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.

 

It’s Earth Day. I have thoughts (and a bunch of links).

woman wearing hot pink shirt climbing out of tree roots in the woods

The Laura in her natural habitat, in the Berkshires about a year ago. I just noticed that the rock in the upper left corner of the picture looks like a heart!

I’m trying to catch up on all the Earth Day-related news and essays around the internet, and there are a lot–you should see how many tabs I have open right now. To start, I’ll point you to the Nation, which has devoted all of its content today to climate change (!!). So far, I recommend these:
The change within: the obstacles we face are not just external.
“Jobs vs. the environment”: how to counter this divisive big lie.

In Keystone XL-related news, Obama has delayed his decision on the pipeline…again. On one hand, it’s kind of annoying that he keeps putting it off; but at the same time, it’s a sign of progress. As Bill McKibben puts it, “[W]ithout a broad and brave movement, DC would have permitted this dumb pipeline in 2011. So on we go.”

Today is the start of the Reject and Protect protest against KXL, which is hosted by the Cowboy and Indian Alliance (yes, that’s really what they call their group of farmers, ranchers, and Native American tribal leaders). There will be a big rally on Sunday, and many of my fellow Bostonians will be there. I don’t have the travel-energy for it, after two trips to Philadelphia in the past few weeks to see my grandmother, but I will be there in spirit.

A protest I might actually be able to attend is the People’s Climate March in New York City on September 20-21. Finally, a major climate action within a few hours of Boston! And I love NYC, so I appreciate any excuse to go there.

Now, on to the thoughts–which are about one particular article. To be fair, I didn’t read the whole thing, just a post about it, so take my reactions with a grain of salt; but I didn’t have the brain-space to read the whole thing when even a few quotes pissed me off so much. The article is a New York Times Magazine profile of Paul Kingsnorth, a former environmental activist who publicly gave up on climate change and retreated to the woods to found a literary journal and hold Burning Man-like parties.

As Heather Smith at Grist points out, his group “sounds less like an enduring movement with relevance to the environmental movement as a whole than a midlife crisis.” 

And then she really nails it: “In declaring the largest problem of our era unfixable, Kingsnorth gave himself — and a few other earnest, idealistic types – the perfect excuse to put on a badger mask and go party in the woods.”

My take on all this: it takes a metric fuckton of privilege to give up on the world. Continue reading