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A Female Ally to Large Women

I went to a Large Women and Female Allies Workshop last fall in Seattle (Washington, USA) as an ally to some large women in my Community. The workshop was led by Diane Shisk and Teresa Enrico1 and turned out to be2 an important workshop for me—a powerful place to face and discharge on sexism and internalized sexism. The suggestions for allies have stuck with me. I took the following away from Diane’s and Teresa’s talks:

GENERAL POINTS

• Every woman is beautiful, and every body is beautiful. There is a large range of healthy bodies—many more than the oppressive society says is acceptable.

• Large women’s distress is no worse than anyone else’s. Some heavy chronic material3 shows on the outside, and this visibility is used as a pretext to oppress large women.

• The oppression is real and vicious.

• Large women are not to blame, not to blame, not to blame.

• The work is not about losing weight; it’s about setting up the conditions so people can work on heavy chronic distress.

• Female allies have been targeted by sexism and male domination; large women, however, have to deal with an extra layer of the oppression.

SUGGESTIONS FOR ALLIES

• Do not make any suggestions at all. Take those brilliant lifesaving ideas to sessions and discharge about them. Large women have already tried everything and been told about everything.

• All women have a huge amount of discharging to do about bodies. Allies can lead this work in women’s groups.

• Most of us have to discharge a lot about saving people. We are women; we are responsible for the continuation of the species. It’s hard to watch people flounder and to not rush in to save or “caretake” them.

• We can’t actually liberate another person’s mind from oppression. What works is to set up the conditions so that people can discharge. It’s about working on the early hurts underlying core chronic distress and about reclaiming minds.

• Our relationships matter. Isolation is a big part of the oppression. Connection is a foundational piece.

• Allies tend to have all their attention focused on weight and weight gain. Notice that this project is actually about freeing minds from early hurts, living a full life, and being healthy. Some of us try hard not to pay attention to weight, and some of us think about weight all the time. Both are rigid responses. It is possible to pay attention to our bodies and notice when they change size without flipping into the internalized sexism.

• Allies who carry a lot of tension about weight might consider gaining five to ten pounds and keeping their weight there for a year. The idea isn’t to gain weight; it’s to discharge. Some people might not have access to important material if they rigidly maintain a particular weight. If you decide to gain weight, don’t do it with junk food. We can free ourselves from oppression and think about health at the same time.

• Speculation: heavy internalized sexism might be as unhealthy, or even more unhealthy, than excess body weight. Internalized sexism can affect our bodies and lead to illness. We shouldn’t have to endure sexism in order to stay thin.

Mary Ruth Gross
Richmond, California, USA
Reprinted from the e-mail discussion list for RC Community members


1 “Diane Shisk is the Alternate International Reference Person for the RC Communities and has led many workshops for large women. Teresa Enrico is the International Liberation Reference Person for Pacific Islander and Pilipino/a-Heritage People and has led many women-and-physical-power workshops.
2 “Turned out to be” means resulted in being.
3 “Material” means distress.to deal with an extra layer of the oppression.


Last modified: 2019-05-02 14:41:35+00