Why I’m a Body Image Activist (Answering the Clarion Call to Myself)

There are two F words I’m going to claim in this post that might be dangerous to claim. Why? Because I’ve seen the hate and trolling and abuse directed at those who’ve claimed both or either of these F words themselves, those who’ve refused to live their lives in the two-dimensional world of the Internet hiding behind anonymity. No, they’ve boldly proclaimed who they are. I don’t want to be hated or trolled or abused, but it’s time for me to step up and I’m as ready as I’ll ever be. Whatever the potential backlash, it’s worth it to empower myself and hopefully others by acknowledging my truth and rejecting shame.

What are the two F words? Feminism and fat.

I’m fat. I’m a fat woman. I’m a fat feminist.

Picture of me, a fat woman, taking a selfie in a mirror, text overlay reads "I refuse to hate my body. My body is good. My body is valid."

What’s a post without a picture?

I’ve been fat for all of my adult life. It may shock some people to read that “fat” F word. I’m not denigrating myself. Fat is only an adjective, nothing more. I won’t allow it anymore power over me than being an adjective. In the past, I’ve lived in the harm that can do, and I’m not doing that anymore. I’m stepping out of the shadows, off of the sidelines, and engaging in the work and message of spreading positive body image while embracing, developing, and strengthening my own positive, healthy body image. I’ve been journeying into being a body image activist this past year or so. There are people who’ve been body image activists for ages and ages and their work is awesome. I’m not entering this space unaware of those who have paved the way, nor am I unappreciative of that paving, nor am I trying to one-up the work that’s already been done. I’m intentionally adding my voice as a member of the chorus.

I want to empower other people to overcome body image issues and the only way to do that is to empower myself, to claim myself, to inhabit my body proudly, to reject the shame that culture has heaped on me for years. I believe that no one should live in shame because of their body or any aspect of their physical appearance, whatever size, weight, shape, whether differently abled, male, female, trans, race, etc. We deserve to inhabit our bodies without being inhibited by shame. Bodies should not be made taboo, should not be terrorized by cultural ideals or other people’s opinions.

I’m fat, I’m okay, and whatever size you are, you’re okay, too. I understand now and espouse that all bodies are good bodies, all bodies are valid bodies. My body is good, my body is valid. During this part of my journey, I’ve been seeing a therapist on a regular basis, one whom I trust, respect, and am comfortable with, and it has made a powerful difference.

Months ago, I started seeking out and reading fat positive, size positive, body image activist blogs to understand my experience through others’ experience. They’ve been writing and working in this space for years, and they articulate things in powerful, honest, ballsy, amazing ways. They’ve been ridiculed and hated and judged and trolled in heinous, awful, cruel, hateful ways. They are defenders of the downtrodden, of the shamed, of the broken, of the hopeless, of all kinds of people, of all sizes. They are fierce feminists, independent thinkers, and they all have very unique, strong voices. Here are links to a couple of the blogs that I’ve read most often:
www.bodylovewellness.com
www.danceswithfat.com
www.fatheffalump.com
www.fatchicksings.com
The Fat Chick belongs to/is the work of Jeanette DePatie, who lives in SoCal and holds a free exercise class three times a week. Jeanette has been a great friend and support as well as an inspiration during this part of my journey.

Simultaneously, I’ve been on a journey from misunderstanding feminism and releasing preconceived notions I had to coming into my identity as a feminist and continuing my education about what that means.

I’ve only really been active on Twitter since February or March of this year. Before that, I had an account that I barely used. When I got a new phone in February (thanks, brother!), I discovered the appeal of Twitter (and Pinterest and many, many, many apps). This past week on Twitter has been its own education in feminism in the wake of the UCSB Isla Vista tragedy and the Yes ALL Women hashtag (the hashtag originator asks that it not be used any longer, so the non-hashtagging here is purposeful). It’s been a fascinating, maddening, sad, awesome, tragic, terrifying, powerful discussion.

On the heels of that, there’s been an effort to trend the hashtag, #WhyImaBodyImageActivist, inspired/based on a video of the same name by Melissa A. Fabello (@fyeahmfabello), which was inspired/based on a Why I’m a Feminist video. It was great to participate in the hashtag and to share in, read, favorite, and RT reasons and experiences that led people across a wide spectrum of life experiences to claim their identity as body image activists. Here are mine:

I’m still on my journey. I am powerful, capable, strong. I am healthier than ever, mentally, physically, spiritually. I realize that some people will take issue with being fat, feminist, and a believer embracing both of those F words. Here’s what I have to say to that: My body is a temple of God, the God who created me, who loves me as-is, who accepts me unconditionally. God didn’t put a weight or size restriction on my identity, and I’m not going to be held back by such meaninglessness any longer.

“[God] has made everything beautiful in its time. [God] has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”
Ecclesiastes 3:11

A Benediction:
May you know today that your body is good, your body is valid, your body is amazing. You aren’t obligated to hate your body anymore. You don’t have to be ashamed of your body anymore. You are free to love your body and to accept yourself as the miracle you are. May you be empowered to always speak words of kindness to yourself, to value the body you’re in. May you be empowered to help others to do the same.

*I moderate all comments, so if it ain’t fit for reading, it’ll be deleted.*

2 thoughts on “Why I’m a Body Image Activist (Answering the Clarion Call to Myself)

  1. You go girl! You know, some of this makes me think of the late Maya Angelou. I do believe you are rising yourself here, in true Maya fashion. I really hope there are no haters, but if there are it’s only because they can’t stand for someone else to rise while they feel so rotten about themselves. It’s sad, and hopefully your words and those of the people you mentioned will make a real difference for more people to put away the shame and to be brave and strong too.

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