I got a series of comments today from someone who was suggesting that fat people should be forced to lose weight for the good of society. After I didn’t approve any of their 7 comments, they left this: “You need to approve my comments. Why won’t you engage in a civil debate?”
Besides the absolutely ridiculous idea that I’m obligated to give anybody else an audience my blog, there is a deeper issue here:
There is no way to have a civil debate about whether or not a group of people should be eradicated. There is no way to have a civil debate about whether I have the right to exist. Nobody has the right to require fat people to debate them for our lives.
There’s a ton of weight stigma, bullying and oppression that happens, talk about the “War on Obesity” is encouraged by the government and rampant, and public health seems to be largely about making fat people’s health the public’s business. If we’re not careful we can start to think that those things are ok – that it’s civil to debate whether or not a group of people, whose commonality is a single physical trait, should be eradicated. Or, having decided that they should be eradicated, debating about the best way to get it done. We can start to think that fat people should be required to engage in these debates and do things that justify our right to exist by proving that we are healthy, or worthy, or trying to be thin or whatever. We can start to believe that fat people’s rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are contingent on our ability to successfully debate for them.
Let me offer my opinion:
Bullshit. THIS IS NOT OK. People, including the media, the government, our friends and families, and perfect strangers, have no right to treat fat people the way that we are treated. Fat people have the right to exist, in the bodies we have now, without outside intervention that we didn’t request. The government has no right to wage war on us for how we look, and a war on obesity is 100% a war on obese people – these people do not get to try to eradicate actual me while cowering behind the excuse that they don’t want to eradicate potential thin me. When I do choose to debate about these topics, it’s a courtesy – not an obligation. The systematic stigma, bullying, and oppression of fat people including war on obesity IS WRONG. Completely and totally wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. It is absolutely unjustifiable whether it’s couched in terms of health, costs, social responsibility or anything else. It is an affront to our civil rights – it is pure shaming, bullying, and oppression, and it is most assuredly wrong. In what I hope is the not too distant future, history students will shake their heads and wonder how society could treat fat people so poorly.
So why won’t I engage in a civil debate? Perhaps it’s because, as the unwilling combatant in a war waged on me by my government – assisted by the media, the diet industry with their $60 billion a year in profits, and a volunteer army of total strangers – all of whom purport to be trying to eradicate me for my own good, I am not feeling civil. I will not “civilly” beg for my right to exist from people who are actively trying to eradicate me, but I will damn sure fight for my right to exist against anyone who threatens it. They want a war on obesity? I’ll give them a war, and civility will not be my first priority.
Register now! The Happy HAES Holidays workshops happen this Tuesday and Thursday. Listen online or dial in. Registration is name-your-own-price, and all of the calls will be recorded so that you can listen to any that you missed or want to hear again. Workshops by: Marilyn Wann, Golda Poretsky, Jeanette DePatie, CJ Legare, Tanisia Smith, and me!. Full details and registration here! Tips, tricks, ideas and support to have you sailing through the holiday season and into the New Year.
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I do size acceptance activism full time. A lot what I do, like answering over 4,000 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 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.
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