I get so very, very tired of hearing all kinds of things about my fat body and my health from people who think the phrase “everybody knows” is actually the same as “it’s been scientifically proven beyond a doubt.” To be clear, I’m talking today about statements regarding weight and health, which is a separate discussion from the fact that people deserve to live free from oppression, stigma, and bullying and that is not size, health, or habit dependent.
I often talk about how Health at Every Size (the assertion that people of all sizes can pursue health through healthy habits and without pursuing weigh loss) is a “Galileo issue” because “everybody knows” that fat=unhealthy and thin=healthy and that weight loss is just a matter of “eating less and exercising more” and is possible for almost everyone. Except that’s not what the evidence says at all. But try to have an intelligent, evidence-based conversation and you’ll soon find yourself buried under a mountain of “everybody knows” arguments. I thought I’d take this opportunity to point out some of the things that “everybody knew” at one time or another:
- The sun revolves around the Earth
- Heroin is non addictive substitute for morphine and a fantastic cough suppressant
- Plowing the land will cause it to rain
- Lysol is a great douche for that “not so fresh feeling”
- Germs don’t cause disease so there is no reason for doctors to wash their hands
- Heavy objects fall faster than light ones
- Thalidomide is a good choice to deal with morning sickness
Remember that in their time “everybody” – including medical professionals and world leaders- defended these ideas as absolutely true, completely obvious, and beyond reproach. And they were dead wrong. That’s what I think is happening right now with the rampant anti-fat sentiment. People want to shout “Fat is bad” with the same zeal that they would have shouted “The sun revolves around the Earth” just a few years ago and pretend that it’s not possible that they’ve got it completely wrong. But history and the evidence points in another direction:
Those who espouse Size Acceptance and Health at Every Size are just the new Galileo on the block. It wasn’t easy for him either but the fact that he was put under house arrest and told to sit down and shut up didn’t change the fact that what he was saying was true. It’s up to us to keep reminding people that “Everybody” very rarely knows anything and that if your arguments are based on what “everybody knows” then it’s time to check your sources. In the meantime, we can employ strategies to deal with this emotionally and decide that if they want a war on obesity, we’ll give them one!
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I wanted everyone to be able to afford Fat: The Owner’s Manual – Surviving a Thin-Obsessed World with your Health, Happiness, and Sense of Humor Intact so it is now available in soft cover and e-book which is “name your own price
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I do size acceptance activism full time. A lot what I do, like answering over 5,000 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/or 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.
The regular e-mail blog subscription (available at the top right hand side of this page) is always completely free. If you’re curious or uncomfortable about any of this, you might want to check out this post. Thanks for reading! ~Ragen