Who mourns for NAAFA?

I’ve already discussed my feelings about NAAFA’s potential name change. (NAAFA has said that it is considering a name change, and has requested member input, but has not provided any specifics of what the new name would be.) But what I feel right now is grief, because the NAAFA that people think exists, the one that they are trying to keep from removing “fat” from its name, the one that they are trying to keep from essentially unmaking itself, is already gone.

NAAFA still gets press, and I commend its leaders for that. But NAAFA has few members (my guess is about 200 current members), and only two active chapters (Capital-DC area and Orange County) that I’m aware of. NAAFA’s leaders are doing their best with what seems to be continual decline of the organization since the early 1990s. I don’t envy their task.

How could NAAFA be dying when there are so many fat-positive blogs, tumblrs, facebook groups, and other signs of furious fat activity? Because those things aren’t NAAFA, and the way it’s currently configured, NAAFA doesn’t have a way of bringing those things into itself without exposing itself to more risk that its leaders want. (To be fair, there’s a lot more to it than that, and reasonable people disagree about what NAAFA should do.)

A NAAFA that’s no longer NAAFA means that NAAFA is gone. (That’s obvious, right?) But think of it this way. If the NAAFA follow-on can do good things, great. If not, then there’s room for a new organization that could be bigger, more inclusive, and more influential. (I’m not planning to start such an organization, but I’d join it.)

So as you talk about the possible name change:

  • Have some kindness for NAAFA’s leaders, who are just trying to keep it alive.
  • Think about what NAAFA realistically could be, not about what it has been.
  • Consider starting your own group, but if you do, make it as inclusive as possible. I’ve had it with organizations that are for a select membership only.

Hugs and love to all NAAFA members, past members, and other fatties and allies!

9 thoughts on “Who mourns for NAAFA?

  1. Bill, I so appreciate you expressing your grief and hope in such a compassionate and loving manner. I, too, grieve, but I also think there’s hope. This org has gone through a lot of changes. I hope this is the rallying cry that will bring some folks back to demand a voice in NAAFA.

  2. Well said!

    As NAAFA’s founder (in 1969) and having been active in NAAFA leadership until 1991, I can tell you that the use of the word “fat” was intentional. The present leadership sees it as an obstacle. That is their right, but I am glad to see an outpouring from people who are comfortable with the word. And your blog piece was very even-handed and temperate, which I think is very constructive.

  3. Thank you Bill. I rejoice in the number of fat related activities, blogs, organizations, etc. that are doing good work, including NAAFA. I wish there was a way to include everyone, but it’s not realistic. Maybe a coalition????
    As long as NAAFA keeps its primary goal of fighting for the rights of fat folks, that is what is important to me.

  4. Bill, Thank you for putting words to my feelings! I also mourn for what has passed, but am hopeful that what comes may be better… different, but better. Hugs to you and Terri… and I miss you guys! Melissa

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