Around this time last year, Donna Simpson, who had achieved some noteriety for her public quest to gain to 1000 pounds, claimed in several BBW/FA forums that she was representing the fat community. She was met with much resentment from within the group that she purported to represent. Many of those critics questioned her motives, although some of them also refused to acknowledge that Donna represented no one but herself.
Less than a month later, I posted a thread in the Dimensions forum asking that if Donna was not in fact a spokesperson for the fat community, who would others think would be a likely figurehead to represent the community at large. A few names got thrown around (mine included), but many, especially the same people who expressed the disdain over Ms. Simpson, again claimed that no one represented them personally.
From that thread :
“I dont feel like just one person does represent us
we all have amazing stories and our own journies that whilst simmilar have all been handled differently, we all have something positive to offer the world”
Now, let me ask you this. When a person outside this community closes their eyes, and you ask them where their mind goes when you mention the words fat person, what do you think they say? I’ve done this with some of my friends outside of the community, and have gotten many horrifying answers.
Why does this happen?
For me, the answer is twofold. First, I think that there are too many people who are fat who continue to reinforce the negative stereotype. They flaunt their fat like it’s the only thing that defines them. Now, before anyone gets insulted, and you round up the wagons, please understand that I embrace my preference for the fat form, and I’ve managed to connect the dots to develop what I feel is a clear understanding of what both FAT and SIZE acceptance are all about. I’m an advocate, and I contribute both time and money towards fat causes. That said, I do hold some resentment towards those who continue to reinforce those negative stereotypes of what the outside world thinks about fat people. While I defend their right to do just that (this is still America, last I looked), I also have the right to express my dislike for their words and actions.
The other reason for the continued “attitude” towards fat people for me is the fact that there aren’t really any TRUE spokespersons for this cause. Some will claim that’s not true, and cite names like Joy Nash, Marilyn Wann, Leah Sweet, Substantia Jones, Heather Boyle, Russell Williams, and even Conrad Birkenstoffer as the leaders of the movement. I think that while some of those names have credibility WITHIN the ranks, no one really knows them where it’s really needed, which is, the rest of the world.
Some of you who read these blogs are near my age, and will remember the early days of the civil rights movement in the 60’s. There were several leaders in this movement, and each had a different tactic in changing the minds of those who attempted to continue the oppressive attitudes and stereotypes of black people. While the great Dr. Martin Luther King took the road of respectful civil disobedience, he had the support of many within the black community, and his marches took on great significance as the numbers who attended his events increased almost daily. On the other hand, the community also had the very outspoken Malcolm X, who called attention to the struggle in very different ways. He also had the support of many, mostly those who felt that King was too peaceful, and wanted a more “in your face” attitude in confronting white racism. While others led in the struggle, like Huey Newton and Stokley Carmichael, It was King and Malcolm who had the strongest effect in change with regard to civil rights.
What if blacks in the 60’s said “Those people don’t represent me!”. My question is, where would the civil rights movement be today, nearly 50 years later?
I agree that as people who are fat, and those who are attracted to the fat form, can live their lives in such a way that they can affect the small part of the world around them, but I feel strongly that we need leaders that will pull the community together, much like the old NAFAA attempted to do before they became the shadow of what they once were. Someone needs to step up, and represent the different factions that comprise the very diverse group that so many of us are part of.
Problem is, that’s not going to happen when so many think that they don’t need someone to speak for them. C’mon guys, get your collective heads out of the sand, and realize that our movement towards acceptance is not a whole lot different that those who struggle for race and gay acceptance. Those movements, by the way, have some strong spokesmen (and women) whose speeches and writings have changed the minds of many.
SO, my question is, do you want to take the time to examine some of the people who are already out there representing you and offer them support in some way, or do you want to look back in 10 years, and realize how no one was able to step up and make change because you and so many others refused to acknowledge that a leader in this somewhat fragmented community is in fact necessary.
Stop wasting time.