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Million Pound March Speech

The following is the text of the speech Marty Lipton gave at the Million Pound March August 15th 1998.

Thank you. It's a great privilege to be here today, speaking at this rally and also representing the Southern California Size Acceptance Coalition. When SCSAC was founded, someone asked us "Why call it a coalition?" And at the time, no one couldn't come up with a good answer, but no one could come up with a name they liked better either, so coalition it has remained.

Today, when we are celebrating our unity as a fat community, I'm glad we kept that name, because coalitions are formed for a purpose...a single purpose upon which all the members agree. And it may be the only thing those members agree upon. Our purpose, and that of all the other national and local groups here today, is to gain social justice for fat people.

We are celebrating our unity today and our diversity...that is we are celebrating the fat community's place in a diverse society. But let's not forget that we are also celebrating another type of diversity. Within the movement, we are separate individuals. Beyond our common interest in our rights as fat people, we are not very similar at all.

The fat rights movement is just about the only place we can enjoy our diversity. The general society seems committed to seeing us as all the same. The fat stereotype allows doctors, employers, coworkers, families and strangers to say to themselves "You're fat and that's all I need to know about you. There is nothing else as important." But we know that, if all other things were equal, our fatness would actually be one of the least important things about us.

A few years ago, at another fat rights convention, I was in a hospitality suite with perhaps twenty other people. A man put his head in the door and asked if "Deborah" was there. One of the people in the room asked, "What does she look like?" And the man answered, "She's short and fat and has dark hair."

Look around and you'll see just how that is not a description in this context. But in the general society, it would be enough because no one would expect more.

Here, we expect more. And we're here today because we expect more from the rest of society, too. We expect the media to show our faces instead of our bellies and behinds. We expect our doctors to get a history and work with us toward health instead of threatening us with our own fat. We expect those people who tell us to get some exercise to stop mocking us when we do. And we want everyone to understand that "I don't think of you as fat" is not a compliment but is instead an expression of their own negativity toward fat people; an insult toward me, toward you, toward everyone here and toward the millions of fat Americans who don't yet know they are being insulted.

We are here today not because we need to be fixed, but because we know we were never broken. We're here because, joined together, we are powerful. There's an old gospel tune that goes, "This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine." Well, my little light all by itself can push back the darkness of fear and shame and low self-esteem for me and a couple of other people. But when I stand with all of you,as associations and coalitions and networks, our little lights become a beacon in the night. And we can expect the light of day to dawn very soon.

Thank you.

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