Financial Slavery: play confronts the weight of student debt at FringeNYC

The cast of Financial Slavery: The College Debt Sentence is made up of students facing generations biggest political, social, economic crisis

Debt-laden students dont often make it to the theater in New York City, but this time, they are on stage. And the plays author is hoping her work will help highlight one of the hottest issues of the 2016 election.

The cast of Financial Slavery: The College Debt Sentence, an independent play that has been selected as one of the plays for this years New York City fringe festival, is not made up of professional actors. Some have just graduated high school; others are in college. The one thing they all have in common: they have all been affected by the surging price of college education. And they are talking about it the decision to attend cheaper public colleges, dropping out due to lack of money, being thousands of dollars in debt.

Each performance of Financial Slavery is followed by an unscripted 30-minute conversation with the audience about student debt and its impact on students and their parents.

Alyea Pierce, who wrote the play, herself owes $47,000 in student loans for her undergraduate degree. Does she see herself paying it off anytime soon? In the next 20 to 30 years, she told the Guardian. She is 24.

Its one of the reasons why she ended up writing Financial Slavery. While in college, she was asked to write a poem about debt and ended up writing about it as a form of slavery. The poem remains at the core of the play. In it, Pierce describes student debt as the twenty-first century slave ship and the people issuing loans as the new slave masters.

She recited the poem: [The slave master] is always saying how we on this ship, because we special, that we financial slaves going to the new world and there no cotton-picking fields no more. These are dollar-picking fields, where all we gotta do is go to college with our ankles chained to our wrists for four years and bam! we will be free.

Yet instead of being free, college graduates tend to end up thousands of dollars in debt that can take decades to pay off.

Does she feel that equating slavery and student debt is too much? Pierce says she wants to start a dialogue. I can understand how audience members may say that the comparison is too far. When researching and receiving stories from people about their student loan journey, the language used were feelings of feeling trapped, locked in chains, heavy, and too much weight, she says.

With those feelings used as inspiration and my belief that the student loan debt system is used as a 21st-century oppressive tool in a patriarchal society, and it involves socioeconomic status, race, et cetera, that this connection makes sense. This connection has a lot of weight, and when it takes a 24-year-old 30 years to pay off their student loan debt, that individual is in chains.

Ashley Krushinski, one of the actors, is about to begin her second year at a private university. She finished her freshman year with $22,000 in student loan debt. For her sophomore year, she had to take out another $25,000 loan slightly higher than last years since her tuition went up by 2.59% this year.

We are in chains. Dont you get it? We are never going to break free, one character says in the play.

To make their case, Pierce and the cast use various statistics and numbers throughout the performance. But it is the stories of the characters and the actors themselves that connect with the audience.

Over the past couple of years, Pierce has taken her play around some college campuses and high schools and asked the audience how they felt after watching the play. The most common responses were depressed and sad. As a result, Pierce said that the crew workshopped it to make it less painful and to evoke a sense of solidarity.

They actually say that they have hope. That they feel a type of solidarity, that they are not alone, she told the Guardian. Too often we feel like that because its such a hush-hush issue. Its a taboo to talk about your student loan debt.

On Sunday, after the first performance of Financial Slavery during its run at the Fringe festival, members of the audience said the play made them feel sad, anxious, enlightened and swindled.

One attendee was a young woman who had just finished law school with $110,000 in student debt. I dont regret it, but dont know how I am going to pay for it, she told everyone in the theatre.

There was a mother with three kids in college, who cosigned on a total of $160,000 worth of loans. My name is on there, she said.

There was a dad who said: Bernie Sanders tried to get us to wake up on this issue. And then there was a single mother who said that if she was able to figure it out, others should be able to as well.

The play does not shy away from stirring up a caldron of complicated thoughts and feelings. Yes, education is important, but should going to college result in mountains of debt? Should tuition keep going up? Who is responsible for knowing exactly what the interest will amount to? Should we talk about the cost of books, meal plans and housing that often add thousands of dollars on top of tuition? Would people be willing to pay more in taxes if tuition were free?

At one point of the play, a clip from Hillary Clintons convention speech played for the audience.

Bernie Sanders and I will work together to make college tuition-free for the middle class and debt-free for all, Clinton says in the clip. We will also liberate millions of people who already have student debt.

According to Pierce, this election has already helped bring the issue of student loan debt to the forefront.

