Chicago, Illinois -- Body-image activists gained another edge in their quest for acceptance with the election of Joanna Mecklen of Schaumberg, Illinois, as the first altbody-light (ABL) member of Congress.
"I'm here to serve the people of Illinois, and hopefully to inspire fellow altbody citizens to new heights," they said from their wheelchair. "We're all in this together!"
Tiffany Branewave of Chicago was ecstatic. "I know what they've been through. To see them at this moment, in their triumph... It's indescribable."
Ms Mecklen, like Ms Branewave and many others, lived most of their life under a regime of bigotry against people with varied body images that permeated society, religion, and even the medical literature. It wasn't until the classifications of "anorexic" and "bulimic" were removed from the DSM-VII manual of mental disorders in 2019 that they were finally able to pursue the body images they desired.
"I knew I was overweight at 135 pounds," Ms Mecklen disclosed in a courageous interview in Time in May. "But when I really started to take control of my life -- to become who I really am -- everyone fought me. My parents, my sister, friends, even my kids. But they don't have the right to call me 'skinny'. I know what I am. I got to 87 pounds before they forced me into a hospital."
Their hospitalization was seven years ago. Though they were forced to gain weight at that time, they were determined to shine a light on the unfair biases in society and the medical establishment.
Their social media campaign, driven around the slogan "My Body, My Image", shattered the taboos related to anorexia, bulemia, obesity, and other altbody styles. T-shirts emblazoned with #MBMI sold -- in every size -- across the US and EU.
Backlash from conservative groups sparked controversy over who gets to define the health of another human being. Another campaign, "What the hell? Healthier than who?" or #WTHHTW, drove altbody issues into the public consciousness in 2018, ultimately leading to changes in the way ABL and altbody-big (ABB) people were treated.
Chrysalis Heinz, an ABB and transgender activist who convinced Mecklen to parlay their social media success into a run for Congress, describes what happened next this way:
"When Joanna reached out, the purity of their situation and their soul came pouring out. They highlighted the intrinsic unfairness of allowing the cisbodied to define what it means to be healthy, unhealthy, skinny, fat, whatever. As the inherent judginess of those words became clearer to people, they rallied around them and all of those like them. I remember the day when I told my doctor that they had no choice but to perform my gender reassignment surgery, despite their concerns about my 450 pounds. Their cisbody, cisgender, cisnormative attitudes no longer interfered with my rights. They HAD to do what I asked.
"It's a victory for equality, justice, tolerance, and freedom for all of hupersonity."
Ms Mecklen, now 76 pounds, says they're ready to bring about real change for the altbodied. "Time's wasting away," they said. "Society needs to legally support everyone, from sixty pounds to six hundred. Airlines, so-called 'health food' stores, physicians, hospitals, you name it -- all the organizations that we used to conform to -- now have to learn to conform to us."
Correction: The article originally reported that Ms Mecklen said, "I'm wasting away" rather than "Time's wasting away." We deeply regret the error, and hereby abjure and revoke any and all statements made by us or our employees, accidentally or intentionally, publicly or privately, and, pursuant to judgment CA.ALT 3-243.b(AP06032021) levied against us, we are donating all revenue generated by this article to People For Legitimizing Alternative Body Images (PFLABI).