In the size acceptance context, Lynne talks about “how many individuals get started alone or with a few others as a size acceptance group or even a small business, and either stay in a tiny group or burn out, having exhausted themselves (and sometimes their life savings) without ever connecting to any larger whole.”
We didn’t intend for our social change metaphor to extend to actual businesses with a social change agenda. Lynne is quite right that we face “an unforgiving marketplace,” and running any kind of business requires a lot of luck, along with a wide range of skills and competencies; this is even harder when the business has a social change aspect.
Social change work can be frustrating and burnout is always an issue. Nonetheless, talking about social change without the moneymaking aspect, we both believe that “wholesale” work (such as lobbying) is often more subject to burnout than the retail work which is often connective and satisfying on its own ground.
Lynne goes on to say, “To follow that metaphor to the bitter end, it feels to me more like we’re in a pre-retail/wholesale, sort of a “cottage industry” phase. I’m not saying that’s bad. Our bodies are so close to us, maybe that’s where we need to be! Also, I’d like to be wrong on this. Maybe it’s more than that, and I’m just not seeing it yet!”
As we understand the term “cottage industry,” it refers to selling on a retail basis what you make yourself. As such, Laurie’s belly-dance class for four Oakland teenagers is as small a cottage industry as you can get, and it is bringing Laurie great joy.
George Bush’s America is a really unforgiving marketplace, and one of the ways it is unforgiving is that it hugely devalues any social change success. The size acceptance and health at any size movements have actually made great inroads in this unforgiving climate, including everything from the CDC change in statistics through Lynne’s own books to the dozens or hundreds of retail efforts which change the lives and body images of individuals and small groups. We always need to remember that we, not they, define our victories, and we deserve our celebrations.