This is the biggest political, social, economic crisis and issue for our generation, said Pierce. So if you really want to tap into our generation, our vote, you have to hit something we are passionate about, and thats student loan debt.

As part of FringeNYC, Financial Slavery will have four more performances from 23 to 27 August at the Flamboyan Theatre in downtown Manhattan.

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David Hernandez

Why the sexual harassment of fat people reaches a different level of offensiveness.

We were trading catcalling and harassment stories.

A group of smart, thoughtful, lively, funny women had gathered, as many women do, for a moment of catharsis and commiseration over the ways in which our bodies are taken from us, little by little, with stunning regularity.

One womans coworker had asked her out three times, unswayed by her declination. Another waited at a bus stop when a man, unannounced, wrapped his arms around her from behind. Gross, everyone agreed. Me too.

The stories gained momentum, building to purging crescendoes of laughter and irritation. This is how we unburden ourselves. This is how we loose tension back into the world that foisted it on us in the first place.

When asked about my own experience, I shared something about an acquaintance making a graphic pass at me months earlier.

He kept telling me how he wanted to hold my arms down while I struggled to get free. It was gross. I shrugged it off.

Friends responses sharpened. What had been lighthearted release turned to vigilance and concern. This moment, with this acquaintance, had felt routine to me. He was not the first man to tell me about a rape fantasy, and he wouldnt be the last. I had assumed it was just a particularly unsavory version of a kind of harassment wed all faced. Other women at the table assured me it was not.

Afterward, a friend asked why I hadnt told anyone sooner. Just as shed been surprised by my experience, I was surprised by her question. The answer felt so evident. Like many women before me, when I share stories of harassment, catcalling, unwelcome advances and violence, I am met with pushback.

Unlike other women, however, there is a common misconception that my body cannot be desired, because I am fat. And that couldnt be further from the truth.

Fat people date, marry, hook up, get lonely, and get laid just like anyone else.

Yet still, we are regularly depicted on screens and pages, by media and loved ones, as undesirable and undesired. Those depictions give way to a belief that fat people are isolated, unloved, desperate, voracious. Grateful for what little attention we get and forever longing for more of it.

So when we are harassed, catcalled, and assaulted, Ive noticed that those moments are supercharged with entitlement and violence. Those who harass us are emboldened by the belief that well be flattered, relieved, or honored by the attention. Their expectations have been skewed by a culture that tells them to indulge in any impulse, disregarding any want that is not their own. A culture that tells them they are entitled to nearly any body they claim. A culture that tells them so many of our bodies are disposable, accessible, and theirs for the taking. A culture that tells them fat girls are easy they want you more than you want them.

And when we dont, they lash out.

A man asked me out years ago. I declined gently, in the way that so many of us do a survival skill to avoid violence. My heart raced, straining against my ribcage as I gingerly chose my words. “Youre so sweet. Id love to. I cant.”

Still, he became agitated, asking why. I told him I was queer. I didnt want any part of him or the picture he painted me into. Still, my rabbit heart wouldnt stop thumping. Still, it stung. Still, I cried.

It felt so familiar. As a fat woman, the messages I receive about sexual harassment are cruel and constant.

Be grateful for the attention you get. Even if its violent. Even if you dont want it. Did that person really want to rape you? Really, you? Because we still think of sexual assault as being driven by desire. And who would want such a wretched body? Of course it gets violent. Of course we dont tell anyone.

Recently, a friend told me over cocktails about the umpteenth time a man made an unwanted pass at her. “Im so over it,” she said. “I get it, youre into me, move on.” I related to her irritation like her, I have felt the frustration of so many strangers entitlement to my body. As women, it seems that our bodies are always public property, there to be grabbed, judged, claimed, conquered. Her frustration I understood I feel it too. But her boredom and disgust stung.

Her body is held up so often as an ideal. Her skin is the shape of desire. When strangers and acquaintances see that silhouette, they approach her, almost reflexively. She constantly spends time, energy, and effort making sure she can stay safe. She does not know when a spurned stranger will turn violent.

She longs for a day uninterrupted by a strangers assessment of her body. So do I.

But where she is sought after with lust and attraction, I am expected as a convenience, readily available. I have shirked my responsibility to have a desirable body, so I am an easy mark. The men who approach me believe I will not resist, and I will not report. I will not be afforded the thin, flimsy veil of courtship. They will speak to me of violent desires, the darkest corners of their intentions.

After all, who would want to rape a fat woman?

My friend has become exhausted with the value of her body. I am terrified with the debt of mine.

