FAT LIBERATION MANIFESTO
1. WE believe that fat people are fully entitled to human respect and recognition.
2. WE are angry at mistreatment by commercial and sexist interests. These have exploited our bodies as objects of ridicule, thereby creating an immensely profitable market selling the false promise of avoidance of, or relief from, that ridicule.
3. WE see our struggle as allied with the struggles of other oppressed groups against classism, racism, sexism, ageism, financial exploitation, imperialism and the like.
4. WE demand equal rights for fat people in all aspects of life, as promised in the Constitution of the United States. We demand equal access to goods and services in the public domain, and an end to discrimination against us in the areas of employment, education, public facilities and health services.
5. WE single out as our special enemies the so-called “reducing” industries. These include diet clubs, reducing salons, fat farms, diet doctors, diet books, diet foods and food supplements, surgical procedures, appetite suppressants, drugs and gadgetry such as wraps and “reducing machines”.
WE demand that they take responsibility for their false claims, acknowledge that their products are harmful to the public health, and publish long-term studies proving any statistical efficacy of their products. We make this demand knowing that over 99% of all weight loss programs, when evaluated over a five-year period, fail utterly, and also knowing the extreme proven harmfulness of frequent large changes in weight.
6. WE repudiate the mystified “science” which falsely claims that we are unfit. It has both caused and upheld discrimination against us, in collusion with the financial interests of insurance companies, the fashion and garment industries, reducing industries, the food and drug industries, and the medical and psychiatric establishment.
7. WE refuse to be subjugated to the interests of our enemies. We fully intend to reclaim power over our bodies and our lives. We commit ourselves to pursue these goals together.
FAT PEOPLE OF THE WORLD, UNITE! YOU HAVE NOTHING TO LOSE ….
By Judy Freespirit and Aldebaran November, 1973 Copyright The Fat Underground
(snagged from I Want to Break Free at Fat Heffalump)
Sleepydumpling (Kath) over at Fat Heffalump posted this today, after proclaiming her separation from body acceptance and fat acceptance. And yes, absolutely, “acceptance” is a really fucking weak thing to be working for in society. It is not enough. I don’t want acceptance, I want respect and equal treatment. On the other hand, I generally think of those phrases as being about one’s acceptance of one’s own body and one’s own fat instead. Which is still not enough. We should be working towards everyone taking joy in their own bodies and their own fat. But it’s a start. Just me, though. Kath’s interpretation is completely valid and I think she’s making a great choice here.
Mostly, though, I personally go ahead and use the term Fat Acceptance for the same reason that I keep using Feminism, even though in real life Feminism as a movement and a philosophy has been and is racist, homophobic, transphobic, and all kinds of other sorts of fucked up. Both of them are simply the most commonly-used terms for what I’m really after, and while terminology is genuinely important and meaningful and there are lots of places where I will spend hours on getting it just right, these are places where I’m willing to take the damn shorthand and move on unless there’s something specifically to be gained by stopping and talking about it for a while.
Sleepydumpling also talks about reductionism (intentional attempts at weight loss) and bodily autonomy that sorts of meets up with some things I’ve been thinking about lately.
I’m a big believer in, and advocate for, bodily autonomy. Your body is yours, is you, and you have a right to do as you will with it, and I have to respect that. What that does not mean is that I have to like or approve of everything you choose to do with your body, nor that I have to give you space to talk about it here. I think Botox, facelifts, some of the more radical stuff you see on BME (a zine about extreme body mods; not safe for, well, most places) like meatotomies, dieting recreational injectables, and a whole bunch of other things are a bad idea, and if anybody asks me whether or not I think they should do those things to their bodies, I will say no, certainly not. But generally, people don’t fucking ask me. That makes it none of my fucking business.
I think dieting (yes, including so-called “lifestyle changes,” if their goal is weight loss) and weight loss drugs are a bad idea (weight loss surgery should not be an approved medical practice at all, though, being dangerous and useless both) because the science shows, again and again, that they don’t actually achieve long-term weight loss for the majority of people, that they often appear to have the opposite result (that is, long-term weight gain), and that they can apparently have other detrimental effects on health, including a rise in blood lipids and other metabolic issues, as well as causing eating disorders. And I will, in general, say so, loudly and often. What I won’t do is tell my friends and family, “No, you can’t do that, that’s terrible!” Unless, again, they ask me, and then I’ll give them my honest opinion. But I don’t want them badgering me about not losing weight, so I’m not going to badger them about trying to lose weight. (To the ones who do badger me, I send the studies about how weight loss doesn’t work and can be bad for you, but being fat isn’t, in the hopes that they will eventually cut it the fuck out. Aside from my mother, anybody who hasn’t cut it out, I’ve cut contact with.)
This, by the way, is completely different from making other kinds of changes in one’s eating habits, exercise habits, or whatever else, for other reasons, and losing weight incidentally. If you change what or how you eat to treat some actual health problem — as I have periodically done for my bipolar, or as people do for celiac, allergies, intolerances, diabetes, whatever — then sometimes, people will lose weight because whatever problem they are addressing caused them to gain weight in the first place. I generally drop about twenty pounds when I actually manage to eat optimally for me after a long period of not doing so, and gain it back when I stop eating optimally for long enough. Those are my body’s homeostasis points for eating optimally and eating non-optimally. I’m fine with my body at both weights, and when I eat optimally, I do so to feel better, to manage my low blood sugar and my bipolar. Some people I know have lost a great deal more weight after cutting wheat or something else they’re allergic to out of their diet, and kept that weight off, and that’s because the weights they reach ultimately and are stable at are their bodies’ homeostasis points when they’re eating optimally. They aren’t dieting to lose weight, they aren’t automatically body-negative or betraying fat liberation or feminism by losing weight, and they are actively practicing HAES by making their bodies healthier regardless of size. (There are, shamefully, people within the FA and HAES movements who say otherwise. They are wrong, and fuck them.) End digression.
Respecting people’s bodily autonomy and privacy by not berating them if they diet or take other steps also doesn’t mean I have to give them any space to talk about it. You may not talk about dieting or reduction attempts here. This is not the place for it. This is meant to be safe space for those of us who have been damaged by reduction and the propaganda around reduction. I am not violating anybody’s bodily autonomy by refusing to give them space here. There are plenty of places they can go to talk about those things. Most of the world, really, will not only happily listen to them, but cheer them on for it. I also ask people not to talk about it around me in person, and if they keep weight loss filters on personal journals (like LJ or DW) that I read, to leave me off those filters.
What I’m getting at, in my circumlocutious way, is that respecting bodily autonomy doesn’t mean you have to be supportive of everything people choose to do with it, just their right to do so, and respecting their right to do so doesn’t mean you have to listen to them talk about what they choose to do, either. Trying to claim otherwise is derailment and an attempt to destroy safe space for body positivity and fat positivity.