Dani is fighting for one seemingly simple thing – that society treats fat people and those in larger bodies with basic respect.
She has made a name for herself over the past decade for her activism in denouncing fatphobia and diet culture, which she says is harmful to everyone, but has been met with constant cruelty and abuse.
On the eve of her 30th birthday, Dani talks to FEMAIL about what she wants everyone to know about fat people, how she deals with cruel trolls and how she unwittingly inspired a woman to get cake for the first time in her life his 73rd birthday. .
Danielle Galvin (pictured) aka Dani Adriana has made a name for herself over the past decade for her activism in denouncing fatphobia and diet culture she says is harmful to everyone
Dani’s drive to make a change came from a lifetime of being told both directly and indirectly that her body is not acceptable.
She was called fat by a doctor at the age of five, went on a diet from the age of 10 and struggled with eating disorders throughout her teenage years and early twenties.
‘One comment I used to get a lot when I was younger was “oh you have such a pretty face!” and I knew what that really meant – I was beautiful, but I was just fat,’ she said.
At age 11, Dani’s parents suggested she get a personal trainer, which eventually turned into an obsession with weight loss and diet restrictions.
At the age of 20, as she began her road to recovery from her eating disorder, Dani started her Instagram page to develop a supportive community for people going through the same thing as her and let them know they were not alone.
‘I grew up in the online period when pro-anorexia stuff was really available. It was an amplifier of my eating disorder in a big way,” the content creator said.
‘When Instagram started back when we were all using Valencia filters and weird boarders, I couldn’t find many people online who were talking about recovery in a bigger body or recovery in general.’
Dani, who goes by Dani Adriana online, started by posting inspirational quotes and photos she found online, which she laughs about now and admits it was ‘cringe’ in retrospect.
Dani’s drive to become a body positivity advocate came from a lifetime of being told both directly and indirectly that her weight was not acceptable
She was called fat by a doctor at the age of five, went on a diet from the age of 10 and struggled with eating disorders throughout her teenage years and early twenties
“But it evolved out of wanting to have a space where people talk about recovery in a positive light and create a community connection,” she said.
As her online following grew, Dani began to deal with an enormous amount of vitriol, with some trolls even going so far as to create an entire Reddit page detailing how they wanted her to die.
“There were 100,000 comments from people discussing how I should be killed, people finding my parents’ business and there were very graphic descriptions of abuse either sexual or physical,” she recalled.
“It was probably one of the worst moments of my career for me because I thought, ‘What am I going to do with this?’
Ten years later, Dani said she’s still the target of cyberbullies, but she’s learning to deal with it.
At the age of 20, Dani, now 30, started her Instagram page to develop a supportive community for people going through the same thing as her and let them know they weren’t alone.
“I think it’s just growing up and realizing that all that conversation is about me, but it’s not really about me,” she said.
‘Finding understanding that this is a bigger social problem that doesn’t just include me as a victim makes me freeze and think the world is a little broken, but at the same time I feel a little less alone.’
But she describes her influential career overall as a positive one, meeting people of all shapes, sizes and walks of life who have broadened her understanding of what it’s like to live in a larger body.
“I once had a follower of mine who was 73 and said it was the first birthday she’d ever had cake,” she said.
“It broke my heart as much because she was 73 and never had cake on her birthday because of diet culture, but it also made me so happy because it made me realize that there is no time when you can’t change your mindset.”
Dani wants people to know that ‘fat’ doesn’t always mean ‘unhealthy’ and that many fat people are stuck in their bodies no matter what they eat or how much they exercise.
As her online following grew, Dani began to fight a huge amount of vitriol with some trolls even going so far as to create an entire Reddit page detailing how they want her dead
She describes her influential career overall as a positive one, meeting people of all shapes, sizes and walks of life that have broadened her understanding of what it’s like to live in a larger body
“There’s this idea that thin people are thin from effort and fat people are fat from non-compliance,” she said.
‘People just think what you put in your body and what you exercise is how bodies work and that’s just not true. I guarantee every fat person you meet has been on a diet and successfully tried to lose weight, but our bodies don’t work that way.’
It’s a misconception clinical obesity researcher John Dixon of Melbourne’s Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute echoed I have news for you podcast.
He said society needs to ‘reframe’ their thinking about why some people are fat, and a number of contributing factors can play a role in someone’s weight which is beyond their control.
‘I’ll say it straight, it’s not their fault. It’s not their fault. And I also tell the patients that because they have tried to lose weight,’ he said.
‘Not only do the public blame them (for being overweight), but they actually blame themselves. They think they have no willpower. They have no control. They can do everything else in life – but what they can’t do is control their weight.’
He said the trajectory of an adult’s weight is determined in their first 1,000 days of life from conception by things like whether their mother drinks or smokes during pregnancy.
Dani wants people to know that “fat” doesn’t always mean “unhealthy” and that many fat people are stuck in their bodies no matter what they eat or how much they exercise
To the people who claim that fat people are a burden on the health system, Dani said they have chosen a ‘strange hill to die on’.
“Fat people who have the level of repression where they are told to lose weight, the repeated cycle of dieting and trying to lose weight, actually causes more stress and negative health outcomes for the individual,” she pointed out.
“People always say there’s a direct causal link between — and I hate to use this word but — obesity and negative health outcomes, but the truth is there’s a link, just like there’s a link between it and loneliness, between it and drinking.”
Dani will talk about her activism at her upcoming appearance at BODFest, a Sydney-based mini-festival celebrating body positivity on October 8
Dani hopes that she will soon be able to live in a world where everyone has ‘self-respect and self-worth regardless of’ body weight, and where fat people can exist without discrimination.
She said travel can be a stressful experience for those above conventional clothing sizes due to cramped airplane seats and details, which is why she overpacks on every vacation she takes.
‘If I go somewhere and I don’t have anything, I’m broke. If I don’t have workout gear, I can’t just go down to Target and hope they have something. I literally have no option,” she said.
‘For a lot of fat people, that’s why they sometimes travel with their suitcases on the plane, because if it’s in the undercarriage and it gets lost, they have no clothes.’
Dani hopes she will soon be able to live in a world where everyone has ‘self-respect and self-worth regardless of their body weight’ and fat people can exist without discrimination
However, Dani’s overpacking habit may also be partly due to her obsession with fashion, which she wants to be more accessible to fat people – especially sustainable fashion.
“This push for sustainability is really great, but fat people just got clothes like two years ago, so when I see people pissing off fat people to (buy) fast fashion, it’s like, but we’ve literally never had something,” she said.
It’s a topic Dani will talk about as well as activism at her upcoming performance at BODFesta Sydney-based mini-festival celebrating body positivity on October 8.
She will be speaking alongside supermodel Emily Ratajkowski, former Bachelorette Brooke Blurton and musician Amy Sheppard.
“I’m excited to get into the space with people from different walks of life and different experiences and just explore what it is and what it means to be in their body,” she said.
“Our view of bodies is so messed up, and the more we get into actual spaces with people and have these face-to-face conversations, the more the real shift actually happens.”