I got an e-mail from a reader today saying “I want a world without weight stigma. But I’m not the kind of person who will strip in my town square, or do a professional photoshoot in my underwear. Is there any place for me in fat activism?”
It’s a question I get a lot. Many of the activism projects that get attention (including some that I’ve created) are large scale and that’s cool, and there are lots of good things that come from that.
But I believe that the majority of the acts of a successful revolution are tiny things done by a lot of individual people. I’ve heard this called “everyday activism” or “armchair activism” or even, by those who don’t understand the importance of it “slacktivism”. Whatever we want to call it, I think it’s important to realize that there are things people of every size can do every day to make the world a more size accepting place. Here are some ideas, I absolutely encourage you to add your ideas in the comments!
Positive Body Talk
In this culture, no matter what your size, not hating your body is absolutely an act of revolution. There are lots of ways to do this depending on where you are on your personal journey. Choosing not to engage in negative body talk or body snarking of any kind is a really good place to start. Choosing to say positive things about other people’s bodies and your own body. When you overhear others engaging in negative body talk, you can interject positive talk, or say something like “I wish we lived in a world where we can see beauty in every body.”
The diet and beauty machine that oppresses us runs on our time, energy, and money. We can take the fuel away and shut the machine down. There are lots of ways to do that. Cancel your subscriptions and/or don’t buy beauty magazines (including those that disguise themselves as health magazines). Stop clicking on articles about the “best and worst bikini bodies” or worst Oscar dresses, or how to hide figure “flaws”, or any article that shames people for how they look in any way. Don’t buy things that sell using a diet/weight loss message. Don’t buy anything that tries to sell you something by making you feel bad about yourself. Don’t buy products whose marketing suggests that you’ll never be happy, find love, be desirable etc. unless you buy it. Send them an e-mail and let them know why they aren’t getting your money. Do buy products that you notice use positive advertising. Do buy from business that are specifically size inclusive. Send them some customer feedback letting them know how much you appreciate what they do. If your favorite product puts out a commercial or ad that lets you down, or isn’t size inclusive shoot them an e-mail and let them know how you feel.
Do the Thing
You know the thing you’re not doing because you’re scared that you’re too fat, too old, too short, too tall, too whatever? Whatever it is, consider doing it. Maybe people will say or think negative things but I suggest it’s not about them – while it’s kind of you to do people the courtesy of giving them the opportunity to reconsider their stereotypes, I think it’s about the person who also thinks that they are too fat, old, short or whatever, then when they see you try it gives them the courage to try. They give someone else the courage and then someone else and soon the haters are outnumbered by the people who refuse to make their choices based on the bigotry and hatred of others. Then it’s a party.
Sometimes people suggest that a single individual can’t make a difference, but when I look at it, it seems like one person is the only thing that can make a difference. A massive protest doesn’t work unless each individual gets up and goes to the protest, a corporation-crippling boycott doesn’t work unless individuals choose to make whatever sacrifices are necessary to participate in the boycott, and a revolution doesn’t happen without tons of everyday acts of revolution from tons of individual revolutionaries. Viva la everyday revolution!!!
If your’e interested in being part of the revolution, check out the Fat Activism Conference. This is a virtual conference so you can listen to the talks by phone and/or computer wherever you are. Whether you are looking for support in your personal life with family, friends, healthcare providers etc. or you’re interested in being more public with your activism with blogging, petitions, protest, projects, online activism, or something else, this conference will give you tools and perspectives to support you and your work, and to help you make that work intentionally intersectional and inclusive, so that nobody gets left behind. Click here to get all the info and register!
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