On Diet Culture and Democracy
We're fighting for Arizona. (And giving away lots of books!)
This is a newsletter about fatphobia, diet culture, parenting and health. So we often focus on very small questions: How do you wear a swimsuit in public? How do you respond when your friend wants to talk about her love of Paleo? How do you tell a doctor you don’t want to get on a scale?
But this is also a newsletter about how we feel safe and in control of our own bodies; how we raise our children to feel safe and in control of their own bodies; and how we work towards a world where body autonomy is a fundamental human right.
Right now, in America, our children are not safe. And we are losing our right to control over our own bodies. Dismantling diet culture is still important. But diet culture itself is just one symptom of the root problems of white supremacy and patriarchy. Our democracy is rotting. We cannot get anything else done if our kids are not safe in their schools, if our neighbors cannot grocery shop or worship without fear for their lives.
We cannot make progress on fat justice when body autonomy is only a fundamental human right for thin, able-bodied, cis, straight, white men.
When I announced the Burnt Toast Giving Circle back in March, I was a little uncertain and overwhelmed — would anyone join? Would we raise any money? How do we explain to everyone that state legislators make the decisions on every issue we care about? I sent what felt like a hugely ambitious goal: To raise $10,000 ($1000 of which would come from Burnt Toast) that we would then put towards flipping the balance of power in one state legislation.
Well. As of today, we have raised over $14,000. I am so proud of us. Some of you gave $1000, some of you are giving $5 per month. As Melissa Walker of The States Project said in our podcast conversation: Every dollar matters. We all walk together with power.
Initially I thought we might decide which state to put the money towards via poll or group discussion. But I know how busy and over-stretched we all are, and I suspect that having to do another thing and make another decision feels hard for a lot of us right tnow. Also, after the news that Roe is done, after three mass shootings in a week, for me, this decision is clear:
We are going to fight for a blue majority in Arizona.
Arizona has no law restricting the purchase of assault weapons.
Arizona has no law restricting fifty caliber rifles.
Arizona has no law regulating gun shows.
Arizona does not prohibit the open carrying of firearms in public.
Arizona allows any individual aged 21 or over to carry a firearm concealed on his or her person in public without a license or permit.
Arizona does not impose any design safety standards on handguns.
Arizona has no law requiring firearms dealers to initiate background checks prior to transferring a firearm.
Arizona has no law restricting sales or purchases of multiple firearms.
The list goes on. You can read more about Arizona gun laws (and also look up your own state and any other) at Giffords Law Center.
And: Although 8 out of 10 Arizonans support choice, a newly-signed Arizona law is a copy of the Mississippi abortion ban at the center of the Supreme Court case that will gut Roe v. Wade. When Roe falls, it will trigger a ban on abortions after 15 weeks with no exceptions for rape or incest. Arizona also has an inactive total abortion ban from before 1973; the governor has said the 15-week ban would take precedence but either way, the right to choose is intensely vulnerable here. And the total number of abortion clinics in Arizona have been declining for years, going from thirty-seven in 1982 to twenty-eight in 1992 to just nine in 2014.
Plus: In 2021, Arizona’s rightwing majorities passed a wide range of anti-voter laws, including purging the state’s Permanent Early Voting List of about 200,000 voters who have not voted early in two consecutive election cycles. Experts believe this law — which disproportionately impacts Black and Latino voters — will harm voter turnout as 70 percent of Arizona’s voters are on this early voting list. Just this year, state lawmakers in Arizona have proposed more than 100 new rightwing laws that double down on anti-voter laws, including limiting early in-person voting to the weekend before a general election and limiting drop boxes. These laws disproportionately affect Arizona tribal communities, including Navajo Nation, who helped Arizona go for Biden in 2020.
Here’s The Opportunity
In 2020, if just 1,028 of the almost 3.4 million votes cast by Arizonans had flipped, the Arizona House would no longer have unchecked rightwing control. In the Arizona Senate, it would have taken just 2,338 votes. The States Project has worked to support new majorities committed to improving lives in the Arizona legislature since 2018, and we are this close to flipping both chambers.
This year, Democrats gaining just one more seat in either chamber would break the existing majorities that have been in place for two decades in the Arizona State Senate and more than 50 years in the Arizona State House. Just a few hundred votes could determine control of both chambers. These are the thinnest margins we’ve had in a century.
You can read more about The States Project’s effort to win back Arizona here. In the coming months, I’ll tell you more about the candidates we’re supporting in Arizona, and what else we can do to show up for them. (Who is in for a Burnt Toast postcard writing party?!) In the meantime, if you haven’t joined us yet, I hope you will.
To be clear: We absolutely need federal gun reform and federal protections for abortion. But state legislatures are doing what Washington can’t or won’t. This is where we can make change now.
Burnt Toast is Turning One!
Next month (as in, tomorrow!) will mark one year of the Burnt Toast newsletter as a fully-fledged production with weekly essays, podcast episodes, and Friday Threads. I’ll be talking more about what this milestone means to me, and where we go from here as a newsletter, a little later in the month. But I do want to let you know now that we will be celebrating all month with the Burnt Toast Book Giveaway!
I’m partnering with my beloved local indie Split Rock Books to give away 15 copies of the books we’ve featured on the Burnt Toast Podcast in the past year. If you renew your existing subscription or purchase a new subscription by June 30, just click the link we email you for a chance to win. (You can also email Corinne at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions!)
We’ll pick 15 folks at random on July 1. The winners can pick any book on this list and Split Rock will send it out to you (or to the recipient of your choice! US residents only, sorry).
THE EATING INSTINCT: Food Culture, Body Image and Guilt in America by me (and this one will be signed, of course! :)
Just seeing this list makes me so proud—we’ve had some truly excellent conversations here, with so many amazing authors (and other folks!) doing important work on fat representation, fat liberation, diet culture dismantling and more.
This is an incredibly shitty and scary time to have a body/be a parent/be a person. But I feel hopeful when I think about what we can do together. Thank you, so much, for being here.