Encouraging Obesity. Riiiiight.

I’m completely frustrated with the idea that anyone who doesn’t try to make fat people hate themselves and their bodies is somehow “encouraging obesity” or “promoting obesity”

Showing a fat person being successful at anything other than weight loss.

This is among the most ridiculous things that I’ve ever heard.  As if someone will see me dancing and think “I wish I could dance like that.  I guess I’ll gain up to 300 pounds and then go from there.”  It’s insulting to my years of hard work and training, and it’s insulting to your intelligence. Like’s it the new V8 commercial:  millions of thin people, who see the same 386,170 negative messages a year about fat people, will see one of us being successful in some way, smack their foreheads and say “I coulda been fat!” The end result of this is that fat people are robbed of representation and role models.

Suggesting anything other than weight loss as a valid life choice

Take my word on this. If, for example, you suggest that people who want to be healthy have the best chance of doing so (although obviously not a guaranteed chance) by eating nourishing food and moving their bodies- you better brace yourselves for a whole lot of ugly coming at you from a never ending parade of stupid (bonus points if you get the movie reference)   People will freak out on you. When you calmly ask them “So are you suggesting that I tell people to eat non-nourishing foods and not move their bodies?” in my experience they will suggest that you are too stupid to understand or just call you a “fat bitch”. Okie dokie then.

Asking that mental health be considered as part of overall health

Whenever someone suggests that shame and health do not go hand in hand, that people are unlikely to hate themselves healthy, or that living under constant stigma is not part of a healthy life, they seem to get accused of encouraging obesity.  I must have missed the study data that shows that self-loathing is causally (or even correlationally) related to good health.  I must also have missed the logical argument that suggests that telling people not to hate themselves is tantamount to telling them that they should attempt to be obese.

Making anything that accommodates fat people

If a business does anything to accommodate people of size – larger chairs, seat belt extenders, a policy of non-shaming, etc. people will say that it’s promoting obesity.  Because apparently creating a world where fat people can’t leave our houses is the beeline to a healthy nation.

Making attractive plus-sized clothes

A subcategory of the above – apparently making attractive clothes in larger sizes will cause thin women to say “Hey, that dress isn’t completely hideous and it only costs 3 times as much as what I usually buy. I’m going to try to be a size 26 so I give up shopping at almost any store I want with access to a multitude of styles and price ranges to choose from so that I can wear that one not-totally-ugly dress”. As if, since the size of my body doesn’t garner enough unfounded hatred and vitriol, I must wear ugly mumus like a Scarlet F to show my ultimate sin of having a body that others don’t approve of.  I simply can’t believe that wearing pants that actually fit me is going to make people think that it’s all fuzzy bunnies and unicorns on this side of the BMI chart and start guzzling whey protein weight gainer.

I believe that bodies come in lots of different sizes for lots of different reasons.  So I don’t think that making beautiful plus-sized clothing is encouraging obesity any more than selling petite clothes encourages shortness.   The only thing that discouraging obesity does is make people feel like they are less because there is more of them (thanks to reader Mari’s comment for that line).  The cure for social stigma is not weight loss, it’s ending social stigma. So stop hand-wringing and banshee wailing about encouraging obesity as if you know better than everyone else what their body should look like, and let fat people live in peace and clothes that fit us.

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Published in: on August 27, 2011 at 11:45 pm  Comments (19)  

19 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. That’s right! I’m not saying that anyone has to find me sexy, attractive, beautiful or anything else. But I am saying that I have a right to live in peace. If y’all don’t like the look of my fat body, look at something else! I don’t go bleating insults at these jerks just because I don’t like looking at douchebags, after all!
    I found a few nice tops on sale at Wal Mart this morning, but all the end of season pants were already snatched up, darn it! I wear a 2x or 3x. The Wal Mart I go to sells up to a 5X, and I’ve been fairly pleased with their selection. I’m on a very tight budget so I tend to buy the stuff that’s on sale.

  2. I usually just ask them if they’d rather see me walking around naked. That generally shuts them up.

    I’m actually really lucky (and grateful for it) that my personal style leans towards clothing that is generally available in my size – t-shirts and jeans. Although if I want anything other than plain colors, I pretty much need to invest in printable iron-on paper and tie-dye kits most of the time.

  3. You must have been reading my mind Ragen, I posted a comment recently on my Facebook Yoga for Round Bodies page addressing the exact same thing. As you know, I offer Yoga for Round Bodies classes and teacher trainings in Toronto, and I have been “accused” of promoting obesity. Some people really get their knickers in a twist when they find out my yoga classes are actually about yoga and not weight loss.

    What I find especially ironic about these comments in this instance is that I’m offering an alternative environment for fat people to move and experience their bodies and breath, build strength, stretch their bodies and themselves. And that’s PROMOTING obesity?

