In times of distress or uncertainty, I regularly find myself turning to fat positive activists for inspiration. Since November 8, 2016, this has been truer than ever. Never in my life has a new presidency resulted in such global protestation: Such fear, grief, anger, and widespread willingness to fight. While it can quickly start to feel like we should be pouring every inch of our energy into combatting the apparent surge in racist, xenophobic, sexist, homophobic, and Islamophobic BS permeating so many people's words and actions as of late, I also believe it important to dedicate some time to circles of activism that might not feel as immediately related to the current cultural climate, but that can fill you with the strength and courage you might need to make it through all the rest.
Fat positivity and size acceptance — movements rooted in the deconstruction of sizeism and the humanization and equality of visibly fat people — undoubtedly intersect with issues of feminism, race, and class.
Within their umbrellas exist so many humans schooling the masses on the myriad ways our identities shape the way we experience the world. They help people conceptualize just how much one's fatness can affect one's health care or earning potential or likeliness to be harassed or accessibility to fashion. And they help make it clear that weight-based discrimination is still very real, something that isn't being addressed nearly as much as it should be.
The below fat positive activists are also a reminder that fighting for progressive change is arguably more vital now than ever. Even though their identities as fats, as queers, and/or as POC are constantly challenged, they are not backing down. And they might just encourage you do feel like you can make it through all this, too.
1. Your Fat Friend
Stop judging the strength of fat people’s character based on the size of our bodies.— Your Fat Friend (@yrfatfriend) February 20, 2017
Found on Medium, Upworthy, and Everyday Feminism, Your Fat Friend is an anonymous fat, queer writer who's arguably responsible for some of the most poignant articles on fat acceptance to come out of 2016. From "What It's Like To Be That Fat Person Sitting Next To You On The Plane" to "What I Need When We Talk About Bodies," her stories challenge thin folks to analyze the ways their fat antagonism can destroy people's lives while simultaneously challenging fellow fats to fight for the right to an existence that needn't be justified. She can also be found on Twitter, regularly crafting hard-hitting threads that are just as radical as her long-form prose.
2. Bad Fat Broads
The Bad Fat Broads podcast — hosted by radical voices in intersectional feminism and size acceptance Ariel Woodson and KC Slack — is a safe haven. Whether they're dissecting their qualms with minimal diversity framed as revolutionary representation in a magazine or via a brand, or discussing precisely why now is not the time to give up on combatting fat shaming, the duo never shies away from all things uncomfortable and real. In fact, the more uncomfortable a subject might be for a listener, the more outspoken and inspiring these two seem to get.
3. Caleb Luna
"Fat, brown, queer" writer Caleb Luna isn't afraid to tell you why your fat stigma is racist or why it's time for small fats to make more room for larger ones in the size acceptance movement. When they're not killing in on Everyday Feminism, Luna is maintaining a Facebook page that is definitely worth a follow. Sharing their articles alongside commentary that discusses everything from the intersection of gender identity and fatness to navigating trauma and relationships, Luna is just the kind of unapologetic voice we need more of right now.
4. Lesley Kinzel
Writer and editor Lesley Kinzel was covering fat acceptance on xoJane long before the term started to go more mainstream, and her posts were undoubtedly the first step in quite a few people's journeys to better love and respect their bodies. These days, she can regularly be found on Medium, talking all about how fat shaming is not an individual problem, but a cultural one, or thinking critically about characters that perpetuate sad fatty tropes on TV. Her book, Two Whole Cakes, takes a powerful stance against diet culture, encouraging readers to accept the simple fact that their bodies are not a tragedy.
5. Ashleigh Shackleford
Wear Your Voice writer Ashleigh Shackleford is a queer, Black femme whose work in fat acceptance exists alongside powerful Black Lives Matter activism and "sit-for-several-hours-to-contemplate-this" posts on intersectional feminism. When it comes to fat positivity, some of her most memorable articles tackle the intricacies of dating while fat as well as the very contemporary issue that is framing fatphobia as empowerment in a time when body positive rhetoric is becoming more commonplace.
6. Leah Vernon
Plus size blogger Leah Vernon of Beauty And The Muse combines unapologetic fatshion with words on being a Muslim, feminist, humanist in a world that largely cannot seem to reconcile the intersection of the terms. Her Instagram posts are just as inspiring as her blog articles, with poignant captions accompanying breathtaking imagery. "I [hear from] those other people who insert themselves between myself and my religion, questioning how I can call myself Muslim and wear tight clothes or smear lipstick on my lips or go on dates," she wrote in an IG post. "How I can write about semi-vulgar topics or FB live myself getting a Brazilian wax?" The answer is simply that her identity is made up of various beautiful parts — none of which negate the others.
7. Bethany Rutter
tfw clothes for dogs are listed higher up in River Island's navigation than clothes for fat women pic.twitter.com/JM1H33IALa— Bert (@bethanyrutter) January 16, 2017
Plus size blogger Bethany Rutter of Arched Eyebrow has long felt like a solid voice in fat positivity rather than body positivity. It's not that her blog posts or tweets ever come across as anti-"all bodies are good bodies." Rather, she's able to conceptualize which bodies are not particularly treated as "good" by society at large, and those are the ones she focuses on celebrating and normalizing. Her Twitter profile is always an especially rad gold mine for inclusive feminist and fat positive rhetoric told through the lens of someone with magnificently dry humor.
Although it can sometimes feel shallow or flippant to focus on fat positivity (or body positivity) when times get as harrowing as they have been, it's crucial to remember that most topics of social justice relate to one another in some capacity. In the words of Bad Fat Broads' Ariel Woodson, "Most of the people sitting here saying hateful shit about people because of their weight are also saying hateful things about people because of their race, gender, sexuality, religious identity, immigration status, disability. Do you think that they are done for the day when they tell us we're gonna die for merely existing in this body? Nah, they move on to trolling other marginalized groups."
Like all fighting to be had in the aid of positive, progressive change, preaching fat acceptance can definitely seem daunting. But like all fighting to be had in the aid of positive, progressive change, it's 100 percent necessary. Let these seven essential voices in the movement — as well as myriad other voices out there — be your guides.