Body Acceptance and Social Justice

Body Acceptance 101

Part of being healthy is loving and accepting your own body with all of its flaws and limitations.  But everything in our culture encourages us to be critical of our own bodies, and the bodies of others.  Think how much of the entertainment media focuses on trashing the way other people look?  It’s time for us as lesbian/bisexual women to challenge this policing of the body and start to examine how much we participate in this.  Think about these questions:

How often do I:

  •                 Make negative comments about someone else’s weight?
  •                 Encourage friends to lose weight
  •                 Admire a person who lost weight, or think of them more highly
  •                 Compliment someone because their slenderness or weight loss?
  •                 Assume someone is bad or lazy because of their weight?
  •                 Smile, laugh, or make fat jokes?

What if you substitute race, age, religion, ability level for weight?  Judging people by their outward appearance or presumed identities is what creates the negative culture in which we live.  We reject racism and sexism (at least in principle) in our communities, but do we still allow body negativity and fat phobia?

Next, let’s reframe the questions to consider how much you might have internalized the fat negativity of our culture.  How often do I:

  •                 Make negative comments about my weight or body size?
  •                 Make negative comments about my individual body parts?
  •                 Think of myself as less worthy than a person who loses weight?
  •                 Punished myself for not losing weight or for gaining weight?
  •                 Assumed that I am lazier or have less willpower than others
  •                 Made fat jokes about myself to make others laugh

These are all ingredients for shame, guilt, and lower self-esteem about the body.  Think about the time when you were first questioning your sexuality.  Did you feel shame, guilt, or fear about your same-sex desires?  How did those negative emotions affect you?  How did you relieve those negative emotions?  You can use the lessons you learned during the coming out process to help you come out as a proud large woman, a fat dyke, a curvy bisexual, a volumptous queer, or whatever terms feel the most empowering for you.  As Eleanor Roosevelt once said, no one can make you feel bad about yourself without your permission.  Say no to fat shaming!