I’m working on a project, part of which will be a page for people to post their Size Diversity/Fat Activism successes. This is part of a re-vamping of the Fat Activist History Project. The revamping is geared to make the project more financially feasible as well as making it more diverse and inclusive. I’ll be talking more about that later, right now the part of the project I am working on is a page that will tell activism success stories.
So if you have a story of Size Diversity/Fat Activism success I’d love to hear it – no success is too big or too small. Whether you got your company to do a HAES-based fitness initiative rather than a “Biggest Loser” competition, or you got your mom to stop talking to you about your weight, or whatever your victory was, it’s important. The idea is to create a place that we can go to see and celebrate our victories, knowing that there is always lots more work to do. I am definitely interested in stories that are intersectional in nature, and stories from people who deal with multiple oppressions and/or are often under-represented in Size Acceptance Community (People of Color, Queer people, Trans* people, Disabled People/People with Disabilities, and anyone else who identifies as such.) As always I am turning to my blog readers for the first round of awesome, of course I’ll be doing more reaching out soon, in the meantime please feel free to share this request, and/or share your ideas for making the project better!
You can share your stories below or e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org. Make sure to let me know how to credit you (first and last name, first name, nickname, anonymous etc.)
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11 thoughts on “Tell Me Something Good”
Hi Ragen! I love your blog so much, and I love this idea – I like to surround myself with positive stories and motivation, so this project is right up my alley.
In terms of successes, I think the biggest way that fat activism has improved my life is by helping me to overcome my social anxiety. I’m a fat white girl living in Korea, and the stares – both real and imagined – and comments I get about my weight eventually led to me becoming somewhat of a hermit. I was embarrassed to be seen in public. I kept thinking that once I lost weight, it would be easier to go out, easier to date, easier to make friends.
A combination of several things happened at once last June. The diet that I’d been on for about six months – five of which I hadn’t lost any weight at all – had become unbearable to stay on, I turned 25, and my lifelong best friend back home died suddenly. I felt so frustrated, alone, and scared at how fast my life was passing by and how quickly it can all come crashing down. I had started seeing a psychiatrist for social anxiety (though I had gone to him thinking it was “just” depression!), and progress was slow. Even just going out to dinner with an acquaintance would cause panic attacks.
But after my closest friend died, I thought about how much she always loved and supported me and told me I was beautiful. I stopped dieting, which was absolutely TERRIFYING. I discovered the A Bra That Fits subreddit and the corseting side of Tumblr, along with ASOS Curve, and I started building up my wardrobe and feeling proud and excited about how I looked every day. I started taking care of my skin, wearing sunscreen every day and using scientific research-based skincare methods. And most importantly of all, I started going to weekly meetups with people who shared my interests, and the more often I went, the more friends I made, and the more opportunities that came my way to meet more people. It’s snowballed from there and now I often have to turn down invitations, not because I’m scared or anxious, but because I’m literally booked up!
All of this coincided with my research into Health at Every Size and my constant involvement in the fat and body positive communities online. Without blogs like yours, I probably would have given up on the struggle several times, but all of the gorgeous plus-size fashion, political analysis, and love in this community has truly helped me evolve into a better, happy person – finally able to be the extroverted social butterfly I was meant to be. And to be proud of myself, and happy and excited about the future.
And the most amazing thing? Is that just from talking about my feelings and experiences on my blog, I’ve had several people message me and leave comments telling me how much I’ve helped THEM, and that they love to read my thoughts. And this light that fat activists like you have sparked in me is spreading. No one can stop us now. ❤
Oops sorry, feel free to credit me with my first name! ^_^
They must be someone else’s victories, but I will post them. Somebody educated a nurse who, when I expressed concern about a sudden increase in my normal blood pressure due to a med and said, “I know you think I probably don’t care about that since I am fat but I like having one risk factor!” She said, “You can be fat and healthy or thin and unhealthy or fat and unhealthy or thin and healthy.” Somebody educated a couple of parents at the school. When I griped about the school sending home several pages on what to send my new kindergartener for snack and zero pages on their daily classroom routine in the orientation packet, I said, “I know I am fat, but I am smart enough to send my kid healthy food without their help! I actually do care about health believe it or not, but I need to know what they will be doing in the class!” Those two parents said, “You can be fat and healthy, that has nothing to do with it.” I have other examples that that message is getting out there – fat and health should not be conflated. And some people are kind. The more I speak out in real life, the more I find out which people support me. They don’t all make assumptions about my habits based on my size.
This made me happy. It really really did. Thank you.