Harassment of fat people is so much more than sexual and deeply different from the harassment faced by thinner people.

Strangers on the street regularly approach me to tell me that Im fat and how not to be. Sometimes, they tell me that I wouldnt be fat if I were a better person. Some shout that I shouldnt show my face in public. Others rage at having to see me at all.

The message is clear: Whoever you are, my fat body is more yours than mine. Fat bodies are always someone elses property, open to prescription, lecturing, anger, pity.

Street harassment, catcalling, and sexual harassment dont impact just one kind of body, though.

Street harassment happens when a stranger makes a pass a fat person then laughs derisively. It happens when trans people are asked whats in their pants. It happens when people of color are told to “go back to” another country, regardless of where they were born. It happens when women in headscarves are accused of terrorism.

To dig up the roots of this violence, we cant just listen to the stories that sound like our own. We have to stretch beyond our own experiences and listen to the stories that are unfamiliar to us. Our safety depends on it.

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David Hernandez

When trolls attacked this fat, gay, black immigrant, Ireland answered perfectly.

On Monday, Aug. 22, 2016, Michelle Marie became the official voice of Ireland at least on social media for the duration of a week.

Since 2012, the @Ireland Twitter account has featured a different person behind the handle every week, all of whom have some connection to Ireland or the Irish diaspora.

Each person has their own unique voice and perspective to offer to the account’s 40,000-plus followers. And Michelle Marie, who normally tweets as @ChocCurvesModel, is certainly no exception:

Marie is a single mother and plus-sized model, as well as an immigrant from the U.K. She’s also black, and, as she later disclosed, gay.

Unfortunately, there are still a handful of people in this world who can’t fathom the idea that a fat, gay, black woman could live in Ireland, let alone be its voice for a week. And they wanted her to know calling her “subhuman,” saying that Ireland is only for the Irish, and telling her to leave the country and so on and so forth in that monstrous way that only anonymous people on the internet are capable.

Sadly, this part shouldn’t be surprising though there is a certain irony to the fact that, according to their profiles, most of these racist trolls actually lived in the United States and thus almost certainly have no say in what does or does not constitute “Irish-ness.”

Did I mention that was all just on her first day as the voice of @Ireland?

But as a dedicated champion of body positivity and self-love, Marie was determined to use the @Ireland platform to make her voice heard.

And it wasn’t limited to racist vitriol, although those probably made up the bulk of it. There were also plenty of insults about her weight which, sadly, is a frequent occurrence for plus-sized people. Fortunately, Marie was a pro and deftly shut down the haters:

Despite her relentless positivity, those few nasty voices still got to her an experience familiar to anyone who’s ever dealt with bullying. By the end of her first day as @Ireland, Marie had had enough.

I understood the @Ireland account to be a platform for all people who have an Irish connection of a gr [love] for the country/culture. […] Many non-natives, non-residents, and persons of colour have gone before me on the account so I felt welcome to apply.

I expected trolls, and backlash, and criticism. But today I have experienced racism, sexism, fatphobia, and homophobia to a degree I have never known. I have had 8hrs of nonstop hate thrown at me. I am hurt, shocked, and appalled.

“I have become accustomed to a certain level of trolling online as it comes with the territory, but I have never known anything like what happened this week a relentless barrage of extreme hatred and prejudice,” Marie told Upworthy later that same week.

Perhaps even more inspiring were the droves of people who came to her defense and offered their support for her voice, and her continued presence on the Emerald Isle.

(“Craic” is an Irish word that basically means “a good time.”)

Even Patricia Arquette came to her defense yes, the Patricia Arquette!

Sure, Marie might not be the stereotypical poster child for the Emerald Isle. But, that’s exactly why it’s refreshing to have a voice like hers represent the country as part of a modern, global society.

Luckily, there were plenty of Irish citizens who seemed to agree.

Her legion of supporters were evidence not only of the Irish reputation for hospitality, but also that diversity and acceptance are both growing across the world.

Thanks to that support, Marie returned to the @Ireland Twitter account on Tuesday with a renewed energy.

And she continued to share her inspirational insights throughout the rest of the week.

“I have been really touched and taken aback by the level of kindness and support I have received,” she said.

“The U.K. tends to turn a blind eye to the less favourable things that happen, whereas Ireland has stood up and spoken up against it. I feel Ireland is ready to embrace change and diversity.”

