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Taking One for Team Fat

If being popular is your goal, doing fat activist work is probably not your best bet. It’s a counter-cultural belief system that flies in the face of all the hefty (har!) symbolism that’s been assigned to fat bodies in society; sloth, greed, lack of intelligence, immorality, lack of self-control, etc. etc. etc. Fat Activism, like Feminism before it, is the radical notion that fat people are, in fact, actually people. And that fat is not some disembodied wrong that needs righting, but is one aspect of a whole and complex being who will most likely defy stereotype in myriad ways.

Reminding society of fat people’s humanity is a difficult job. Fighting against stigma while actively experiencing it takes a big toll. Fat Activists on the front lines in media, in the workplace, in legislation, or even in interpersonal dialogues with family and friends are often suffering for that work. Fat voices in the media open themselves up to harassment via social media (sometimes extending to dangerous doxxing and rape/death threats). In the workplace, they open themselves up to discrimination and job loss. In politics they risk losing respect and clout. And interpersonally, they risk rejection and loss.

I recently earned this badge by having this very project ripped to shreds in the Telegraph by someone who said it made her ‘retch’ to think about fat people being ‘rewarded’. A friend gave me some good advice when I started to take this to heart. She said: “If you throw a stone into a pack of dogs, the one that you hit is the one that yelps.” The harshest critics are often the ones who need the end result of this work the most: empathy and compassion. I hope she finds it. I certainly have!