Boy oh boy, what a busy few days it has been since the magazine piece came out in That’s Life! My inbox has been chockas, I’ve had all these new people wanting to friend me on Facebook, I’ve had several media requests and all my other social media platforms have taken off too. Mostly it has been awesome, lots of new folks interested in what I do with my fat activism, which is always a good thing. Unfortunately it comes with a serving of abuse from the arseholes of the world, which is both annoying and exhausting. Self care has been really important this past few days, so that I can have the energy to deal with the bullshit, and appreciate the good stuff. Particularly as I’m sporting an injury at the moment that is really wearing me down.
Today I wanted to talk about how you, dear readers, can support the fat activists that you dig. Because just a little bit of support goes a long way in helping us keep plugging away with the work that we do. Not to mention that most of us do this work for free, putting in hours and hours of our own time and resources to fight the good fight for fatties of all kinds. If I were paid for the work I do in fat activism at the same rate I am for my day job, which I believe is the minimum that I am worth financially, I would almost double my wage. Yup, I put THAT many hours into fat activism every week.
So here’s a list of things that you can do (or not do) to support your favourite fat activist.
1. Let us know you’re out there listening. Either a comment, a “like” on the blog or on Facebook, or a retweet/reblog on Twitter/Tumblr will do. We can see how many hits we get on the blog, but who knows what percentage of those are dickwads from reddit or creepers? Giving us an accurate idea of who is actually reading for the right reasons keeps us going when we’re dealing with the jerks.
2. Signal boost/share our stuff. WITH CREDIT. I can’t stress the credit part enough. Imagine if you spent hours on something and then someone showed it off without acknowledging you. That would suck, wouldn’t it?
3. Don’t try to use us as your own personal bullhorn. I get so pissed off at people who email and ask “Why haven’t you talked about X yet?” Because I don’t want to. Or I didn’t know about it. Or because it’s triggering. Or a million other reasons. If you want someone to talk about a particular subject, fire up a blog (they’re free you know!) and talk about it yourself. Many of us spend a lot of time doing research, reading blog posts, going through Twitter/Tumblr/Facebook for links about the topic of fat. We see this stuff, we don’t need it brought to our attention (unless we specifically ask for it) and if we want to talk about it, we will. Which leads me to the next point…
4. Do not send us unsolicited links to articles/examples of fat hate. When you see fat hate, how does it make you feel? Bad right? It makes you angry/upset/sad/depressed/shitty. So why would you send that to another fat person? We fat activists are not made of steel – we feel the same things you do when we see fat hate. It hurts. We’re quite capable of finding our own horrible examples of fat hate.
5. GOOGLE. Use it. It’s your best friend. If you don’t understand a term or you’re not sure about something, copy and paste those words over to Google and hit the search button. We’ve likely spent a lot of time thinking about and carefully wording something, the least you can do is take the time to explore it further yourself.
6. Following on from that, please don’t use us as your own personal reference librarian. I get SO many emails and asks from people saying “What does [insert word or activist concept] mean?” or “I once saw this article about [insert fat related topic], I was wondering if you could give me the link?” Come on now. You’re already on the internet, you know where to find Google, why are you asking someone who has already given you loads of their time for free to do it for you? And don’t ask us to source plus-size clothing for you. We have enough trouble sourcing our own. Feel free to ask us where we got something, but don’t ask us to source that perfect bra for you, or where you can buy wedding dresses in your town or whatever.
7. Don’t use our photos without credit. I found out thanks to the art department of That’s Life! that people have been ganking my photos off this blog and posting them on their blogs and Tumblr’s and stuff without linking them back to me. That wasn’t cool. I love when people share my outfit photos in fatshion posts and stuff, but please always link them back to me either here or wherever else you got them. It’s never pleasant to find out your face and body have been posted somewhere without your knowledge.
8. If you have thin privilege over us, there is no need to declare “I’m not as big as you.” or “I’m not a fat person.” or “I’m a slim person.” That always feels like you’re adding the disclaimer that you’re not as “bad” as us. It’s ok to acknowledge your thin privilege (and yes, even fat people can have thin privilege – someone who is smaller than my size 26AU but is still fat is going to have privileges that I don’t have) but leave the declarations of your size or lack of fat out of it. A simple “I realise/acknowledge that I have privilege over those who are larger than I am.” will do the trick if you must bring it up at all.
9. Realise that not being able to get clothes that fit is not the same as not having clothing options AT ALL or having very minimal clothing options. I really get the shits with people complaining that things at any size less than a 20 aren’t cut to fit them when my size is routinely excluded all together. Yes, clothes that don’t fit quite right suck. But if you can size up and still be clothed, you’re in a better position than many of us are.
10. Ask us how we are occasionally. Don’t expect us to be “on” all the time. Sometimes it feels like we have to perform all the time, a bit “Dance monkey, dance!” We do this because it’s important to us and we want to make a change in the world, but it isn’t easy and often you’re left feeling that you’re the cannon fodder pushed out to the front lines while everyone cowers behind you. Knowing that people care about your welfare and that they are willing to support you while you be the one putting your face and name out there really does help.
11. Most importantly, realise that we are human beings. We have shit days, we have stuff going on in our lives, we work regular jobs, we have friends and family and all the things all of you do. Sometimes our brain is not in a space to be able to respond to comments, or we’re really busy with work and don’t get time to respond to emails. Sometimes we make mistakes, or we respond to things emotionally. That’s because we’re human beings! We’re not really magical creatures that are impervious to fat hate, or have 100% confidence and strong self esteem all the time.