I was on the news with Darryl Roberts, filmmaker of America the Beautiful 2 for the Houston premiere. As almost always happens when I’m in the media, they brought up the concern that I am “promoting obesity”. I’ve observed that this happens almost any time a fat person is shown in the media being good at anything or having any kind of success not tied to weight loss. This is among the most ridiculous things that I’ve ever heard. As if someone will see me dancing and think “I wish I could dance like that. The secret must be her obesity – screw dance lessons, I’m going to try to get fat!”. It’s insulting to my years of hard work and training, and it’s insulting to your intelligence. Like’s it the new V8 commercial: millions of thin people, who see the same 386,170 negative messages a year about fat people, will see one of us being successful in some way, smack their foreheads and say “I coulda been fat!”
Promoting a body size is what got us into this mess in the first place. I think that being thin might be the most aggressively promoted idea of my lifetime and while it hasn’t made everyone thin (in fact if you believe the statistics the majority of people are not thin), it has insidiously created a second class of citizens. The (completely wrong) idea that the only path to health dead ends at a thin body has led to the mistaken belief that every fat person hates their body and wants to be thin and has put their entire life on hold, vowing not to be successful at anything unless and until they can be successful at weight loss. And as soon as someone shows a fat person who doesn’t fit neatly into the story of body hatred and weight loss goals above all else, they get shouted down and pulled out of view based on the ridiculous notion that they are “promoting obesity”.
Look, if you see a fat person and immediately think you know everything about their behaviors, choices, and inner thoughts then you have a problem – you someone who stereotypes fat people. If the sight of a fat person being happy makes you angry, then you have some very serious issues to deal with. If you think that happy successful fat people are promoting obesity then you are a dangerously delusional. If they are promoting anything, they are promoting being happy and successful.
Not to mention that if we follow the “logic” that putting fat people in the public eye as anything other than a negative representation or an ad for stomach amputation is “promoting obesity”, then what we are actually saying is that fat people should never see anyone who looks like them in a positive light. We seriously believe that the best thing that we can do is make sure that fat people should never see someone who looks like them being successful or happy. How messed up is that? How cruel? First they tell fat people that they are all miserable, then they purposefully hide all the evidence to the contrary under the guise of not “promoting obesity”, then they use the lack of evidence that you created to “prove” that all fat people are miserable. Step three: Profits! Sixty billion a year, in fact, for the diet industry.
We have GOT to stop promoting any body size at all. We need to show, and celebrate, the diversity of the human experience and that includes all colors, shapes, sizes, sexual orientations, athletes and couch potatoes – everybody. Our diversity is what makes us strong – it’s what makes us survivors and pretending otherwise for your own profit ought to buy you a special place in hell.
I’m just happy that there are people standing up to this preposterous notion, who are brave and strong enough not to cave to the pressure, and who are getting fat role models out into the light where they belong. And I’m so proud and thankful for all the fatties who brave the responses – from ridiculous to utterly hateful – to live their lives out loud!
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