08 November 2013

Shadow on a Tightrope 30th Anniversary

Welcome to FLABULOUS FRIDAY! No, that is not a spelling error; it is my new focus for my Friday blog posts. What it means to be fat in this thin focused society!  Today’s post is part of a blog carnival of which I’m proud to be a participant! So, here goes…

30 years ago several people got together and helped in the gathering of facts and real life stories to bring us Shadows on a Tightrope:Writings by Women on Fat Oppression Edited by Lisa Schoenfielder and BarbWieser Forward by Vivian Mayer.  A couple months ago the wonderful Marilyn Wann of Fat!So? fame presented the idea on Facebook to honor this anniversary. The challenge to those, like myself, who chose to be involved was to read the book, if not already done so and share the following:  How has weight-related attitudes and fat activist community changed in the last 30 years? What changes do you still want and need?
I am relatively new to the fat activist community and really just getting started in some minor efforts. In all honesty, I had not heard of this book before this opportunity arose and am now ever so grateful. I found it most interesting that a lot of the information has not changed, except maybe in numbers. For example, instead of millions going to the ‘diet’ or ‘reduction’ industry, it is now billions!

HOW HAVE WEIGHT-RELATED ATTITUDES CHANGED IN THE LAST 30 YEARS?  I don’t see much change in the “weight-related attitudes” of society in general. As I read this book, part of me couldn’t help but feel that I never stood a chance. I was only 12 years old when this book came out and had been fat for half my life at that point. I don’t know what happened between the first and second grades but my memories of being fat start in second grade and my fat experience continues today. I have lived with almost constant ridicule from family, so-called friends, teachers, religious leaders, coworkers and bosses over these many years. From remarks of what I should or shouldn’t be eating to pressures to try this or that diet or weight loss method to my clothes not being good and the list goes on…

HOW HAS THE FAT ACTIVIST COMMUNITY CHANGED IN THE LAST 30 YEARS? For me, personally, I don’t know if I can really answer this question. As mentioned before I had not heard of this book until a couple of months ago and until 11 years ago had not known there were other people out there that felt the same as me. How is that you ask? Well, in spite of the constant ridicule and such from all the above mentioned people in my life, I always felt like there wasn’t anything wrong with me and that made something extra wrong with me.  In 2002 my bestest friend loaned me a copy of Fat!So? by Marilyn Wann and I devoured it in a matter of days! The entire time I was reading it, I kept thinking that every person I have ever met in my entire life needs to read this book! Sadly, only a couple of them have done so…but that is beside the point here and now. Since the time of reading this book, there have been many things I learned that I would love to become more active in helping others, of all ages, in learning to love themselves and not be ashamed of who they are because of a number on the scale. THERE IS NO SHAME IN A NUMBER! Why so many people in the world are scared of a number is beyond me! My role in fat activism has really taken off this year, including the introduction of my new blog theme! There will be more details to come in the coming weeks of what I’ve been up to this year!
A new generation is introduced to Shadow on a Tightrope. Photo Credit: Substantia Jones
WHAT CHANGES DO YOU STILL WANT AND NEED? There is still so much to do! The above picture says a lot, we need to continue to share and educate those in our lives about fat acceptance. As I read this book, I could not help but feel that in many ways, some things have not changed at all in the last 30 years.  I would love to see everyone just get along! I’m not saying that everyone has to love everyone else, although what an amazing world we’d live in if this were the norm, right?! I’m just saying that people should worry more about themselves and lose the negativity. So many people are missing out on some great relationships by exercising so much fat hate! More specifically, I would love to see size discrimination be added to the unacceptable discrimination list, starting with employment. But in general, society has so much to learn about the realities of fat people and the ineffectiveness of fat shaming!

Follow the links below to read what many others have to say about this special 30th anniversary:

As an unashamed fat person, I hope those who know me would agree that I am a good friend, a good worker and a student! Although, I really have no idea how me being fat has anything really to do with any of that! So, that’s what it is to me…watsit2u?

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