It’s hard to really dive into this work of body positivity and body acceptance without talking about privilege.
It is so easy, and also very important to focus on our own relationship to body positivity within ourselves, but we won’t start to move the needle for the human collective until we talk bigger picture, and the bigger picture at play here is size discrimination and fat phobia. The movement of body acceptance wouldn’t even exist if it wasn’t for a society that makes women of all shapes and sizes scared to death over becoming, or being fat. It doesn’t help that we have fear mongering from the medical field at play here as well, throwing around bad science and bad research that fat automatically equals unhealthy.
Every day I wake up in a body that society deems acceptable. I walk the streets, grocery store aisles, and shopping malls with out getting dirty looks or obscene things muttered about me. I don’t get a second glance if I order a double cheeseburger or a slice of pizza. I have the luxury of being able to shop in any store I am drawn to, with out fear of them not carrying my size. I can sit on an airplane comfortably with out discrimination. These are the experiences of thin and normal sized bodies. The same cannot be said for people that live their life in a larger body.
It is not to say that fat phobia doesn’t affect women of all sizes, but I think it is important for the sake of this work to teach that it does not affect thin women nearly as badly or even in the same ways. It affects thin and normal sized, able bodied women by inflicting fear of losing their privilege. It literally has us terrified of becoming fat out of fear of social isolation, lack of health (so they say), and over all unacceptable-ness. We would rather die than become fat, and ironically we are killing ourselves trying to avoid it.
So many people are offended by the fat movement, and thrown off by the reclaiming of the word “fat” by fat people, but the more we perpetuate fatness as something not to be talked about or recognized, the more we encourage the dehumanization of these people, thus the dehumanization of all women living in diet culture.
As a feminist, and an activist in this body acceptance movement, I want nothing more than every single woman to be able to look in the mirror, accept her body for what it is and to love herself for more than her body; to be able to go out into this world and do the important things she was put here to do rather than spending her energy counting calories or inflicting shame over a piece of pizza. But all women will not have that privilege until we start recognizing our own privilege, and also talking about fat acceptance as the forefront, and most important issue in this movement as a whole.
I have nothing but compassion for the fellow thin woman who was raised in this culture hating her body, calling herself fat, and inflicting self hate. I don’t want to negate your experience, I want you to know that you are heard, and understood as I, and many others in this movement have lived that life. It is much easier for me to arrive at self acceptance in this culture than it is for my fellow woman in a fat body. She not only has her self to convince, she has to live in a world that is not convinced that she is even worthy of being accepted as a human being.
The bigger goal at hand here in the body positive/health at every size movement is not only that all bodies be accepted, but all human beings. That’s why this is such an important part of feminism, and in my opinion needs to be one of the main subjects we are discussing. Now more than ever we have so many people upset in this country, so many marginalized groups are finally being spoken for, and fat people have to be one of them. As a women with privilege I use my gift to be an ally for all women and people of all shapes, sizes, abilities, races, ethnicities, genders, and orientations.
Every day size discrimination sneaks under the radar so much more easily than that of race or gender because we have the human collective convinced that fat people are unhealthy, and their “issue” is something “under their control,” thus unworthy of being treated as equal human beings. If you’re here, reading this, I ask you to listen, I ask you to accept whatever amount of privilege you may have and get up and speak for those that have no voice. Refuse to participate in discrimination of any kind, and speak up next time you see it taking place. I need your help, your fellow woman, and human being needs your voice, so hers can be heard as well.