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Feminist Activism Within Body Politics

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Essay title: Feminist Activism Within Body Politics

Jackie Grenon

Women’s Studies 187

18 November 2007

Kat Jones Friday 11:15

Feminist Activism Within Body Politics

A man walks down the street and sees a beautiful woman, what’s the first thought that enters his head-sex. These types of thoughts are what feminists all over the world are trying to eliminate. Feminist activism is focused on making social change and using their power to influence others. One of their many steps is understanding women’s bodies and trying to encourage men to treat women like human beings, not just personal sex objects. The NAAFA and other organizations are working hard get rid of this stereotype, and many others, to encourage women to be themselves, not what society wants them to be.

“An estimated thirty-eight million Americans are significantly heavier than average and face societal and institutional bias because of their size” ( NAAFA). The National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance, or NAAFA, is a non-profit organization founded in 1969 that is based on trying to better the life of fat people; it is the only organization that fights to end fat discrimination. The NAAFA believes that fat people are discriminated against, not by just peers, but by health care professionals, also. They believe that many times fat people are too ashamed to stand up fort their own rights, so they have formed this organization to relieve them of their emotions and help them fight their oppressive battle for acceptance. The goals of the NAAFA are “to provide advocacy, education, and support for people of all sizes of large” (NAAFA). Within these goals they wish to fight fat discrimination, fight social prejudice and help fat people to raise their self-esteem. I chose this organization because I also believe that fat people are severely discriminated against and that the NAAFA goes above and beyond to help them. The NAAFA has official status and is nationally recognized for it’s hard work. I also chose this organization because they provide sufficient information for new members and provide activities for existing members, such as events and special interest groups to help raise public awareness.

“The body is central to patriarchal oppression of women and is a crucial site of resistance…”(Kirk 130). This quote is a good way of explaining the central theme of body politics. Culture lowers the worth of a women’s body by viewing it as a commodity. What society fails to realize is the internal strength that women have; they bear pain through pregnancy, childbirth, menstruation and many more which require emotional strength and stamina. The article “The More You Subtract, the More You Add” by Jean Kilbourne does a good job of explaining how women are divided into categories and the effect that the media and society have on girls’ self-esteem. It goes on to explain how being obsessed with one’s weight is viewed as normal, along with being feminine. “Imagine. Girls made to feel so terrible about themselves that they would rather be dead than be fat. This wouldn’t be happening, of course, if it weren’t for our last socially acceptable prejudice-weightism” (Kilbourne 134). This so called “weightism” is the exact problem that the NAAFA is trying to fight against. One of the five purposes of the NAAFA is to “Disseminate information about the sociological, psychological, legal, medical, and physiological aspects of being fat” (NAAFA). In order to do this the NAAFA plans to educate the public on the prejudice fat people face.

Abra Fortune Chernik wrote “The Body Politic” to explain her battle with anorexia and the impact society had that influenced her to develop this eating disorder. She elaborates on how what she thought was the perfect body turned her life into a bleak and hopeless hole. After years of healing and medical help Chernik finally learned to accept and love her body for what it was. Chernik stated, “As young feminists, we must place unconditional acceptance for our bodies at the top of our political agenda. We must claim our bodies as our own to love and honor in their infinite shapes and sizes” (Chernik 144). Although the NAAFA is not a feminist organization, I still feel that this statement alone could be the slogan for the organization. In their mission statement, the NAAFA clearly expresses that they wish to help fat people accept themselves and to help them feel comfortable in society.

Article four (organizational membership), section one of the NAAFA’s constitution firmly states that “there is no restriction on the weight, race, religion, age, gender or sexual orientation of members” (NAAFA). Also, section two states that “ the name of the organization is the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance.

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