Liz’s Team Pick
Until yesterday, I wasn’t very familiar with award-winning writer and activist Jill Andrew or Fat in the City, the blog she co-writes with Aisha Fairclough. But then I saw Andrew’s TEDxYorkU talk on “Fat Shaming and the Thin Epidemic,” and everything changed.
In the TED Talk, Andrew uses her personal experiences to tell the story of how she confronts fat shaming in the face of what she calls “The Thin Epidemic,” or “the sociocultural, emotional, economic, religious, medical, everything -cal obsession for any and everything thin desirable.” From recounting an incident of verbal harassment as a teen to lamenting the woes of shopping at stores that hide “clothes for fat bodies” in a basement or upper level, Andrew emphasizes the importance of taking the word ‘fat’ out of its pejorative context. “Words like fat,” she says, “need to be rescued from the tyranny of hate,” and using fat as the simple descriptor that it is could be one way to do that. A real moment of clarity came when she said
I now know that fat is just a description. It’s not a prescription and it’s certainly not an invitation for hate. For exclusion for ridicule, for assaults against my body, and it sure as heck ain’t an excuse to make judgments about my health or my morality.
Though the stories Andrew tells are about her own life, they encourage us to think on a broader level about the intersections of race, gender, and size, and about the significance of claiming space. And as a fellow fat person, I found myself thinking that Andrew was saying so many things I had never found the words for, and she was doing it in a powerful yet completely accessible way.
Check out the video for yourself!