10 Ways To Be A Body Positivity Advocate

I know I’m way way WAY late to this tea party- but I just saw this list on Big Fat Deal – and I think it’s PERFECT.

http://www.bfdblog.com/?p=136

I don’t know what the etiquette is on reposting other peoples posts.. so if I’m effing up I apologize in advance…

SO.  as written by www.bfdblog.com ,  here are 10 Ways to be a Body Positivity Advocate.

1. Be yourself. Whatever size, color, religion, gender, race, or sexual orientation. Don’t make apologies for yourself. Believe in the righteousness of your cause. Believe that hate helps nobody.

2. Understand that you’re beautiful. Understand that people who criticize your body or my body or Kelly Clarkson’s body can’t take that away from you. Understand that a lot of people are hateful morons, and they don’t reflect on you, and they shouldn’t affect you.

3. Let go of fear. Don’t let fear keep you from living your life the way you want to. Don’t be afraid to put on spandex and go to the gym. Don’t be afraid to order the cheesecake. Don’t be afraid to use the word fat. Boo during the trailer for that disgusting Dane Cook movie. Don’t be silent. Don’t allow yourself to be marginalized.

4. Challenge fatphobic (and thinphobic) statements when you see them. Don’t be afraid to speak up.

5. Read blogs, leave comments, join the community. It’s not a monolithic wall of agreement. There’s plenty of room for debate and conversation.

6. Bring body positivity and size acceptance issues into your communities. Science fiction, LGBT, yoga. Whatever you can think of.

7. Link to your favorite body positivity blogs, maybe in unexpected places or in the middle of unexpected conversations–spread the word.

8. Brainstorm different ways to be an advocate. The dressing room project? Fat hate bingo? The fat rant? All of these began with individuals who are helping make things happen.

9. Create body-positive art. Be a performer, a dancer, a cheerleader, a magnet maker, a photographer, a model, a poet, a painter, a T-shirt designer, a songwriter, a novelist.

10. Have more to say or a unique perspective? Submit a guest post to a blog like this one. Or, if you’re very brave, start a blog of your own.

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11 Responses to “10 Ways To Be A Body Positivity Advocate”


  1. 1 Mari August 5, 2007 at 3:47 am

    Joy, I just want to say that I loved your post and
    I sent your fat rant to all of my friends. Question,
    though: What do you think of all of this fat suit mess?

    Unfortunately, as a full-figured, size 24 black woman,
    I notice there’s been a lot of black men and now
    John Travolta playing fat suits. I was reading
    somewhere that now Meg Ryan is going to be dressing
    up in a fat suit. Where’s the outrage?!

  2. 2 Paul Nicholson August 6, 2007 at 3:05 pm

    Mari,

    Why would you be outraged at the fat suits? At movies that parody or make fun of fat people i understand. But there are plenty of movies with real fat people that make fun of fat people.

    To me (i’m still kinda new to all this “it’s ok to be fat” thing) it seems like it would be cool to see top level Hollywood talent don a fat suit to portray someone. Yes, most of the time they are parodies and making fun of people, but that isn’t the suit, it’s the script.

    It looks to me like Hairsrapy (with Travolta in a fat suit) looks like it is about ‘body positivity’. It looks to me like the laughs aren’t because of him being fat as much as they are about him playing a woman. But i haven’t seen the movie. May have that wrong.

  3. 3 Angela B. August 6, 2007 at 6:38 pm

    Joy,

    I know this is off topic, but do you think you could get somebody to turn your Fat Rant video into a video podcast? There are a LOT of people I want to show it to, but my PC isn’t nearly as portable as my iPod. Also, I don’t trust people to remember how to get to the video on YouTube between the time I tell them, and the time they go home. One lady even tried looking up your video as ‘Fat Grant’ and couldn’t figure out why the videos that came up were just not right.

    thanks!

  4. 4 Angela B. August 6, 2007 at 6:42 pm

    Also….do you know a way to get past the mindset that ‘calories are the enemy’? Most of the time, I don’t think about my appearance much, because I’m too busy to care. But then, you know….something happens, and I look at myself and am unhappy. Then, the guilt sets in, and calories become the great and hateful enemy. I know this isn’t useful or healthy or scientific, and it’s getting tiresome. But it recurs anyway.

