Over at Bitch PhD, Ding discusses her decision to actively diet and lose weight, choosing to place her health above 'fat acceptance'. In her post, she talks about her struggle with choosing to diet, due to its implications for her feminism and her desire to accept her body the way it is. The fat acceptance movement is about helping women to love their bodies despite living a patriarchal culture that places a premium on being unachieveably thin. It is supposed to liberate women from obsessing over their body's seeming imperfections and to give them solidarity in that choice. It is meant to put women back in control of their own bodies; to wrest it from the grip of a patriarchal culture. Yet, increasingly, fat acceptance has come to mean never doing anything about your weight or body shape; never being allowed to change it. It is as if we are expected to imagine that our bodies just exist beyond or outside our control and we must just accept them, and never be actively seen to be adjusting them. If we do, we must dress up this choice as 'healthy' or about 'fitness'.
This is problematic as it once more removes a woman's body from her control. She is denied choice over what her body should look like or what size it should be. And, while our bodies can be frustratingly resistant sometimes to change (and certainly we are limited by our physiology), we do have some choices over what we do with our bodies, how we want them to look and behave. If we want to diet, we shouldn't have to say 'it's for health reasons', we should be able to say 'I am dieting because it's my damned body and I'll do what I like with it'. What this does not mean is that our bodies should be dictated to or that, because we can, we should change our bodies. It certainly doesn't mean condemning woman who have different bodies from us. It's about recognising that feminism is about putting us in control of our lives and our bodies and that we shouldn't have to apologise for what we do to our bodies.