I was thinking about how the fight for same-sex marriage rights is being characterized as asking for civil rights, when I got this e-mail:
If you spent less time asking for fat civil rights and more time dieting and exercising you wouldn’t need to ask for fat civil rights.
Ok, let’s do this. First of all I spent over 10 years of my life focusing on dieting and exercise above all else so I’m pretty clear on what that looks like and why I don’t do it anymore. But really I think that I know everything I need to know about the person who wrote the e-mail based on their assumption that if I didn’t need fat civil rights I would be fine to wallow around in my rights, not caring that others don’t have them. Gross.
Still, there is a bigger inaccuracy here, and that is the idea that I am asking for fat civil rights. That is a gross mischaracterization of the situation. Civil rights are not others to confer, they should never be subject to a show of hands vote. It is particularly problematic and inappropriate to suggest that the “right” way to get civil rights is to ask others for them.
The rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are inalienable. For me, this includes the right to exist in my fat body without being an unwilling combatant in a war waged against me by the government because of how I look. It means not hearing the repeated suggestion that the eradication of me and everyone who looks like me is a worthy goal to which I should agree and submit, whether or not I want to be eradicated.
I think that people get confused because often those who work for civil rights use the strategy of politely asking people to stop oppressing us. It’s a technique that I use often, it’s effective, and I don’t apologize for it. But please don’t be misled.
Whether it’s the right to exist in a fat body, the right to marry, or another civil rights issue, from my perspective we are never actually asking that people confer civil rights upon us. Rather, we are demanding that people stop keeping our rights from us through an inappropriate use of power and privilege. If we ask nicely it’s a courtesy, because this is not really a request.
Speaking of requests, by request the Health at Every Size/Size Acceptance FAQs are now a permanent page on the site. Check it out and feel free to ask your own questions in the comments: https://danceswithfat.wordpress.com/faqs/
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