I’m SO SICK of fat-shaming within the environmental movement.

I know I’ve written about this a bunch of times before, and I don’t really have any new scintillating analysis. I’m just pissed off.

In the past week, I’ve seen the following headlines from the two major environmental blogs I read: Lose weight faster with the transit diet (Treehugger) and Just living close to Walmart makes you fat (Grist).

I’m so, so sick of environmentalists using fat bodies as a shorthand for everything that’s wrong with the capitalist, earth-destroying, people-destroying system we live in. I’m so sick of seeing people who care deeply about the same things I do treating bodies like mine as a symptom (or sometimes even a cause) of everything that’s wrong with the world.

There have always been fat people–since long before cars, suburban sprawl, or WalMart were invented–and there always will be. There are fat people who live in cities and get around by walking and public transit (ahem…*raises hand*).  There are thin people who live in exurbs and drive everywhere.  Fatness is neither a moral failing nor a metaphor for the ills of late capitalism.

Critique the system, not people’s bodies.

Promote good urban design and walkability on their own merits, not by scaring people with the threat of–gasp!–becoming fat, as if fatness is some terrible thing.

Let me tell you, it isn’t.

I can’t even begin to describe how frustrated I am, how long I’ve watched sizeism crop up time and time again among people who can critique almost any other kind of oppression.

I wish I could shake the entire environmental movement and somehow get it through their heads: all bodies are good bodies. “Obesity” is not a disease. Weight =! health. Fat people don’t consume more resources than anyone else. Our bodies aren’t a symptom or a metaphor–they’re just our bodies. Fat people belong in the environmental movement too, and we’re sick of being treated as victims, oppressors, or scapegoats rather than comrades.

We can hear what you’re saying about us, and we’re sick of it. We’re especially sick of it because we can see what’s happening to our planet and its people, and it makes us heartsick and terrified. We’re fighting like hell against the forces of greed and destruction, and for a vision of a better world.

We’re fighting alongside you–and instead of solidarity, we find our bodies used as punchlines.

I’m here to say: enough. We demand respect. We demand that you acknowledge our full humanity, nothing less.


9 thoughts on “I’m SO SICK of fat-shaming within the environmental movement.

  1. Thanks for writing about your frustration with fat shaming in a supposedly progressive community. I don’t know why I keep expecting people, who have an excellent understanding and analysis of oppression, to be able to apply that analysis to fat shaming and sizeism. I am disappointed over and over when a fat person is a punchline or there is concern trolling or, OMGdeathfatz!. I would like to know what words I need to use to help them hear me because the words I’m using now don’t work.

    • Hell yes! Over the weekend, the arvrial of hot weather was accompanied by a chorus of women on my Facebook shaming other women and girls because their shorts were too short and/or revealing. The tone was pearl-clutching: do girls these days not wear pants?’ or I’m 27 and I love booty shorts, but I think I’m too old to wear them’. The latter had a doozy of a reply along the lines of oh I don’t think there’s an age limit, just a BMI limit.No. Fuck off. Other women’s bodies are not your business. When you try to make some other woman’s body your business, you feed a culture that tries to enforce laws that seek to remove our bodily autonomy.

  2. Pingback: Another thing I’m sick of: blaming fat women for our lack of clothing options | Tutus And Tiny Hats

  3. Thankyou for writing this. I work in the environmental sector and there is a hell of a lot of body policing and orthorexia (https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/orthorexia-nervosa) within the groups I move in and also a lot of fitness shaming i.e. if you’re not “fit”, then you can’t really claim to be a proper environmentalist.

    I am fat, and I am also an environmentalist. My particular ways of reducing consumption are not to fly (ten years since my last flight) and not to have children. Both these decisions mean that my “footprint” is significantly smaller than e.g. those who fly out to trek in the wilderness or bring up their big green families in a sustainable way. But my fatness is seen as being profligate, and as you say, capitalist, earth-destroying and a symptom of all that is wrong.

    I’m glad you wrote this, thankyou.

  4. Pingback: Sunday links, 11/23/14 | Tutus And Tiny Hats

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