By Ragen Chastain, Writer, Speaker & Activist
People of all sizes, including fat people, should be able to exist and thrive in the world without shame, stigma, bullying, or oppression regardless of why they are the size they are, what being that size means, or if they could become a different size.
That statement should be so obvious that it never has to be said. Unfortunately, in a world where creating body hatred is incredibly profitable, and where anti-fat sentiment runs roughshod over the lives and happiness of so many fat people, it can’t be said enough.
The desire to have a better relationship with our bodies, and to support the diversity of body sizes, is an important first step, but there are many steps after that. They include steps that we may take to evolve in our relationships with our bodies, to unlearn the stigmatization of bodies that we have been taught by our culture, and to fight back against the messages that our bodies aren’t amazing and worthy at any size. Enter the Fat Activism Conference.
I co-founded the conference with Jeanette DePatie three years ago in response to the many requests that we received on our blogs and at speaking engagements to provide resources and skills for people of all sizes who want to help create a world that celebrates the full diversity of body sizes, and want to do that work intersectionally.
Often when people think of “activism” they immediately picture protests, petitions, and marches. Those things are definitely activism but, as Dianne Bondy, one of the conference keynotes who is a Yogi and the star of Pennington’s “Who Says Plus Size Women Can't” video, explains:
“Fat activism means changing the world from a place of public shame and self-hate to a place of celebration where everyone is welcome. It means shifting culture away from the thin-obsessed, oppressive nature of seeking physical perfection to a place of empathy, compassion and self-love.”
There are so many ways that we can do that: Posting body positive things to social media, creating a body positive group online or in person to support each other, declaring your Facebook page (or your weekly game night) a “negative body talk free zone,” discussing a weight-neutral health challenge (instead of another weight loss challenge) with your company’s HR director, or asking your doctor to give you the same intervention a thin person would receive instead of another diet, and of course there’s always protests, petitions, and marches.
Activism is any action we take against the negative messages that we receive, and injustices that we suffer. Nobody is ever obligated to take part in activism, but we want to make sure that those who are interested have the resources they need.
That’s why our program covers a huge variety of topics from “Re-Imagining Fashion from an Inclusive Framework” to “Activism for the Introverted and Anxious” to “Building Fat Patient Power While Accessing Healthcare” to “The Colonial Body, Decolonial Body: Fatness and the Racialization of Bodies” and much more. The conference brings together speakers and participants of diverse ages, races, dis/abilities, sizes, and areas of experience to provide a breadth and depth of perspectives.
Fat bodies are endangered by a fat phobic world. Fat activism is about people of all sizes committing to find ways to support, protect, and celebrate those bodies, and dismantle the systems that oppress them - including sizeism, racism, ableism, healthism, homophobia, transphobia, cissexism, ageism, and classism.
If you want tools for the revolution, join us online at the Fat Activism Conference. You can listen in live by phone or computer, and you’ll receive recordings and transcripts of each talk so that you can listen/read on your own schedule. There is a pay-what-you-can-afford option to help make sure that conference access isn’t restricted by budget. And everyone who works on the conference (speakers and organizers) gets paid so your registration fee directly supports the fat activism community.
For more information and to register, check out www.fatactivismconference.com