The other night I had someone ask me, “Well can’t you just spread fat acceptance without feminism?” Some people find it annoying when you’re a feminist. Which is fine by me, but my jaw almost dropped to the ground with this comment.
No, you absolutely cannot spread fat activist messages with out feminism, it not only came from feminism but at this point, in my opinion the two movements really need each other.
Feminism is the fight for equality, for all people, regardless of gender, age, orientation, ethnicity, race, size, or ability.
(So please understand the true meaning of feminism and not what you think it is, or perceive it to be)
The fat acceptance movement fits right in with feminist theory and really at this point they are so interwoven that I think it is extremely problematic when we discuss feminist issues with out talking about size stigma and size discrimination.
So why am I a feminist?
I am a feminist because after years of being raised in a world that idolized only thin and “beautiful” women, I found myself having developed an eating disorder despite my strong foundation with food growing up.
I am a feminist to pay tribute to the thousands of women that have come before me, and fought for the rights that I am privileged with today. The suffragettes that gave me the right to vote and the women of the liberation movement of the 60’s that suffered endless berating from men and women alike so that I could do something as simple and taken for granted as wear pants, and as monumental as pursue higher education and hold a job away from a type writer.
Although I recognize how far we have come and how much we have to be thankful for, I will not settle for, “oh we don’t have it that bad.” Whenever I hear a women tell me she doesn’t understand what I am fighting for or that she doesn’t feel she has been oppressed I think back on the women of the 60’s who didn’t feel oppressed even though men were very publicly and admittedly telling them they belonged at home, and in the kitchen.
As I found comfort in feminism I realized that I didn’t know why I did so many things I was taught my whole life to do. Why did women shave their underarms and their pubic hair? Did I actually enjoy doing that? Did I actually enjoy wearing makeup? Did I feel empowered and confident in makeup or did I feel it was the only way to be seen and be worthy of attention? The more I analyzed these topics in myself the more I realized we still need feminism.
We need feminism so our daughters can make choices for their bodies expanding from reproductive rights, down to whether or not she wants to shave her arm pits with out judgement. We need feminism so our sons can grow up in a world where their emotions are validated, and heard with out fear of ridicule. We need feminism so we can stop perpetuating expectations like, “act like a lady” or “be a man,” “men don’t cry.” These notions are problematic and gender roles and expectations affect women and men alike. My daughter should not feel pressure to be thin, to have big breasts, big ass, or to be perfectly toned (but not too muscular!) and my son should not feel less than if he is not muscular or “built.”
I think we all need feminism. If we can move the needle to being more accepting of all humans, the affects will trickle down across the board, and in turn benefit us all.
So what do you have to lose?