We talked a couple days ago about The Biggest Loser’s ridiculous claim that they are starting the dialog on childhood obesity. That claim had already been made under pretty questionable circumstances by Michelle Obama and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Reader Malinda pointed out a headline that said “Most Americans Don’t Know the Dangers of Obesity.” I’ve seen articles about how doctors don’t talk to their fat patients enough about weight loss, how fat people don’t know they are fat, that nobody is brave enough to talk about obesity.
What the hell are they talking about? Are these surveys based on 9 out of 10 people who live under a rock? All of those sentences should start with “Once upon a time” because they are fairy tales.
Magazines at the grocery store can’t stop talking about weight loss. I, and the readers who e-mail me have literally never been to the doctor and not had my weight brought up and that includes, in my case, three occasions when doctors suggested that I should lose weight to cure my strep throat, separated shoulder, and broken toe. The media likes to interject this idea into their stories so that people don’t call them out for reporting the same “everybody knows” crap in multiple stories day in and day out without checking the evidence or, you know, asking questions as journalists might be expected to do.
The big problem happens when people believe this story and think that fat people are wandering the world oblivious to the fact that everyone from the media, to healthcare professionals, to them wants to stereotype us based on how we look, or that god forbid we don’t hate ourselves and spend all of our free brainspace, time, and money trying to be thin - and they think it’s somehow up to them to disabuse us of these notions, or remind us that if we’re not giving all of our efforts to self-hatred then we’re just not trying hard enough.
The fairy tale is based on another fairytale: Once upon a time, we got the idea that other people’s bodies were our business. And we all lived miserably ever after.
Until we called bullshit on these fairy tales, made public health about providing health options to the public instead of about making people’s health the public’s business, and chose to respect and appreciate people of all shapes and sizes. Maybe it’s not happily ever after, but it’s a damn good start.
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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.