Updated: Apr 29
Gosh, I love me some viral body acceptance videos!!! And awareness-raising about eating disorders, body image, etc. Keep ‘em coming!!!
Did you catch Jae West’s powerful and moving body acceptance experiment? Check it out here: Watch me!!
As a body positive activist (heck, as a human being) I was intrigued by and so appreciated the bravery this young woman showed in exposing herself in such a vulnerable act. What a beautiful way to continue her recovery by raising awareness about eating disorders. Jae West, thank you! Your courage will help many.
I couldn’t help but wonder, though, if the response would have been different if her body looked different.
If her body was, perhaps, larger.
Perhaps, significantly larger.
If her body was obese.
If a Fat (using FAT as a weight neutral descriptor) woman did the same social experiment.
Had stripped to her panties and bra and vulnerably exposed herself with an invitation to draw hearts on her body.
Would others have been AS supportive?
Would they have turned away in disgust? Would they have judged her?
Would they have made fun of her? Snickered or drawn something negative on her body?
I’d like to believe not. I would hope that a Fat woman would receive the same kindness, support, and compassion that a Thin woman received in the video above.
Because, does the Thin woman recovering from an eating disorder deserve more respect than a Fat woman? Does her body deserve more of our compassion? Does her existence deserve more recognition?
Here’s the thing. Jae West demonstrated incredible courage. I’m not sure there’s any way to argue that. And my next point does not negate or lessen any of it.
Fat individuals show courage every day,
in public and private,
whether they’ve invited commentary from others or not.
It is socially accepted to judge, mock, and insult Fat individuals. So much so that individuals are often not aware that they are even doing it. I’ve even had friends who know the work I do with eating disorders and body image point out to me a person’s larger size in a derogatory way. It’s as though Fat bodies are assumed to be a fair target for ridicule and overt shaming.
When you watched Jae West’s video, I’m guessing it might not have been hard to find compassion for her or to appreciate her act. I’d venture to guess that you might easily be able to assume some of the social pressures to be thin that she, like many other women and men, has faced. Perhaps awareness of those social pressures even helped you consider how an individual might begin denying herself nutrition and mistreating her body. Well, these same insights can also apply to many Fat individuals. In fact, many individuals who have or who end up developing an eating disorder are Fat.
Regardless, ALL bodies deserve respect and compassion whether there is a history of an eating disorder or not. Whether large or small.
Whether invited or not.
After watching Jae West’s video, I searched to see if I could find something similar to her video but with larger individuals. The internet is so fast and creative these days that I wondered if any Fat activists would create a follow-up to her video. I couldn’t find one. So, instead, I’m drawing hearts on my Fat stick figure above. And I’m imagining sending viral hearts to larger individuals who might be reading this. ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥
Your body is worthy.
Your body deserves compassion.
Your body is not less than.
I was wrong.
I'm so glad I was wrong.
Inspired by Jae West's social experiment, Amy Pence-Brown bravely undertook a similar one, standing almost naked, blindfolded in a public market.
Except she was Fat.
And in a beautifully responsive manner, the passerbys covered her body with hearts and messages of love and support.
All bodies are valuable.
All bodies are good bodies.
All bodies deserve compassion and love.
Yes, I was wrong. But not fully. Fat people are still frequent targets of hate, shame, bullying, discrimination, ignorance, and misguided advice.
We need more Jae Wests.
We need more Amy Pence-Browns.
And we need more of YOU who is taking the time to read this article or follow this blog. Together, we can continue to change the conversation about bodies and create a kinder, safer, more compassionate world for ALL bodies.