Hey, learning to accept myself the size and shape I am is a huge victory. I also enjoy not stressing out about food. 🙂
Today, I inadvertently took someone’s space at a parking lot and the woman yelled at me, “At least I’m not fat!” I was a bit stunned. BUT I am happy that one of the first things I thought was, “Fat and fabulous!” I wish I had said it, but I was too shocked. I also thought, “Well, at least I don’t say ugly things to people.” and then I bought cookies to hand out to homeless people at my church’s soup kitchen. True story. lol (I normally would have apologized for taking her space, but her outburst shocked me into silence.)
I don’t have a specific turning point that I can pin down, but my success story would be getting my family to understand that weight and health have nothing to do with one another, that someone who is fat can be beautiful and happy, and that nobody owes anyone else good health or prettiness.
I used to be pretty thin, about half the size I am now, but steadily gained weight over a couple of years after turning 20. I can recall my mother having a stereotypical reaction to my weight, talking about my health, my happiness, and how everything would be better for me if I just lost weight. She witnessed several attempts to do so, including some pretty hardcore prescription amphetamines, and watched as every attempt failed or made things worse for me (my body had a pretty textbook reaction to dieting – it would be going well, I’d be losing weight, then I’d plateau, then I’d start to gain it all back even while keeping to the same routine and wind up depressed and frustrated because I thought I wasn’t doing it right). Eventually I “gave up” and decided that if I was going to be “forever a fatty” I was going to have to learn to love myself the way I am.
Coincidentally at about the same time I decided this one of my younger sisters started going through the exact same body change that I had, steadily gaining weight despite not altering any of her habits. Her fraternal twin sister, who looks a lot more like our mother’s side of the family, remained as thin as ever. I know for a fact that my attitude towards my own body impacted how my sister felt about her own weight gain, and something about the things I’d been saying must have really resonated with my mother because her whole attitude on the subject of weight, and her attitude towards fat people in general, has changed so much from what it was seven years ago.
My mother calls us all beautiful, with no “buts” or “if you just lost X amount”. She gets mad at people who fat shame and tries very hard not to judge people’s bodies or make negative statements about her own. (She even gets super-mad about the state of plus sized clothing retailers in our city. Madder than I and my sister do… Probably because it means she can’t go clothes shopping with her daughters without someone inevitably feeling left out.) She also understands now that being fat is not necessarily an indicator of anyone’s state of health.
And as a happy side-effect of all this, my thin sister feels the same way. She will happily deconstruct representations of fat people in media with me, will listen to me bitch about fat-related opinions or social issues I experience without ever suggesting that it’s my fault or that I could just lose weight, and has fully embraced the body positive movement without any caveats about “but not the morbidly obese” or “only if you’re healthy”.
(My dad, on the other hand, has never cared what anyone looks like and is now just happy that everyone else feels the same way.)
None of my family are activists, and I don’t think they’ll ever be activists. But changing their minds means that one day they might change someone else’s. They might object to a shitty thing one of their friends says, or refuse to participate in workplace diet culture or food moralizing. Or even if it’s just that if they ever put on weight they don’t spend their time worrying about it and thinking that they failed, that’s a success.
tl;dr – Riley was once miserable because her mother fat-shamed her and her sisters were complicit. Now she’s not miserable, because her family has accepted FA and body positivity. This is good.
What a magnificent turnaround, Riley. Everything, including body size acceptance, begins at home, and your family sounds like awesome one :o)
I’ll get back to you on this one when my daughter, who has a restrictive eating disorder, genuinely believes that EVERYTHING is better if you give your body the nourishment it needs and let it find the size and shape it’s meant to be. That would be the biggest victory as far as I’m concerned.
The reading I’ve done around size and health as a result of trying to make sense of my daughter’s illness and find the key that will unlock the part of her brain that’s prepared to engage fully with recovering rather than continuing to restrict her food intake has challenged me to look in more detail at “facts” I’ve accepted at face value for most of my career and has changed my own practice. But that’s incidental. I’m still in a position to influence my daughter’s choice of underpants, and it’s important to me that she should choose wisely.
First of all, i LOVE your blog and always look forward to reading whatever you have to post.
I wanted to tell you about an amazing story about a buddy of mine (who you may or may not have heard of) and her recent fight with instagram.
Meghan Tonjes is a musician who likes to post pics of herself in her spare time because she is proud of her body and thinks more fat people should show off their bodies. Instagram (or people on instagram) didn’t agree and her post was banned.
I don’t wanna ruin the ending so here’s an article about the whole thing:
She is an inspiration and I definitely think she deserves to be part of your activism success stories.
Have a lovely day! 🙂