Those Pesky Attention Seeking Activists

2017 FAC StickerFive years ago, Disney and Barney’s announced a partnership for the Barney’s holiday window in which they would dramatically alter Minnie Mouse’s body — making her a 5’11, size zero in order to “look good” in a Lanvin dress. There was an uproar, the result of which was that Disney and Barneys changed the campaign, making it a “dream sequence” with Minnie eventually waking up wearing the dress on her actual body.

However, when Disney announced the changes in a press release, they claimed they had planned to do it the whole time and added: “We are saddened that activists have repeatedly tried to distort a lighthearted holiday project in order to draw media attention to themselves.”

They were talking about me. I was one of the attention seeking activists.

I had started a petition against the campaign that garnered over 140,000 signatures (including actors, models, and Walt Disney’s granddaughter) and drew international media attention.

It wasn’t the first time I’d been called an “attention seeking activist” by a person or company I had called out for oppressive behavior. When activists point out the bad behavior of a company, the response is often to attack the activist. One of the most common ways that activists are attacked is by being labeled as “attention seeking.”   Sadly, it can be a successful strategy. Often, people are uncomfortable with change and activism, so they are all too happy to roll their eyes at these rather than engage with the real issues.

Knowing this, I wanted to write an open love letter to any activist who has ever been called “attention seeking.”

To read the letter, just click here!

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9 thoughts on “Those Pesky Attention Seeking Activists

  1. Seriously, they bombard you with very public shame, twisted imagery, threats of violence, bullying, harassment – how they do whatever they can to draw attention to you and get other people to pile onto you – and then when you say, “Hey, knock that off!” YOU are attention-seeking.

    Yeah, no, it wasn’t fat people who coined the phrase “War on Obesity” and put up billboards and spammed the medical community until ubiquity replaced empirical fact and started industries dedicated to ridding the world of fat people and grew them into a sixty-billion-dollar gestalt of drugs and prepackaged meals and pumped out ads for them that play every commercial break. It wasn’t fat people who started public and private harassment campaigns designed to shame fat individuals as loudly and publicly as possible. THAT’S attention-seeking behavior. Activism is about stopping this kind of toxic attention. The ultimate goal of fat activism (or any activism, for that matter) is for the targeted group to be treated with the same unbiased disregard as everyone else. To be able to go to the store and NOT have the attention of assholes rooting around in your cart and removing anything they’ve decided you’re not “allowed.” To be able to go to a restaurant and NOT have the attention of servers who “accidentally” replace your order with “healthy” substitutions. To be able to go to the gym and NOT have the attention of dudebros alternating between condescending “Good for you, sweetums, you ittie bittie dinky fattie diddums, acting so thin and gwown-up!” and “eww, get your cooties out of my shrine!” To be able to turn on the TV and not see a million commercials trying to use the pain others choose to inflict upon you and could choose to stop inflicting on you at any time they wanted to sell you false hope of becoming someone society doesn’t hate (at quite the premium, I might add). Activism is about seeking attention for ISSUES to REDUCE the amount of very unwanted attention members of oppressed groups currently cannot escape getting on their individual persons.

    1. “Oh, oops – I brought you steamed veggies instead of fries.”

      Thanks for the free veggies – now don’t come back with my fries or your manager.

      I used to work in a restaurant, so I can attest that there are some HORRIBLE people in most every commercial kitchen!

    2. I used to work for a grocery delivery service, and there was this one apartment building that had a sign saying something like “before you get on the elevator, considering taking our Heart Healthy tour.” Yeah, like your stairwell is so exciting, and like I didn’t take a shit-ton of stairs in buildings that were either too old or too cheap to have elevators. Nobody should be made to feel guilty for either being unable to or not wanting to take the stairs. Fuck that crap.
      The food guilt reminded me of that building. I hated that building.

  2. When I hear people say that activists for some cause or other must be doing it “for the attention,” I think of the good old days (TM), when men were men, women were women, and WASP was the default. Hats on everybody and roasts on Sunday. Y’know, wholesome American values like what we gotta go back to or God will smite us for our wicked ways.

    I’ve read a middle school history text published in those halcyon times. It gives extensive demographic figures for the United States, as in, the entire country. It also notes in a parenthetical aside that “Indians and Negroes” are not included in the figures.

    Because they were firmly in their place, which was invisible, and therefore didn’t merit attention.

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