Today I’ve heard about studies linking fat to everything from diseases to lower cognitive function. There are any number of issues with these studies – from sample sizes so small that everyone in the study would fit in an efficiency apartment to correlation vs. causation mistakes that would make a first semester statistics student blush. But there’s a much larger issue: They often try to control for variables like age, smoking, socioeconomic status etc. But there’s a variable that they never control for: the stress of being under near constant stigma and oppression.
It’s not a small thing – the diseases that are correlated with obesity are also independently correlated with being under a high level of stress over long period of time. Like, for example, the stress of having your government declare war on you for how you look. So in order to even start to prove that fat causes diseases, there would need to be a control group of fat people who have not suffered a lifetime of stigma to see if their disease incidence was the same as the first group. When they find (in a tiny study) that fat kids perform worse in math, in order for them to even suggest that the fat causes the poor math performance they would need to test a group of fat children who did not constantly see diet commercials, hear the message that fat means your bad, lazy, sick etc., and who aren’t having war waged on them by the government. Because it’s entirely possible that being constantly stigmatized, bullied, and called lazy, ugly, dumb etc. could affect your performance in school. Except that no such group of fat people exists in this culture.
This society MUST stop acting like the best thing that we can do for public health is tell 60% of the population that they should hate their bodies and see them as a sign of their physical and moral failings, insisting that everyone will just hate themselves thin and healthy (and acting like they are the same thing), then asking if we’re “doing enough” about obesity. Not only is it not helping anyone’s health – it’s possible that it’s having the opposite effect. It’s entirely possible that when we hear about how our fat is linked to swine flu, the plague, hangnails or whatever the hell it is today, remember that it is entirely possible that they are caused by the stress of being under constant stigma and oppression which, as I’ve said before, I believe are the real public health threat.
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I wanted everyone to be able to afford Fat: The Owner’s Manual – Surviving a Thin-Obsessed World with your Health, Happiness, and Sense of Humor Intact so it is now available in soft cover and e-book which is “name your own price
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I do size acceptance activism full time. A lot what I do, like answering over 5,000 e-mails from readers each month, giving talks to groups who can’t afford to pay, and running projects like the Georgia Billboard Campaign etc. is unpaid, so I created a membership program so that people who read the blog and feel they get value out of it and/or want to support the work I do can become members for ten bucks a month To make that even cooler, I’ve now added a component called “DancesWithFat Deals” which are special deals to my members from size positive merchants. Once you are a member I send out an e-mail once a month with the various deals and how to redeem them – your contact info always stays completely private.
The regular e-mail blog subscription (available at the top right hand side of this page) is always completely free. If you’re curious or uncomfortable about any of this, you might want to check out this post. Thanks for reading! ~Ragen