NotBlueAtAll

I'm just a fat gal with a blog and an opinion. Well, lots of opinions.

My First NAAFA Conference (Part 4: Activism Workshop)

August13

I was looking forward to the Activism Super Workshop, but wasn’t entirely sure what to expect, either. My ideas of activism can differ from others and this was a much more formal setting. What does fat activism mean or look like for NAAFA members? Would my punk ethics fit in? Would I be disappointed? The short answer is that this workshop was awesome.

The workshop consisted of four presenters, each with their own message and style. To start things off, Brandon Macsata, NAAFA advisory Board member, went straight to the facts and the figures. I was blown away! Just to give you an idea (I did my best to take notes), 81% of the country believes that “Obesity” is seen as a more serious issue than cigarettes and alcohol consumption. Wow! Last I checked, my fat ass wasn’t causing cancers or killing people on freeways, but I digress. The other thing that shocked me was when he shared some polling figures across political party lines. As a “bleeding liberal tree-hugger” myself, I was quite surprised by the numbers. 73% of liberals support the whole soda tax concept, even though it’s been proven to mostly impact the poorest of the poor. As for the parties who support a government program on “obesity”? Well…only 27% of Republicans support it while 55% of Independents and 82% of Democrats do. Yikes!

Lisa Teeler, NAAFA director of programs and diversity, talked about fat activism in the workplace. Yes! I loved everything she said and suggested. It doesn’t have to be all confrontational. I have personally employed some of her suggested techniques in my old career and I can say that it absolutely opens up a dialogue, which is always a win in my book. All of those “Wellness” programs we’re being bombarded with lately? Talk to your HR department! A lot of these programs are filled with hateful speech and images and you can say or do something about it. Speaking up is so important, often no one else has or does. Is your company doing a charity/health walk/event? Volunteer! Be visible! Be positive and supportive and show that fat people move and care, too! All positive things and ways to be an activist in your work environment while keeping your own sanity, because you have to take care of you, first! Love that!

Ragen Chastain, of Dances With  Fat, talked about the Georgia Billboard Campain and how it took the work, love and support of thousands to do what was thought and said to be impossible! She talked about leadership and empowering people in the movement. She shared this quote, “With the best of leaders, when the work is done, the people will say, ‘We have done this ourselves.'” (Lao Tsu) Her passion and her knowledge was such a gift to see and share. This movement doesn’t need egos, it needs individuals working together. “Nobody can do everything, but everybody can do something!”

Lastly, but she couldn’t be further from being the “least” of anything, was Kandee Lewis of The Positive Results corporation (a non-profit in Los Angeles). She talked about bullying and how bullies look for who to bully; they love a crowd. “Do not minimize yourself. If you don’t respect yourself, no one else will.” She shared many stories and blew me away! I know I spent a lot of Sunday crying (good tears), but it was Kandee who touched my heart and got the tears a-flowin’! She said something about not knowing anything about a person by how they look, you just never know. And hugging! OMZ! To hug someone for no other reason than that moment of human connection because you never know how long it’s been since that person has been hugged…wow! She has inspired me more than words can say right now. Watching her, listening to her and just being in the room with her, I now know what I want to do with my life. I want to do what she is doing or something very similar. I was in awe! She suggested that fat people volunteer at their local libraries for children’s reading time, simply to be visible. Because kids do not know the “evils of obesity” yet and will simply say and ask exactly what is on their minds without judgment. This is the best thing! When a kid asked her, “What’s that?” she responded, “That is my fat arm.” and they simply accepted this as a fact. Fabulous!

Activism can happen anywhere and doesn’t have to be anything rigid or specific. Just going out in the world with your head held high is activism! We’re told to hide ourselves from the world, but we don’t have to! Starting those dialogues and being open to other perspectives is an opportunity because you just don’t know what you don’t know. Before fat acceptance/liberation became a part of my life I didn’t know, I believed the bullshit and the marketing. When you have the facts behind you, when you have this incredible community and resources available? Well, I think we can move mountains! <3

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8 Comments to

“My First NAAFA Conference (Part 4: Activism Workshop)”

  1. On August 13th, 2012 at 11:33 am Duncan Wallace IV Says:

    Oops!! Just got back from a BBW event in Dayton Ohio and I was expounding on the not blue at all blog, NAAFA and size acceptance. The women were hungry for more of this type of information. I sat for about two hours talking about NAAFA and self love as it relates to my past relationships. I want to create a NAAFA iPhone app or maybe we can team up and create an app? Let me know. Would you consider going to a Dayton BBW event and simply talk about your experiences?