Of course, it wasn’t all heavy social commentary. She also chatted with followers about their favorite places across the Emerald Isle and her appreciation for the Irish language and more personal subjects like body positivity, motherhood, and adoption.

As terrible as it was to watch someone like Marie suffer through so much hatred, the response that followed was a powerful reminder of why it matters that we continue hearing voices like hers.

After her whirlwind week as the voice of Ireland, Marie went back to tweeting and blogging about body positivity as well as helping to organize Ireland’s first-ever Body Pride festival proving that heroes come in all colors, shapes, and sizes.

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David Hernandez

Central Banks May Need to Start Thinking About Losing Weight

Picture for a moment the concept of a lean central bank.

No, not Janet Yellen or Mario Draghi out doing Pilates, but rather the thought that almost a decade after the Great Recession, central banks ought to be slimming down on the amount of financial assets that they hold.

And yet even as the U.S. Federal Reserve holds the level of its total assets roughly steady, in Japan and Europe balance sheets just keep growing.

At the Feds annual policy gathering at Jackson Hole, Wyoming through Saturday, questions are being asked about how long this can go on.

Take for example the European Central Bank. The Frankfurt-based ECB is engaged in an asset-purchase scheme worth around 1.7 trillion euros ($1.9 trillion), due to run until at least March next year, in an effort to boost demand and drive inflation in the 19-nation currency bloc away from the deflationary danger zone.

 Even so, the official in charge of financial-market operations at the ECB  the coalface of monetary policy, if you will  wondered out loud in a paper to the symposium about how developed-world central banks can return to their previous level of fitness.

“A perfectly lean central bank balance sheet can be defined as one which would have a total length close to the value of banknotes issued,” Ulrich Bindseil, director-general for market operations at the ECB, said here Friday. “In general, the objective of a lean balance sheet should remain valid in the future long-term operational frameworks.”

Yet given the ECBs current asset-purchase plan, the balance sheet is going to keep gaining weight until 2017, as further government bonds, private-sector assets and corporate debt are added. Total assets are already three times the value of outstanding banknotes.

Bindseil points to the example of the Fed, pre-crisis, as the epitome of the lean central bank  when total assets hovered just above the value of outstanding cash.

Obviously, a lean rule for balance sheets is meant to pertain to normal times, whatever they are, not the situation the global economy faces now.

Its just that, with interest rates in major jurisdictions already close to, at, or below zero, the balance sheet route may be one of few viable options for central banks to support the economy when the next recession comes along.

That is, unless something radical can happen to allow central banks to cut interest rates much further below zero, a concept for which was presented on Friday at the symposium by Carnegie Mellon Professor Marvin Goodfriend.

“Pressure to rely more heavily on balance sheet policy in lieu of interest rate policy will tempt central banks increasingly to exert stimulus by fiscal policy via distortionary credit allocation, the assumption of credit risk, and maturity transformation, all taking risks on behalf of taxpayers and all moving central banks ever closer to destructive inflationary finance,” Goodfriend said. “Interest rate policy is far superior to these alternatives.”

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David Hernandez

Body positive coloring book uses art to challenge weight-based stigma

Image: Brittnay Herbert/Mashable

Ashleigh Shackelford stands with unapologetic confidence, holding up a sign declaring, “Your body is not wrong. Society is.” Her image is solely outlined by thick black lines on white paper. Her fierce stare dares you to pick up a pencil and begin to color her in.

But coloring the image of the body positive activist means confronting the roundness of her face and the curves of her frame. It means getting comfortable with her body a body society will incessantly label as less-than.

As your pink pencil gently traces the curves of her skirt, you realize her body is anything but wrong. And that revelation is exactly the point.

To honor current fat activism trailblazers like Shackelford, artist Allison Tunis created Body Love: A Fat Activism Colouring Book. The book, published in late July, is what Tunis calls an “educational coloring book” that’s part fat activism, part art therapy.

It features the black and white images of 23 activists who Tunis calls current “superstars” of the body positive movement and they are all individuals who influenced Tunis on her own journey to self-love.

Image: Brittany HErbert/Mashable

Tunis was inspired to create the book in December 2015 after feeling compelled to give back to the movement that helped her love her body. She had been working on her own body positive journey for about a year prior, discovering activists who had an indelible impact on her life.

“I started thinking about what I could do to contribute to that movement, because it had made such a difference in my life,” she tells Mashable.

“It’s not only a soothing and relaxing meditation through the act of coloring, but also a meditation on self.”

