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The Paradigm Shift

We need a paradigm shift in our society – a complete and total change of our perception of fat. I know, I know – the idea is overwhelming. How on earth do we succeed in changing our entire culture’s viewpoint on fat bodies?

It is possible. We can look back at history and see paradigm shifts throughout: in science (from a flat earth to the earth revolves around the sun), in culture (from slavery as a way of life slavery is an abomination), in our society’s way of thinking (women should stay at home to women can have careers). However, to make that shift, it required people who were willing to fight for it. It did require those big movers and shakers. Yet, it also required people who were willing to wrestle for their beliefs in the little daily stuff.

Do not underestimate the power you have to change the world! And you change it one mind at a time. You change it by choosing to love your own body. You change it by speaking up for yourself. You change it by refusing to believe the paradigm – by making the paradigm shift in your own life.

We have some amazing people doing some big work: Marianne Kirby, Lesley Kinzel, Marilynn Wann, to name just a few. Yes, these big voices talking to lots of people are important and vital (and incredibly brave). We need them. And I personally honor them for their wonderful work. But we need you, too.

We need the quiet person who doesn’t want to talk to the world but tells their best friend about FA. We need the fat person who is willing to put on fashion that screams “I am here, and I won’t be ignored!” We need the people who will tell a doctor that fat is not an acceptable diagnosis and a diet isn’t an acceptable solution. We need the fattie who walks down the street with their head held high, knowing that they deserve a place in the world. We need each and every one of you.

It’s easy to think that you are not important if you aren’t a fat activist in front of the camera or a blogger telling the world that being fat is ok. But you are important – so very important. Though a speaker or writer may start the person thinking, what can really change their mind is seeing someone live it. Every one of you is a walking billboard for FA. That doesn’t mean you have to be perfect; quite the opposite in fact. We want to show the world what it means to be real, which means allowing our foibles out. What it does mean is that each time you choose to love a fat body, you change that paradigm just a little bit. Each time you refuse to drink the Kool-Aid, the power of that paradigm is weakened. Each time you speak up, someone is changed somehow. You are important in this fight against an oppressive paradigm.

In my research, I talked to people who wouldn’t claim that they were activists because they were only doing small daily stuff towards FA. I believe that those of you doing the small daily stuff may be the most important of us – because you are making the ripples that become waves that will change this paradigm forever. Every little thing you do is important. Every little thing you do pushes the paradigm just a bit more.

One day, if we keep doing the little things, that boulder will shift. One day, fat will be accepted and even honored – and you will have helped!!

BELOVED FANTASY OF A BLISSFUL PAST | The Edmonton Staging System: Post 2, Discussion

loniemc November 14th, 2011 | Link | I know it can be hard.

I know it can be hard. Speaking up can make people uncomfortable, and they often blame us for that discomfort. I try and remember that, though they may role their eyes at me, I feel better about myself for doing it. And, most people get over it pretty quickly. Those who don't often are very prejudice themselves, and, I think, need that discomfort. Though we may be the instigator of that discomfort, we are not the cause -- prejudice is. If they were not prejudiced in the first place, they would not be uncomfortable.

I'm glad you spoke up, NewMe. Just another push on the boulder.

DeeLeigh's picture
November 15th, 2011 | Link | “If we could change

“If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. ... We need not wait to see what others do.”


richie79's picture
November 15th, 2011 | Link | What Lonie said, apart from

What Lonie said, apart from the bit about people getting over it quickly - in my own experience, most people now have become very emotionally and morally invested in their views about fat and fat people and hence tend to become VERY defensive when directly challenged. Whilst never one to start an unsolicited argument about FA I've certainly not been shy about interjecting into office conversations about dieting, the 'obesity epidemic' or observations about other people's weight, to the extent that my stance is well-known within our large open-plan workplace. As a result (and quite apart from the fact that avoiding what is generally considered a 'safe' topic for small-talk and discussion results in a degree of self-exclusion), there are people who will no longer give me the time of day and a good number more who seem to reluctantly tolerate me as 'that weirdo who thinks fat is no big deal'.

