“Feminist” was never a dirty word to me. My mother was a card carrying second-wave feminist, participating in many protests throughout college. My grandmother was a strong, working class woman, bringing home the majority of the family’s money throughout her life. I’ve identified with the movement from a very early age, so finding what feminism really means to me as an adult has not been an “a-ha moment,” but more of a journey. This journey started in 2010, when I discovered Tumblr’s Fat Acceptance community.
For me, finding Fat Acceptance was like coming home. I have been a big girl my entire life, and have been taught by society to be ashamed of my body. I found myself constantly apologizing; apologizing for the space I take up, apologizing for other people’s biases, apologizing to my doctors for not having an acceptable BMI. On Tumblr, I learned that I wasn’t alone. There was an entire community of plus-size people navigating daily living proudly, without shame. I started reading books like “Fat! So?” by Marilyn Wann and “Lessons from the Fat-o-sphere” by Kate Harding and Marianne Kirby. I learned a lot about Fat Acceptance and Body Positivity from blogging on Tumblr, but I also learned more about feminism than I had throughout my entire life.
Before Tumblr, I had a very vague understanding on what it meant to be a feminist as well as a member of a marginalized group. I’m generally an inclusive person, but I was unaware specifically of the struggles of people of color and gender non-conforming individuals. I’ve had several teachable moments over the years. Once, on Tumblr I was educated on the significance of the phrase “spirit animal” to Native American people, after using it in an off the cuff way. Later, I received a crash course on trans issues while working at a sex shop in the city. I am grateful for these moments and to this day try to gently educate those around me with the knowledge I’ve gained. It is important to me to be respectful of the different experiences of those around me, so I’m always on the lookout for more ways to open a dialogue and become more inclusive.
As I grow older and surer of myself, I have ventured beyond the world of online feminism. I’ve gone to marches and become involved in campaigns I believe in. There’s a lot of stigma in the media about calling yourself a feminist. Many say we, as a group, are “too angry” or “man-hating.” I’d like to argue that there’s a place for anger in feminism, there’s a lot of injustices in the world after all. However, my personal brand of feminism makes me feel like a well rounded person. It makes me feel like I’m fighting for something I give a shit about. When I share my story, I empower others to speak on the injustices they’ve experienced. These are the moments that shape my feminism. These are my true “a-ha moments”.