Golda Poretsky calls herself a "body love coach." It sounds a lot like a life coach, except her clients are women and men who want to remove themselves from what she calls "the diet roller-coaster" yet maintain their health and learn to love themselves. (She also has a business called Body Love Wellness, a background in nutrition and holistic health, wrote a book called Stop Dieting Now!, and has written for the likes of Jezebel.com.) Late last month Poretsky issued a challenge to progressive politicos such as the Occupy movement to include fat-acceptance in their way of thinking. She came up with a pretty impressive analogy on her blog that highlights the common challenges shared by the Occupy movement and fat activists.
Occupiers, she points out, reject the idea that if you just work hard enough, you can get an education, earn a decent income, buy a house, have a family, and whatever else you might want. Yet things such as discrimination, poverty, vast income disparity, and an economic system rigged to favor the wealthiest insiders stand in the way of these things for 99 percent of us. Poretsky also notes that some people (most of them on the political right) reply by essentially saying "Shut up, hippies! Get a job! If you just worked harder you could be rich like us!"
Then she compares this with society's treatment of fat people.
Does this sound familiar? Have you ever been told that if you just worked harder at it and did things right, you'd lose weight and keep it off? It's pretty much the argument of every diet pusher when their diet fails. It's the argument of every doctor who, despite supposedly having a knowledge of the way the body and metabolism works, insists that diet and exercise will work if you just work hard enough. It's the argument that supports continued discrimination against fat people because if fat people really are just lazy and not working hard enough, then it's their fault, and the diet companies, and pharmaceutical companies, and doctors ... don't have to do the work of realizing that the whole system is based on a lie and that it's dangerous and needs to change.
Poretsky then points to the medical journal The Lancet, which estimates that 68 percent of Americans are overweight -- that's a little more than 2/3 of the nation. It stands to reason, then, that such numbers could give great force to another type of Occupy movement.
"Imagine if all of these people (and their thin allies) began to see that fat wasn't bad," she writes, "that diets don't work, that discrimination against fat people is wrong, and that people having a diversity of bodies is beautiful."
A person named Saffie who posted a comment to Poretsky's original post says she experienced size-related shaming from a couple of Occupy people in her [unnamed] town. She says she brought that to the general assembly, which agreed that fat/body shaming was just as unacceptable as other types of social oppression.
"So not all lefties are clueless," Saffie concludes.