Changing the Conversation

The most vital thing for fat acceptance to strive for is a change in the conversation about fatness. Indeed, this is far more important than advocating or supporting individual conversion to fat acceptance because a change in the conversation ultimately needs to happen first or there will always be a glass ceiling on what fat acceptance can accomplish. It been up against that ceiling for decades and sadly shows no signs of breaking through any time soon. For all the occasional press and gradual conversions, little ground has really been won in the war on us because too much time and energy has been spent trying to reassure people that we're not really trying to change the conversation too much. Its no wonder we've done so little when so much effort has been given to promising that we'll do little.

Fat acceptance needs to embrace its radical nature. Its not that our goals really are radical, mind you. Indeed, embracing the radicalism of fat acceptance should not be seen as granting the efforts by fat acceptance's critics to marginalize it. All civil rights efforts begin as radical though they have all merely demanded equality and tolerance. Fat acceptance is no different, but we need to recognize that in the face of an oppressive society, such small requests will be seen as extraordinary and cumbersome. We need to push back against this attitude in order to progress. We need to challenge cultural dogma about fatness and dieting in order to change the way we talk about fatness and fat people as a society. That change doesn't happen by sitting around and waiting. It doesn't happen by making compromises and concessions. It happens by allowing ourselves to be seen as radical when we are anything but.

Radical is all too often a dirty word. I've bought into this myself, sometimes, as I've bristled at how the word is used to demean and subjugate moderate views in defiance of a cultural mandate. But I am beginning to recognize its value. Do I think fat acceptance is radical? No. But society does. So, the only useful fat acceptance will be a "radical" fat acceptance. If society isn't threatened by fat acceptance, it would never label it as radical. We need to threaten society as it now is constructed. We need to threaten a culture of fat hatred and bigotry. We need for them to see us as radical.

Feminism didn't get anywhere by playing nice and reassuring men that women we're going to ask for too much. It took a stand and demanded equality and its a struggle that's far from over but which has made enormous strides. Civil rights for blacks was not advanced by playing by the rules of cultural oppressors. It was advanced by taking a clear and firm stand. Always, the leaders who were viewed as dangerous radicals in their time have been come to be seen as forward thinking heroes by history. To the concern trolls, this is not saying that the struggle for fat rights is exactly like the struggles seen by women and blacks in our society. No struggle is every exactly like another, but we can learn from each other all the same. I see much for fat liberation to learn from other civil rights movement and I long for those lessons to be put to use. While we mustn't allow fat hatred to define our defiance as extremist, we must allow it to be seen as radical. We must challenge fat hatred. We must make it uncomfortable. And we must recognize that this isn't just theory. People will be uncomfortable will us. Individuals. We must allow that. We cannot do what is expected of us. We cannot bow to thin privilege, to dieting privilege. We need to stand up for something else and be willing to let people be uncomfortable with us. We need to know that its them. Not us.

Only by doing this, can we begin to change the conversation about fatness. That we can take the way fat oppression is advanced and turn it around on itself.

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