    As you said so eloquently, “Okie dokie then.”

    • Hi Tiina,

      I’m so glad that you do what you do. I think in Yoga there is a definite idea that there is an ideal “yoga body” that everyone should be trying to achieve, and it seems to me that people who do yoga and then jump on the scale to measure their “success” are sort of missing the point – but that’s just my 2 cents. Anywho, thanks for being awesome!

      ~Ragen

    • … I have been “accused” of promoting obesity.

      Yep, I get the same when I write about my own experience with yoga.

    • The first time I went to my yoga teacher five years ago, after suffering my third ruptured disc, I asked her firmly (though I was probably on the verge of tears) not to invoke my weight and weight loss as a solution to a problem that I’ve had for half my life (and has no direct relation to my weight in any case–I was born with a congenital back defect). I was on the defensive after having visited a male, Japanese acupuncturist who immediately started berating me because I wasn’t slim enough.

      My yoga teacher was shocked that I would even make such a request. She has treated me with the utmost respect from day one, and helped me to live better with a frightening condition. Yoga is for health, not weight loss! Would that more people understood that SLIM DOES NOT EQUAL HEALTHY!!

    • I would love going to a yoga for fat people class! I wish I lived in Toronto!

      • Hi Susie,
        I do not know where you are from, but there is a woman in the greater NYC area that teaches yoga for plus size bodies. Her name is Megan Garcia and her system is called MegaYoga. If you are not within driving distance of the NYC area, she also has a book and some videos, so you can try at home. Hope that helps!

        -Danielle

  4. YUP…vanity sizing should really be about loving the size you are and not wishing you were someone else’s size or had someone else’s body! A perfect size ME!

  5. Since reading your blog, I’ve really started standing up for myself. This week I stood up for myself with a doctor who was trying to tell me that all of my forms of exercise: Yoga, walking, tai chi, belly dancing, qigong, riding a bike; are NOT the kind of exercise that will get me healthy. I he went on to berate me, but I fought back (I was only there for a blood test) and left him with only one accusation: you aren’t trying hard enough.
    Yeah? I couldn’t lift my arm 4 years ago and can do downward dog for ages now. How am I not trying? I’ve never stood up for myself before. So thank you!

    • Hi Tatjana,

      That is awesome! I hope he thought about it more after you left. That’s an amazing transformation from not being able to lift your arm to downward dog. You are an inspiration :)

      ~Ragen

  6. Hairspray! The reference was from Hairspray! (I put “Big, Blonde, and Beautiful” on my Body Positive Mix on my iPod.)

    Also, I agree with everything you said.

    • A million bonus points to you (for knowing the reference, not for agreeing with everything that I said). Someday I want to do a West Coast Swing showcase to that song!

      ~Ragen

  7. “for a whole lot of ugly coming at you from a never ending parade of stupid ”

    “so you’ve met my mother then?”

    I’ve encountered this a lot-
    me: if fat people want to be healthy they should eat healthfully and exercise- just like anyone else regardless of body size.
    Them: so you’re saying that fat people who just eat crap and lay around all day can be healthy?!?!?! what’s wrong with you?!”
    me: “er.. that’s not what i said.. i said that eating healthfully and exercising is good.”
    them: “so now you’re contradicting yourself by saying fat people should lose weight?!?!”
    me: *headdesk*

    and for all that is good and decent never *never* mention mental health to these people.. they’ll simply suggest that your mental health problems are caused by your fat and the cure is.. tada! to be thin! Completely denying that the act of trying to get thin has anything to do with your self esteem or body image problems.

    I’ve never come across the clothing argument but you make a really good point- maybe it’s because my blog isn’t about fatshion, but it’s not much of a mental workout to imagine people getting behind that line of thought.

    Great post- and double <3 for quoting a line from one of my fave musicals!

  8. Holy Clothing has absolutely gorgeous clothes up to size 7X. http://holyclothing.com/. They are on Facebook too.

  9. So do you catch thinness by being only with thin people?

  10. Every time I hear the phrase “promoting obesity”, “encouraging obesity”, or even worse “glorifying” obesity”, I have to laugh, because their definition of “promotion”/”encouragement”/”glorification” is really, really friggin’ broad, as if presenting fatness as anything other than The Worst Thing in the World is “glorifying obesity”.

    I could rant on and on about the other things I dislike being painted as “glorified” if they’re not outright shamed and despised, but I don’t want to get all ranty in your comments.

  11. This is a quote I’d like to share from a book I’m reading. The book is Fat Is Not a Four Letter Word by Charles Roy Schroeder, PhD. “Indeed, the antifat industry is infested with Money Acquisitive, Grotesquely Greedy, Obesity Tyrants–or to use the singularly appropriate acronym– MAGGOTS.”
    How very appropriate and funny!

  12. “selling petite clothes encourages shortness”

    This comment made my day. lol


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