I was walking downtown when I was stopped by two ladies at a presidential canidate table. They asked me if I wanted to volunteer for data entry until the elections and as I was filling out my contact information, a woman walked by and they asked her the same thing. She said "I don't vote" and they asked why. "It's not like my vote counts... the constitution is outdated and as a Christian I don't agree with anything 'he' says." God bless these ladies at the table because though she clearly didn't support their preferred candidate they STILL queried: Do you know that by not voting it's just making things worse? The girl avoided eye contact but then determinedly said as she walked away "It's not like it matters. The whole world is going to pot anyways".
That said, I found myself because of unrelated circumstances on my Mom's couch the next week sobbing into my hands garbled words about how everything that I try and do to chip away at the tragic state of the world is undone ten fold by those behind me. Why do I even try? Why am I the only one who works so hard to make a better place? Why are people so angry and hateful and profoundly stupid? How did we get this way? Why aren't my efforts enough? Why must I keep on fighting when I know it won't make difference? My Mom in her (truly) infinite wisdom simply said:
If we don't do it, who will?
I am confronted my profound stupidity and ignorance every minute of every day, and it wears me down. It wears me down to the bone. When I Google 'fat girl' a cruel "Would I fuck a fat girl?" test pops up. Bloggers tell me I'm a bully because I expressed an opinion they didn't want to hear. People in my life tell me that I'm a wonderful person and all but no one should be allowed to be fat. When I joke that I am the "token fat" model, people respond with "Awww, I'm sorry." Strangers look at my tattoos and say "well, that was a stupid decision". I have people send me emails that tell me that I am a fleshy abomination to the human species and I should be imprisoned for glorifying obesity. Or, that they hate is when fat people call themselves "curvy" when they are just lazy (I told them I didn't like assholes, so we probably wouldn't get along anyhow). Old friends tell me that I am destroying the American economy by supporting planned pregnancy. I know people who stood in line at Chick-fil-A, and it disgusts me. Readers are concerned about my salvation because I don't follow their rules. Moronic health professionals tell me that some people fake a mental illness. Some people ask me if I'm on my period when I adamantly disagree with their bullshit. Zealots verbally pity me for not practicing a traditional religion. People passively infer that I should at least try to make myself more attractive when applying for jobs. Chauvinistic assholes tell me that my beef with another woman has nothing to do with her evil agenda, but rather with the fact that she's prettier than me. I cry often because I am somehow convinced that I am ugly. People that tell me every day that being happy with who I am, the way I am is unacceptable and a cardinal sin.
THIS is why somebody has to fight.
We really cant afford for this epidemic of ignorance to snowball any longer. People just don't know what is outside their tiny realm of reality and this frustrates me, outrages me, and depresses me all at the same time. I can see so clearly how fucked this all is... why can't everyone else? It's depressing that every day I fight to feel okay. It's infuriating that because some people are so committed to making others miserable there is a fight in the first place. I am outraged at the legalization of hate in this world. This hasta change.
There is no easy answer as to how to accomplish change, but I do have a method. Do you remember that time Michele Obama served at a shelter and a homeless man asked to take her picture with his cell phone? Do you remember how every fucking person made a big stink about the fact that a homeless man had a cell phone as if he should be suffering in the sorriest state of poverty possible? As if being homeless and unemployed wasn't enough but they wanted him have absolutely nothing in life until he got a job and started contributing like a normal citizen in society? Fuck me, people can be awful. Did anyone pause to educate themselves about the free "Lifeline" government project that's been around since the 90's that now uses cheap cell phones for... yknow, a life line? Did they stop to think that in order to get a job, an employer has to be able to reach them? Did they think, that perhaps in an accident or when being attacked someone might need to call for help? Did they stop to think that focusing on something so insignificant makes them look like the biggest dick in the word? I like this response to the LA Times' article.
The reason this story is relevant is because as I was listening to this on NPR, I was struck with my revelation on how to go about mending the worlds problems. It is not enough to make sure that homeless men have food to eat, clothes to wear, and a phone to keep them safe. These contributions are crucial, critical and not to be forgotten or marginalized, but there is another part... we need to educate the ignorant. The guys who say take the necessities away. The guys who say you are worthless. If we do not do BOTH of these, we will be left with a never ending war between the cause and effect. Assisting both sides of the issue is the only way to resolution. This is the case with every egalitarian issue. All of them.
For me, this reveals itself in many interesting ways. I must educate people about the myths of mental illness, the atrocities of female reproductive rights, fat discrimination and actual dietary studies. I do this by working with adults in recovery supporting them and talking about it. Attending political rallies and volunteering my time for policy education and talking about it. Fat modeling and fat advocating and talking about it. I talk about this all the time. It helps, it really does.
But you should "never waste your time trying to explain who you are to people who are committed to not understanding you" at the same time. Swimming upstream is exhausting so make sure you find the people who are ready to listen. Spend your energy there. Share your solutions, and then do them. This is the vital second part. Feed, train, help, assist, and love those who need it at the same time. When these two solutions collide... well that is where change starts.
It's really hard to do this. It's just too easy to hide in our world with our friends and cats and others and vinyl records and cameras and think everything's just dandy out there in the world. And there is nothing really wrong with that. However, clusterfucks always gather speed, so if you are willing to promote change you most certainly should. Find something you're passionate about. My mom is passionate about promoting non-violence. My grandma is passionate about educating the world about how bad red Gatorade is for you. My friend is getting politicians and their laws out of our vaginas. Another friend is funding Arizona literacy programs. Cassie is all about educating others about the environment. Liz is promoting size acceptance by promoting affordable and pretty plus clothes. My Him is for finding apartments for those who can't afford them because of mental illness. My co-worker is preaching about sustainable food sources and healthy choices. Really, there a million things out there that need fixing. Choose one.
Don't think its going to be easy. It's not for me, but I'll be damned if I quit fighting for what I passionately believe in. And you can fucking quote me on that.
P.S. How RAD is that picture? Amiright?