One of the contexts I’m immersed into is the “fatosphere”. The fatosphere is a set of blogs dedicated to Fat Acceptance or related themes. According to the participants/activists, the fatosphere is "a loosely interconnected network of individual blogs, homepages and activism sites conceived with the purpose of countering weight-based discrimination through challenging social and medical misconceptions about fat people”.
Fat Acceptance (FA) is a cause that has mobilized a great number of individuals in the United States and the United Kingdom. Through the internet, the movement against the discrimination of fat people has started to spread all over the world. The movement’s origins can be traced back to the creation of the National Association to Aid Fat Americans (NAAFA), which remains the largest fat acceptance organization in the world. Founded in 1969 by William Fabrey, NAAFA’s mission was to provide emotional and legal support to fat people within an increasingly discriminatory and fat-intolerant society. The acronym now stands for the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance, indicating that the association now advocates the acceptance of fat people as a class.
The ideas related to the Fat Acceptance movement have been spread around at weblogs dedicated to the topic. Activists use their blogs to gain self-expression, to denounce the un-natural origin of cultural assumptions about fat people, to find and offer support in escaping the oppressive obligation of being thin, and to invite society to question many of its assumptions about fat people. The number of blogs dedicated to Fat Acceptance and the intensity of their activity has been noticed by the media. Several articles on the topic have been published in journals and magazines, and some TV shows offered space for FA activists to debate their causes with opponents of the movement. Some bloggers are organizing a face-to-face coalition. However, the core of the conversations around FA is still on the internet and the actions of the members of the FA movement can be characterized as cyberactivism – that’s the theory I am drawing on to understand all the information generated by these bloggers and their readers.
Last week, Joy Nash, one of the most popular activists for the movement, released a new video. The “Staircase Wit” will give you an idea of what the movement is about.
My first study focused on the way market offers are reframed by cyberactivists to promote cultural transformation. I used a rhetorical analysis approach and came up with a continuum of intended change and the respective rhetorical strategies employed by bloggers to promote change in their audiences. Now I am working with my professor Eileen Fischer in a new study that will evaluate the way persuasion knowledge is activated in these blogs.
My participation in this context has been timid – I am still more like a lurker. However, the effects of this intense reading on my personal attitude about fat, fat people, and even about my own body have been impressive. Overall, their message is positive; their writing is inspired, their ideas are provocative, and at least one of their arguments is broad enough to touch anyone`s heart: No one should be discriminated by his/her appearance.