Judy Freespirit was one of the very first fat activists. With Sara Fishman, Lynn McAfee and others, she founded the Fat Underground. With Aldebaran, nearly forty years ago, she wrote the Fat Liberation Manifesto (reproduced in full at the end of this post). She has an essay in the first book about fat pride and fat acceptance, Shadow on a Tightrope, published in 1983.
When she and I were in the same circles, she was organizing for the rights of people with environmental illness. In 2008, she was doing organizing for LGBT visibility in the Jewish Home in San Francisco. The Fat Liberation Manifesto is as vibrant and appropriate today as it was in 1973, and Judy is a lot of the reason that thousands of people have had their lives changed.
I remember her well from my early days in the fat liberation movement: supersize, clear, articulate, and unswerving. Just this past week, I read a post by Maia on Alas, A Blog, about an anti-fat post on Feministe, including this:
There were 122 comments on Monica’s recent post – a good 95% of which are people telling Monica exactly how ridiculous and offensive her post is.
Four and a half years ago, there were just a few of us who spoke up for even moderate fat acceptance (and if you read the comments – which I don’t actually recommend – I was being embarrassingly moderate and conciliatory).
In four and a half years the number of people talking fat and politics at feministe and feministe adjacent spaces has increased exponentially. Every person who says “I’m fat and there’s no shame in that”, makes it a little easier for the next person.
Everyone of those people talking fat and politics, at Feministe and elsewhere, owes a debt of eldership to Judy Freespirit. She died today, during the holiest time of the Jewish year, and her name will be remembered as a blessing. There will be a public memorial for her sometime in October, and we’ll announce it here.
FAT LIBERATION MANIFESTO
by Judy Freespirit and Aldebaran
1. WE believe that fat people are fully entitled to human respect and recognition.
2. WE are angry at mistreatment by commercial and sexist interests. These have exploited our bodies as objects of ridicule, thereby creating an immensely profitable market selling the false promise of avoidance of, or relief from, that ridicule.
3. WE see our struggle as allied with the struggles of other oppressed groups against classism, racism, sexism, ageism, financial exploitation, imperialism and the like.
4. WE demand equal rights for fat people in all aspects of life, as promised in the Constitution of the United States. We demand equal access to goods and services in the public domain, and an end to discrimination against us in the areas of employment, education, public facilities and health services.
5. WE single out as our special enemies the so-called “reducing” industries. These include diet clubs, reducing salons, fat farms, diet doctors, diet books, diet foods and food supplements, surgical procedures, appetite suppressants, drugs and gadgetry such as wraps and “reducing machines”.
WE demand that they take responsibility for their false claims, acknowledge that their products are harmful to the public health, and publish long-term studies proving any statistical efficacy of their products. We make this demand knowing that over 99% of all weight loss programs, when evaluated over a five-year period, fail utterly, and also knowing the extreme proven harmfulness of frequent large changes in weight.
6. WE repudiate the mystified “science” which falsely claims that we are unfit. It has both caused and upheld discrimination against us, in collusion with the financial interests of insurance companies, the fashion and garment industries, reducing industries, the food and drug industries, and the medical and psychiatric establishment.
7. WE refuse to be subjugated to the interests of our enemies. We fully intend to reclaim power over our bodies and our lives. We commit ourselves to pursue these goals together.
FAT PEOPLE OF THE WORLD, UNITE! YOU HAVE NOTHING TO LOSE ….
By Judy Freespirit and Aldebaran
Originally Published by the Fat Underground,
Los Angeles, California USA
Presented as a public service by Largesse, the Network for Size Esteem. (Largesse’s website appears to be no longer active.)
This document may be freely copied and distributed in its entirety for non-commercial use in promoting size diversity empowerment, provided this statement is included.
I copied it directly from JeanC.