Creating a Context for ED/Body Image Activism
Dear Eating Disorder Activists,
I am about to say something that may upset you. Eating Disorder Activism is just a baby. It is so very new. It is something that does not yet have much history, much background, or much context. Why would I come on to an eating disorder blog and post this? Because this is important. Because we still have a change to structure the best, bravest and most effective social movement that we can. This means that we can still decide our strategy, how we work together, what we say and the best path forward.
Just yesterday, I was lucky enough to speak at the BEDA 2012 conference in Philadelphia. A question was asked by CEO Chevese Turner and it was along the lines of “How do we build inclusive organizations that done have token minorities.”
I love this question. I have asked it myself many times. How do we create equality within our movement that is well represented? I asked this when working in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender world. I have asked it in the eating disorder world and I hope, for the health of our world, it has been asked in some capacity in just about every place it can be.
It is not an easy question to answer. How do we create an equal stage for those who have been previously disenfranchised? How do we create anti-racist, anti-sexist, anti-heterosexist organizations that actually work in our political climate?
There is no one right answer, but there is something that I believe the eating disorder world needs to start working on.
We need to understand how we relate to social justice movements that came before us. According to social justice movement network research, we must see how we are intrinsically part of the civil rights movement, the marriage equality movement, the immigrants right movement, all the movements that have come before us (“Unstill Waters: The Fluid Role of Networks in Social Movements.” by Robin Katcher will explain this in depth). If we peer into history, we know that without the civil rights movement, the LGBTQ movement would not have created the change it is currently. We know that our justice and equality is equally bound in the rights of others. This is the primary basis from which movements find success. We are not separate. We do not exist in a bubble that allows us to be politically neutral.
After all – can you think of a movement that has existed and created change completely on it’s own? ED activism is new, but it is not alone.