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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20 thoughts on “Because They Don’t Know”
Right. ON. Ragen, without you, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. You opened a world to me that I never knew existed. Through you, I have become involved in several wonderfully welcoming, open, and honest groups of people just like me in so many ways.
Your acquaintance was dead wrong. It’s not about changing the world. It’s not even about changing the conversation or making waves or making people stand up and take notice. It’s about telling the truth in a world full of lies. It’s about revolution (which was never won without bloodshed on both sides, let’s remember).
But for the record, you DID change the world – MY world – and I will always be grateful for that. Thank you.
We are the revolution, standing up against the tyranny of lies perpetuated by an industry that is more interested in money than in our health. Standing up against a society that believes that you can never be rich enough or thin enough and if you’re poor or fat… then you deserve what you have. I feel an atmosphere of intolerance that continues to grow stronger and I, for one, can no longer remain silent.
The poor and the overweight should not have to bear the blame for what’s wrong with America. What’s wrong is the attitude of entitlement for those who manage to achieve “success” while judging those who do not achieve monetary gain or weight loss as lacking desire and fortitude.
Yes, this will be a hard fought revolution, but our voices together will prevail, speaking the Truth and enlightening those who just don’t know better.
Thank you for continuing to tell the Truth and keep the revolution moving forward.
You are changing the world, one person at a time. I don’t think it matters if we change the world. If we can have a positive impact on one person, then we’ve done good. You have made a positive impact on many people’s lives – including mine. I’m not all the way there, but you are helping me along the way – along with all the other lovely people who post comments here.
I do have to say, though – your acquaintance needs a refresher in the underpants rule! 😉
Every single time in human history that someone has gone up against an established practice, there have been plenty of people on the sidelines telling them to give up because they’ll never win.
Luckily for us all, some folk never do give up. You know, people like Martin Luther King Jr, and Alice Paul, and all the anonymous men and women across the globe who have fought intolerance and systemic prejudice based on race, religious belief (or lack thereof), sexuality, gender identity, and immigration status.
I don’t know the names of any of the Stonewall rioters, but I see their effect on the world. I don’t know the name of every woman who got herself arrested protesting for the right to cast a ballot, but I thank each and every one whenever I vote. I thank the delegates of the Seneca Falls Convention of 1848 who did not live to see the day when their granddaughters won the right to vote.
Of course it’s hard to change the world. But the world never will change unless we work to do so. The status quo doesn’t change on its own. Inertia assures that. But inertia also assures that once you get enough force behind change, change will come.
I often say of our work in FA/Body acceptance that we are water on stone. Sure, a single drop of water is never going to burrow its way through a stone. But enough drops of water over a long enough period of time will wear a hole right through that stone, allowing the land underneath to flourish.
The more the message gets out, the more drops of water there are, and the faster we wear through the stone of hate, ignorance, prejudice, and injustice.
Keep on being the water, Regan. You’ve created so many drops to join you.
I love that image of “being the water.” Thank you for that! And I agree with everything else you pointed out. This acquaintance didn’t seem to really think through the argument.
You’re definitely making a difference in my world. I’m so grateful that someone on the Facebook page “Unpacking the ‘F’ Word” posted your blog. So glad to have some new options! Thank you!
You do change lives. I love what you have to say. Every time I look in the mirror and wish I looked different, I am reminded that I can like how I look NOW (not when I lose however much weight I need to lose). Allowing myself to be fatter than I was means I eat more and that means I feel better than I have most of my life.
To quote one of my favorite films, “Never give up! Never surrender!” You are fighting the good fight and that’s really all that matters.
Gotta help the termites! Or are they dalmatians?
Shutting up over what you believe in just let’s the other side win without a struggle.
Also, I have had people thank me for for articles about self-image and body size on Facebook.
Just yesterday a friend of mine mentioned an article I reposted by a woman who had lost 300 pounds and what she missed about her bigger body (not that she hates her current body, but she didn’t appreciate her larger size enough).
Anyway, this particular friend is thin, but she has a lot of pain from injuries and a lot of foods she can’t eat due to allergies. She may ‘look good’ but she doesn’t always feel good.
