This Magazine

Progressive politics, ideas & culture

September-October 2016

Why Canadians need more inclusive body politics

Talking about bodies is hard, but it doesn't mean we shouldn't start conversations about them

Amanda Scriver@amascriver

ThisMagazine50_coverLores-minFor our special 50th anniversary issue, Canada’s brightest, boldest, and most rebellious thinkers, doers, and creators share their best big ideas. Through ideas macro and micro, radical and everyday, we present 50 essays, think pieces, and calls to action. Picture: plans for sustainable food systems, radical legislation, revolutionary health care, a greener planet, Indigenous self-government, vibrant cities, safe spaces, peaceful collaboration, and more—we encouraged our writers to dream big, to hope, and to courageously share their ideas and wish lists for our collective better future. Here’s to another 50 years!

Living as a fat person in this world is hard—really fucking hard. As a fat woman, I’m exposed to near-constant discussion about my body by those who have no right to discuss it. It’s a never-ending fight not to be undermined and viewed as physically, economically, or emotionally unnecessary.

Every person’s body journey is different. While finding your voice, you can encounter several different types of activism, different types of empowerment and draw inspiration from people both online and offline. And then there’s the unexpected stuff: hate from within the fat activism community, cliquey attitudes, and false empowerment deemed as activism.

Here is the thing: body politics are complicated and uncomfortable. But that doesn’t mean we can’t strive to be better and more inclusive—to ensure the dialogue we’re promoting isn’t as harmful as the feared body-shamers that many of us battle each and every single day.

When I co-founded the blog Fat Girl Food Squad, I created a platform to share thoughts and opinions in the body positivity community. The aim of our blog, which developed into a community space, was to “provide a safe, positive space for all bodies, while showcasing those who identify themselves as fat.” It is not okay to dismiss another fat person’s experiences just because they are “only” a size 16. It’s not empowering or uplifting to call out others in the fat community as “skinny-fats” and tell them their opinions don’t matter.

Privilege does exist, but at the end of the day, fat bodies still matter—all fat bodies. It’s incredibly frustrating that so-called “skinny-fats” are shamed and shunned from the straight-sized community and also deemed unworthy by the fat community. We’re allowed to feel complicated feels and we’re allowed to feel discomfort, but we need to ask ourselves: When do those feelings border on bullying? Where do we draw the line?

There is so much to unpack when we use the word fat. It’s a powerful word, one that we’re still fighting hard to reclaim and one that still makes many people uncomfortable. It’s a three letter word and yet it holds so much power. People are afraid of fatness, they are afraid of you owning your fatness, and they are afraid of your fat being a source of political energy. Let’s stop separating which fat bodies are right and which fat bodies are wrong. Fat holds so much energy over others. Rather than using that energy to tear down one another, we should use it to uplift, empower, and liberate other fat bodies.

Amanda Scriver is a Toronto-based community builder and body image advocate. She lives for a good cup of coffee, enjoys trashy reality TV, and communicates frequently in GIF

Show Comments