To the barricades Comrades!

I like to call myself, and be called, fat. This is simple and descriptive and it feels powerful to reclaim a word that is frequently used pejoratively. I am a fat activist, which is a term that can mean many things, but for me it means that I think fat is a political subject.

Fat is typically framed as a health problem but health is not apolitical, as bodies of work in the social sciences have come to reveal. Debates about the NHS, and fat people being held responsible for funding crises, are just one area in which fat is a political subject. The social hatred and scapegoating of fat people can also be seen as political.

In my most recent book, Fat Activism: A Radical Social Movement, I argue that fat activism can be anything done by anyone for any reason. It is not necessarily about self-acceptance, improving health, developing self-love or addressing stigma – though that can be part of it. It can be as much about joining organisations as tweeting; as going to a fat clothes-swap as writing and sharing a poem; as having a conversation with someone as presenting a paper at a conference. It can be weird, illegible, ambiguous and antisocial. There is no singular way of being a fat activist.

Share a poem, that’ll larn them capitalists!

20 thoughts on “To the barricades Comrades!”

  1. @JuliaM – the article clearly states that “fat activism can be anything done by anyone for any reason”.

    So, going to Greggs and shouting” “Step away from the pies, blubberchops!” is fat activism.

  2. This is actually good progress for the Guardian. They’ve gone through the stages of grief.

    Two decades ago she would have been decrying the evil capitalists who laden their wares with trans fats and high-fructose corn syrup (anger). A decade ago she’d have complained that shops weren’t selling size-16 clothes for “ordinary” women (denial). Today she’s actively championing her fatness (acceptance).

    If only they could make the same progress in other fields.

  3. “In calling myself fat I am drawing on a feminist practice of naming things in order to bring them into being.”

    Does this mean that feminists can do magic?
    Sort of point at an empty field, shout “affordable homes!” and they just appear?

  4. Oh God, here we go again. Once someone likes being called fat it’ll soon be a breach of their rights to NOT call them fat, whilst simultaneously respecting the rights of those who don’t like being called fat. How to tell the difference? You can’t, but it’ll still be your fault

  5. Fat is of little use save as cod “honesty”. Sans the needed qualifiers: lazy, greedy, self-indulgent etc,

    And in her case: “CM sack of shit” would also be an accurate addition.

  6. fat activism can be anything done by anyone for any reason

    Blimey, does this means that I’m being a ‘fat activist’ when I’m raking up the autumn leaves? Or when the postie, who, like yours truly, is decidely not fat, merrily announces his advent with a whistled tune? Or when indeed I type an essentially pointless comment into a web form on a blog, wondering how much barmier the world can get and what further lengths the writer of that piece will go to rather than just, you know, eating less.

  7. “I argue that fat activism can be anything done by anyone for any reason”

    So eating that fifth chocolate éclair isn’t greed, it’s fat activism.

  8. So Much For Subtlety

    Being fat, stupid and lazy is a grave moral failing. Being proud of it ought to be a crime.

    Actually maybe we can solve this problem and make the Left happy. I bet there weren’t many fat activists in the Gulag.

  9. The tragedy of the NTNON’s sketch is that it does not seem absurd anymore, it is more a parody of modern activists, e.g. #blacklivesmatterUK

  10. This is the Guardian of course, so they are capable of facing both ways at the same time. So whilst they give space to a fat bird, who clearly would rather not be fat, so has to spend all the time pretending she does like it; at the same time they have no hesitation in getting behind the Public Health fascists and their insane anti-sugar war. Orwell called it DoubleThink I believe.

  11. @Ian Reid

    I’m always slightly sad that his equally excellent duckspeak never got the same cultural traction as new speak, double think etc.

  12. So “fat activism” includes going on a hunger strike?
    I note that Orwell has already been invoked, but she appears to be employed by the Ministry of Truth

  13. Bloke in Costa Rica

    She’s not fat. She’s grotesquely, morbidly obese. I’m fat, because my trousers have a 36″ waist when I should be able to fit in a 34″. She’s a fucking hamplanet.

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