Iceland's body- and fatactivist Tara Margrét Vilhjálmsdóttir fights for body equality which is not an easy position to take in a country that hasn't seen much fatactvism within its own borders.
Tara founded The Icelandic Association for Body Respect in 2012, along with other activists, and the reactions have been mixed. The Association focuses on creating a society where people respect each other regardless of their size and aims at enhancing positive body image across the spectre.
Tara is currently the president of the association but has been branching lately into fat acceptance activism specifically as that is her passion. Her site focuses solely on fat acceptance and the voices of fat people. FedFront asked this fierce fighter about her experiences on going deeper into fatactivism:
>>I have seen how the hate has escalated since I started my own page as it only focuses on fat people and their rights. That really triggers some people. I still get amazed when I see the hate I get solely because a) I am a woman b) I am fat c) I fight for society to treat fat people as their equals. And the hate and the bullying mostly comes from grown men. Sometimes I even get a little bit scared, their behaviours and their words are so disgusting that I can't imagine what they would do if they ever met me in real life. Fake Facebook-and Twitter profiles have been founded in my name and I have been the victim of a few trolls who get in touch with me personally thanking me for my fight but it soon becomes apparent that they are trying to get personal info about me to use. Blogs are written about me, my body and what I am fighting about highlighting my supposed ill-health and how I am committing suicide by not actively trying to lose weight. By people that know nothing about body respect, fat studies or fat acceptance or the studies behind it. The ignorance can be baffling sometimes.
I wouldn't keep fighting if people from all over Iceland, people who I have never met, didn't write to me thanking me for my fight and for being their role model. At the same time the hate can baffle me, so does the love. People share their stories and how they have been hating their body and themselves because of it´s size and how that is slowly changing. When someone who is fat (especially a woman) unapologetically steps forward and says: "I am fat and I do not intend to change that and I will be caring for my health on MY terms, the terms of HAES (Health At Every Size)" it can be paradigm-shifting for many people who have been taught that they should feel ashamed and hide from society. At the beginning of my fight I only wrote articles in the papers. But last year I began showing and using my body as a political weapon and that´s when things escalated, both on a positive and negative note. Despite all the hate I am optimistic. So much has changed in just a few years. The words "weight stigma" didn't exist in the Icelandic vocabulary until a few years ago and now everybody knows them. The other thing is that we have science behind us. And we are seeing how health authorities all over the world, including in Iceland, are realising that the war on obesity was ill fated and has created a lot more negative than positive outcomes. We are slowly beginning to see more emphasis on weight-neutral focuses when it comes to public health. Now the public just has to follow and I believe that will happen in the next decades…as long as we keep fighting.<<
Check out Tara's Facebook page: