When I was a seven year old girl and just learning to hate my body, a group of women were choosing to stop hating theirs. Today is the 30th anniversary of the book Shadow on a Tightrope: Writings by Women on Fat Oppression and some bloggers on the Fatosphere are celebrating with a blog carnival. More than ten years later when I had the idea that I could maybe learn to actually like my body, I found amazing support in the fatosphere and books like Fat?So! by Marilyn Wann and Health at Every Size by Linda Bacon, and finding and reading Shadow gave me a connection to the history of the movement that continues to be really important to me (it was a big part of the impetus for the Fat Activist History Project). My copy remains a prized possession.
I was and am so moved at how these women came together – without the internet, the fatosphere, facebook, or smartphones – how they rose up from a society that was fully entrenched in fat phobia, and helped to start a movement from scratch. This book and the amazing women who wrote it inform my activism everyday. I want to live up to the example they set, I want to honor their work and sacrifice. So today’s blog is a thank you to the women who rose up from societal shame and stigma, called it what it was and is (oppression,) and put another option on paper that I was lucky enough to find. From the bottom of my big fat heart, thank you:
Sharon Bas Hannah
Leah Pesa Kushner
Laurie Ann Lepoff
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10 thoughts on “Out of the Shadows”
Shadow on a Tightrope was the book that opened my eyes. I was working at a university in the midwest when I found this book, and I was blown away by the concepts, the honesty, the sheer connection to what I was feeling. Somewhere over the years, I lost my original copy (it was falling apart from being read and re-read), and I replaced it as soon as I discovered it was missing from my bookshelf. My copy is a treasured friend that gets pulled out and read again, often, even after all these years. My love and gratitude to the authors, and to you Ragen for honoring them today.
The activists who publish work like Shadows don’t realise how influential they are. I used to run a bookshop years ago. So long ago, it was before the internet! One day when I was reading one of my suppliers’ catalogues, Carol A. Wiley’s ‘Journeys to Self-Acceptance: Fat Women Speak’ jumped out at me. Just the title, even just seeing ‘fat’ used as a description rather than an insult, and seeing ‘self-acceptance’ used in the same breath, was radical for me back then. Ordering the book felt like ordering contraband, and in a way, it was. Reading it was revolutionary. \o/
I have a new item to put on my “under $20” wish list for Yule!
My profound thanks to the women who started this amazing movement.
I will have to get the book. Thank you for this post.
Ordered the book (thanks for the link), Paid for speedy delivery so the book will be here (and prominently displayed) when my fat-phobic mother visits next week.
Maybe you should get one for her 🙂
I received the book as a gift and it changed my life as a teenage girl. I started to get the idea that I might actually have the right to fight for myself and my own happiness. It took 2 years but, it was that book that gave me the strength to tell my family to fuck off when they tried to gift me with another subscription diet plan. Shadows On A Tightrope should be required reading at the start of middle school (along with a few others).
It was wonderful to read the names of these pioneers. Sadly, not all of them are still alive, but their work lives on! I will revisit my copy of the book this week…
Their energy, thought by some critics to be radical at the time, turned out to be just what the movement (size acceptance, fat liberation, whatever) needed!