Like it or not, fat people are at war. I’m not hyperbolizing or dramatizing. If you don’t believe me, Google “War on obesity”. Tonight HBO premiered its new documentary series “The Weight of a Nation”. On the premiere page it says “Obesity in America has reached a catastrophic level. Almost every aspect of our lives is threatened. The first step toward ending the damage is learning how to fight back.”
I spend a lot of my time politely asking people to please stop oppressing me. I don’t apologize for that, nor do I begrudge it – it’s proven to be a very effective way to create change and I think that people deserve to be given the benefit of the doubt and the support they need to shift their thinking, and it’s a reasonably pleasant form of activism. I will continue to do it.
But I also have to acknowledge that there is a war being waged against me because of how I look, by people who have been given every opportunity to know better. In concert with HBO’s documentary, I received a Tweet letting me know that Kaiser Permanente is launching the “most aggressive anti-obesity campaign in history.”
They know that there are healthy fat people and unhealthy thin people. They know that not a shred of research shows that any method of weight loss works in the long term. They know that research shows us that we could vastly increase health by providing access to healthy foods, safe movement options, and affordable/free evidence based health care. Nobody is obligated to pursue health by any definition, however, we deserve to given true information – like the fact that 30 minutes of moderate movement 5 days a week often leads to major health benefits but almost never leads to weight loss? Or that people who choose similar habits have very similar health outcomes regardless of weight. What would people choose if they knew they could abandon the goal of weight loss completely and they could still pursue health. America could be a successful role model for giving people access to health, but instead is choosing to be a failed role model for thinness - waging war on people based on their appearance for tremendous profit and actively blaming the casualties of the war for the war’s massive failures.
Let’s be clear - they are pathologizing a body size. It doesn’t matter if they say that we need to seek solutions environmentally instead of at the individual level, or if they say that we should have “compassion” for fat people – they are still telling people that is is not ok to exist in fat bodies and that they should see fat bodies as a threat to America. There are tons of thin people who eat unhealthy foods and are sedentary (which is completely their right), but as far as the government is concerned, as long as you are thin you’re part of the “solution,” feel free to do whatever you want. They want people to look at me (and you, if you’re fat) and think “She is part of a catastrophe. She is threatening almost every aspect of our lives. The first step toward ending the damage is eradicating her.”
I say that if they want a war, I will damn well give them one.
The government found a group of people identifiable by how we look, allowed those with a profit interest in anti-obesity to calculate our “cost” to society, decided that we should be eradicated to make things cheaper, then brought together public and private interests and declared war on us. That is terrifying. And it’s happening.
It makes me think of an old-fashioned protest chant “When fat people are under attack, what do we do? Stand up! Fight Back!” How do we do that? Here’s what I plan to do:
It is no longer an acceptable excuse that those who are waging war against me have “good intentions.” A war is a war and it has to stop, however well intentioned they may be.
When I see nasty comments, or hear anti-obesity rhetoric, I will not turn it back on myself, become sad, or question my right to exist in this body. I will place the anger where it belongs. How dare these people think that my body is any of their business? How dare they try to make me a casualty of an aesthetic war?
I will not cower behind the excuse that one person can’t make a difference. One person is the only thing that can make a difference. A protest of a million people is made up of a million individuals who woke up, got dressed, and got themselves to a protest. A boycott that cripples a company was successful because of each individual who chose not to buy from that company. Group success is always and only the result of individual action.
I will not wait for the majority of people to get it. I don’t care if people think I’m weird, or stupid, or deranged. The majority gets it because of the minority who lead the way.
They cannot have my money to fund their war. I will not participate in the anti-obesity diet culture. I will not buy ANY product that touts weight loss in its advertising. Maybe they will make 60 Billion dollars again this year, but none of it will be mine. I will take my money out of their wallets and stop funding the war against me.
I will wield my beautiful fat body like a weapon. I will love it, I will care for it, I will move it, I will show it in public, I will viciously defend my body against anyone who seeks to classify it as anything but amazing. I’m warning everyone right now – back the fuck off.
I will speak up and speak out against anti-obesity rhetoric whenever I see it. (If you want support doing this you can join the Rolls Not Trolls group on Facebook.)
If this war prevents fat people from getting access to the things we need and want, whether it’s healthcare or fashion, I will do everything in my power to create alternative solutions while fighting for our access to mainstream solutions.
Nobody is obligated to be an activist, but if you are fat, I urge you to consider a strategy to stand up and fight back in a way that works for you.
If you are not fat, I urge you to join in the fight for fat peoples’ right to exist without having a war waged against us. If not because it’s the right thing to do, then because once they are done with us you may be next. Maybe they’ll say tall people cost too much because they buy bigger cars and bigger houses. Maybe they’ll say big families cost too much because they drive their SUVs around to all of their children’s activities. Who knows who will be next, but ask yourself if you want to live in a society where the government wages war on people because of how they look, and do nothing to stop it.
I am not afraid. I am not ashamed. I am at war.
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