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Big Fat Impossible Dreams

January 23, 2012

Originally posted by Ragen Chastain on Dances With Fat.

I try not to rant two days in a row but sometimes it’s a rule that I break.  For the second time in a week someone has told me that some type of fat activism that I was doing was impossible and a waste of time.

Here’s what happened: I said (in two separate incidences) that I want to help put up a billboard in Georgia to counter a hateful billboard campaign that shames fat children, and that I want to work with airlines (as an expert both in business operations and in fat activism) to figure out a solution to the issue of flying fat. In both instances, People felt the need to tell me that I should give up before I start because it’s just too hard/impossible.

I understand that I’m touchy about this because it’s been happening all my life:  I’ve been doing stuff that people said was impossible since before I entered kindergarten and as recently as yesterday.  I still remember that my senior quote was “It’s better to die on your feet than live on your knees.” by Emiliano Zapata  I really believed that when I got to be an adult, or did enough stuff that people said was impossible, that it would stop.  Apparently not.

But don’t be discouraged by these people .  It’s historically demonstrable that these naysayers are likely wrong.  I know that because I wore pants when I left my desegregated school to vote for the first time.  I know that because 42 years after the Stonewall Riots I signed as a witness at the legal marriage of my gay best friend and his husband.  When it comes to civil rights, history is on our side, and the odds are in our favor, and if we fail, we’ll be better for having tried, than to have spent our energy trying to discourage the people who are doing the work.

What’s the point of telling those of us who are trying to improve a situation to stop trying?  Are these people just looking for eventual “I told you so” rights?  Were they not able to make their dreams come true and so now they want to stomp on someone else’s? What is the deal with this?  If they think that they are doing this for our own good, it’s just another form of concern trolling and it’s just as unwelcome as any other form.  One of the core tenants of my activism, taken from one of my heroes – Harvey Milk, is “You gotta give them hope”.  If your motto is “You gotta take their hope away” then you’re allowed to do that, but I will never understand it.

I get hatemail everyday from idiots who tell me things from “You’re disgusting” to “I want to kill you”. But none of that is as annoying to me as people who tell me that I shouldn’t try to change things because it’s impossible.  You know who never makes anything better?  People who say “don’t bother trying to make things better”.  You don’t have an obligation to try to change things, I think it’s cool if you’re not interested in activism at all, but how about you don’t try to pull down those of us who are.

People tell me sometimes that my blog is too angry.  I AM  angry sometimes and I do not apologize for that.  I’m also happy, energized and hopeful much of the  time.  I saw something on the brilliant Marilyn Wann’s Facebook that pretty much sums it up for me:

I share this feeling, with Margaret Cho, that I have an endless fund of rage, a wonderful energy source, and like her, I will not set aside the option of directing a honed beam of that rage at people who — whether thoughtlessly and knowingly and venally — inflict their weight prejudice on others as if that’s at all okay. Disproportionate response, my fat ass.

I am treated like a second class citizen in any number of situations every day.  If people are shocked that I’m angry, then I’m shocked that they’re shocked.

If you are fat, then I know that you may have been encouraged to dream small, or not at all.  To settle for a partner who is less than what you want, or to expect that nobody will ever love you. To give up your dream of being a dancer, or an athlete, or a corporate CEO. To take a crappy job for less pay than you deserve and never try for anything more.  To just accept social injustice and being treated like a second class citizen. To stop “complaining” and just accept the status quo.

If you want to dream big then I say do it.  Dream big.  Really big.  Huge.  Tell me how I can support you and I’ll do anything I can.  I believe that we will see substantial change in the way that fat people are treated in my lifetime, and that will make everyone’s lives better. I choose to dedicate my time and energy to being part of that change.  If you disagree or if you don’t, that’s just perfectly fine.  If you think I can’t or shouldn’t,  that’s absolutely your right, but feel free to keep that to yourself because I don’t care, I will not tolerate it, and if you want to see how angry I can be then keep it up.

If you want to be part of the change then let’s go.  We’ll have fun, do cool stuff, and change the world. Here’s that Harvey Milk Speech one more time:

“I know that you cannot live on hope alone, but without it, life is not worth living.  And you, and you, and you, you gotta give them hope”


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