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What are the biggest challenges that you face in trying to achieve your organization's mission and your personal mission statement? I do a lot of work around body positivity and fat activism. My greatest challenge is convincing the world that the mistreatment of fat people is actually negative. That we live in a world where fat jokes are still totally acceptable and "funny." That fat people do "choose" to be fat is considered a "fact." Shaming us is NOT a healthy, productive, or solution-based way to fight the obesity epidemic, but no one sees that. My biggest problem is convincing the world—even convincing fat people—that there actually IS a problem.

How are you working to overcome these challenges? Persistence. Resilience. Education. Magnifying my voice. Social media. Public speaking. I spoke in front of a room of 500 doctors and weight loss surgeons, and after presenting the evidence and the science, I even changed THEIR minds and biases. At this point, I've talked to hundreds of thousands of people about body positivity and its role in fighting the obesity epidemic. There isn't a single person I've spoken to who's mind wasn't changed by my message. Ultimately, I overcome these challenges because I am relentless, and I believe in my work. I keep going.

Advice for teen girls who are struggling? Fat or not, all women are socialized to hate their bodies. So the first thing I would tell a teen girl is she's not alone. After that, it's just like any healthy relationship: time, communication, and fun. Spend time with your body. Stare at your body in the mirror. Move your body. Say loving and affirming things to your body, even when she changes. Do cartwheels, swim, jump on trampolines, and dance. The more fun you have with her, the more you love her.

What's the best advice that you've received from another leader or mentor? It was a blog by Mark Manson. He says: What we want is ubiquitous: love, financial stability, a great career. It's more about HOW MUCH PAIN are we willing to SUSTAIN to get it? Anything worth having takes sustained pain: Great love = lots of lonely nights before we find the one. Great career = lots of hard work, sacrifice, possibly going broke. Figure out what is worth the PAIN, calculate that cost. Don't say you want this dream if you aren't ready to bleed for it. It's a reality check I live by before pursuing any goal.

Who's your "Shero"? Shonda Rhimes

Learn more about Cathleen and her work by visiting www.fatgirlsdance.com 45

Profile for Butterfly Dreamz

2020 Leadership Journal E-book  

A leadership journal written by girls from Newark, NJ to cultivate courageous conversations and action. Purchase your copy at theleadershipj...

2020 Leadership Journal E-book  

A leadership journal written by girls from Newark, NJ to cultivate courageous conversations and action. Purchase your copy at theleadershipj...