Fat Activism, Feminism, and Witchcraft
In the United States, fat activism, feminism, and witchcraft need to find one another. (The phenomenal Dances with Fat blog does link to pagan author Dianne Sylvan’s blog, so maybe there are more connections already than seem to meet the eye.) Fat activism has many faces, but two of the most interesting tenets to me are the concepts of size acceptance and health at every size. Size acceptance is the simple yet revolutionary idea that it is okay to be fat and that it is not okay to discriminate against fat people. Since women are typically held to higher and more rigid body standards than men in our culture, fat acceptance and feminism are a natural fit together. Health at every size is even more radical. This concept holds that you can be fat and healthy. If you’re eating healthy foods and exercising regularly, you might not get skinny but you might get healthy. Hell, maybe you already are healthy.
I went to the doctor today to deal with some chest congestion I’ve been experiencing for a couple weeks. According to the scale there, I weigh 78.2 kilograms (172.4 pounds). At 5’7”, the typical body mass index charts call me overweight, which is fair. Right now, I’m about 20 pounds heavier than my body’s normal happy weight. However, this rare cold aside, I am incredibly healthy. My blood pressure was 120 over 82, which is just the tiniest bit above normal for diastolic. My energy is insane. I am brimming with energy and sometimes have to go for a walk at night to burn some off so that I can sleep. When I do put my head down, I fall asleep in minutes and stay asleep. (I regularly sleep through severe thunderstorms and tornado warnings.) I wake up every morning minutes before my alarm goes off. I’m a vegetarian, but my iron levels always kick butt when I donate blood. My sex life is good. My digestive system never gives me trouble. I look a little younger than my 30 years. This summer, I swam for hours in Acapulco, climbed a mountain and pyramid in Tepotzlan, went diving off a 30 foot rock with two daredevil PE teachers, and swung into a river like Tarzan. Last September, I walked and finished a half marathon. I’m an XL woman living an XL life. I don’t let my size hold me back from having fun or working for a better world.
I credit feminism and paganism with the peace I’ve made with my body. You see, I dieted myself fat. In the sixth grade, I decided that my scrawny little knobby-kneed self was fat, and I began to diet. I wasn’t fat before I declared war on my body, before I decided that I couldn’t trust my appetite, that I was unacceptable. Some of my body changes were from puberty, but starting a binge-starve-punish-reward cycle didn’t help. Feminism and paganism helped me see that I am a valuable and vibrant person regardless of size, and the book Lessons from the Fat-o-Sphere was my first real eye-opener. It is still a process for me. I sometimes wear control top leggings and exercise to change my body’s form instead of its function. I sometimes eat too much when I’m not hungry and deny myself when I am. I am far from a perfect person in all aspects of my life, and my journey toward self-acceptance is no exception.
What does a feminist, fat-positive witchy future hold? I’m not sure. I’m imagining that the love and pro-woman sentiment of the goddess spirituality movement can change our worlds. We will say, “You look great today!” without saying “Have you lost weight?” in a happy tone. We’ll have body acceptance rituals in which we honor the divine feminine within, share food, and hug one another. We’ll embrace our skinny sisters without any “real women have curves” rhetoric. All women are real, whether they are skinny or fat, femme or butch, trans or cis. My saucy, femme, chubby self might express my body-positivity like the image below does. Your body positivity may look completely different.