Monday, July 26, 2010

Fat Acceptance: A Basic Primer

Cynara Geissler, writing for Geez Magazine, wrote a phenomenal piece regarding body positivity that should have been included in my favorites yesterday, but it really warrants its own entry/discussion. I realize that the entire discussion about body image seems redundant at times, but its significance in our lives is enormous (pun intended). With each new group of young girls coming of age, being bombarded with "anti-body" propaganda, it is essential that we sustain these discussions in the hopes of keeping such positivity alive. Geissler does a beautiful job of presenting fat acceptance not merely as a philosophy, but as a movement -- a movement which has the potential to transform all areas of our lives.

"We live in a fat-fearing and food-moralizing culture," she writes. "Magazines, movies (often involving the hackneyed application of fat suits) and a multi-million dollar 'health' and diet industry all pump out the message 'thinner is better' – not unlike an unrelenting, cacophonous and extremely distracting trumpet."

Let's talk about that trumpet for a minute.

I love this sketch on Art By Ding because it captures the beauty of the real body. Amazingly, I think when we get past our initial judgments, viewing this image in the context of art makes us appreciate the beauty of this body (or at least, for myself, this is what transpired). If only we could view ourselves and every body of every shape as its own, unique piece! Imagine how revolutionary it would be to not only accept, but celebrate our bodies -- and this is what Geissler's piece and this entire movement is really all about.

What is most potent about this article is that it expands on a spiritual liberation that accompanies fat acceptance -- acceptance of one's body truly is the equivalent, for many of us, of living in the moment, of achieving a sort of enlightenment. "When you open up to the possibility that you can live your life right now instead of waiting for an arbitrary number on the scale, or on the tag in your pants," she writes, "it blows your world apart." In our culture, we are always striving for this ideal, without inhabiting the here and now; this is manifested not only in our fast-paced lives and perfectionism, but on a METAPHYSICAL level in how we relate our "selves" to our bodies.

And just as the feminist movement talks about claiming one's sexuality, Geissler points out that it's time to reclaim our bodies, marveling at our intimate connection to our own physical selves and our deepest selves. We must inhabit our bodies again, in the purest sense. "One of the disarming ironies of fat acceptance is that, once you step outside the panopticon of self-loathing and cease obsessing about your body and the ways it deviates from an impossible ideal, you become much more aware of the mechanics of what makes you feel satisfied, invigorated, and inspired and your choices – about food, physical activity, and personal presentation – reflect your needs and your identity." This schism between body and self, once mended, can not only be empowering, but can heal ourselves on a deep, spiritual level.

Overall, the article is brilliantly composed, and if there were an Emmy-equivalent for articles, this would surely be nominated. If you're interested in reading the entire article, check it out right here, right now! Be sure to check out the entire zine, and subscribe if possible. Power to Geez!

Interested in the movement?

Ways to Strive Toward Body Positivity:

1. Support Fat Acceptance literature and blogs, such as Big Fat Blog.

2. Support Fat Acceptance clothing stores. For a list, click here.

3. Be conscious. Judgments of others can be beyond our control, but how we react to those initial responses is up to us.

4. Go easy on yourself. Easier said than done, of course -- try to combat your inner critic with a compassionate, loving voice.

Image Credit: Richard Wilkinson - “Learn to Love Fat.”

When you're eating dinner tonight, splurge a little on my behalf. Put that high-sodium dressing on your salad, eat that brownie fudge sundae. Get down with your bad self! Or, I should say, good self.

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