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The Happy Bodies Manifesto

January 19, 2010

When we first started this project on campus, we decided to create a, what we then called, a Wo(man)ifesto about how our bodies should be treated. At our very first meeting, we tried to get the women to help us create it, but people were too busy talking about bodies to come to a full list. We decided the conversation was more important, and dropped it. Now, 9 months later, a few of us original HB-ers got together to write the Manifesto for the Carletonian, Carleton’s paper, in order to publicize Happy Bodies, and body positivity in general. We had a lot of ideas, and I think we came up with a pretty good start. But what I noticed most, was how far we have come.

Facilitating the discussion group and writing for Happy Bodies has swept me into a whole new consciousness about bodies. I’ve become wrapped up in the feminist blogosphere, and the particular subsect that is the fatosphere. I know the html codes, the terminology, and the best sites to link to to get the most traffic. But most importantly, I have become pretty solidified on my views of body sovereignty. When a woman at discussion group made the point of “But isn’t fat unhealthy?” I almost recoiled. Fat acceptance, health at every size, and the uselessness of dieting, have all become pretty ingrained in me. I kind of forget now that I wasn’t always like this. That when faced with that question nine months ago I probably wouldn’t have launched into a rant about BMI, fat-shaming and “health”. It’s pretty exciting to think about how much I’ve grown. And I have my fellow bloggers, our lovely readers, the discussion group, and other fat acceptance blogs to thank for that.

But I need to continue to remind myself that body positivity still is pretty radical. That after being showered with images of photoshopped women and clothes you’ll never fit into it’sreally hard to walk out the door feeling beautiful. And with every other article on health in America ranting about the obesity crisis, and the insistent connection in magazines between weight loss and will power, it can be hard not to connect fat with shame. With women you respect like Oprah, Ricki Lake, your mother, your aunt, your friends, all endlessly fighting to lose weight, it’s hard not to think you should do the same. So when I still sometimes need makeup to feel pretty on a night out or I begin engage in the fantasy of being thin, I try not to feel guilt, but remind myself that maybe I don’t have to be a radical actor for body sovereignty today, that it’s a process to come to truly love my body.

And when someone asks me a question that I now refer to as “101” I need to remember that we’re still working on a radical cause, this fight to accept all bodies, and most of the discourses on health in the mass media are not with us. I have to remember that body sovereignty is a cause worth fighting for, but loving your body is a radical step that can be hard to take.

So with that I give you our manifesto, which is going to be a work in progress, as we continue along the process of being truly body positive.

Body Positivity is for everyone.
So is Body Sovereignty.
I am the owner of my body. I decide what is done to it and how it is treated.
I have a right to modify or decline to modify my body in order to best express myself.
My moral value is independent of my weight or appearance.
My body is an instrument, not an ornament.
I will eat what I want.
I will not allow anyone to shame my body or my self, or the body and selves of others.
My body deserves pleasure.
I have the right to know and define my body.
I will recognize that the bodies I’m attracted to aren’t the only attractive bodies.
Every body has a claim to beauty.
I will affirm and support the personhood of others.
I will never apologize for my weight or how my body looks.
I will recognize the privileges my body has.
I will celebrate the abilities of my body, even if they are different from others.
My body is a part of my self and my being. I will treat it and nurture it as such.

Feel free to add!

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