Picture by Richard Sabel
I get so many messages about what a fat body is, I thought I’d talk about some of the things that my body isn’t:
My Body is Not Embarrassing
Being called fat should be no more embarrassing that being called brunette. These are just physical descriptors. It’s not that “fat” is bad in and of itself, the problem is that people attach all kinds of stereotypes to the descriptor. If someone is to be embarrassed, it’s the person who wants to stereotype a group of people based on how they look.
Often when fat people get fat-shamed or fat-bullied we get embarrassed. Let’s put the embarrassment where it belongs. It’s not embarrassing to be fat, and it shouldn’t be embarrassing to be fat-shamed. It’s embarrassing to be a fat-bigot and it’s embarrassing to be a fat-shamer.
My Body is Not a Crisis
Fat people are subjected to experimental medicine without our consent, fat kids are subjected to completely untested “anti-obesity” experiments Fat people are given stomach amputations that massively increase our mortality rate and have incredibly serious side effects. We are told that all of this is necessary because being fat is just so unhealthy that we need to try to be thin by any means and if it kills us well, at least we’ll leave a thinner corpse. This is ridiculous. Fat people have and will continue to exist, our bodies are not crises that call for the suspension of scientific method, evidence based medicine, and logical thought.
It doesn’t matter how much a doctor (or someone who watches Dr. Oz and thinks they are a doctor) believes that being thinner will improve my life, because that doctor does not know how to make me thin. There is not a single study where more than a tiny percentage of people successfully maintained weight loss and there is no study that shows that those people are healthier than they would have been. Weight loss as a health intervention simply does not meet the criteria of evidence-based medicine, since evidence-based medicine requires that we have some reason to believe that a treatment will be successful.
People who have bad knees would be helped tremendously if they could fly, since that would take the pressure right off their knees. No matter how much a doctor believes that to be true, she cannot recommend that they go home, jump off their roof and flap their arms really hard because “it hardly ever works, but think of the benefits if it did!” Luckily there is good evidence that, for those interested in improving their odds for health (which is never guaranteed, is not entirely within our control and is not an obligation) simple habits have a much better chance than attempting to achieve a specific height/weight ratio.
My Body is Not Immortal
Having seen the state of the research around “obesity” and mortality, I am painfully aware that If I die because an alien ship drops a futuristic piano type instrument on my head, it will be marked down in research as a death due to “complications of obesity.” Everyone is going to die, but if you die in a fat body someone – likely someone who should know better – is going to blame it on your fat.
The threat of death due to fat is used to sell fat people products from diets to stomach amputations. If I were one of those piano-dropping aliens and I listened to the conversations around weight loss and health, I would think that thin people must be immortal. In fact, thin people get all the same diseases that fat people do, and thin people all die just like fat people do. There’s even something called the “obesity paradox” which is the name given to explain that in certain chronic diseases including cardiovascular disease, and chronic renal disease, being fat is associated with better survival than in “normal weight” individuals. Of course it’s only a paradox if you didn’t fuck up your conclusions in the first place, but that’s a topic for another blog.
Still we are told that we should see our fat bodies as large, soft death traps and that the key to health is to feed our bodies less than they need to survive in the hopes that they will eat themselves and become smaller. What they never discuss is the fact that they can’t control for the effects that constant shame and stigma have on fat people (like being the subject of a war waged on us by the government based on how we look.) The brilliant Deb Burgard wrote an amazing piece that speaks about other aspects of this. We don’t know how to make fat people thinner, but we do know how to stop shaming and stigmatizing them so let’s give that the old college try and see what happens.
Fat people’s bodies are no less valuable and amazing than any other bodies, and we absolutely should not have to climb over a mountain of stigma, shame, oppression, and bullying just to be forced to fight for the ability to actually like ourselves, but we do. While we work to fix the problems with society that create that situation, I will say that, for me, the climb and the fight – although completely unfair – are worth the effort.
- #hatefatshamingnotfatpeople (extraordinarybeing.wordpress.com)