  2. On August 13th, 2012 at 1:53 pm Not Blue at All Says:

    Duncan: Wow! Awesome! I love how activism can take so many different forms, many just come naturally. It’s like you have one good experience (or many) and it just comes up in conversation and next thing you know you’re going to NAAFA and other fantastic things. A smartphone App? I’m in! Ha-ha! I would happily discuss going to any size equality/acceptance event. I do shy away from using terms like “BBW” but let’s talk about this soon!

  3. On August 13th, 2012 at 12:33 pm Mulberry Says:

    This brings back some memories of when I was a member of NAAFA briefly, for a couple of years back in the 1980s.
    There was an activism workshop at a convention to which maybe 4 or 5 people showed up. It consisted of writing a letter of complaint to a company.
    I’d like to think NAAFA has changed over the years. At best I felt tolerated, but not especially welcome as a member. I remember participating in a fashion show and being booed.
    In retrospect, I believe it had something to do with being a mid-sizer, a person who was somewhat bigger than what we now call an in-betweenie, but could still shop in standard women’s-size departments. IOW, I was considered too small for them.
    I was not flattered to finally be “too small” for some group – I wanted to fit somewhere and NAAFA wasn’t the “somewhere” that I thought it would be.
    It was not an entirely negative experience either. But I would hope there’s been some evolution between then and now – do we really need to split fat people into factions by size for purposes of civil rights?

  4. On August 13th, 2012 at 1:56 pm Not Blue at All Says:

    Mulberry: Booed?! I cannot even imagine such a thing happening after coming back from my first NAAFA conference. I’m so sorry it was not a good experience for you. I have little to no knowledge of their history, but I can say that everyone was treated with respect and genuine care while I was there and saw a range of fatties and their allies, both in size and age. I know these types of things aren’t for everyone (my social anxiety holds me back, sadly), but it was an incredibly positive experience for me over all. *Hugs*

  5. On August 15th, 2012 at 7:14 pm Travis Says:

    Does NAAFA have an official facebook page? And is there any spot to see what activities the organization has been up to in the past year?

  6. On August 16th, 2012 at 10:22 am Not Blue at All Says:

    Travis: http://www.naafa.org is the official page, I believe there is a link to their FB page as well. All of their updates and things are on there and you can sign up for their newsletters, too. 🙂

  7. On August 17th, 2012 at 8:44 pm Darliene Howell Says:

    Hi Not Blue at All! I’ve really enjoyed your blogs on the NAAFA Convention and so glad you enjoyed all the wonderful events!

    @Duncan Wallace IV: I believe the NAAFA Board of Directors would be very interested in hearing your ideas on the development of a Smartphone app! Would you be willing to send them a message with your thoughts? You can send it to Peggy, the Public Relations Director at pr@naafa.org.

    @Mulberry: I’m shocked and truly sorry to hear about your treatment in the past! However, I can assure you that there has been an evolution in the organization and we embrace people of all sizes. In fact, we are promoting the vision of Equality At Every Size. Do consider checking out the NAAFA website (www.naafa.org) and seeing what we are doing today.

    @Travis: NAAFA has a “Cause” accessible through Facebook where we post information, announcements, calls to action, press releases, etc. We also post in the NAAFA-Capital Chapter and NAAFA SF Bay Area groups on Facebook. As Not Blue at All mentioned, you can sign up for the monthly NAAFA email newsletter through the website. And while you’re there, why not become a member? It’s only $15 a year and that money goes to producing educational materials and special projects that help to spread the word about size acceptance and Equality At Every Size!

  8. On August 17th, 2012 at 9:03 pm Kandee Lewis Says:

    Thank you so very much Not Blue! It was such a honor to be asked to speak. I loved each person I met and OMG, my co-presenters were simply Awesome! Thank you for the kind words! If I can assist you, help or collaborate with you in any manner, you have questions or just want to talk, feel free to contact me anytime.

    Many {{Hugs}} to you!

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