Marilyn Wann has worked as a fat activist full time since the mid-90s, dedicating her time to fighting weight discrimination. She’s the author of the book FAT!SO? and also publishes a ‘zine by the name, and regularly gives talks on the subject. When she first saw Georgia’s Strong4Life anti-obesity ads, she “felt angry, sad, and afraid for the health and happiness of children of all sizes and their families.”
Wann channeled these feelings into a new project, re-creating the ads to send positive messages about all body types. “I was very angry when I saw one particular image used in the Georgia hate campaign,” Wann explained to me in an email. “It shows a fat girl (an actor!) in a striped shirt, with this slogan over her belly: ‘It’s hard to be a little girl when you’re not.’ This is not a health message, it’s a hate message. I decided to put a photo of me in the place of that girl, with a slogan that tells children of all sizes I’ll stand up to their bullies, even if it’s a big hospital system (or the first lady) who does it. My credo: ‘I stand against harming fat children. Hate ≠ health.’ I want to show the world that it’s not okay to shame fat children or to give them dangerous, discriminatory health advice. I posted my ‘I STAND…’ photo to my Facebook profile and offered to make similar photos for anyone who wanted to join me.”
Many people have joined. Their images of people with all shapes and sizes, along with their personal messages of acceptance not only criticizes the mainstream conception of beauty, but also embrace an alternative. (See more of the “I STAND…” images here.)
Linda Bacon, Ph.D., has long been a supporter of the “Health at Every Size” (HAES) movement, an approach to health that encourages people to adopt better habits and takes the focus off of weight loss. In the January edition of Nutrition Journal, Bacon and co-author Lucy Aphramor present new evidence to support this radical shift away from weight management in health care.
Bacon and Aphramor argue that the health care industry places too much emphasis on weight management, and that diets may in fact lead to negative effects on physical and emotional health. “The weight-focused approach does not, in the long run, produce thinner, healthier bodies,” says Bacon in a press release. She is also the author of Health at Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight.