Yesterday we talked a little bit about presenting options as a form of activism. Today I want to talk more about the power in that. My goal as an activist is never about telling other people what choices they should make for themselves. My goal is to insist upon the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness by our own definition without shame, stigma, or weight bullying, and it’s about letting other people know that they have the option to do the same.
There are people right now who actively hate themselves and their bodies because they don’t know that there is any other option. People who are trying to lose weight because they believe it’s the only path to health. People who believe that they don’t have a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness until they are thin. People who don’t know that they have the right to demand that they be treated with basic human respect while living in a fat body. It and affect all areas of fat people’s lives from self-esteem to healthcare to sexuality.
When we stand up, speak out, and refuse to buy into the current culture of self-hatred, obesity hysteria, and confusing body size with health, we don’t just model the option, we start being the option. Being the option is about being the choice, the power, the reason:
- The reason people start to see themselves and all fat people as human beings and not fat headless bodies like the ones pictured in almost every article and news report about obesity
- The reason people realize that fat people are far too complex and different to be shoved all together and called an epidemic
- The reason people to start questioning the forces and money behind the messages about weight and health that get served to us on a platter 386,170 times a year
- The reason people start to wonder how it is possible for the diet industry to make so much more money every year if their product actually works
- The reason people start to question the statistics that they see about weight and health
- The reason a fat 12 year old on her 14th diet, being teased and bullied by other kids, her parents, and the First Lady of the United States, and considering suicide, realizes that she might be okay and that life might be worth living (all that’s from an actual e-mail that I received)
- The reason that someone who is interested in supporting their health might choose to stop doing unhealthy things to lose weight in the hopes of being healthy and start doing things that nurture their body
- The reason that someone takes that first step and starts replacing hatred for how their body looks with appreciation for what their body does
An acquaintance once sent me an e-mail after reading my blog. He said that he believed in what I do but that I was wasting my “time, life, and a first rate mind”. He said that this battle is “unwinnable” and that I should spend my time doing something else because the diet industry is so big and the beliefs are so prevalent that it “doesn’t matter what is true”.
I don’t care how many people are shouting (and profiting from) a lie, it ALWAYS matters what is true. There are people out there, right now hating themselves, starving themselves, not aware that the diet industry is lying to them about their chances of “success”. There are people who believe what they have been repeatedly told – that they can never be healthy, happy, loved, or successful until they are thin – and some of them will die trying to get it done. I’m not wasting my time, life, or mind because it’s not about what effect I have on the diet industry or the views of the majority, it’s about giving people who are suffering a way out – another option. If enough of us change our own worlds, we will eventually change the whole world.
When we stand up to the diet establishment and thin-obsessed culture just by telling our truth, we can be the catalyst that sparks people to consider other points of view, start asking a lot of questions about the status quo, and consider an option where they actually love themselves and start making their own choices about health rather than just gaining the weight back from the last diet and then starting the next diet. We’re giving people an option, and they don’t have to take it – that’s not our business. As a bonus by standing up and telling our truth we reinforce our self-esteem, body image and good health in the process.
It’s not about what’s easy or feasible or what people think is possible when it comes to changing the world. It’s simply that I believe that when it’s time to stand up, you stand up. Because when you stand, others get the idea that they can stand to, then we stand together and fight for change, and then we win, but it all starts with a new option.
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