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This past weekend marked the 54th anniversary of the Fat In in New York City. On June 5th, 1967, 500 fat people came to Central Park to protest against fat discrimination. To make a powerful visual statement, they held Twiggy posters and burned them. At that time, Twiggy was the standard of beauty and represented an unachievable body standard.
Sports Illustrated Magazine reported seeing “banners reading ‘Fat Power’ and ‘Buddha Was Fat.’ at the protest. Some wore buttons with the message ‘Take a Fat Girl to Dinner’ or ‘Help Cure Emaciation.’
In addition to the posters, they burned a pile of diet books as well as the photograph of the model, Twiggy. They even offered each other ‘fattening’ foods, brought especially for the occasion.
It was truly a rebellious and a public display of fat acceptance.
The Fat In was an important moment in fat history
This protest inspired Llewelyn “Lew” Louderback to write “More People Should Be Fat” for the Saturday Evening Post that same year as a response to his wife experiencing fat discrimination, which led to the formation of NAAFA, Fat Underground, and more fat liberation organizations.
Watch a video of The Fat Underground, here.
While the Fat In was not about changing laws for fat people, the protest pushed the movement forwards. It’s a reminder that weight discrimination should not exist, and we have to fight against it socially, politically, and economically. I wonder how much more impactful the protest would have been if there was a campaign or strategic goal that they were trying to meet.
Weight discrimination has harmed many fat people. It’s a reminder that fat liberation is not sustainable if fat people don’t have quality access to healthcare and mental health services that are not rooted in fatphobia.
It will take all of us to move the culture forward and make the lives of fat people better. Are you in?