A World Without Fat People

Nothing to proveIn a conversation on the Facebook Page Everyday Feminism I read this comment: “I don’t want to live in a world where being unhealthy and obese is the cultural norm. It speaks volumes about the decline of our social structure and our values.”

This, to me, actually speaks to the way that people confuse their right to live by their beliefs with their perceived right to a world where everyone lives by their beliefs.  (This is the kind of confusion that leads to people who disagree with same gender marriage to insist that two dudes getting married infringes on their civil rights. Um, no.  Their rights would be infringed on if they were forced to marry a same gender partner, not because other people have the right to do something with which they disagree.)

I talk a lot on this blog about the issues with conflating weight and health, and sometimes people get confused between the concepts of Health at Every Size and Size Acceptance.  I’ve said it before and I think it’s worth repeating:  Fat people have the right to exist, regardless of why we are fat, what being fat means, or if we could be thin by any means however easy or difficult. There are no other valid opinions about that.  Fat people have the right to exist in the world in fat bodies without stigmatizing, bullying, or oppression.

That is to say that even if every stereotype and hand-wringing statistic about fat people is true (and I, in no way, believe that they are), no matter what someone believes about fat people and health, they do not have a right to a world without fat people, nor do they have the right to bully, stigmatize, oppress, force medical treatment on, or impinge upon the rights of fat people, no matter how much good they think it will do for fat people specifically or society generally.

Nobody owes anybody else “health” or “aesthetically pleasing” by any definition. I think that the “decline of our social structure and values” occurs when people confuse their right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness with the delusion that they have a right to live in a world where everyone operates based on their beliefs.  Nobody has a right to world without fat people, fat people do have a right to a world without stigmatizing, bullying and oppression.

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Published in: on January 13, 2014 at 7:32 pm  Comments (40)  

40 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. As usual, Well Said! And Thank you!! <3

  2. I needed this today. The UK news has gone all OMGOBESITYEPIDEMIC because a new report has been released saying that 50% of the population will be OMGOBESE by 2050. Cue handwringing on the news by scientists who should know better and commentators who know nothing. Also cue “we must shame people into losing weight FOR THEIR OWN GOOD”.

    It’s utterly horrendous and totally heartbreaking. The HAES and self acceptance stuff never gets a look in and the fact that there is no known long term cure for 95% of us fats (i.e. that diets just don’t work in the long term and most just make you gain more weight) is never mentioned ever.

    • I actually educated my doctor about HAES and size acceptance today!
      My doctor’s a decent one. He’ll bring my weight up, but not in an obnoxious way. The majority of the time is spent discussing whatever issue I actually came in for. I hope he’ll actually check out the information. He seemed genuinely interested.

  3. “I don’t want to live in a world where being unhealthy and obese is the cultural norm. It speaks volumes about the decline of our social structure and our values.”

    Does this mean they are asking for someone to kill them????

    Oh wait, they probably mean for people like us to die.

    I reject that option.

    I’m still ticked I live in a country that doesn’t have a decent living wage for everyone and universal health care.

    • I’m still ticked I live in a country that doesn’t have a decent living wage for everyone and universal health care.

      I’m convinced this will never happen in my lifetime.

      I am, however, convinced that same-sex marriage will be Federalized within the next five years. Good thing, too, as I hope to get married within the next five years, if all goes well. I want to marry my GF, and I want to marry her in the OK Capitol building, with Mary Faillin’ grinning like rictus while she shakes our hands. I hate that so-called “leader” so much.

      On the matter of FA, I don’t believe it’ll happen in my lifetime, but I hope things will change somewhat for the better.

      • Congrats on your marriage plans!

        I figure social change does take awhile, but I’m hoping the FA will happen sooner rather than later.

        • Thank you! :) They’re still a maybe, but my GF and I are stupid for each other. Actually, that might not be the way to put it. My friends are all in the above-average to genius intelligence range, and tend to be pretty scientifically fluent. When GF and I start talking biology and medicine, though, everyone around us without at least a Master’s gets a glazed look and starts acting like a bobble-head doll. XD

          Man, I love being a nerd. (She’s pre-med. I’m just a voracious reader who grew up with science and technology.)

    • No, I think it’s definitely on the speaker. Though I think its a bit drastic, ultimately, it’s their choice.

