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!

6 thoughts on “Body Acceptance and Social Justice

    • Yup, Virgie is very cool. I like this part:

      >>>>I am fat because I was born that way, but my fatness is more than that. It is a political statement that I refuse to shed – or hate or incise or harm – the body that I was gifted by my lineage. It is a claim to what blogger Jackie Wang characterizes as “impoliteness.” It is the refusal to bow to colonialist notions of heterofemininity. Because my fatness is my birthright in the same way that my brown skin is – to rebuke one is to rebuke the other; to love one is to love the other. It is a claim to autonomy, to choice, to non-compliance, to visibility, and all of these things feel – and are – incredibly subversive.<<<<

  1. I wanted to comment on the Fat Talk article.

    I remember, when I used to work, that the office parties were always torture for me. I’d be the fattest one there and nearly all of the women would be moaning about their weight or making comments like “Oh God, no cake for ME!”
    Sometimes I would attend the party and say things like “I think you look fine and healthy.” But it was overwhelming if it was me vs a bunch of them.
    Sometimes I would make sure I scheduled myself to do testing during the party time so I didn’t have to deal with the Fat Talk. It was triggering for me.

  2. I try to reclaim my body by saying it’s fat but I see that can be perceived as self-denigrating. Some people make healthy eating remarks which may imply more than the speaker realizes because of the filters in our heads. I think we need to change our filters and keep encouraging people to talk about healthy eating. Of course once it actually turns to body remarks, then we should stand up and make the speaker(s) know that they are saying offensive things.

  3. In the spectrum of identity throughout our life times, my fervent wish is that each of us can express ourselves and have our experience honored. My hope remains, we ask each other can you say more about what that means to YOU; in lieu, of characterizing any other person. Deep listening and letting an experience stand on it’s own, agreement and judgement secondary to being seen and heard. When we do, remember each of us story how and why we feel and how we come to our conclusions. “Micro-aggressions” are in the projections we make of one and “other” IMHO. How do we hold a space for each other? Can we become malleable? Can we hold a “safe place” to be and become? Resist picking good, better, best and offer a sense of “belonging” forego “othering” create sustainable community. We remember how we feel; far more than size mattering or binary conclusions of Yes/No, Good/bad. Life on a spectrum: hear here! IMHO

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