Fat Acceptance is a Reproductive Justice Issue, Part I: birth, bodies, and healing

We need women to learn how to navigate and negotiate modern and traditional medicine and birthing ways with confidence, sensitivity, and power. We need women to come back to the communities they came from and offer their support to their Sisters. No woman should be without the knowledge of how to take care of her body in her life.

-Raeanne Madison, in a guest post for Radical Doula entitled “Why doulas are important in Native American communities.”  Definitely read the whole thing, it’s pretty great.

I’ve heard a lot from different people in my life about how indigenous women are survivors–we survive violence, trauma (our own and our ancestors’), colonization and the low self-esteem that often comes with surviving all of these things.

Diets are not traditional.  Bariatric surgery is not an aboriginal method of healing.  Food is medicine in a lot of indigenous cultures.  Practicing self-determination and bodily autonomy is absolutely traditional, in my opinion, and I think that fat acceptance, health at every size and reproductive justice can be a part of that.  Some people think that being pro-choice doesn’t line up with traditional beliefs, but our peoples were practicing sex education and family planning LONG before the Vikings and Columbus and the colonists got all up in our shit.

I’m not saying everyone needs to be all traditional all the time–that isn’t realistic for most of us and everyone is entitled to choose what they wanna do with their bodies.  I am saying that body acceptance and bodily autonomy seem more in line with my own belief that self-determination (of nations, communities, and individuals) is more traditional than Western patriarchal societies’ arbitrary standards of health and beauty.

Since contact, colonization has attempted to strip us of our bodily autonomy.  We can reclaim it by resisting diet propaganda pushed on us by Indian Health Services and mainstream media.  We can revitalize traditional birthing practices that heal our bodies and spirits and keep our cultures alive.  I’ve never been pregnant but if that ever happens, I sure as fuck want to be in the loop about the situation, not have my ability to give life pathologized just like my fat body has been pathologized since I was a kid.

We’re supposed to go to the doctor to feel better, not to feel judged.  Feeling judged and oppressed by our doctors–because of our gender presentation, race, sexual orientation, class, size or something else–prevents us from accessing reproductive care and prevents our access to the quality health care that so many of us need desperately.

I am pretty damn sick of privileged white hetero upper/middle-class health professionals recolonizing my body.

September 6, 2011. Uncategorized.

3 Comments

  1. The Well-Rounded Mama replied:

    Thank you for saying what I’ve been saying for a long time….fat acceptance and pregnancy/birth/parenting issues are deeply entwined. Add in the injustices perpetrated on indigenous cultures and it’s even more so.

    Thanks for linking to the article. I haven’t time to read it right this second but I look forward to doing so. Thank you for bringing it to our attention.

    • Linda replied:

      Absolutely! Pregnancy and fatness are both treated like diseases allll the time, and if people don’t have access to (or feel comfortable accessing) quality health care, no one wins.

  2. NotBlueAtAll » Blog Archive » Weighing Your Options replied:

    [...] I read this post on AmpleProportions I was quickly reminded of my fears and the real threat to our rights as women in America, let alone [...]

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