I have been doing fat acceptance activism for 20 years so you would think that I would have a better grasp on reality versus what is societal brainwashing. Unfortunately the 20 years of brainwashing before getting into activism, during prime times of my development, had a dramatic effect on my life- and the thinking of others. It is difficult to get away from it all when society is so in sync with the mindset; if you are fat it must be your fault.
I am now a few years into my 40s, and that is when I started to have some health issues. Luckily nothing major, but I will admit that some of it were issues that although happens to people of all sizes and have a strong genetic component, if often associated with larger sizes regardless. Although there is no moral obligation to health (nor any guarantee), I personally strive for it and wanted to figure out options to increase my chances of better health. So I went to see a nutritionist. I made sure to find a nutritionist that was well versed in HAES (Health At Every Size), along with being knowledgeable and respectful of a vegan lifestyle.
During my first appointment, the nutritionist asked me questions about my personal habits, as well as what my current food intake looked like. I could tell that she takes a more holistic look at nutrition from her questions, which I appreciated. I could also tell from her questions that she thought I ate a balanced and nutritious diet already, and she needed clarification on my goals. This made me realize how much conditioning affected my outlook on myself, and I was a little embarrassed as a fat activist, that I let that all seep in so much. I had convinced myself there was something wrong with me that needed to be fixed, and although I got some tips for adding more nutritious options into my diet, the main thing I learned is to trust myself more.
Besides the age-related health issues I’d been facing, I also have a chronic pain condition. I do not have an official diagnosis although it will probably be classified as fibromyalgia, which I think is a trash can diagnosis. I had been blaming myself for these body pains, and again assuming it is something that I was doing wrong rather than a condition causing the issue that I had less control over. Even knowing these things, I still catch myself doing this blame game and need to stop myself. The conditioning is so strong and it is going to take a lot of time to decommission the mindset.
Ironically, the realization that body size is not something under my control is the catalyst to why I started on my path to fat acceptance. At the time I was in my early 20s and doing everything “right”. I was incredibly active and fit, ate a balanced nutritious diet, yet I was still fat. At the time, I hated my body. I hated myself. I was miserable. And I knew that I couldn’t go on like that anymore. Although my body size was not a choice, how I looked upon my body was one. So I made a conscious decision to embrace my body, appreciate my health, and start adding fat acceptance into my activism.
My fat acceptance should not be contingent on my health status. I am deserving of respect (from myself and others) regardless of my size. I learned a long time ago that people don’t really care about your size because of health. This false health concern is just a disguise for bias and hate. We’ve been brainwashed as a society to hate fat (and make the diet industry rich), so people don’t even see it when they are participating in it. We need to call out this bias and hate when we see it; recognize it for the bigotry it is. This also means we need to start educating ourselves so we recognize it when it happens, as well.
Fat acceptance is a social justice issue, to put it simply. This means the discrimination, stereotypes, and bias fat people face is unacceptable. People in larger sized bodies should be treated equally in society, in the doctor’s office, in the workplace, in dating apps, etc. Anything less than this is contributing to an unfair world where justice will not be found for any group of individuals. When people refer to intersectional veganism, or the connection of oppressions, I am including fatphobia in these discussions. I am asking for a celebration of body diversity in communities, in society, in the world, as one part of the equation of social justice for all.
Be Nourished is a great resource for learning more about body trust.