The tagline for this blog is "Respect and Love are for EVERY body". I hold this as a Truth, something deeply important and personal and True for me, and something I wish was True for everyone else. It's not, but we're working on it, us fat activists and dancers and scientists and doctors and everyone who leaves positive comments about loving and respecting their body BECAUSE OF its size, not DESPITE it. Being self-loving and accepting, and doing so for others, is also a large part of my spirituality, which I've written about before. As a Pagan, I believe that our bodies are part of the divine, a physical manifestation of the Soul of the universe in a way. As a lover of science, I know that my body is made of the same stuff as the stars and the earth itself. It's sacred, and only good can come from self-love and acceptance. This approach informs a lot of my fat acceptance writing and embracing of the health at every size mindset.
Imagine my horror then, and quickly following that, my anger, when I saw a post on Facebook tonight that lead me to Patheos.com, a well-known and very busy online spiritual community where many Pagan blogs are hosted, and where a blogger named Masery has collected a series of blog-posts and comments centering around the supposed problem of obesity in the Pagan community, a discussion fueled by the unexpected death of a well-known Pagan podcaster, David Grega. Following the link-trail I began at Pagan in Paradise, written by Peter Dybing, with a post titled "A Pagan Taboo: Obesity". Basically the entire post is one long concern-trolling wherin Peter mulls the question of whether or not Someone should say/do SOMETHING about the all the fat folks in the Pagan community.
Hey Peter? We know we're fat. Our bodies are none of your business, so keep your 'concern' about our 'beauty' and health to yourself. We really really really don't need to hear it from you, or any of our Pagan brothers and sisters, any more than we want or need to hear it, all day and every day, from every other corner of our lives. Let me put your mind at ease-noone and nothing is responsible for my health but me; not my Priestess or Priest, not the larger Pagan community, not the Gods. This is my body, and my life, and it's in my hands. That's the beautiful thing about free-will and being a grown-up. There's nothing you, or anyone can do, to make a fat person thin, and being thin isn't a guarantee that a person will be healthy, so stop worrying about it. Stress will make you sicker, faster, than being fat will.
From that bit of nonsense I went on to The Firefly Chronicles (sadly not associated with the epic show Firefly), and a post by Iris Firemoon titled The Pagan Conversation of Obesity. Iris' post is a response to Peter's, wherin she attempts to not equate fatness with ill-health and disease, and instead takes a whole-foods, organics only approach to health and wellness. She recognizes that all bodies are different thanks to genetics and past history, and acknowledges that the Western food system is badly biased towards franken-foods and mono-crop agribusiness culture that not only isn't good for our bodies, but isn't great for our planet, and then doesn't even mention the reality that organic food is horribly overpriced, food deserts are a real problem in large areas of the States (and Canada), and that socio-economic status deeply influences not only what a family will have to eat but also if they live next too a powerplant or a park. Sadly, instead of keeping the post focused on health and wellness, she brings it all back around to asking what the Pagan community will do to 'address' obesity. This implies that despite genetics and personal history of injury or illness, fat people are fat, and therefore operating at less than optimal capacity, because they're just eating all the wrong stuff.
Iris, correlation does not equal causation, though there IS some good evidence, and more every day, that the chemicals and other weird things in our food, and even some of the foods themselves, are tied into the rise of disease the last 30-40 years or so. Personally, I think it's no coincidence that since we've started spraying pesticides and herbicides derived from WW2 people-killing chemicals onto our food, certain kinds of diseases have sprung up like whoa. However, fat is a 70% inherited genetic trait, like eye-colour, so it's not going anywhere no matter what people eat. There have always been, and always will be, fat people. I for one have always been fat, and it doesn't impact my ability to be my circle's priestess, or my son's mother, or do my job, at all. Everyone's height of health IS different, because all bodies are different, and yes, that means fat people can be at their height of health too. It's not so simple to start making healthy choices as you say; Time and money are luxury items to some of us, some of us who buy the no-name, from-a-box groceries we can because hey, we're POOR. Time is hard to come by for families where mom and dad, or just 1 parent, are working 2 jobs to make ends meet and the kids are at a babysitters from school-end to bed-time, and don't go outside to play because there've been too many shootings and/or drug dealers in the neighbourhood lately. If I could I'd eat nothing but what I could by at my local farmer's market, but I can't because it's too expensive, and at least I can recognize that even *having access* to a farmer's market is an enormous privilege.
If Peter and Iris truly believed that 'every body is sacred' they would realize that means fat bodies too. My fat body isn't an insult to my gods or my circle and to say that it needs to be addressed, that they're concerned, that they and many many other commenters feel that I should DO SOMETHING about it, is hurtful. What should I do, fat community? Should I diet, with it's 95% failure rate? Should I go and get weight loss surgery, rearrange my innards so I can only eat a tiny bit at a time or deal with 'dumping' and 'productive burping' for the rest of my life (not to mention vitamin and mineral deficiencies)? Should I join Weight Watchers or Jenny Craig, with their equally abysmal failure rates?
The reality is fat people exist, Pagan and non-Pagan, and OUR BODIES ARE NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS. You concern is noted, but not needed, or wanted, and is indeed, harmful. It's not being fat that makes people sick, it's being fat in a world that hates fat people that makes fat folk sick. It's being large in a world that wants to make you disappear, that spends billions of dollars annually on trying to make that happen, being denied proper medical care and being discriminated against from work to airlines, that makes some of us sick. It's being fat and having your kids taken away because oh gods, they're fat too! that makes some of us sick. It's the yo-yo diets, the pills, the shakes, the surgeries, the self-hate and loathing, that makes us sick. If ALL BODIES ARE SACRED then it's ALL BODIES, not 'all bodies except those ones over there who aren't what I think they should be'.