Hello and welcome to The Fat Lip! I am Ash, your host, and this is our 15th episode of the podcast. Crazy!
So I opened last week’s show by mentioning how crazy 2017 has been so far, and last weekend it got even crazier. It just feels like the twilight zone or some surreal dimension that we accidentally woke up in.
Late last week the new president signed an executive action that severely restricts immigration from seven Muslim countries, suspends all refugee admission for 120 days, and bars all Syrian refugees indefinitely. Aside from being probably illegal, this action is morally indefensible, and resulted in huge protests over the weekend at major airports where Customs officials were holding visa and green-card-holders who were traveling from the restricted countries back to the US. Some of these people are still being held as we speak, and the protests are ongoing.
And this is only the latest of several waves of street protests that have taken place and gained national attention since the election. Millions (literally millions) of people have marched and held signs and chanted their opposition to this administration and its positions.
And fat people have shown up by the tens of thousands (possibly hundreds of thousands) to take part in these actions. Following media coverage of the protests that sprang up immediately after the election, Ann Coulter tweeted “without fat girls, there would be no protests.” Which was intended as a jab—Ann Coulter is just the type to think that when people disagree with you, the first thing you should attack is their appearance—but became a bit of a rallying cry for fat protesters. Because fat people—and especially fat women—have been organizing actions for decades. So yeah, fat girls are essential to protests. It’s the one thing Ann Coulter has ever gotten right.
More recently, following the Women’s March on Washington, a Texas judge named Bailey Mosely tweeted the following:
“Just think about this. After just one day in office, Trump managed to achieve something that no one else has been able to do: He got a million fat women out walking.”
Now, we see a few things here. First, those million women were not all fat. Probably not even the majority of them were. Judge Mosely is just employing the classic bully tactic of calling people names because you feel threatened by them. He also manages to be entirely fat phobic in his delivery by insinuating that fat people are lazy and inactive. Then, after some media backlash over his comment, he deleted the tweet. But when he was later called on it, he says only that deleting the tweet was a mistake because, as he says “the march was nothing more than a hissy fit with no defined perpse.” So yeah. The bully feels threatened and lashes out. It’s classic 2nd grade playground stuff.
But fat people have known a lot of bullies in their lives, and the current administration is only the latest of these, so fats continue to show up for protests around the country and around the world.
I want to spend some time today, though, talking about other ways that fat people can protest. Some of us are not able to march or to stand at street actions. I am one of these people. But I am no less concerned about the Trump administration’s actions and I am no less committed to resisting them. So I’ve been thinking a lot about things that I can do.
First, for anyone out there who is fat and has physical challenges that could prevent your participation in street actions but who still wants to try, I want to suggest renting a mobility scooter (or, if you are protesting with friends, a wheelchair that someone can push you in.) I know for some fat people, pride and stigma prevent us from using mobility aids like this. This is something I’m going to address fully in a future episode, but if you do desperately want to physically participate in protests, I hope that you will consider renting a mobility aid. You should challenge yourself during times of political unrest, but you should not put yourself in a position that could hurt you or do further physical or emotional damage. Most major cities, including Washington, DC, have several mobility rental companies, and you can rent devices by the hour or by the day. They’re less expensive than you might expect. However, if you desperately want to protest and cannot afford the rental fees for a scooter or wheelchair, please contact me at email@example.com at least a couple days in advance. I will do my best to fund or find funding to make sure you are accommodated.
Some of us, though, are geographically limited or even more financially limited, and street actions are out of the question. And the first thing that I want to say about this is that it is perfectly okay if you cannot protest in person. That doesn’t make you any less an advocate for change or any less a member of the resistance. There is still plenty you can do (and probably are doing) that is just as legitimate as holding a sign.
So a lot of conversations I’ve had in the last couple months with my fat friends about resistance action has been around ways we can help the resistance cause even though we can’t march or stand at protests, so I’ve been doing lots of research into what is most effective.
The first thing that I have personally focused on is contacting my representatives. I’m sure you’ve seen by now that lots of people who know the federal legislative branch much better than I do have said that calling is much more effective than writing when trying to get your Senator or Rep’s ear. I am actually pretty anxious when communicating by phone, which is probably surprising given that you’re listening to me on a podcast right now. It has taken a lot of work to get here. But I am still incredibly anxious when calling Senator’s offices. I have been able to get through that by using scripts either that I’ve written myself or that I’ve found online. There are several sites doing this right now.
thesixtyfive.org has a weekly call to action on its main page as well as tools to help you find your representatives’ phone numbers and scripts for the various issues. You can choose one or all to call about.
dailyaction.org allows you to sign up for text alerts on urgent action items so you can call your representatives quickly and easily.
