You’ve read the headlines. “Obesity has become an epidemic”. OMGdeathfatiscomingforyouwontsomebodypleasethinkofthechildren.
When they say obesity is an epidemic they just mean that a lot of people are obese (and let’s remember that in 1998 a panel that included many representatives from the diet industry convinced the NIH to change the definitions of overweight and obese which changed 25 million people’s status literally overnight). It can’t properly be used as a medical term because obesity is not a disease. Nothing is proven to be caused by obesity, and obese people do not share “symptoms” other than the “diagnosis” itself – and you have to wonder about a “diagnosis” that is nothing more than a simple calculation about the ratio of your height to your weight, with absolutely no other common characteristics among carriers. I’m trying to think of any disease where the only tool to diagnose is the person’s body size and I can’t think of a single one.
The problem with the idea of an obesity epidemic is that the word “epidemic” conjures up images of the plague and everybody starts to panic about what we’re going to do. So now instead of public health being about making information and options available to the public, it’s become about making fat people’s bodies the public’s business. And a huge amount of resources are poured into trying to make fat people’s bodies smaller – completely overlooking the fact that becoming smaller only works 5% of the time and there’s not proof that it will make you any healthier than you would be if you just engaged in healthy behaviors if that’s what interests you.
Far worse is that the articles are almost always accompanied by pictures like this one:
This is a picture of Diane. She is a lawyer who works with Moms to collect back child support. For fun she runs 10k’s and this weekend she’s going to complete her twentieth 10k, she hopes in her best time ever. Diane is the obesity epidemic.
Of course I made all of that up, but it’s better than a headless picture and a bunch of stereotypes. People are lots of different sizes for lots of different reasons. Health is not an obligation, a barometer of worthiness, entirely within our control, or a guarantee. Fat people have the right to exist in fat bodies and it doesn’t matter why we’re fat, what being fat means, or if we could be thin by some means however easy or difficult. Fat people have the right to exist, period. Nobody knows these people’s story how dare anyone think that it’s their place to fill in the blanks and then pass judgment?
Here’s another headless fatty:
This is Ragen. She has no interest in engaging in the good fatty bad fatty dichotomy.
Oh look, that headless fatty is me. Hi! I’m the obesity epidemic.
The next time you read an article about the obesity epidemic and see a picture of a headless fatty beside it, challenge yourself to realize that you don’t know the first thing about that person and that the community of fat people is WAY to diverse to be clumped up and called an epidemic. It’s time that we start to call a spade a spade here and realize that this is just lazy, sensationalized reporting masquerading as facts and news and my fat ass is calling bullshit.
Like the blog? Consider becoming a member! For ten bucks a month you can support size diversity activism, help keep the blog ad free, and get deals from size positive businesses as a thank you.
What do member fees support? I get hundreds of requests a day (not including hatemail) from academic to deeply personal. I get paid for some of my speaking and writing (and do both on a sliding scale to keep it affordable), but a lot of the work I do isn’t paid so member support makes it possible (and let me just give a huge THANK YOU to my members, I really can’t tell you how much I appreciate your support!) Click here for details
Here’s more cool stuff:
Are you looking for a way to do some fun movement this summer (and get prizes for it?) Consider a Fit Fatty Virtual Summer Vacation!
My Book: Fat: The Owner’s Manual The E-Book is Name Your Own Price! Click here for detail
Dance Classes: Buy the Dance Class DVDs or download individual classes – Every Body Dance Now! Click here for details