This is the last 101 of the year. Together in 2021, we've learned new skills (remember what "distress tolerance" is?), thought critically and deeply about things like comfort eating and media tropes, re-envisioned what's possible for the future of body positive dating, and even learned that our bodies share 25% of their DNA with daffodils. I have so. much. more. in store for 2022 at BPU. In the spirit of big new year's dreams (plugging BPU 201's Jan 1 event: Making Body Positive Magic: Intention-Setting for 2022) I want to offer you a little something...
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Ok, now it's time for me to explain the title of this week's article.
Earlier this year I did a training on fat acceptance for a hospitality company called The Blend. The training was designed for people who are invested in changing the hospitality industry - specifically, making it more accessible to more people.
I shared the basics of what bars and restaurants need to do to accommodate large-bodied people: a variety of seating options (not just booth or stool seating), information on the space's dimensions and seating readily available on their websites and at the hostess stand, weight-neutral language on menus and among staff, bathrooms that aren't tiny, among other things.
I really wanted to convey, however, that fat positivity isn't just about access (though, that's a huge and important step).
Fat positivity is also metaphorical; it's a mindset that favors expansion, largeness in all its forms, something bigger and more extra than our wildest imaginations can fathom at this moment in time.
I gave the example of a common reason that small business owners give to justify their decision not to make their establishment more accessible: we can't afford it because of our razor thin margins. "What if," I offered, "your margins weren't razor thin because you were serving 70% of the U.S. population rather than 30%? What if you had more space and revenue than you could have ever imagined because you more than doubled your potential customer base?"
"What if your business could be... fat?" I asked.
I want to share another example. A few years ago I was talking with my friend Mel in Indiana. Mel pointed out to me that the choice to be loud - as in, the volume of her speaking voice and even her bright or bold-patterned clothes - is just as much about her fat positive politics as her actual fat body.
This is another example of how fat positivity can be, well, bigger than we might have thought.
We have been taught that scarcity is our destiny through our exposure to capitalism, the prison industrial complex, white supremacy, and, yes, diet culture. I don't believe for a single second that that's true. Scarcity - like fatphobia - pressures and bullies us into staying small. The human spirit is not small. It's big. It's fat, actually.
The human spirit was designed for expansion, for taking up space, for big fat hopes and dreams and wishes. The experiences to which we are most drawn - love, grief, understanding, curiosity, creativity - are all very, very, very big. To be fat positive is to release the narrative of restriction - whether it be restriction with food, with the size of our body, with feelings, with clothes, with what we believe is possible for our communities and our planet, with how loudly we laugh, or how much we love.
I wanted to end 2021 with this vision of largeness. I can't wait to be part of your 2022. Until then, I wish you a FAT New Year.
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