Tunis, who has degrees in fine art and art therapy, says landing on the idea of a coloring book simply made sense, given her background. And combating the fat-based hate in society with the healing qualities of art is something Tunis knew she could help facilitate for the community.

“The fat activism and body positivity movements are so welcoming and so inclusive that I knew if I did this project, I’d have a ready-made audience,” she says.

Though Tunis says the act of coloring in itself is meditative and relaxing, the type of therapy encouraged by Body Love: A Fat Activism Colouring Book runs deeper.

“It forces you to think about the different bodies and what your relationship is with them,” she says. “It forces you to work out your own issues with bodies. It’s not only a soothing and relaxing meditation through the act of coloring, but also a meditation on self.”

But that’s not only true for people who purchase the coloring book and begin to put crayon to paper. It was also true for Tunis as the illustrator of the book. The process made her confront some of the internalized weight-based hate she had toward her own body.

“As I was drawing these pictures, I realized I was able to see all of the beauty in these people so why wasn’t I able to see it in myself?” she says.

To create the book, Tunis worked closely with the activists featured, keeping them updated on the progress and getting their input on their depictions. She also offered them 25 percent of the profits.

“I’m using their names and their images and their reputations to sell this book,” she says. “They deserve acknowledgment and that means monetary recognition.”

But Tunis gave the activists a choice. They could either take the earned 25 percent to support their own livelihoods and work, or donate it to the Canadian Mental Health Association an organization Tunis chose because of the mental health impacts of dealing with fat hatred and weight-based stigma. She says about half of those featured chose to donate their cut of the profits.

Kelvin Davis, model and men’s fashion blogger, featured in “Body Love: A Fat Activism Colouring Book.”


Over the past month since the book’s release, Tunis says the ready-made audience she anticipated has pulled through, making the self-published book a financial success. Some activists, like burlesque performer Noella DeVille and activist and author Virgie Tovar, are even buying the books in bulk to sell at their own events, bringing the work to a larger audience.

But the release also pulled in another unexpected audience: children. Tunis says she’s received several notes from parents saying they are grateful to have an alternative option to the tiny waists and unrealistic proportions that coat the pages of other coloring books.

“People have been saying that they are buying this coloring book not only for themselves, but to color in with their daughters and children,” she says. “I really think it helps spread a positive notion. You are spreading awareness that all bodies are good bodies to your children.”

“Taking the time to lovingly color images of people who look like me is so healing…”

Substantia Jones, a fat positive photographer featured in the book, uses her own art to deconstruct how fat bodies are perceived in society, calling her work “part fat, part feminism, part ‘fuck you.'” She describes Tunis’ coloring book as following a similar mantra, challenging the belief of which bodies deserve to be celebrated.

“Utilizing alternative forms of media to bring the message of body love and fat acceptance to people particularly young people is nothing short of brilliant,” Jones tells Mashable. “Wallpapering the planet with positive depictions of fat folks is proving effective, and I’m glad to be aboard Allison Tunis’ project.”

Cynthia Ramsay Noel (left), founder of “Flight of the Fat Girl,” and Ashleigh Shackelford, body positive activist and writer.

Image: Brittany Herbert/Mashable

When speaking to Mashable about the impact of the book, Tovar describes the effort as “super radical.” She says even the simple act of coloring can help to normalize a range of bodies, which was part of Tunis’ main goal.

“This coloring book is a big deal because historically there has been almost no positive, self-directed representations of fat people in any publication,” Tovar says. “Coloring is a therapeutic activity that requires time and commitment. Taking the time to lovingly color images of people who look like me is so healing because often we are taught to shy away from looking at our own fat bodies.”

“To every person who has ever looked in the mirror and hated what they saw. You do not have to feel like this.”

Case studies conducted over the past several years found that art therapy supports emotional well-being and decreases stress in both children and adults. Those who use art therapeutically have been found to make fewer phone calls to mental health providers and use fewer medical and mental health services.

But, even with art’s healing qualities on your side, things sometimes get tough and Tunis knows that first-hand. Even after finding body positivity, she says she still has bad days with her body image. But, she adds, the activists featured in the coloring book help her along the way.

“There’s this whole community of amazing people who do amazing things and their bodies are a part of that,” Tunis says. “It’s not that they are amazing in spite of their bodies. They are amazing because they are embracing their bodies. I remember there are people who love them and find them attractive. I don’t have to feel this way.”

