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where I stand

May 18, 2011

Lately I have been reading a lot about stigma and fat activism, and I have come to a realization:

I am not a fat activist.  I say this with the utmost respect.  I agree with much of what fat activists write and speak of, including the importance of calling out society’s warped view on fat/bodies and the importance of loving yourself and your body no matter what it looks like. I agree that people can be healthy at many different sizes and that so much depends on what is good for the individual. I agree that we need to fight against fat-stigma because it is doing unthinkable damage to the mental health of our citizens, which leads to unhealthy behavior regarding food and the body and unhealthy (though often well-intentioned) behavior towards one-another.

But I do not agree that self-love means you have to stay the way you are or that losing weight is unimportant.  For some people losing weight may not be useful, but from my own experience I know that I feel healthier and happier when I am lighter and that figuring out how to protect my body from carrying excess weight has helped me discover a great deal about my body’s needs and desires. Some fat activists tell people NOT to lose weight and NOT to diet, and while I understand the desire to react against society’s obsession with weight-loss and dieting, I am inclined to reject any ideology that tries to control my behavior or tell me what is best for my own body.

If I’m not an activist, what am I? I’m certainly not passive either. I believe that spreading awareness in place of prejudice and learning to love yourself even in the face of prejudice are both fundamental pieces in the incredible process of transforming your body into the healthiest version of itself. Is there a word for this philosophy? I haven’t found one.

Where does that leave me? Walking a fine line, feeling defined by what I am not. And, ultimately, this position leaves me constantly re-evaluating, relating to both sides, and making my own decisions as I go.  This free-thinking is the part that I like about not aligning with one group.

This is not to say people whose views fit into a category DON’T think for themselves. I am certain that many, many of them do, which is what makes their writing so rich and fascinating.* I am simply realizing that, for me, thinking for myself happens to land me in no group at all, and I’m grappling with the feeling of isolation that comes with that. Yes, isolation, but pride too — I’m proud of my mosaic-like perspective, as it has taken years of research and reflection to create, and I’m proud of all of the other warriors out there whose words of wisdom have become an inspiration for me in my quest for my own truth. In that way, I am not isolated, and for that I am thankful.

❤ Diana Banana

*I am also aware that many others may not align themselves with a particular group either and may have similar experiences.  You are all more than welcome to share.

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