Dani is fighting for one seemingly simple thing – for society to treat 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 condemning fatphobia and diet culture she says is harmful to everyone but has been met with constant vitriol and abuse.
On the eve of her 30th birthday, Dani speaks to FEMAIL about what she wants everyone to know about fat people, how she deals with cruel trolls and how she unknowingly inspired a woman to have cake for the first time in her life on her 73rd birthday.
Danielle Galvin (pictured) aka Dani Adriana has made a name for herself over the past decade for her activism in condemning fatphobia and diet culture she says is harmful to everyone
Dani’s drive to make a change came from a life of being told both directly and indirectly her body is not acceptable.
She was called fat by a doctor at age five, dieted from the age of 10 and struggled with eating disorders throughout her teens and early twenties.
‘A 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 pretty, but I just was fat,’ she said.
At aged 11, Dani’s parents suggested she get a person trainer which eventually turned into an obsession with losing weight and dietary restrictions.
At age 20, when she was 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 weren’t alone.
‘I grew up in the online period when pro-anorexia stuff was really accessible. It was a reinforcer of my eating disorder in a big way,’ the content creator said.
‘When Instagram started back in the day, when we were all using Valencia filters and weird boarders, I couldn’t find a lot of people online who were talking about recovery in a larger body or recovery in general.’
Dani, who goes by Dani Adriana online, started by posting inspirational quotes and images she found online which she laughs about now admitting it was ‘cringe’ in hindsight.
Dani’s drive to become a body positivity advocate came from a life of being told both directly and indirectly her weight was not acceptable
She was called fat by a doctor at age five, dieted from the age of 10 and struggled with eating disorders throughout her teens and early twenties
‘But it developed over wanting to have a space where people talk about recovery in a positive light and create a community connection,’ she said.
As her following online grew, Dani started to cop a huge amount of vitriol with some trolls even going as far to create a whole Reddit page detailing how they wanted her to die.
‘There was 100,000 comments of people discussing how I should be killed, people finding my parent’s business and there were very graphic descriptions of abuse either sexual or physical,’ she recalled.
‘That was probably one of the worst moments in my career for me because I was like “What do I do about this?”‘
Ten years later, Dani said she is still the target of internet bullies but is learning to deal with it.
At age 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 realising that all of that conversation is about me but it isn’t really about me,’ she said.
‘Finding understanding that this is a bigger social problem that doesn’t just include me as the victim equally makes me freeze and think the world is kind of ruined but at the same time makes me feel a little less alone.’
However, she describes her influencing career overall as a positive one and she’s met people of all shapes, sizes and walks of life who have expanded her understanding of what it is to live in a larger body.
‘I once had a follower DM me who was 73 and said that this was the first birthday she had ever eaten cake,’ she said.
‘That equally broke my heart because she was 73 and never had cake on her birthday because of diet culture but also made me so happy because it made me realise there’s no time where you can’t shift your mindset.’
Dani wants people to know ‘fat’ does not always mean ‘unhealthy’ and that many fat people are stuck in their bodies regardless of what they eat or how much they exercise.
As her following online grew, Dani started to cop a huge amount of vitriol with some trolls even going as far to create a whole Reddit page detailing how they want her to die
She describes her influencing career overall as a positive one and she’s met people of all shapes, sizes and walks of life who have expanded her understanding of what it is to live in a larger body
‘There’s this idea that thin people are thin out of effort and fat people are fat out of noncompliance,’ she said.
‘People just think what you put in your body and what you exercise out is how bodies work and it’s just not true. I guarantee that every single fat person you meet has been on a diet and has successfully tried to lose weight but our bodies don’t work that way.’
It’s a misconception Clinical Obesity Researcher John Dixon from Melbourne’s Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute echoed on the I’ve Got 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 that are out of their control.
‘I’m saying bluntly, it’s not their fault. It’s not their fault. And I say that to patients, too, because they have tried to lose weight,’ he said.
‘Not only does the population blame them (for being obese), but they actually blame themselves. They think they’ve got no willpower. They’ve got no control. They can do anything else in life – but what they can’t do is control their weight.’
He said the trajectory for an adult’s weight is determined in their first 1,000 days of life starting from conception by things like whether their mother drinks or smoke during pregnancy.
Dani wants people to know ‘fat’ does not always mean ‘unhealthy’ and that many fat people are stuck in their bodies regardless of what they eat or how much they exercise
To the people who claim fat people are a strain on the health system, Dani said they’ve chosen a ‘weird hill to die on’.
‘Fat people having the level of oppression where they’re told to lose weight, the repetitive cycle of diet and weight loss attempts, actually causes more stress and negative health outcomes for the individual,’ she pointed out.
‘People always say there’s a direct causation between – and I hate using this word but – obesity and negative health outcomes but the truth is there’s correlation, just like there’s correlation between that and loneliness, between that and drinking.’
Dani will be speaking about her activism at her upcoming appearance at BODFest, a Sydney-based mini festival celebrating body positivity on October 8
Dani hopes soon she will be able to live in a world where everyone has ‘self respect and self worth regardless’ of their body weight and that fat people can exist without discrimination.
She said travel can be a stressful experience for those who are above conventional clothes sizes due to cramped plane seats and details why she overpacks on every holiday she goes on.
‘If I go somewhere and I don’t have something, I’m screwed. If I don’t have exercise 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 soon she will be able to live in a world where everyone has ‘self respect and self worth regardless’ of their body weight and that fat people can exist without discrimination
Dani’s overpacking habit, however, could also be partly due to her obsession with fashion which she wants to be more accessible for fat people – particularly sustainable fashion.
‘This push for sustainability is really great but fat people just got clothes like two years ago so when I see people shitting on fat people for (buying) fast fashion it’s like but we’ve literally never had anything,’ she said.
It’s a subject Dani will be speaking about as well as activism at her upcoming appearance at BODFest, a Sydney-based mini festival celebrating body positivity on October 8.
She will be speaking alongside the likes of supermodel Emily Ratajkowski, former Bachelorette Brooke Blurton and musician Amy Sheppard.
‘I’m excited to get in the room with people of 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 on bodies is so disordered and the more we get in actual room with people and have these conversations face to face the more the real shift actually happens.’