5calls.org asks you to enter your zip code and then indicate which issues are most important to you. The site then explains the issue as it currently stands, gives you the number for the representative of your district that can take action on your behalf, and gives you a script to follow for the call.
Jennifer Holman’s Weekly Action Checklist for Democrats, Independents, and Republicans of Conscience is a weekly email newsletter that lists clear actions you can take from home every week, a weekly reading list, and more. I’ll link to the sign up portal in the show notes.
So most of those were about phone calls, which are what we’ve been told are most effective. But some of you may not be able to make these calls. And that is totally okay. If you can’t call, but you can craft emails to your representatives, you can do that. Everything you do is something. Everything is helpful.
democracy.io makes emailing your reps super simple. Go to democracy.io, enter your address, and it will give you your representatives. Choose which ones you’d like to email and click Write to them!. In emails, your personal story is more effective than a script, so if you are able to write in your own voice, you should do that. But if a script is helpful, use one of the phone ones from one of the sites above!
Another venue that has recently proven to be very useful is Twitter. As we know, a lot of our legislators are communicating on Twitter right now. Some more diplomatically than others. If you feel safe and comfortable tweeting at your representatives and asking them to act on behalf of you, their constituent, do that.
Also, twitter is a great way to keep up with statements your representatives have made in response to the president’s executive actions.
tweetcongress.org is a good place to start. You can search by hashtag or issue and see the most recent tweets from congresspeople on these issues. On the Tweeter’s tab of this site you can enter your zip code and find contact cards for your reps that include their twitter handles. Very useful stuff there.
There are other ways to contact your representatives as well. My friend Alison who is a regular visitor to The Fat Lip recently participated in a postcard writing event in her city. There are events happening like this all over the country. If this is something you’re up for, check in with likeminded local friends on facebook to see if they’ve heard of anything happening.
And there is action you can take outside of contacting your representatives as well. If you have friends who are attending protests, help them make signs. Pack a backpack full of water, sunscreen, bandanas, paper towels, and granola bars for them. Buy them a few gift certificates to Subway or other easy food places that they can pick up from on the way home.
And there’s so much more you can still do. As I was working on this episode I read an article by Madison Mahdia Lynn called A Nervous Wreck’s Disabled Guide to Stepping Up that I’ll link in the show notes that is full of ideas of things you can still do if you are physically disabled or have a mental illness that makes social contact difficult. Madison handles this topic much more thoroughly and deftly than I have, so I encourage you to read this piece.
And you can always talk with your dollars. The ACLU, Planned Parenthood, NARAL, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and others are doing invaluable work to ensure that freedoms remain intact, and they need money to make that happen. If you have some to spare, consider giving a little to these organizations or to organizations that are doing work in your local community.
I have also designed a Fats of the Resistance t-shirt that I will be offering for sale starting February 1 on teespring. 100% of proceeds from those sales will go directly to the ACLU. Meaning I will never see or touch or have control over that money. It goes directly from your credit card to teespring and then to the ACLU. The shirt will be available for sale from February 1 through February 13, and is available in 3 styles with sizing goes as high as a 5X. The limited sizing is not ideal, but it’s the best I could do. If you need help modifying the highest sizes to get them on your body, please email me. I have experience with this!
In any case, if we sell 50 of these shirts, the ACLU will get over $500. And that’s significant. And we’re going to be relying on the ACLU A LOT as long as Trump is in office. The shirts will be available starting on February 1 on teespring.com/thefatlip. So I hope you’ll consider purchasing one and wearing it proudly. Because like Ann Coulter said, “without fat girls, there would be no protests.”
As always I want to thank Starcrusher for the music at the top of the show and the music you’re hearing right now. Hear more at cstarcrusher.bandcamp.com
And our patreon patron of the week is Devyn. Devyn is the lovely guy you heard talking about his dating experiences in the gay community a couple months ago, and he is amazing. His blog is chunkylemonade.com, so you should check that out. If you’d like to become a patron or want to know more, go to patreon.com/thefatlip to watch my dorky introduction video.
Also, if you have a minute, please consider rating and reviewing The Fat Lip on iTunes and/or liking and subscribing on YouTube. The more comments, reviews, likes, and subscribes we get, the more people we can reach, so any little bit of action is super helpful!
I’ll see you again for our next episode in a couple weeks, but in the meantime, keep standing up for what you believe in. Keep calling. Keep writing. Keep resisting.
Thanks for listening!