There’s a great post up over at Big Fat Deal answering a question by a newcomer to fat acceptance about when to speak up. She asks, because recently she lost about 20lbs, and is just now seeing friends who she hasn’t seen since she lost it.
Many people haven’t seen me at all this summer, and I am now dealing with lots of weight-less comments about how much weight I’ve lost, and how “good” and “healthy” I am. These comments now make me extremely uncomfortable. This happened the other day with a coworker, and I tried to diffuse the situation by saying that unfortunately I realized that for me, weight loss actually came with a lot of unhealthy behaviors (and muscle loss), and I don’t diet any more and try to practice health at every size instead. It resulted in colossal awkwardness and blank stares.
When I found FA it was after a similar experience. I’ve been pretty vocal about how I had lost about 40lbs while in Ecuador. Immediately after I returned, I found FA and had to deal with the compliments that resulted from losing weight, and trying to find a way to explain to my friends, and sometimes even strangers, my new feelings of self-acceptance.
Unfortunately, this is something that I still find difficult. Although I haven’t gotten weight loss compliments in a while, I still feel like it’s difficult to decide when to speak up. While at school most of my friends and even some people who I didn’t really know were well aware of my fat acceptance activism. Although I didn’t drill it in to the campus like I wanted, I was pretty vocal about being size- and body-accepting. Most of my friends read this blog, and a lot of the campus saw my fat documentary and/or heard me read from my poetry collection. It’s something that I had to be vocal about at that time in my life.
Now, as I continue on to new places with new people, I find it a bit harder. When I started working at the internship I’ve worked at this summer, I wasn’t sure who to tell and what to tell them. I was nervous, sometimes embarrassed, to explain where I was coming from. It was pretty easy, eventually, for me to spread word that I am a size acceptance activist because we’re working on a show about women’s health. When I expressed an interest in interviewing Kate Harding, I had to also explain my fat activism.
So somehow, without really meaning to, I’ve informed almost everyone in my life thus far that I am a fat acceptance activist. And maybe that’s the key: I identify myself as an activist. For me, being a member of this community means I speak out about it. Now, that’s not the same for everyone, but I think that’s why it’s seemingly easy for me, and I’ve figured out, in some wonky way, how to answer those complimenters.
I say, “Thanks.” because I know they mean well. And then, next time I see them I tell them about my blog, or my video work, or my poetry collection, or when they ask about me I tell them who I am. If they’re a friend, I wait until the appropriate time to explain fat acceptance to them. But part of my whole existence in this community is to spread the word. So that’s what I do.
Anyway, I encourage you to read the post and comments at BFD. People have some great suggestions. This is just my meditation on it.