In the vegan community I consider myself a part of, I unfortunately witness a lot of stereotyping against fat people. Yesterday there was a perfect example of this. On Facebook, I noticed a friend comment on this image from a page called “Veganism”. Check out this image below. One the facebook page, a long list of arguments for veganism was also attached.
Luckily my friend posted a message nicely calling them out on using the image. I decided to respectfully point out that I feel using fat shaming images is embarrassing to the vegan community and we should focus on facts, not stereotypes. I would include exactly what I said, but I later discovered it was deleted. I was censored!!! Not only was my comment deleted, but I was BANNED from commenting, liking comments, or writing a post on their page! What!?
This really pissed me off! So, I shared the post on my page and asked others to make comments and support me. Two remarkable things then happened. One, I found out I had more supporters and people who agree with me than I thought! Yay! There were about ten more comments added, pointing out that the image is fat shaming and does not represent all in the vegan community. Second, I found out that I had influenced more people than I knew to eat vegan! I especially loved that one person was inspired by how glowing and healthy I looked (I swear that is what she said!)
The next morning I checked in to find that ALL these comments had been deleted. More censorship! This is listed as a community page. To me community is not the silencing of those who have a disagreement with you. Most of the commenters were respectful and long-time vegans.
Personally, these images really hurt. It makes me feel like I’m not accepted in the vegan community even though I am deeply committed to animals and the vegan lifestyle. I have stood at protests while people yelled fat shaming words at me and questioned my veganism. I have been stereotyped all through my life and I have had enough! I went vegan about 17 years ago and have been fit the majority of that time and fat all my life. Research has shown that body size is much more complicated than calories in and calories out. People naturally have a diversity of body sizes, and shapes.
A couple of years ago I overheard someone asked a new person at the animal rescue center I volunteered at is she was vegan. Her response was “Do I look like a vegan?” gesturing at her body. I immediately piped up, “Do I look like a vegan?!” The new volunteer later confided in me that my response made her stop and think, and now she is a vegan herself (and friend). I tell this story because there are stereotypes of what a vegan looks like and lots of vegans like to think it is the perfect picture of thinness. Ironically, there is this other popular opinion that vegans are super skinny in an unhealthy way. It seems counter-intuitive, but I’ve had people tell me that they are surprised I’m vegan because I look so healthy. The point is, vegan bodies also come in all shapes and sizes, even the healthy ones! Using images that use fat stereotypes to spread veganism hurts the movement from both the inside and out. I personally try to embrace diversity, and I don’t believe in deciding which diversity is acceptable and which is not.
So, comment. Please visit this page and comment on the image and comment on their censorship. Write a post to their wall about the same things. Before writing this blog post I searched for a way to reach out to the page administrator for dialogue, but there is no contact information given. I really try the nice approach first! But if that doesn’t work, I will not be silent. I truly believe that a public page claiming to be a community should be open to conversation. If they’re not, then they need to be questioned and the true community should speak up. I know personally, I would appreciate any and all voices that join mine. Thanks!