Activism is Never Resignation

Published August 31, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

I have another fantastic post to refer you all to.  This one is from the wonderful Spilt Milk, who writes on how Fat Acceptance is not about “giving up”.  Go read it now.  Go on, I’ll wait here while you do…

Did you read it?  Good.

See, isn’t it a fantastic post?  She writes that well all the time, blows my mind and inspires me no end.

Anyway, on to the topic that I want to talk about, which the Spilt Milk post led me to think about, is my experience around discovering Fat Acceptance (FA) and deciding that it was the philosophy on life and health and my body that I decided not only works for me personally, but is something that I need to be actively promoting.  That post got me thinking about how little “giving up” I personally have done when it comes to my health, happiness and body.  In fact, resignation is the furthest from the choice I made in taking to Fat Acceptance.

One of the things I think the critics of FA fail to grasp is that choosing a FA lifestyle is not something you just fall into, that you give up and then it happens to you.  It’s a conscious, intelligent choice that one makes.  It has been a lot of hard work, introspection and decision making that has led me to FA.  I didn’t just decide one day “Well I couldn’t be arsed any more with this whole business of trying to lose weight, I think I’ll become a Fat Acceptance activist.”  It took months and months of reading and thinking and journalling (later blogging) and even discussing my thoughts and beliefs with my counsellor.  The more I thought about it, the more I looked towards making a choice of how I wanted to live my life, the more Fat Acceptance began to fit me.

Then came the realisation that not only do I need to live this way, but I need to share it, to advocate it, to take part in activism for it.  That was a massive decision, because it’s a coming out of sorts – Fat Acceptance is confronting and challenging for most people, and to become an activist meant that I personally had to start confronting and challenging people, attitudes and beliefs.  This is so far from resignation to me that I can’t express it.

The very word “activist” means someone who intentionally takes action.  Action is never resignation.

Of course, there is the health/body side of things.  Yeah, we’ve all heard it.  By adopting a Fat Acceptance philosophy, we’re just giving up on taking care of ourselves, we’ve given up on our health, we’ve given up on trying to look good or be active.

Let’s call bullshit on that one too.  I don’t know about the rest of you FA folk, but I’m far more active in my health than I have ever been.  Instead of shutting out my body, I listen to it.  Instead of denying my physical feelings and the needs of my body, I use those feelings to tell me what my body needs, and I respond appropriately.  Not to mention that I have gone from someone who avoids doctors at all costs (because I couldn’t handle any more of the shaming from them) to one who actively sought out a good GP and now takes the time to know my body and work with my GP to be the healthiest I have ever been in my life.

Physical activity has also become something that I engage in far more than I ever did long term in my life.  My method of physical activity, or exercise (which I refuse to do these days, I don’t engage in exercise, I engage in activity that I enjoy) in my body loathing days was to exercise binge like a madwoman until I either collapsed from whatever illness I brought on myself from poor nutrition and overwork, or hit a wall of depression so big that it would literally cripple me.  Or I would be so ashamed of my body that I wouldn’t get out of the house, I’d hide away feeling hatred towards myself, too ashamed to be seen exercising.

These days, I do whatever I enjoy, as often as I feel like it, which is fairly damn regularly.  I walk, I cycle, I dance, I do yoga and anything else that pleases me at the time simply because it’s fun.  It feels good.  My body likes it when I keep active.

As Spilt Milk says, Fat Acceptance is anything but giving up.  It’s about improving your quality of life without waiting around for your body to change size (or shape) to do so.  It’s about embracing the here and now and living your life to the full.

There is no resignation in that.

10 comments on “Activism is Never Resignation

  • For some of us–say, with bad genes for diabetes and arthritis–fat acceptance is a kind of, if not giving up, I would say giving in: and so what? Last study I read, unmarried women were less healthy than married women (opposite for men), but I don’t see health advocates protesting marriage.

    Of all the wonderful points in Spilt Milk’s post, the one I personally feel strongest about is that we must always fight the idea that that health is at least a duty and usually a virtue. People choose to ride motorcycles, jump horseback, play American football, and many, many more harmful activities without getting sh*t for it.

    Weight-loss dieting is indeed difficult. Fat-acceptance is difficult, too. I honestly don’t know which was/is harder for me, but you know, I don’t think that’s the point. I think the real point is why our choices can be dismissed as senseless, even immoral, because we are fat.

  • I must confess I never really understood this issue until you just explained it. It’s about defining health for you – in the body you have. Terrific.

    It made me realize one of the reasons I’ve always loved modern dance. It celebrates the dancer in all of us, not just the body that fits the dancer bill. Enough with the cookie-cutter mentality.

  • “One of the things I think the critics of FA fail to grasp is that choosing a FA lifestyle is not something you just fall into, that you give up and then it happens to you. It’s a conscious, intelligent choice that one makes.”

    Yes yes yes. I did give up, before fat acceptance, and it did not feel like this. Before I began even liking myself, I came to a sort of resignation; I remember very clearly thinking “This is the body I’m stuck with, so I may as well just deal with it.”

    I thought that was as good as things could get. I wasn’t making informed choices about my health. I didn’t think my body was good enough. True, I didn’t hate myself anymore, but I just tolerated myself. Not accepted. Not loved. I tolerated. I resigned myself to my inferior fate.

    For all the reasons you gave above, acceptance is a whole world away from where I was.

  • Great post! I agree that Fat Acceptance is most certainly not “giving up.” Accepting my body the way it is is much harder than buying into what society says. Participating in conversations about how fat and lazy we all are and how bad food is is easier than trying to refute it without scaring anybody off.

    I found myself slipping into old bad habits (Namely: I’ll exercise unitl I burn off the chocolate I had earlier) and reflecting on how easy it would be let those thoughts have run of the mill, rather than fighting them every day.

    Yes, fat acceptance makes me happier. But it is harder. And that is okay. I am healthier now than I’ve ever been.

  • Excellent post, and something I’ve needed to be reminded of. After finding FA, I didn’t give up on anything. Hell, I had been in such a position of defeated “I am horrible and will always be miserable and will thus sit here like a lump” that FA was the boot in the butt I needed to LIVE again. I wear nice clothes. I do things that I would have once found scary. I eat exciting foods. I stare life down and then I HEADBUTT IT.

    I gave up hating myself. If there’s anything worth giving up, it’s that.

  • This is fantastic. I continue to be frustrated that we are constantly told that we need to lose weight – something that nobody can prove is possible, for a reason nobody can prove is valid. Trying to do that and failing for your whole life is not healthy. Mark Twain said “if at first you don’t succeed – try, try again. Then quit, no use being a damn fool about it”. When I was a little kid I wanted to fly because I hated riding the bus to school. A couple falls off our barn roof and a quick physics lesson from my mom helped me understand that flying wasn’t possible for me – no matter how badly I wanted to do it or how much better it would ostensibly make my life. Ever if everyone in the world would have said that my life would be better if I could fly, it was just never going to happen. So I could keep falling off the roof, or I could learn to make the most of my bus ride. Fat Acceptance is saying I quit trying to do this crazy impossible thing just because you say I should do it and I choose something that is healthy for me.

  • I think many of us felt an initial sense of giving up, of despair and resignation with “our lot in life” when we clicked that our lives are never going to change by changing our bodies, and in fact it’s ridiculous to expect our bodies to drastically change.

    I see Fat Acceptance as the follow on to that. Once we’ve got through the haze of feeling of defeat, low self esteem and failure, and we’re ready to have another go at living our life to the best we can, Fat Acceptance is the active step we take. It’s the point where we take control, where we step off into the world at our own pace and style.

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