And she echoes that belief for anyone who picks up the book through a powerful dedication that prefaces the book: “To every person who has ever looked in the mirror and hated what they saw. You do not have to feel like this.”

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David Hernandez

Fat Is Just An Adjective, Not An Insult

Fat has become the F word. Fat has become an insult to mean the opposite of attractive; the opposite of pretty. Fat has become a synonym to ugly, or a term used to demean others. Fat has evolved into a word which implies inferiority and lack of control. It’s a word that the media tells us we should never be. It’s a word that we tell our selves we should never be.

But all of these messages? All of these negative associations?

These are all lies.

Because here’s the thing: fat is not a bad word. Let me say that again. Actually, better yet, let me shout it: FAT IS NOT A BAD WORD. Fat is by no means the F word. Fat is not a word to be afraid of. Its not a word we need to avoid. Fat is not an insult, and fat does not imply inferiority. Fat is not mean. Fat is not scary. Fat is not ugly. Fat is simply a word, with no inherent goodness or badness. Fat is a characteristic; an adjective. Its nothing more.

Some of us are tall, some of us are short. Some of us are skinny, some of us are fat. The amount of fat we have on our bodies is just another characteristic of our appearance. Its no different than our hair color or our height. Its simply a part of how we look.

We dont shame people for their height or eye color. So why do we shame people for their bodies?

Society has done a great disservice to all of us all by teaching us that fatness implies inferiority. By turning the word fat from a neutral adjective into a shameful insult, millions of beautiful people battle with unnecessary low self-esteem and low self-confidence. Society has infiltrated our minds with the belief that thin people are more beautiful, and that thin people have more of a right to feel pretty.

It has led us to believe that we can only feel confident if we are a certain size or a certain weight. Society has taught young children that the worst thing they can be is fat. This is not only embarrassing, this is also heartbreaking.It leaves children to think that their bodies are a problem, or tricks them into thinking that they are not worthy of feeling loved or feeling confident.

We constantly compare ourselves to the thin ideal that popular culture throws in our faces. We believe that if we are different from this idealized image of beauty, we are not good enough. Everywhere we see and hear the same message- the message that thin is pretty, and that fat is not. But this very obviously is not true. This is clearly discriminatory.

You see, some of us are born fat. Some of us are born heavier, or have more curves. And this is where society keeps messing up. Society deems fat people as lazy, or as having no self-control around food. Society sees fatness as a flaw that is avoidable. This is an ignorant and uneducated view, because it neglects to realize that our bodies are intelligent, and that we all have weight set points, or weights in which our bodies are the healthiest.

Those of us who have larger bodies are born into these bodies for a reason. Our bodies are built this way because this is how they should be this is how our genetics and our environments have shaped us. Our bodies and minds function optimally at a heavier weight. Our body systems and our metabolism function ideally when we are at this weight. In other words, this is our natural set point. This is the weight in which we are the healthiest and the happiest.

While some of us are naturally fat, others of us are naturally thin. For those of us who have thinner bodies, we too have healthy weight set points. We reach our best psychological and physiological wellbeing at a lower weight. This is where our bodies work more fluidly – this is where we are supposed to be. This is where we function optimally.

In other words,weight is rarely an indication of health.

When you think about it, why would we have a weight in which our body functions at equilibrium if it didn’t serve a purpose? If we were all supposed to be thin, we would be thin. But we are supposed to be all different weights. And when we try to diet when we are already at our own healthy weight, our bodies protest. They fight back. They do this for a purpose. The binge urges that spike when we diet? The mood swings? The cravings? These are all emergency alerts telling us that we aren’t satisfied; that something is wrong. These occur because we are depleting ourselves of what we fundamentally need.

You see, our bodies are smarter than we think.Just as we would not try to squeeze our feet into shoes that are four sizes too small, we shouldn’t try to decrease the size of our bodies to reach unrealistic weigh expectations. We all have a set point – and whether we are heavy or light, we are the healthiest when we relax and let ourselves be at this set point.

Fat is just a characteristic. Fat is an adjective. Fat is a description. Fat is beautiful. Fat is healthy. Fat is fat. We don’t need to change our weights. What do we need to do? We need to open our eyes to beauty and health at every size. We need to rebel against society’s lies by accepting our own bodies and the bodies of others. Our bodies do not need to change. Society needs to change.

Fat is a description. Fat is an adjective. Fat is a physical characteristic.

Fat is not the F word.

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David Hernandez