  5. 5 Mari August 7, 2007 at 3:29 pm

    Paul, the reason why I am outraged is
    because the fat suit is the modern-day
    equivalent of blackface. Blackface was
    used at the turn of the last century to
    promote racial stereotypes about African-
    Americans. Why can’t they use real fat
    people to portray how it feels to be
    plus-size? Fat suits caricature fat
    people as being unnatural. The huge
    number of Hollywood actors portraying
    fat women in fat suits also subliminally
    suggests that there is something MASCULINE
    about a fat women, which is not only being
    portrayed by Hollywood but also by shows
    like MadTv and is also discussed in great
    detail in Ken Mayer’s book Real Women don’t
    Diet. Mayer argues that SOME men are threatened
    by large women because they are scared to
    embrace a woman as large and powerful as them.
    As much I like John Travolta, unfortunately,
    the fat suit portrays the very stereotypes
    that it wants to get ride of.

  6. 6 Mari August 7, 2007 at 3:35 pm

    Paul, this is for you.

    ACTORS IN FAT SUITS AND AN EPIDEMIC OF PREJUDICE AGAINST FAT PEOPLE
    By Lynne Murray

    As a fat woman, I have mixed feelings about the spectacle of actors wearing fat suits in motion pictures. However the recent media firestorm of attention about America’s “epidemic of obesity” fills me with a rage that is totally undiluted.

    Obesity does not qualify as an epidemic—being fat is NOT contagious. However the prejudice spread by this media hysteria IS contagious. It damages people, particularly fat children who frequently are targeted for both harassment due to their weight both at home and at school.

    You notice I use the three-letter “F” word. Some people are offended to see the word “fat” unless it is neutralized, as in “low fat” or “non-fat.” In other words, “fat” equals “bad” in and of itself. There’s a pretty good definition of prejudice for you. As an author and a fat person, I use that “F” word partly in order to begin to defuse some of the hostility that has heaped on what was once a neutral word to describe body size/shape.

    Media brainwashing has so conditioned us to look at an unnaturally thin body type as normal, that we don’t even know how to look at a truly average weight person—let alone a fat person—without judging them as ugly and possibly diseased.

    As a mystery writer, I have made it my life’s work to explode the fictional stereotype that fat characters can only be villains, buffoons, or sexless sidekicks. That is just a recasting of the stereotypes from the early years of the century where swarthy ethnic types were automatically suspect and racist remarks were commonplace and good for a laugh.

    Seeing Oscar-winning actress Gwyneth Paltrow wearing a fat suit in the movie Shallow Hal, I was reminded of the book (and eventually movie) Black Like Me. Reporter John Howard Griffin wrote about his journey through the American Deep South in 1959, first as a Caucasian and then after darkening his skin color using a chemical and a sun lamp. He traveled to the same places and received vastly different treatment with darker skin. The book, now a classic taught in schools, is fascinating.

    But Griffin could return to his relatively privileged life on the other side of the color line once the experiment was over. Similarly, Gwyneth Paltrow can take off her fat suit and go back to playing romantic leads. Fat actors can’t “pass for thin” but thin actors can always pad and then take off the padding.

    Hatred of fat is so deep, irrational, and widespread in America, that there was a queasy fascination in the media over the realistic padding that Ms. Paltrow put on to be re-created as a fat person. What disturbed me was an underlying message about how people who are fat (and presumably ugly simply by being fat) have an inner thin-and-beautiful person.

    If Ms. Paltrow can get out of her fat suit, why can’t the rest of us?

    There are quite a few reasons. Genetics—I can’t change the color of my brown eyes either, and I’m never going to be taller than five feet, five inches. There’s a reason the government makes the diet companies put “Results Not Typical” in their Before and After advertisements—of course those words are nearly invisible at the bottom of the ad.

    The diet industry has a vested interest in keeping customers coming back for the Cure of the Month—next month the diet will have a different name, a different window dressing, and that one won’t work either. Addiction worked for the tobacco industry. It’s good business.

    As Americans, we have an underlying belief in striving for self-improvement, and a certain sense that we have never quite done enough. In recent decades we have been socially programmed to hate fat. The body has many uses for fat, only one of which is to store food to help us survive periods of famine. It’s truly sad that most researchers only care to study fat in the body in order to eliminate it—that’s where the money is.