  4. Brava!!

  5. I wonder who appointed this person as Chair of the Cultural Norms committee, besides everything else..and also why she or he feels that one definition of cultural norms must be appropriate and must include a statement of values that has to match hers or his. So many layers of bigotry and prejudice here that they can hardly be separated. (Besides everything else, people of certain ethnic groups tend to have different builds than that exemplified by the Northern European genome…)

    • (Besides everything else, people of certain ethnic groups tend to have different builds than that exemplified by the Northern European genome…)

      This is one reason I’ve started looking for clothes in stores that cater to nonwhite customer bases. Not only do the fashions tend to be more interesting (and sometimes more in line with my sense of style), but I’m more likely to find things like skinny and pencil jeans in a 22-24.

  6. War = Peace
    Freedom = Slavery
    Shaming Fat Women = Feminism

    Wow. That FB sounds awesome. I’d better sign up. :p

    • I am not a bully=Bully.

    • I’m not surprised when fat-shaming happens in online feminist spaces anymore. It still makes me angry, but I’m no longer shocked.

      • I can’t say I am either but I still don’t understand it.
        If someone is in favor of the bodily autonomy that allows women to have access to birth control, legal abortion, and control over their own sexuality etc. – then why would they support the body policing of healthism? Not to mention the fact that many women consider thin to be a physical feminine ideal based on their being subject to the male gaze, and programmed by the beauty myth told by businesses in order to profit from our insecurity.
        The hypocrisy and irony is killing me…

        • “Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.” :/

      • The few feminist blogs I’ve read were not like this, ever, thankfully.

  7. I removed an acquaintance from my Facebook feed today because in a posting that she made, her boyfriend referred to one of their neighbors as a “hambeast” and said that she probably “couldn’t bend her fat ass” to pick something up. Wow. That’s the last damn thing I want to see in my Facebook feed or, well, anywhere. Because I’m Facebook illiterate, I don’t know if I can just block his comments, but I know I won’t ever see them again if I just don’t get her feed any longer. I un-friended her and then sent her a message to explain why. I just explained I wasn’t un-friending her because of her, but because I just don’t want to see that kind of thing in my feed.

    It’s so horrible to me because this isn’t an anonymous nasty thing being said. These people feel so right, so damn confident, saying these things that they do so in front of the entire world under their own name.

    I want to thank you for this blog and for safe places to go where I won’t have to hear these things and where nobody thinks I’m insane because I found that offensive. (I hope).

    • Just FYI, yes, you can always block any individual. You go to their page, regardless of whether or not you’re “friends” with that person. Then, in the upper part of the page where you see the little gear, click there and then click “Report/Block.” You will never see that individual’s comments again, regardless of where or what they post. It’s like they no longer exist for you.

    • FYI, defriending her will not necessarily stop you from seeing his comments. If you have another friend in common, you may see his comments pop up on their page as well. It’s best to just block the individual in question, and they will probably never know you did so.

      • Oh dear. Thank you. So I contacted her about that for nothing. Ah well. I’m not otherwise friends with that guy so I should be fine, but this is good to know.

        • I wouldn’t say you contacted her for nothing. It might do her some good to see how her friend was hurt by her husband’s comments. I’m sorry you had to see that.

          • Yes. I swear, my husband makes nasty remarks about a certain fat politician’s body. I roll my eyes and remind him that we’re both fat people, for the love of Dog! It doesn’t even make sense. [sigh] I can only hope that he doesn’t carry on like that on FB, since I’ve never joined up and likely I never will.

  8. “I don’t want to live in a world where being unhealthy and obese is the cultural norm. It speaks volumes about the decline of our social structure and our values.”

    Are you KIDDING me? On a feminism page, people are trashing fat people for not following the “cultural norm”? Irony-challenged, much?

    It never ceases to amaze me how much people who are fighting oppression think it’s just peachy keen once they get on the oppressing side of things.

  9. Reblogged this on Amoeba Kat Musings and commented:
    Another excellent post from the blog Dances With Fat. If you haven’t read this blog, you really should.

  10. “I don’t want to live in a world where being unhealthy and obese is the cultural norm. It speaks volumes about the decline of our social structure and our values.”

    Don’t say you want a world without people who share some random cosmetic characteristic and then talk abour “our” values, as if my values have jackall to do with yours. In fact, once you’ve crossed the “I don’t like the way you look so you deserve to die” line- because how else do you expect to have a “world without” fat people?- don’t talk about values at all, because you officially do not have any.

