Hallo folks! If you are a vegan ~of size~ I really hope you will be able to take some time to read and share this (and perhaps offer feedback?)
I continue to struggle to gain submissions for this project. I know that there are plenty of bigger vegan folks out there, and I’m sure plenty have a lot of Feelings about body shaming or health trolling within the vegan community, experiences of what it’s like to not identify the ubiquitous “before and after” trope that is so common in veganism, and so on.
I started to assess how I was reaching out to people and began to wonder if I was alienating people who either do not identify as ‘fat’, consider the word negative or a pejorative, or perhaps aren’t ready to use that label.
This connects to a study I read recently titled The Stigma of Obesity: Does Perceived Weight Discrimination Affect Identity and Physical Health? by Markus H. Schafer and Kenneth F. Ferraro, published in Social Psychology Quarterly in 2011.
Here’s a very brief summary of results:
“Perceived weight discrimination is found to be harmful, increasing the health risks of obesity associated with functional disability and, to a lesser degree, self-rated health. Findings also reveal that weight-based stigma shapes weight perceptions, which mediate the relationship between perceived discrimination and health.”
But this isn’t the quote I want to concentrate here. This is what caught my attention:
“Interestingly, this picture of perceived discrimination, identity, and health runs counter to some recent findings involving race. Neblett et al. (2004), for instance, find that racial discrimination is less detrimental for health among people with salient racial identities. In light of other studies, however, this is rather unsurprising. Whereas strong racial identity is generally reported as a buffer to stress and health threats (Mossakowski 2003; Sellers et al. 2003), heavy weight is pervasively considered a negative aspect of self-concept, and a tiny proportion of heavy people embrace the ‘‘fat’’ identity (LeBesco 2004; Puhl and Brownell 2001). If people tend not to rally around a shared sense of feeling heavy, then having a ‘‘fat identity’’ would offer little consolation in the midst of perceived wrongdoing. The sense of camaraderie attached to ethnicity, on the other hand, can be empowering and more effectively stifle the insults of offenders.”
This was quite a lightbulb moment for me, and one that (I feel) really highlights the importance of identifying as part of a positive ‘fat’ community. I am not in the habit of comparing oppressions, and am still working through whether this link was a respectful one to seize on, but the absolute reality of this observation struck me before I’d finished the paragraph.
It took me a long time to feel comfortable using the word fat. I skirted around this for years, jokingly referring to plus-sized retailers as ‘fat shops’ and so on. But when I discovered the fat-positive movement, immersed myself in fat-positive media and bolstered my resolve by researching Health at Every Size, reading studies, and reaching out to other fat activists, using the word fat became absolutely painless.
I know that using the word ‘fat’ can feel impossible, upsetting, perhaps an acceptance of failure. But once again I will link to some great pieces here about talking this word and wearing it like the armour that it is.
A sense of community is SO important in a world where weight stigma is known to be physically harmful to your health even if you are fat and metabolically healthy otherwise.
So if you feel like you might want to contribute to this zine but are hesitant about identifying as fat, or about the brazen way in which the word is used, please reach out for a chat, read these articles/resources, maybe even write about how hard it can be to identify (proudly) as a fat person?
Additionally, submissions can be 100% anonymous so if you are not ready to publicly announce your ‘fatness’ to the world, you don’t have to!
Please do share this post with your big vegan buddies. Absolutely anyone who is (1) vegan and (2) fat/plus/big/of size/heavy is welcome to contribute to this project. It is a space for our voices to safely exist and be heard!
Thank you friends <3
- The Divine Liberation of Calling Myself Fat
- A History Of The Words “Fat” and “Fatkini” In The Fashion Community and Why These Terms Still Matter
- Fat-Shaming Culture & Why We Need to Reclaim the Word ‘Fat’
- Health at Every Size factsheet
- Articles and Evidence from The Fat Nutritionist
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