I do what I can and will continue to do so. We all can chip away at the ‘wall’ bit by bit until it comes down. With each of us doing just a little, we can win this war on obesity. I agree that we are in for a big war. It has got so bad and out of control. When I was young, I got teased of course, then the public accepted that it was rude and not nice. Then this false information started; That the obese is costing you money, etc, people have taken it personally and now want to fight us. We can all reply to each other and that is good, but it is preaching to the choir. We have to step out and so something even if it is to say “stop it, that is rude…” or any of the things Ragen mentioned in the blog. I promise all of you I will be doing more and more to fight the good fight.

  11. One of the purposes of size acceptance fat group members is to demonstrate to the general public that we belong wherever we would like to go. That is the reason that going to a public pool in a bathing suit is a revolutionary act. Just living fat and having fun is revolutionary. Bringing along our thin allies who interact with us in a normal manner just seals the deal. This weekend a group of fat folks rented a cabana at a casino resort pool and showed off our lovely fat bodies in luxury. The pool was jammed. Know what I noticed? Lots of other fat women in bathing suits too. Some of them looked comfortable in their own skin. Many did not. The more of us that get out in public baring our arms, our midriffs, our legs, the more normal it will feel for everyone. To me, that is being an activist.

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