1. What is your definition of a Fat Activist?
Activist: one who supports direct, vigorous action in support of a controversial issue, usually social or political change. So, for me, a fat activist is one who is saying that fat people deserve respect, just for the fact that a fat person is a human being and as such is entitled to respect. The direct, vigorous action can be blogging, writing congresspersons, participating in fat-positive events, confronting prejudice wherever it happens, and enlightening family, friends, neighbors, and strangers that there is nothing wrong with body diversity. Letting people know that fat healthy people, and fat unhealthy people, don't deserve to be treated like pariahs just because they are fat. Getting the word out about all the studies promoting the obesity epidemic hysteria and how the information is skewed to represent what the studies' backers want them to represent (did a pharmaceutical company with a new weight loss drug pay for the study that says this drug works, did they pick and choose the participants based on wellness or ill health, how did that reflect on the efficacy of the drug, what information did they learn that was detrimental to the use of the drug that they decided to leave out of the study, etc).
2. What qualities give a Fat Activist the capital letters in that title?
Courage under fire, meaning the ability to keep on telling the truth about diets and weight loss and HAES, no matter how many people shout you down. The ability to understand and interpret those studies mentioned in #1 and translate for those of us who don't have the technical knowledge to decipher medical-speak. A willingness to write letters to editors, congresspersons, companies, etc about the injustices perpetrated on fat people. The ability to inspire others to follow, and maybe even become leaders themselves. I don't mean that every Fat Activist will have all of the mentioned qualities, they may have some, and not others, they may have other qualities not listed.
3. How is a Fat Activist different from a Fat-Acceptance Supporter?
A Fat Acceptance Supporter may not be willing to become involved in direct vigorous action, but might work behind the scenes, organizing, filing, donating time and/or money wherever needed (got a talent for making buttons/t-shirts/bumper stickers with smart sayings promoting FA, etc). Fat Acceptance Supporters give feedback on ideas, help keep dialogs open, and give us all much-needed encouragement when things look bleak.
I haven't decided where I fit in the scheme of fat acceptance yet. I will continue to blog about the issues I find important, I will continue to read other fat acceptance blogs. I will also promote fat acceptance anytime I hear nastiness directed at any fat person. I don't want to hear about diets, been there done that, succeeded for a while, then failed miserably. I'm not going to congratulate people who have lost weight (nor will I put them down for dieting). Any opinion poll I take, that has an opportunity within its context, will hear about HAES from me. Any doctor I see will know that I don't want to hear anything about my weight, I want to be treated for whatever ailment I have just as I would be if I were thin and sick. I will complain when I am treated badly because of my fat.
Now, for how I reached this point in my life. I always thought I was fat as a teen because I didn't wear a size 4 or 6 (back in the late 60's/70's, 4's and 6's were considered fine), I wore a 16/18 in high school (I started having to wear a bra in 3rd grade). In high school, I was 5' 9" and weighed 175 lbs. I gained about 60 lbs when I got pregnant at 17 1/2 and didn't lose any of it after the baby came. I lost the weight when I got hit by a car at the age of 19. I was very active after that, roller skating and walking and bicycling, so even at the same weight of 175, I wore a size 14 (and still thought I was fat, since the Air Force wouldn't take me until I got down to 140). I stayed at that size until I got pregnant with my son in 1975, and ballooned up to 325. I dieted down to 200 lbs several times, each time regaining what I had lost, and then some. The last time that happened, I hit 350 lbs in 1989 and said enough is enough. Then I met a woman who was fat and had some serious health issues (I've blogged about Pat) back in 1991. We moved from Illinois to MN and her doctor recommended a VBG for her. She lost a lot of weight (check out her pics, you'll see what I mean) and I thought, wow, this could help me with my mobility issues that had been creeping up on me. Well, it killed her, and didn't work for me (my VBG was in September 1997). After that failed, I decided I was meant to be fat, there was nothing I could do to change it (after all, I had tried and failed too many times to keep on trying and failing). It wasn't until this summer that I found Fat Acceptance. Even though I kept saying I was meant to be fat, and knew I couldn't lose weight and keep it off, I still wanted to be thinner. If I was thinner, I wouldn't have the pain in my knee, or the pain in my back that keeps me from walking or standing. But if diets don't work, and WLS doesn't work, what do I do? I learned about HAES, and doing what exercise I can (which isn't much at this point, but I hope will improve). I learned that I don't have to apologize for being fat, that I don't have to accept the stereotypes of fat people, that I can learn to love myself as I am, fat and all. I wish every fat person could learn that, know it in their heart and head, and live their lives to the fullest, no matter what. I'm still on the journey, and probably will be forever, because as so many of you have said, it's not easy. It may be one of the hardest things I've ever done in my life, and I've been through some pretty rough shit (but that's dozens of other posts for other times), but, and this is a BIG but, I'm worth it, and so is every other fat person out there.