Reader Michelle forwarded me a ridiculous graph called “This is Why You’re Fat America” listing the calorie counts for some very rich restaurant foods. I seriously doubt that The Cheesecake Factory is the patient zero from which all American fatness stems. But this highlights a larger issue.
I have noticed that guessing why fat people are fat has become one of our cultures very favorite pastimes. I don’t know a single fat person who hasn’t had to deal with people guessing why they are fat. I can’t even count how many times I’ve been told to “eat less and exercise more” by people who can’t possible know how much I eat or how much I exercise. Or we get told that no matter what we’re doing our bodies make it completely obvious that we must not be doing it right. We are not doing enough cardio, we are doing too much cardio, we need to cut down on this food or eat more of that food or natures newest miracle berry blah blah blah.
This goes really bad because we’ve devolved so far from anything resembling scientific method and true healthcare when it comes to fat people that any theory that anybody comes up with becomes instantly actionable. The mayor of New York thinks that banning extra large sodas will make people less fat, no need for any kind of evidence - just do it. Michelle Obama wants to make her time as First Lady about focusing on the weight of children even though there are no interventions proven to lead to long-term weight loss in kids? No problem, take your best guess and turn kids into lab rats for 8 years.
I’m not going to go into explanations about why people are a lot of different sizes for a lot for different reasons, nor am I going to go into the fact that after over 50 years of intense study there is not a single intervention that has been shown to lead to long term weight loss, or that there is no study that shows that such weight loss would lead to greater health. What I’m going to say is that this treatment of fat people is ridiculous. It’s bad enough when people use their very limited time on Earth to make random guesses about why fat people are fat, but it’s worse when it comes to people who think that this constitutes some kind of evidence-based health intervention. The way that you can identify an evidence-based health intervention is that it is based on evidence, and has something to do with health. It is not based on somebody’s random guess about why people’s bodies are a certain size and how that size might be changed.
If I want someone’s rectal-pull-generated guess about why I’m fat, they will be among the very first to know. Otherwise, people are allowed to spend as much of their (possibly too much) free time wondering why I look like this, but I don’t give a flying frick. And I will continue to insist that my rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness include the right to exist, in a fat body, without being made the subject of a war on people who look like me, which includes a massive society wide game of “why is she fat” and “how can we change her.”
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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.