Friday, 3 February 2017

Damn Right I’m Still Doing Body Positive Activism

fundamentalI received an e-mail from reader Lynnette saying:

With everything that is going on in American right now, and your obvious gifts at politics (your Facebook posts are keeping me going right now) does it still make sense for you to focus on Body Positive activism?

First of all, thank you for the kind words about my Facebook posts. And I definitely understand the question – with everything that’s going on right now it can be hard to focus on anything but trying to keep up with what’s happening, calling elected officials, and keeping our heads above water.

For the reasons below, I’ll continue to focus on Body Positive Activism (and when I say “Body Positive” I mean radically intersectional activism, I mean including and especially fat people, People of Color, Queer, Trans, Nonbinary people, disabled people/people with disabilities, and all of those who live outside the current stereotypes of beauty and/or have not been, and are still not being, appropriately included and represented in body positivity/size diversity activism/fat activism.) Of course I can only speak for myself, I’m not suggesting that anyone else should/has to see it this way, this is just how I see it:

I’m believe that I have to pay attention to what’s happening, and that we have to organize and advocate for ourselves and use our privilege to advocate for others.  I’m also clear that, while there are differences in the ways and intensities that each of us can be activists, there’s no such thing as “not being political” if you are someone who needs, for example, clean air, drinkable water, healthcare, bodily autonomy, and a planet to live on. Finally I’m clear that those of us who are afforded more privilege in a culture rife with systemic oppressions need to understand and wield that privilege.

That said, I’m absolutely going to keep doing the work I’ve been doing, because our relationships with our bodies are FUNDAMENTAL to our desire and ability to pay attention to what’s happening, organize, and advocate for ourselves and others. We don’t take care of things that we hate, and that includes our bodies.

The more we believe that we (and our bodies) are worthy and deserving – of clean air; drinkable water; space to exist; bodily autonomy; a life without shame, stigma, bullying, and oppression, the more we will be willing to fight for those things and to resist anyone who tries to steal them from us.

If any group or government wanted to take away my right/ability to do this work, they would have to do it over my beaten, bloodied, dead body. So if I stop doing this work voluntarily, I’m just doing their job for them. I’m allowing them to try to convince us that we aren’t worthy, that our bodies aren’t worth defending or protecting. And I KNOW that’s not true.

And I have the platform and skills to get the word out that fatphobia, negative body image, poor self-esteem, and eating disorders (and their intersections with oppressions like racism, ableism, healthism, ageism, homophobia, transphobia, classism and more) will continue to ruin lives and kill people – and if some have their way, the victims will believe that we got what we deserved. The work that I and so many amazing people do provides an alternative to that – an alternative that could literally be life or death.

It’s always been important work. It’s always been work worth doing. And it still is, maybe now more than ever.

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