Another friend of mine is focused on losing weight for ‘health reasons’. Diabetes and strokes run in her family. I keep reminding her that her physical activity is very valuable for that, more than the weight loss. She eats very little and I worry about that, but I’m trying to let her make her own choices. Although it is a bit weird if I hang out with her all day, since I want to eat every four or five hours and she either says she doesn’t feel hungry, or afterwards, comments on how stuffed she feels. Thank goodness I hang out on blogs like this and it doesn’t affect how I feel about my own food intake.
I happily joined the fat-acceptance world years ago, and worked very hard to learn how to eat intuitively and all that, only to find out something new and shocking. I still don’t like myself. I am perfectly content with my body and the amazing things that I can do (no arthritis at 54!! woohoo!), but personality-wise, I simply don’t like myself. Bummer. I can’t change my personality, but I don’t know if I’ll ever accept it.
I believe, personally, that it’s possible to change at least some parts of your personality, but that does mean being willing to take a long and lasting look into a mirror which you may find very unflattering. If you can find a way to change the behaviors around your personality issues, you may find that your heart/personality changes in the process. *hugs to you!*
:(. Do you have someone to talk to?
I’m so glad you aren’t listening to the acquaintance who wrote telling you you’re wasting your time! None of this is a waste! Getting the message out. Crunching the data and interpreting it for those of us who are numbers challenged. Just saving a few people from the diet industry…thank you thank you thank you!
Thank You Thank You Thank You. I believe you to be an amazing writer and a fearless advocate. The work you do changes the minds and hearts of many.
Thank You SO much!!
Nancy Grace (not the one from CNN….Nancy Grace is my first name)
Sent from my iPad
I’m reminded of the fairy tale about the little boy who cried out, “Look, the emperor isn’t wearing any clothes!” And how his mother and the people around him tried to shush him, but another brave soul heard him and shouted, “He’s right, the emperor IS naked,” and gradually everyone acknowledged that the reality was what they were seeing, not what they were being told to see.
Over the centuries, all sorts of prejudices and wrong beliefs have been propagated, backed up by the selective interpretation or sometimes downright fabrication of the facts to suit those who had an interest in oppressing a particular group of human beings, and change has been started by a handful of brave individuals willing to put themselves out there and say, “Hey, that’s not right.”
The obesity epidemic misinformation campaign has been so spectacularly successful that many of the people being beaten up see nothing wrong with taking a stick to themselves and to other people in the same position. We can all do a little bit to turn the situation around. Noisy, ballsy, intelligent activists can do a LOT to turn the situation around. I hope I’m here to see what social history makes of this issue half a century down the line.
Great post as always, can understand that acquaintance you said had contacted you and said it was all hopeless because the diet industry is so large and powerful. But I most definitely agree with your response to that and firmly believe it’s always worth fighting for and sharing the truth with others, no matter how hopeless it appears.
I know it’s not the same thing but what comes to mind is my analogy of what has been happening in the UK politically in the last 4 years, with an evil right wing Government, who are out to squash and belittle disabled and poorer people. There are many people, campaign groups etc., and I belong to some of them and share&post info with like minded people online. There is such apathy generally in this country, most people seem too brainwashed about what they’re told by the media and others, to want to bother doing anything. They also seem caught up in that it won’t affect them, do alcohol, reality TV etc., and block it all out! We regularly do hear, “what’s the point in doing anything, protesting, signing petitions etc., they’re all too powerful and are bringing in the things we don’t want anyway.”
But that so isn’t the point, in my humble opinion and how does anyone think that votes for women, workers rights or anything else was won, they didn’t just happen? It also saddens me to think that people don’t seem to place much importance on getting the truth out there, whether it’s about obscene money grabbing diet companies or Governments stamping on human rights/disabled rights etc.???
Yes. The truth. Simple. Elegant. Truth.
Amen. Your best blog yet.
Until I was 45 years old, I was one of those people who loathed myself and was always in search of the diet that would finally make me thin. What a waste.
Enough is enough.