To be honest I've never been one to seek peer approval and if it tends to mean I don't get invited into conversations about weigh-ins, what they didn't eat today and how so-and-so has 'et themselves go' it's all good; at least my conscience is clear. However I'm not sure that for all my efforts I've yet managed to influence anyone's attitudes or make them seriously think about their beliefs; it's been demonstrated that relatively few of us tend to reassess long-standing and deep-rooted views as a result of something someone says to them in conversation. These days I've largely given up, preferring (when time allows) to support FA online, on message boards, comments threads, complaint boxes and Govt consultations, where I suspect it has more impact.

"What is right is not always popular and what is popular is not always right" - Albert Einstein

loniemc November 15th, 2011 | Link | Richie, I think it may be

Richie, I think it may be the audience, the people who we are around. I tend to be around women scholars or open-minded women -- they do get beyond it quickly. I could see where less open-minded audiences would not. Thanks for pointing that out.

I'm glad that people like you are willing to speak out!!

vesta44's picture
November 15th, 2011 | Link | I'm more worried about

I'm more worried about getting the people who set policy to shift their paradigm about fat people than I am the general population, I think. As long as the government is determined to fight this "war on obesity", the media goes along with it, and big pharma/the diet industry sees billions of dollars of profits to be made fighting it, we're going to have trouble changing anything.
When you show the people in charge all the research contradicting what they think "they know" (that thin=healthy and fat=sick/diseased) and they still say "yes, but weight loss will still (fill in the blank)", it's not because they really think being fat is unhealthy - they've read the research, they've jiggered the results too often to say what they want them to say to believe otherwise. It's all about aesthetics - they all think fat people aren't aesthetically pleasing to look at and that no one else could find fat people aesthetically pleasing either. Why else are there are the stereotypes about fat people being ugly, smelly, stupid, lazy, etc? None of those are really about health, they're all aesthetics. While we may be able to change the minds of the people we interact with on a daily basis, we're going to have a much harder time changing the minds of the media, the minds of the government officials who set policy, and the minds of big pharma - because really, how many of us interact with those people, and of those of us who do, do we interact often enough to change enough minds to affect policy changes?

WLS - Sorry, not my preferred way of dying. *glares at doctor recommending it*

loniemc November 15th, 2011 | Link | You are right, Vesta. We do

You are right, Vesta. We do need to get those policies changed. Yet, I still think the individual is important in the process. As more and more individuals adopt this way of thinking, it will be easier and easier to change the status quo -- the more voices behind the message, the bigger the impact.

We need activists. We need big voices shouting the message. But we need every day folks living it also. What I hate to see is someone who thinks their voice isn't important because they are not on the front lines. Everyone has a part to play.

richie79's picture
November 15th, 2011 | Link | Lonie, these are all smart,

Vesta, I would absolutely agree, particularly on the use of 'health concerns' as a smokescreen for the aeshetic / moral basis of the whole thing. And I don't believe that the establishment and the public are independent from one another (politicians and lobby groups point to public support to justify their approaches, which is in turn manipulated by media reporting and the creation of moral panic through exaggeration and distortion) but I do think it's more of a priority to attempt to bring the policymakers round to our way of thinking, because ultimately whilst people in the street can hurl insults our 'leaders' can impose all manner of far nastier penalties for being fat. Unfortunately I also agree that we have even less potential influence on these 'movers and shakers' than on the wider populace, largely because the world in which these people live and operate is one of echo chamber obesity conferences and parliamentary health committees, unashamedly out-of-touch with ordinary folk, concerned primarily with media-friendly soundbites and headline-grabbing populism and heavily influenced by the lobbying of big business and in some cases bigger pseudo-charities and campaign groups. How to gain admittance to this world on equal terms and have our voices not only heard but seriously considered, is the biggest question of all, and one that's never been satisfactorily addressed - in the UK particularly, attempts at organisation-building have all come to nothing.

"What is right is not always popular and what is popular is not always right" - Albert Einstein

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