    (And “obese” =/= unhealthy. But that’s neither here nor there.)

    • Lady Rhapthorne, well said!!!!

  11. I stole this from a comment in a fat acceptance blog (might have even been this one) but it really says it — I’m not here to decorate your world.

    If you don’t want to live in a world that doesn’t look like you want it to, then you are going to have to go off and create your own world with like-minded individuals and hope they never get any different ideas than yours.

    • Good one. :D :D :D

    • ^ and this is why we need a ‘Like’ button. :D

  12. YES YES YES ONE MILLION TIMES YES. THIS!!!!
    I always cringe when Fat Activists try and defend their health. I get that the stereotype that fat is unhealthy is bad, but arguing against it suggests that you need to defend your health to anyone in the first place, and that is B.S.
    We have the right to autonomy over our bodies.
    FA is not a health issue, it is an issue of personal freedom.
    We are free to be our fat selves just as much as everyone else is free to be whatever they are.

    • I agree. It’s a knee-jerk reaction to defend your health when it looks like that’s what’s being attacked, but it isn’t. What’s being attacked is our very right to exist in a natural variant on the body society has arbitrarily decided it doesn’t like, and the healthism argument is a diversion to keep us trapped in the cycle of justifying and apologizing for our existence – “Yes, I’m fat, but I exercise every day.” “Yes, I’m fat, but I only eat fresh food and drink water.” “Yes, I’m fat, but…” But, but, but. *There is no ‘but.’* Nobody has the right to decide we have no right to live because looking at us makes them uncomfortable.

      • Everything you write makes me idolize you more and more.

  13. The UK media is full of articles like this, today: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-25708278

    The ‘Obesity Time bomb had been underestimated’ they fret. Which is fair enough as it stands – its an opinion (not one I share). But the problem comes with their ‘solution’ which basically seems to be government-backed fat shaming and getting doctors to inform people they are fat (as if they haven’t noticed). “It should be as unacceptable as smoking” says one health pundit.

    I think maybe I could cope with all of this if there was a solution to being ‘overweight’, if there was some sort of program or medical treatment that worked in 90% of cases, The fact that there isn’t, and most people seem to be blaming fat people for being fat and wibbling about ‘willpower’, despite all the tons and tons of neuroscience and dietetic evidence to the contrary.

    OK, the *say* they want manufacturers to stop pushing unhealthy foods, high sugar, high fat etc. But all the public is going to hear is ‘fat people are costing the National Health Service dear and should be harassed to stop eating so much’.

    I’m feeling very upset and very vulnerable right now, especially as I have recently been diagnosed with a liver condition, exacerbated by fat in all the wrong places (caused by medication, by the way) and I’m trying to hold it together and think about eating healthier, even if I can’t lose weight (which I’m told will help my condition immensely).

    I’m lucky I have a supportive doctor who takes the ‘Health at Every Size’ view rather than harassing me to go on yet another abortive diet. OK, so I’m taking this media storm personally, but it couldn’t have happened at a worse time for me.

    • *HUGS*

      I’m glad you have a good doctor and I wish you all the best.

    • I don’t know what your liver condition, but I also had a spell where medication damaged my liver. It took me about 6 months to feel better and about a year for my liver enzymes to get back into a normal range.

    • The US must have felt left out and wanted in on the fat-bashing fun pasttime, because all day yesterday the AP was trumpeting the latest antifat study, and today it was in my newsfeed again. Fat-bashing so nice, they posted it twice! And yeah, you know the drill, there was no mention of controlling for diet, exercise, or the ill effects of yo-yo dieting and weight stigma, nor the general inability for fat people to become permanently thin through any means. Why? Because they don’t give a rip about our “health,” that’s why. It’s just their daily reminder they’d rather I stopped existing… and hell, yes, I take that personally.

  14. I too have noticed that the UK is lately on a rampage against fat people. UK always seems to be a couple a years ahead of the USA in degrading its people, whether it is economic oppression, loss of civil rights, or prejudice against fat people. To all health moralists, who must spew their hatred at others lest they turn it against themselves, prejudice against fat people is the biggest cause of people becoming fat. Hey, but what’s wrong with having more fatties to hate?


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