    Prejudice not only toward fat, but also toward anything other than extreme thinness has caused more disease and damage than it ever prevented. Look at the epidemic of eating disorders among girls as young as six, and the occasional suicide of a fat grade school child tormented by peers, with adults either joining in, or looking the other way with the misguided idea that teasing will motivate a child to lose weight.

    The fact that schools are now targeting these already harassed overweight children in the name of “health” makes me angrier still. If the school programs were overall fitness and nutrition for all children alike, I would have no argument. But singling out fat kids for official ridicule is pouring gasoline on the bonfire that’s destroying these poor kids’ already fragile self-esteem.

    During the filming of Shallow Hal, Ms. Paltrow ventured out in public wearing her state-of-the-art padding. She commented that her disguise guaranteed that no one recognized her, and also that no one would make eye contact with her. I admit being a little startled by that last comment. Being in the same weight range, I usually manage to get people to make eye contact. But she may have a point.

    Ms. Paltrow had had a couple of hundred pounds added to her body weight in the course of three hours in make-up. The shock of going from top-of-the-world beauty to invisible fat person probably undermined her usual confident body language. Most of us grow into our weight over decades.

    Over the years of gaining weight, learning to value my body as it is and discovering how to suffer fools as little as possible, I’ve evolved strategies to get people to see beyond the weight. Part of that is learning to stop noticing (or caring) if someone is either staring or looking away. Another tactic is jumping in and being assertive in order to command people’s attention when necessary.

    Contrary to the myths, there is no one way to get fat. Some of us have been heavy since childhood. Some have gained weight over years of yo-yo dieting and regaining. Some went through pregnancies that left a souvenir of extra poundage. Others simply gained a few pounds a year while advancing into middle age. Some—but not all—large people may be compulsive overeaters, just as some may be compulsive dieters.

    Sometimes it seems the only thing we fat people have in common is that we cannot take off our “fat suits.” On the other hand, this burden can bring its own back-handed gift of deeper insight, stronger character, and self-respect that is real because we had to build it on our own. Sometimes we get support from friends and allies, but essentially, to quote an esteemed fat man, Winston Churchill, we build positive self-esteem with our own “blood, sweat, tears and toil.”

    Ms. Paltrow said with great sensitivity in an Entertainment Tonight interview that she thought wearing a fat suit was a useful experience that most “so-called pretty” girls should try. I agree. It might be eye-opening, depending on the depth of character of the so-called pretty girl involved.

    But I have my own, predictably more revolutionary, wishes on that subject. I’d like to see fat girls and guys as well enjoy the kind of acceptance Ms. Paltrow experiences when she is not wearing the fat suit make-up. I’d like people to learn how to look us in the eye, and smile and see our beauty. Prejudice is not so easily defeated, and no amount of wishing will simply make it so. But I wish it anyway.

  7. 7 Paul Nicholson August 9, 2007 at 4:54 pm

    I see the blackface comparison. Really hadn’t thought about it like that. Very true.

    I would say though, the Shallow Hal example is probably the wrong one to choose. There was really no way for another plus-sized actress to play in place of Gweneth-in-suit. That was the whole premise of the movie. It wouldn’t have been her.

    But most fat-suit movies don’t have that argument.

  8. 8 DowntownVenus August 22, 2007 at 8:22 am

    Well, Paul – have it your way.

    Let’s talk Eddy Murphy in the Nutty Professor, who portrayed a fat person as a bumbling, always the best friend, socially inarticulate but lovely man; who then stripped off the suit to become a hip ladies man.

    There was no other way for someone to portray the physical attributes of the characters than to don a suit, but there WAS a way for Eddy to portray them less stereotypically.

    Joy, can I plug my new blog as pertinent to your “10 Ways” post? It’s linked in my name. Ta lovely!

  9. 9 John August 24, 2007 at 9:36 pm

    how about something NEW, go everyday to site,\
    . Same old fromt piece…surely something is going on

  10. 10 Leslie November 19, 2007 at 1:55 pm

    I agree about how much damage Hollywood does to fat acceptance.
    I don’t watch Eddie Murphy simply because he is SUCH a weight bigot! But he certainly isn’t the only one.
    I think if we all did some boycotting and speaking out we
    could at least let Hollywood and it’s filmakers know that we are NOT happy! :~)


  1. 1 Music City Bloggers » Blog Archive » Good Morning, Nashville Trackback on August 6, 2007 at 1:04 pm

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