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Lonie McMichael: Love

Background:
• Post 3: Lonie McMichael: Resistance
• Post 2: Lonie McMichael: Internalization
• Post 1: Lonie McMichael: Intro & hook's ideology of domination
• BFB introduction and dissertation abstract.

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Love.

hooks says that love is the solution to domination. This isn’t the warm fuzzies like we tend to think of the feeling love. Rather, this is a force – a change in actions, a paradigm shift – that fights against domination. In hooks’ ideals, everyone is understood, appreciated and valued. “This vision of relationships,” hooks said, “where everyone’s needs are respected, where everyone has rights, where no one need fear subordination or abuse.” The resistors’ job, hooks argues, is to create “a critical discussion where love can be understood as a powerful force that challenges and resists domination.”

So what would hooks’ vision of love, this choice to connect, look like in terms of fat acceptance? Specifically, love in fat acceptance calls for all individuals, but most especially fat individuals, to accept their bodies while asking, even demanding, that fat individuals be treated with respect and value along with their thinner cohorts. In my work, I saw evidence of this in the Fatosphere and Fat Acceptance in a number of ways: how to love the fat body, how Health At Every Size is a form of love in action, how fat acceptance holds implications for everyone in American society, how the online environment acts as a safer space, and how self-love and activism can interact.

The fat individuals I studied found that loving the fat body can be a place of empowerment and strength. Though loving their body didn’t offer the fantastical panacea that dieting used to promise, it brought about true change for the individual. Many participants found more serenity in their daily lives, a stronger ability to stand up to the dominant ideas, and more compassion for themselves and other fat individuals.

hooks says that such transformation must take place in both the dominators and the dominated. When fat individuals fight to accept themselves and their bodies as they are when considered so very socially unacceptable, they provide an excellent example of body acceptance to those who may struggle with body issues at a smaller size since non-fat individuals are harmed by fat hatred as well. Fat activists argue against seeing skinny individuals as the enemy repeatedly, claiming that thin bashing is part of fat hatred. hooks (1984) emphasized that the idea is to move beyond contention to connection, where “dehumanization that characterizes human interaction can be replaced with feelings of intimacy, mutuality, and camaraderie.”

The Fatosphere has been a source of fuel for the Fat Acceptance movement and a source of love for the fat individual. hooks’ idea of love gets acted out in this conglomeration of blogs and discussion groups. Overall, this digital environment creates a safe space, or at least a safer space (Kirby & Kinzel), for fat individuals to come to understand fat from a different point of view and to find support for facing life in a fat-hating culture. Love also appears in the form of support for the fat individual within the Fatosphere and Fat Acceptance. Such love creates a positive upward spiral: being part of a community provides individuals the power to fight internalization which in turn helps the individual resist the dominant rhetoric.

Love can overcome fat hatred in so very many ways. This is a force that is embodied by the very nature of fat positive communities – communities that are succeeding in overcoming domination with love.

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