I often think about how much time, energy, and money are wasted on the weight cycling industry, which is worth $66 billion/year in the US alone. Imagine what we could do with those resources if we directed them toward making the world a better place instead of making our bodies smaller!
In that spirit, I propose this: let’s take the time and money we might have used on dieting, and instead donate it to organizations and causes we care about. Let’s show what a difference we can make with even a fraction of the resources that people waste every year trying to force their bodies into a socially acceptable shape. And let’s use the hashtag #ChangeTheWorldNotOurBodies to tell each other, and the world, about what we’re doing.
To start, I gave $10 to Scarleteen, and then tweeted: “I just donated $10 to @Scarleteen instead of the weight cycling industry. #ChangeTheWorldNotOurBodies.” Feel free to use the hashtag on any form of social media–Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, Instagram, etc.
I know that not everyone has time or money to donate–hell, I even wrote about it recently. If you can’t contribute, no worries; but if you can give even $5 or an hour of your time, that would be awesome. And of course, signal-boost!
You can donate to/volunteer with whatever organizations you choose–make the world a better place in whatever way feels right to you! That said, I have a few suggestions, both of things to keep in mind and of specific groups I recommend.
Things to keep in mind when choosing an organization
– Consider donating to a small, independent organization that doesn’t have a big fundraising budget, and therefore needs the money a lot more than a big non-profit (which Heather Corinna of Scarleteen talks about here and here).
– Look for organizations run by marginalized groups rather than for them.
– It’s good to analyze the efficacy of organizations, but the percentage they spend on overhead is not necessarily a good metric to use, as non-profits need some overhead to be sustainable.
– Personally, I try to avoid donating to non-profits that depend on unpaid internships, aka free labor.
Alternatives for Community and Empowerment: Building power for environmental justice. (This is a local Boston org.)
The Eastern Massachusetts Abortion Fund: The EMA helps people living in or traveling to eastern Massachusetts access abortion. (A bunch of my friends volunteer for EMA, and I can tell you that their work is important and so needed.)
Girls Rak Bellydance and Body Image Program: Bellydance. Body Justice. Joy.
The Indigenous Environmental Network: Strengthening, maintaining, and respecting traditional teachings and natural laws.
Modest Needs: Empowers members of the general public to make small, emergency grants to low-income workers who are at risk of slipping into poverty.
The Network/La Red: A survivor-led, social justice organization that works to end partner abuse in lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, BDSM, polyamorous, and queer communities.
Scarleteen: Inclusive, comprehensive and smart sexuality information and help for teens and 20s.
The Trans Justice Funding Project: A community-led funding initiative supporting grassroots, trans justice groups run by and for trans people.
I also recommend media outlets like Autostraddle and Black Girl Dangerous, which publish writing by members of marginalized groups (and pay their writers). I’m especially impressed with the depth and breadth of topics that Autostraddle takes on–they constantly tackle important issues, while also remembering to have fun. As a straight person, I know I’m not their target audience, and I respect their community space by not commenting there; but I learn so much from their pieces, and I have major respect for them.