Cultivating new fat liberation movements: Growing a movement ecology with Fat Rose

written with Max Airborne and Charis Stiles for Fat Studies, published April 16, 2021

Fat liberation, as distinct from other social movements, has been around since the 1970s. But the vision initiated in the 1973 Fat Liberation Manifesto feels narrowed today, limited to posting selfies online or boycotting diets. While fat acceptance is essential, it is only part of a fat liberation movement. Liberation movements intervene in institutional power that unfairly advantage one group over others. For fat people, what would a fat liberation movement look like? One that intervenes when insurance “declines coverage” for fat bodies until they lose weight? Or when police are exonerated for murdering Black people like Eric Garner, blaming him for being a “ticking time bomb of obesity” when police put him a chokehold?

After a year and half of consistent action to engage fat people in more radical liberation that intervenes in institutional power, we officially launched Fat Rose as an online group for study and action in January 2019. In this article, we use two political organizing tools to assess fat activism: Movement Ecology (personal transformation, building alternatives, changing dominant institutions) and the Momentum Organizing Model (escalation, active popular support, absorption). These tools help us place fat liberation work in context of broader liberation movements, and strengthen our organizing for the liberation of fat people. In this article, we explore these tools through our work with Fat Rose, to share our story and to offer these tools as useful organizing strategies for other fat liberation work to come.

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