Yesterday I posted about a picture that’s become quite popular on Facebook (over 130,000 likes and over 10,000 shares.) I discussed why I thought it was problematic and gave people the information that they needed to get involved. There was a good discussion going in the comments and then runbunny chose to add this to the discourse:
Who gives a crap? It was a dumb photo posted by an arrogant little girl that pissed off some people. How about ignore it? Or, instead of getting on a soap box, laugh at it? Yeah, she’s pretty fit and all, and her question was arrogant, but that’s the culture she’s involved in. Some gyms have that prevailing message. She’s allowed to her viewpoint, as you are to yours. (The moderators are so not gonna post this, but I’ll try anyway.) I looked at the photo, read the comments and thought ‘whatever’. To me there far bigger injustices out there to get mad about than some girl that works out alot and posts macho No Fear-esqe captions. Anyone remember the phrase ‘no pain no gain’? In 5 years or so, she’ll probably be doughy anyway. And like a wise woman once told me, ‘a little weight on a woman never hurt nobody.’
First of all, I’m completely tickled that people think there are mods on this blog. It’s just me y’all, hence my getting behind in approving comments. I decided to leave the comment up because it provides a perfect example of a couple of the great fallacies in activism, and I thought I’d use this opportunity to address it since, if you’re going to engage in activism, you’ll likely deal with attitudes like this.
First is the idea that the injustice in question isn’t worth addressing because there are “greater injustices.” Following this logic we should only ever work on the greatest injustice, so instead of participating in activism we can all spend our time arguing about what the greatest injustice is, and criticizing other activists for not picking injustices that we would have fought. Then again, maybe this isn’t the best idea.
Second is the idea that if something isn’t important to someone, the appropriate response is to criticize those to whom it is important, convince people that it shouldn’t be important to anyone, and insist that it shouldn’t be addressed at all. Simply put, this is bullshit (not to mention a clear violation of the underpants rule). If someone is concerned about greater injustices, one option would be to stop complaining about the ones that other people choose to address and go ahead and start working on the ones that are, in their estimation, worth addressing.
If someone believe that something I talk about should be ignored, I invite them to ignore it. If they think it should be laughed at, I invite them to laugh. I happen to think it’s worth addressing and I don’t think it’s funny, so I wrote this blog post about it. Even if addressing this had been a waste of time – I’ve already wasted the time. Even if I wanted to, I couldn’t take back the time it took to write the post and address whatever someone think is more important. I would hope that people who engage in this behavior are able to suss that out, so I guess maybe they are into wasting even more time by commenting on it? Or maybe this kind of comment makes them feel superior and important – there are people who become critics because it makes them feel powerful in some way. Or maybe they actually believe that their priorities are what should drive everyone’s activism, and that their reactions to things are the only valid ones, in which case now I am laughing.
Regardless, there are plenty of opportunities for activism and we can each address what is important to us. People are, of course, allowed to make their own choices, but I might suggest spending time criticizing the people, institutions, and societal structures that oppress and stigmatize us, rather that complaining to activists who are addressing oppression and stigma that they didn’t pick the right thing.
The saddest thing to me is that these kinds of comments can serve to discourage activism by making people afraid that engaging in activism means that, in addition to all the stigma and shame they get from society, they will be stigmatized and shamed by people within the movement for their activism being “not important enough” or some such bullshit. So if you’re thinking about becoming an activist or you are an activist already, whatever you are doing is important. I absolutely commend you, I support you, and I sincerely apologize if you have to deal with bullshit like this.
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