Body Liberation + Public Health
Why Body Liberation + Public Health?
Public health’s commitment to equity and justice must include liberation for people of all body sizes.
PUBLIC HEALTH FOR ALL BODIES
We firmly believe that a body liberation approach makes for better public health. All bodies are deserving of liberation—autonomy, freedom, breaking the restrictive systems of oppression and discriminatory social conventions that limit and harm us. Public health is committed to unpacking and reducing the harms of white supremacy culture, and to moving toward a more equitable and just society that truly values the strength of our diversity.
We can take a significant step toward this anti-oppression aspiration by changing the way we think about and behave toward bodies of various sizes, including our own. As we all have bodies, the liberation of bodies impacts us all, and intersects with our other identities to create the complex beings that we are.
Within this website we will illustrate some of the ways in which public health can move toward a more liberatory and ethical approach to bodies (O’Hara & Gregg, 2012; Pause’, 2017), embracing our various sizes, shapes and abilities. There are materials covering the issues of weight bias, discrimination and stigma that permeate our field and our society, from the perspective of research and academia to personal narratives. These are foundational for awareness and understanding about what we want to change. And, there are many resources about how we can “do public health” differently (Hunger et al., 2020), building on the decades of work that has already been done by fat and body liberationists before us (Bonner, 2022).
RESOURCES FOR MOVING TOWARD BODY LIBERATION
A note about what we are not doing with this website—presenting what some might call a “balanced” view. The dominant narrative in our society is one of adherence to the BMI framework, advocating weight loss, valuing some types of bodies over others, and equating body size with health and virtue. We will not be repeating those themes here. They are easy to find elsewhere; in fact, they are unavoidable.
Here in these pages, we offer alternatives to the current weight-centric approach so that we can move toward self-defined health and liberation for all bodies. Each article includes a “Curious to Learn More?” section that provides a list of references and other related resources.
Body liberation is an important public health issue because body size is being prioritized over the social determinants of health, which are the actual systems that need to be addressed. Anti-fatness also has racist origins, and understanding how racism influences how we practice public health is critical to bringing an intersectional justice lens to our work.”
—Jamie L. Jones, MPH, Director of Applied Learning, OHSU-PSU School of Public Health