Why Giving to the OAC is Something I Must Do

I was raised, in part, by my grandfather, who was a very strict Catholic. He went to church many times a week, prayed all the time and never ate meat on Fridays. I learned a lot from him.

His philosophy was that he was put here to be an instrument for good in the world. I have very much embraced that same philosophy.

One very important part of that, to me, is the concept that I should use my time, talents and treasures to help make the world a better place. I believe that it’s not just a nice thing to do, but something I must do, because nothing in this world truly belongs to me, and I take nothing with me when I leave this place.

As a steward of the resources I’ve been given, I believe that helping is something I am called to do, and I am called to direct my resources toward the Obesity Action Coalition (OAC).

What I Didn’t Know Hurt Me

I’ve been affected by obesity my whole life — since the moment I was born. Throughout most of my life, I didn’t know obesity was a chronic disease. I thought it was a character defect. Most of the people I love thought so too, and we all believed that if I could eat less and wasn’t so lazy that I would lose the weight.

This belief system was so pervasive that it didn’t even occur to me that I have certain rights as a person, irrespective of my size. I didn’t know I had the right to adequate and evidence-based solutions to obesity. So for years, when I went to my doctor for help, I accepted being given a stern admonishment and a copy of the food pyramid as a form of treatment.

I didn’t know that I had the right to not be judged based on having the disease of obesity. I did not know that weight bias was wrong, or that I shouldn’t have to experience it. So when people teased me, when they made judgments against me, when they treated me like the fat on my body was all I was, I internalized those feelings and began to believe them too.

Unfortunately, nearly all the messages in my world affirmed those voices. There were no dolls that looked like me. Plus-sized characters on television were often the butt of the jokes. In short, wherever I looked it was okay to laugh at me, scorn me and tell me that I — not the world — needed to change.

Even after I had bariatric surgery (RNY Gastric Bypass in January 2008) I didn’t know a lot of things. I didn’t know that the surgery is one tool to fight obesity that may be used with other tools for ongoing treatment. I thought it was my “last stop,” and that if this wasn’t successful, that I was beyond saving. When I struggled, I thought it was entirely my fault. I thought that I must be eating too much, eating the wrong things and not exercising enough.

Those messages about me being a “lazy glutton” persisted, and even though the evidence was overwhelming, there was something bigger going on, and I believed those voices.

That is, until I found the OAC.

Your Weight Matters

I forget who first invited me to the 2013 Your Weight Matters National Convention in Phoenix, but I can say I was quite unprepared for what I experienced. I was blown away by the caliber of the speakers – real practitioners and researchers working at the forefront of obesity issues – and their ability to present information in a way I could understand.

I was equally blown away by the environment. Everyone was welcome. Everyone was celebrated. Health of all kinds (mental, physical and emotional) was embraced. I remember my first year being so excited at being given a full menu of the food offerings that included its nutritional information. This was truly a conference – and an organization – that supports my health.

During my second convention, in Orlando, Fla., I participated in the OAC’s Advocacy for Beginners training session (which is now known as” You Are the OAC – Discover the Power of Your Voice”). Again, I was flabbergasted. You mean…I don’t have to put up with the tasteless jokes leveled against people living with obesity? I have the right to request accommodations in doctor’s offices and other places to be able to treat me effectively? Most importantly, I have the right to say to the world that the “F-Word” does not define me. Being a person living with obesity is simply one part of who I am, and the OAC gave me the voice to convey that.

My Investment in a World Free of Weight Bias

These are the reasons I must support the OAC. Not only because the organization fits well with my values and works to support the 93 million people living with obesity in the U.S., but also as an investment. It’s my investment — in a world free of weight bias. An investment in a world where obesity is treated like a disease, and where every patient has access to safe, affordable, adequate and evidence-based care.

I’m proud to say I was the first recurring donor for the organization! That means that by filling out a simple form, I allow the OAC to deduct a monthly donation right from my bank account. I just set it and forget it, but that doesn’t mean I forget about the work the OAC does.

When I see that work – through Action Alerts or my Your Weight Matters Magazine—I feel a sense of reassurance because I know that my support is helping.

Now that you know my reasons why, will you join me in becoming a recurring donor? I thought of three great reasons why you should do it:

  1. Again, you can set it and forget it! You never have to worry about remembering to send in a donation. You know your support is reaching the OAC.
  2. It helps keep the work going. All donations support the OAC, but for nonprofits, it’s often those recurring donations that sustain them and enable them to act quickly when need arises. I like that!
  3. You get to be in the “cool club” of people who have made the commitment, every single month, to take a small action that will change the world.

I hope I’ve convinced you! If not, feel free to email me at nikki@bariatricfoodie.com. I’m happy to answer any questions you have about my OAC experience and the process of being a recurring donor.

About the Author
Nikki Massie is a professional writer based in Baltimore, Md. She underwent Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery in 2008. She also lives in Baltimore with her two daughters, dog and cat. To learn more about Nikki, please visit her blog www.bariatricfoodie.com.

More than 93 million Americans are affected by obesity.

It’s time that we support these individuals by ensuring they are treated with dignity and respect,
have the right to access safe and effective treatment and are provided with the right information through unbiased education.

The OAC was formed in 2005 to make this support a reality. Our mission is to elevate and empower individuals affected by obesity through education, advocacy and support. For more than 10 years, we have been the voice for those with obesity. With more than 50,000 members nationwide, we stand strong and will continue to fight for the rights of all those affected by the disease of obesity.


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