This week I have an epic and inspiring mega-rant for you, with Dani Galvin, eating disorder survivor, insta influencer and fat activist from @iamdaniadriana. Dani is unapologetically HAPPY and embracing life, and because she dares to do all of this in a larger body, she’s a troll magnet. Trolling on the internet sucks, but trolling fat people for simply existing takes things to a new low. Join us for an awesome and fierce conversation about why the world needs fat activists, the psychology of troll mentality, what it’s like to have an eating disorder when you’re fat, and much, much more!
- Dani has had a gutful of trolls on her Insta account, who on a daily basis harass and threaten her via DM and public posts on her Insta account.
- The aim of trolling isn’t debate or healthy criticism – it’s bullying, and they want to scare people off the internet.
- Dani’s convinced that the trolls have some deep seated psychological issues. Happy people just don’t feel compelled to bully strangers on the internet.
- Dani believes that forgiveness is a powerful tool – it helps her to let go of the impact. That doesn’t mean she doesn’t speak out against it!
- Places such as Reddit are dark holes where the hatred is real. Dani gets a lot of DM’s with links to Reddit, which is always bad. Or messages from people accusing her of promoting obesity. These people aren’t even reading her captions, they just look at her body at make judgements.
- It pisses them off that Dani exists and doesn’t feel ashamed of her body.
- She’s had trolls say things such as they ‘wouldn’t even rape her’. As if rape is a privilege?
- Trolling like this reveals the multiple levels of hatred and misogyny underpinning this kind of behaviour. This is not normal.
- Louise used to work with sex offenders in gaol, and agrees with Dani that threats of sexual or other violence is all about control – not sex. It’s using sex as a weapon to intimidate and exert power and control over women.
- Louise’s hat is off to all fat activists on SM! This message is so needed, but to think about how dangerous it is because of the constant trolling – it’s another level of trauma.
- It doesn’t bother Dani as much anymore. She’s had so many micro aggressions against her body in the real world, that online doesn’t matter.
- It worries Dani that the level of aggression towards people like Dani will scare other people in larger bodies away from fat activism or even just being ‘out and fat’.
- It’s a huge process to wake up from diet culture, to reject the idea that something is wrong with you or your body, and to stand against diet culture. It takes a long time, and everyone ends up in different places. Not everyone will end up being a fat activist!
- It’s ok for people in the body positivity process to be in different places. We’re all different and we need to respect that difference of experience. We need to think of the concept of psychological diversity as well as body diversity!
- To get over the trauma of diet culture, we all need to go through the stages of grief in order to let it go. This can take time, and it’s not easy.
- Regardless of how far you move away from diet culture, it’s not realistic to wake up every day loving your body! It’s not about loving your appearance. It’s about finding peace and acceptance. It’s about honouring and riding the tough stuff. And the reason you feel like this isn’t your fault – it was taught to you by diet culture.
- The default is diet culture, and it’s easy to be performative in that. It’s harder to stand up and cognitively and emotionally work through this shit.
- Dani has been in LOTS of therapy, and has done a lot of work to get where she is now. She didn’t wake up one day glowing with body love.
- Many of us are expected to be ‘performative’ in diet culture, by which Dani means we are expected to perform certain social rituals to meet social norms. Such as, taking part in body shaming when we’re with a group of women, or taking part in conversations which encourage food guilt.
- Diet culture performances, like feeling bad for eating the office birthday cake, is so in-built and multi generational. It’s literally never questioned in diet culture.
- Why can’t we just go to the party and enjoy the cake?
- There’s this strong idea that we need to diminish ourselves in front of others in order to be a ‘good person’. We’re doing it to fit in, to be accepted by others.
- Diet culture emphasises that what we eat equals who we are. And that certain types of food consumption patterns make us better or worse people. This is monstrous and serves to further oppress marginalised groups.
- When you’re a fat person in diet culture, how does the performative stuff show up?
- Being performative in diet culture as a fat person means always trying to lose weight – being a ‘good fatty’.
- There’s this strong idea that you can’t start living your life until you meet the goal of being thin. Dani had a list of things on her computer that she’d never do until she lost weight. These included going on a holiday, falling in love, wearing a swimsuit and getting a tattoo – things she’s done now, in her fat body!
- Dani had an extreme eating disorder for many years. She is scared by statistics that show that 1 in 4 people who diet will develop an eating disorder.
- There’s a push in certain research circles to say that dieting doesn’t lead to eating disorders in fat people. For Dani, dieting was a ‘gateway drug’ to an eating disorder. Not the only factor, but definitely a big one.
- Dani thinks the reason eating disorder professionals are making these claims is because now that eating disorders in higher weight people are being recognised, they don’t feel comfortable not prescribing weight loss! Weight stigma anyone?
- Dani’s eating disorder was really vicious, and she remembers being given the seriously screwed up mixed messages – ‘you’re taking it a bit far…but you’re doing really well.”
- Comments and perceptions like this meant that for Dani, during the last 2 years of having her eating disorder, all she thought about was wanting to die.
- Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of all mental illnesses, and a large proportion of these are suicides. How many people in larger bodies are dying because of weight stigma in eating disorder treatment?
- The DSM needs to stop using the BMI as a criterion for diagnosis. No other mental illness has a weight requirement. Imagine just how high the eating disorder rate in people in larger bodies is.
- Dani suffered terribly from her eating disorder, but because of her higher weight, she struggled for it to be recognised and properly treated. It was by chance that she stumbled across a therapist who finally saw her and what was going on. Without that, Dani might not be here.
- There’s a lot of evidence to show that the impact of weight stigma on health is just as impactful as BMI itself.
- Dani appeared on a tv show alongside some of the ex Biggest Loser contestants (who had put on all of the weight again) and a whole pile of people doing weight loss surgery. Dr Dixon was there, spruiking the fact that diets don’t work therefore give everyone surgery. Dani was the lone voice of body positivity!
- We’ve let weight and diets become our church and we’re now equating our appearance to something spiritually meaningful. Dieting is literally the new religion. It’s healthist and exclusionary.
- The ‘obesity epidemic’ rhetoric puts all fat people in the same category and labels them as diseased, AND pretends that body size is a choice.
- This rhetoric keeps us all imprisoned, as thin people are terrified of fat too.
- It’s rare to come across a health professional that actually cares about your experience as a human on the planet, to see beyond your BMI.
- Dani’s wish is to continue to advocate for larger people via her Insta platform, and she won’t let the trolls stop her! Her hope is that if she has kids or grandkids and they’re fat, that their experience won’t be like hers was.
- Her Insta account is a safe haven for people in larger bodies.
- Find Dani on Instagram @iamdaniadriana
The article which gives an overview of how weight stigma is potentially responsible for all of the health impacts usually attributed to higher BMI.
The TV segment we were talking about with Dani featured – this version has been edited by Dani, so it’s not triggering.
Where Dani gets all of these amazeballs bikinis! – on Insta: