I had the honor of being part of the Summer of Body Love event last weekend. It was an honor to share the stage with Virgie Tovar, Naomi Finklestein and Isabel Foxen-Duke. Sarah Jansen-Mount did an incredible job coordinating and I got to meet and hang out with SO MANY awesome people!!!!! I did a version of my talk “The World is Messed Up – You’re Fine” and several people told me that the bit about the Diet and Beauty Industry Cycle of Disempowerment was really helpful so I thought I would do a quick blog post about it.
The cycle goes like this:
Step 1: The diet and beauty industries tell us what is good/beautiful.
This happens through a lot of different mediums – advertisements, billboards, fashion magazines and more. We are
told sold a stereotype of beauty rooted in white, thin cisgender, able-bodiedness.
Step 2: We internalize the message.
We start to believe that the (completely made up) stereotype is reality. We start to believe that bodies are better the more closely they approximate the stereotype. We even start to believe that only people who can fit the stereotype of beauty can be talented.
Step 3: We enforce the “standard” on other people.
This happens in so many ways. It happens when we engage in negative body talk against other people. It happens when we care more about what an actress is wearing than the work she did that got her nominated for an award in the first place. It happens when we insist that people should dress in “flattering” ways (which is to say using clothes the create the optical illusion that we look closer to the stereotype of beauty.) In this way we become walking talking peer-pressuring advertisements for the diet and beauty industry.
Step 4: People are disempowered, the diet and beauty industry profit.
This cycle is incredibly profitable for the people who sell the promise of bringing us closer to the stereotype because, as my friend Courtney likes to say, they are in the business of stealing our self-esteem, cheapening it, and selling it back to us at a profit.
We can break the cycle though, and we can do it in a lot of ways. We can stop engaging in negative body talk of any kind, we can interrupt other people when they start engaging in negative body talk (or we can just walk away.) We can examine our own prejudices and privilege as they relate to people who fall outside of the stereotype of beauty. We can purposefully celebrate bodies that fall outside of the stereotype in everything from our social media feeds to the art we have in our homes. We can ask ourselves if the things that we buy, the bodies we celebrate, and the choices we make are supporting or challenging the current paradigm.
If you want some support, you can join us for the Fat Activism Conference!
The Fat Activism Conference is all online, so you can listen by phone or on your computer wherever you are. Plus you get recordings and transcripts of each talk so you can listen and read live and/or on your own schedule. The conference is happening October 6-8, 2017!
Like this blog? Here’s more cool stuff:
Become a Member! For ten bucks a month you can support fat activism and get deals from size positive businesses as a thank you. Click here for details
Book and Dance Class Sale! I’m on a journey to complete an IRONMAN triathlon, and I’m having a sale on all my books, DVDs, and digital downloads to help pay for it. You get books and dance classes, I get spandex clothes and bike parts. Everybody wins! If you want, you can check it out here!