Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Fat 50 Project

An exciting new project is in the works, courtesy of Paul and the folks at Big Fat Blog. It's called the "Fat 50" project and seeks to compile a web guide for each of the 50 U.S. states with state-specific legal information for fat people.

Right now, only Michigan has legal protection for fat people built into a non-discrimination statement:

"Both State and Federal laws prohibit discrimination on the basis
of race, color, national origin, religion, disability, age, sex, height, weight or marital status under the U.S.
Civil Rights Acts of 1964 as amended, 1976 MI PA 453, 1976 MI PA 220, Title V of the Rehabilitation Act
of 1973 as amended, and the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act, as amended.."

In California, they've achieved nondiscrimination policies on a local level in a few cities. San Francisco's is particularly impressive in scope and detail:

The Fat 50 project is a precursor and guide to efforts to enact similar size-protective legislation in all 50 U.S. states by offering information on current legal status, rights, and other pertinent information. It will eventually encompass "Fat 50+" where information is available in other countries and provinces, as volunteers are found to help research and provide that information.

That last bit is key, because a lot of non-U.S. Fat Activists complain the the movement is U.S.-centric. It's a valid complaint on the surface, since most of the active organizations are based in the U.S. and there is a great need in other countries (especially the U.K.!) for support of Size Acceptance. On the other hand, for an American organization to start petitioning a foreign government for any sort of policy change will just be taken as another example of the nosy Yank trying to tell other countries what to do. There are also subtle differences in method, as the in-your-face activism that goes off well in the U.S. will fall resoundingly and disgustedly flat in most of Europe. There's a "flavor" to effective activism that can really only be captured by someone intimately familiar with the culture, its psychology and its symbolism.

If someone wants more Fat Activism in their country, it is necessary that they step up and begin. The U.S. based groups would generally be ecstatic to help and support. If someone in Germany or New Zealand were to take on the research (or recruit others) to complete a "Fat 50" page for their country, it would go up with the rest of them and serve as a jump-off point for further activism.

In other words, change starts at home.

Speaking of, they do need more volunteers for Fat 50! The following states already have coordinators, but I'm sure they'd welcome assistance and input:

New York
North Carolina

Don't see your state there? Volunteer by e-mailing Paul. Don't have time yourself? Find someone else who might be interested. Get creative: This would make a fantastic project for School, Scouts, service credits, other organizations for collaboration, etc. It may be a backhanded suggestion, but need to punish your teenager for something? Don't just let them moulder in their room...set them to work :-)

Because, like I said, change begins at home.

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